About Kankakee County
Available Genealogical Records
Kankakee County, a valley the Pottawatomi Indians called "ky-an-ke-ke," which meant "wonderful land," was created on February 11, 1853. Months later the first election was held to elect a county judge, associate judges, county clerk, county sheriff and county treasurer. George M. Stowell was elected the first Kankakee County Clerk. Since that time this office has been the repository for birth, death, and marriage records. In 1989 our current county clerk, Bruce Clark, was appointed the local registrar. We are very proud of our Vital Records Department and take great care to protect and preserve all of our records.
The Vital Records Department houses more than 400,000 records dating back to our first marriage record in 1853. Older records were in large books that gathered only the basic information. Looking back in the older books and seeing handwritten information is a neat experience, especially compared to society today where everything is computerized. It was not until 1916 that most of our documents had individual certificates. The State of Illinois did not mandate that vital records be filed with the county clerk until January of 1916. Therefore, it is possible that a birth or death occurred and no record was ever officially filed.
Our earliest record is a marriage between Alexis Darche and Louise Boisvenl on May 29, 1853. The ceremony was performed by C. Chiniquy, a Catholic clergyman. The first birth recorded in Kankakee County was an un-named baby girl born on December 26, 1877. The first death recorded was also in 1877: Alfred Houran, a Scott Irish man, passed on December 18, 1877 from tuberculosis/meningitis.
County Clerk Bruce Clark is proud to launch Kankakee County's Online Genealogy. A lot of hard work has been put into generating a site to help the public explore their family history. If you haven't already, please sign up for your account and start diving into your personal family history!