Know Your Community
The Library seeks to promote civic awareness and good citizenship, and we are committed to making information about how Atlanta functions readily available and easily understandable for local residents. In this section you will find information about and links to city government, public services, churches, and community organizations--making it easier to know what's going on and how to get involved. More information is available as well on the City of Atlanta's website http://www.atlantaillinois.org .
Atlanta has a proud and independent history. First surveyed and and platted May 22, 1853, as Xenia, Atlanta owes its existence to the railroad and to the vision of Richard T. Gill who came to Illinois in 1840 and moved to Logan County when the railroad was extended from Springfield to Bloomington. Gill bought the land on which the town now sits from Lemuel Evans and placed 383 lots for sale on June 23, 1853. The name "Xenia" was adopted initially because early settlers had come from Xenia, Ohio, and the name endured until 1855 when it was discovered that another Illinois town had claim to the name. Some citizens recommeded the town be called "Hamilton," but that name was taken as well. Finally, Mr. Gill, who had visited Atlanta, Georgia and had had a favorable impression suggested the name "Atlanta," which was adopted on February 14, 1855 through an act of the Illinois legislature.
In its early years, Atlanta was a model of the "can do" spirit of the mid-nineteenth century. Thanks to the rich farmland surrounding the town and the presence of the railroad, Atlanta became a major supplier of grain to cities north and south. A writer for the Alton Courier said of Atlanta, "Of all the towns it has been my fortune to visit...Atlanta posseses the largest share of the young American spirit of progressiveness." Another writer for the Springfield Register wrote in 1856, "We believe the growth of Atlanta is without parallel in the county....the buildings are all very good and many of them large and splendid, while all are painted. Being situated upon a prairie where trees have not had time to grow, the village is presented at a single view and looms up like a young city." Even the Chicago Tribune took notice, saying, "(we) believe that Atlanta surpasses any town of its age in the state and it is not unreasonable to suppose that in a year or two it will begin to contest the title of Prairie City with its neighbor Bloomington."
While these early aspirations did not come to pass, Atlanta remains a thriving small town, proud of its history, and hopeful about its future. With a populaton of 1,680, Atlanta is small enough to be neighborly and large enough to boast an array of amenities for residents. It offers wonderful schools and churches, a tranquil way of life, beautiful surrounding countryside, rich and fertile land, and a large number of community organizations committed to retaining the promise and values of small-town life in a time that is becoming ever more urbanzied, chaotic and fast-paced.
Preserving Community History
A Guide to the Historic Landmark and National Register Properties of Atlanta, Illinois