About This Place
Lexington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,060 at the 2010 census. There are two theories of its name. One says it was named for the Battle of Lexington, where General Gridley's father fought. and the other that it was named for the home town of James Brown, the town's co-founder.
Lexington was laid out on 4 January 1836 by Asahel Gridley (1810–1881) and James Brown (c. 1802- ?). Gridley was a lawyer and banker from Bloomington who would eventually become the richest man in McLean County; Brown was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and Lexington, Illinois, seems to have been his only attempt at founding a town. Its founding was part of a great real estate boom that swept across the nation. Within a few months of the founding of the town seven other new towns were laid out in McLean County: Concord (now Danvers), Hudson, Le Roy, Livingston, Lytleville, Mt. Hope and Wilksborough. In common with other towns founded during the 1836 boom, and unlike many later towns, Lexington was designed around a central public square with streets running true north-south and east-west. In the case of Lexington, the original town consisted of 36 blocks, each containing six lots. Like most of the towns of the 1836 era the town was built along the line that divided woodland from prairie; the southeast corner of the town was just within the limits of timber. Like most Mackinaw River towns, Lexington was laid out on higher ground some distance from the river itself.
Gridley and Brown first offered lots in the town for sale at a public auction on 30 April 1836 at 10:00 in the morning. They began their printed advertisement for the sale by telling readers that the town was on the main road from Springfield, via Bloomington, to Chicago and that their new town was a mile from the Mackinaw River. They wrote that Lexington "is located on the margin of a fine rolling prairie, near a large and inexhaustible body of the best timber the country affords, sufficient to justify the immense settlement already being made." They told potential buyers that there were two saw mills and a fulling mill nearby. Moreover, they added, building had already begun. For those with good security, one twelve months credit was available.