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Will County was formed in 1836 out of Cook and Iroquois. It was named after Dr. Conrad Will, a businessman involved in salt production in southern Illinois, and also a politician. Will was a member of the first Illinois Constitutional Convention and a member of the Illinois Legislature until his death in 1835. On January 12, 1836, Will County was formed from Cook County and Iroquois County. Besides its present area, it included the part of Kankakee County, Illinois north of the Kankakee River. Will County lost that area when Kankakee County was organized in 1852. Since then its boundaries have been unchanged.
"WILL, a county in the E. N. E. part of Illinois, bordering on Indiana, has an area of 1,236 square miles (3,200 km2). It is intersected by the Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers, branches of the Illinois. The surface is generally level, and destitute of timber, excepting small groves. The soil is very fertile, and much of it is under cultivation. The soil of the prairies is a deep, sandy loam, adapted to Indian corn and grass. In 1850 the county produced 527,903 bushels of Indian corn; 230,885 of wheat; 334,360 of oats; 32,043 tons of hay, and 319,054 pounds of butter. It contained 14 churches, 3 newspaper offices; 3472 pupils attending public schools, and 200 attending other schools. Quarries of building stone are worked near the county seat. The Des Plaines river furnishes water-power. The county is intersected by the Illinois and Michigan canal, by the Chicago branch of the Central railroad, the Chicago and Mississippi, and by the Chicago and Rock Island railroad. Named in honor of Conrad Will, for many years a member of the Illinois legislature. Capital, Joliet. Population 16,703."
-- 1854 U.S. Gazetteer
Will County from its 1836 creation to 1852
Will County in 1853, reduced to its current borders by the creation of Kankakee County
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 849 square miles (2,200 km2), of which 837 square miles (2,170 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (1.5%) is water.
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Joliet have ranged from a low of 13 °F (-11 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of -26 °F (-32 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in June 1988. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.58 inches (40 mm) in January to 4.34 inches (110 mm) in July.
As of the 2010 Census, there were 677,560 people, 225,256 households, and 174,062 families residing in the county. The population density was 809.6 inhabitants per square mile (312.6/km2). There were 237,501 housing units at an average density of 283.8 per square mile (109.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 76.0% white, 11.2% black or African American, 4.6% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 5.8% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 15.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 21.6% were German, 18.6% were Irish, 13.3% were Polish, 11.1% were Italian, 5.9% were English, and 2.1% were American.
Of the 225,256 households, 44.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.9% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 22.7% were non-families, and 18.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.41. The median age was 35.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $75,906 and the median income for a family was $85,488. Males had a median income of $60,867 versus $40,643 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,811. About 5.0% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.0% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
Will County is governed via a 26-member county board who are elected from one of 13 districts. Each district elects 2 members. The County Executive, County Clerk, Coroner, Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder of Deeds, State's Attorney and Sheriff are all elected in a countywide vote.
Will County, once a Republican stronghold, has become a swing county in recent years. It voted for the national winner in every presidential election from 1980 to 2012, but Donald Trump's unpopularity in suburban counties of the largest metropolitan areas nationwide helped Chicago-born Hillary Clinton win it along with the rest of the "collar counties" aside from McHenry in 2016.
The county is a major hub in the United States natural gas pipeline grid where pipelines from Canada and the Gulf of Mexico meet and then fan out to serve the Midwest. The following major energy companies own pipeline that run through Will County:
Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990: from the twenty-one decennial censuses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN0-934213-48-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)