Fairfield, Illinois

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The Wayne County Courthouse in Fairfield
The Wayne County Courthouse in Fairfield
"Home of the Friendly People"
Location of Fairfield in Wayne County, Illinois.
Location of Fairfield in Wayne County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 38°22′49″N 88°21′57″W / 38.38028°N 88.36583°W / 38.38028; -88.36583Coordinates: 38°22′49″N 88°21′57″W / 38.38028°N 88.36583°W / 38.38028; -88.36583
CountryUnited States
 • Total4.07 sq mi (10.55 km2)
 • Land4.04 sq mi (10.46 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.09 km2)
 • Total5,154
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,243.87/sq mi (480.24/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s)618
FIPS code17-24816

Fairfield is a city in and the county seat of Wayne County, Illinois, United States,[3] and the location of Frontier Community College. The population was 5,421 at the 2000 census.


Fairfield is most famous for being the hometown of the "friendly" people and the Shelton Brothers Gang, notorious bootleggers who fought it out with the Harrisburg, Illinois-based Birger Gang to control criminal activities in Southern Illinois. During the first half of the 20th century, gang leaders Carl, Earl and Bernie Shelton made Fairfield a household name. Based on testimony of Charlie Birger himself, the Shelton Brothers were convicted for a 1925 unsolved mail carrier robbery of $15,000 and were sentenced to 25 years, they were released a few years later. Birger dominated bootlegging in Southern Illinois until he himself was hanged in Benton for the murder of West City Mayor Joe Adams in 1928. After serving their time, the Shelton brothers built a new criminal empire. Based out of East St Louis, one of the most prosperous cities of its day, they controlled all vice from Peoria and southward.

They met their demise at the hands of the Chicago mob and an insider Charles "Blackie" Harris. A land dispute led to Blackie joining forces with the Mob to kill off members of the Shelton gang, his most notable victim was Carl Shelton, the leader. He was ambushed several miles southeast of Fairfield, shot from his Jeep. Bernie was killed at his Peoria roadhouse. Earl moved to Jacksonville, Florida and became a successful land speculator.

Notable people[edit]

Senator William Borah, the "Lion of Idaho," was born in Fairfield. Fairfield was the hometown of Kenneth Michael Kays, recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism[4] during the Vietnam War, and Country music singer-songwriter Lance Miller. Carroll C. Boggs, Illinois Supreme Court justice was born in Fairfield. Drue Pearce, Alaska state legislator, was born in Fairfield.[5] Ben C. Blades, Illinois state legislator, lived in Fairfield.[6] H. S. Burgess, Illinois state legislator and lawyer; served as mayor of Fairfield.[7] Clyde W. Robbins, farmer and Illinois state representative, lived in rural Fairfield.[8] Thomas H. Creighton, Illinois state representative and lawyer, lived in Fairfield.[9] Charles W. Creighton, Illinois state representative and lawyer, lived in Fairfield.[10]


Fairfield is located at 38°22′49″N 88°21′57″W / 38.38028°N 88.36583°W / 38.38028; -88.36583 (38.380390, -88.365818).[11]

According to the 2010 census, Fairfield has a total area of 4.054 square miles (10.50 km2), of which 4.02 square miles (10.41 km2) (or 99.16%) is land and 0.034 square miles (0.09 km2) (or 0.84%) is water.[12]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20165,024[2]−2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 5,421 people, 2,495 households, and 1,494 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,499.0 people per square mile (578.2/km²). There were 2,727 housing units at an average density of 754.0 per square mile (290.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.40% White, 0.09% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.06% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.42% of the population.

There were 2,495 households out of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.74.

In the city, the population was spread out with 20.5% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 24.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 82.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,797, and the median income for a family was $36,278. Males had a median income of $28,866 versus $19,985 for females; the per capita income for the city was $16,791. About 8.5% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.


  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jun 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ "Medal of Honor: Kenneth Kays". Archived from the original on 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  5. ^ Alaska Legislator-Drue Pearce
  6. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1973-1974.' Biographical Sketch of Ben C. Blades, pg. 175
  7. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1941-1941,' Biographical Sketch of H. S. Burgess, pg. 242-243
  8. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1981-1982,' Biographical Sketch of Clyde W. Robbins, pg. 177
  9. ^ 'Official Souvenir of the Illinois State Legislature of 1893,' J. L. Pickering-editor, Illinois State Journal Press, Springfield, Illinois: 1893, Biographical Sketch of Thomas H. Creighton, pg. 52
  10. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1943-1944,' Biographical Sketch of Charles W. Creighton, pg. 456-457
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  12. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

External links[edit]