Bellefontaine was one of the first settlements made by Americans in what is now Illinois. The earliest settlers included families of Revolutionary War veterans who had served with George Rogers Clark. During this period of time, the Monroe County Illinois area was part of the State of Virginia.
Due to the lack of funds, Patrick Henry, the Governor of Virginia at the time which included southern Illinois, issued land grants to the soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War. Captain James Moore, who received a land grant, brought a band of pioneers from Virginia and Maryland in the winter of 1781-1782 to this area. The settlement took its name from a nearby spring the french called "La Belle Fontaine" (Beautiful Spring).
The 1800 federal census showed that Bellefontaine, with 286 inhabitants, had become the third largest community in the Illinois territory.
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