Watseka is a city in and the county seat of Iroquois County, Illinois, United States. It is located approximately 15 miles (24 km) west of the Illinois-Indiana state line on U.S. Route 24. The population of Watseka was 5,255 according to the 2010 census, which was a 7.3 percent decrease from the 2000 census. Incorporated in 1865, the name “Watseka” derives from the Potawatomi name “Watch-e-kee”, “Daughter of the Evening Star”, the wife of early eastern Illinois settler Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard.The Old Iroquois County Courthouse was constructed in 1866, with two additions built in 1881 and 1927. In the early 1960s, an Iroquois County resident, Mrs. Katherine Clifton, bequeathed to the county in her will a large sum of money and a site upon which to build a new courthouse.
It is the only courthouse in the United States built entirely with private funds. The old courthouse was advertised for sale and fell into disuse. In 1967, during the Centennial Celebration of Watseka, the Iroquois County Historical Society was organized, and circulated petitions throughout the county not to sell the Old Courthouse. The petitions were approved by the County Board of Supervisors, and the Old Courthouse re-opened as a museum that same year. In 1975, the Old Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Watseka is located near the center of Iroquois County, at the intersection of U.S. Route 24 and Illinois Route 1. The Iroquois River winds along the north side of the town and is joined by Sugar Creek on the west side of town.
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