The Lincoln family has long been part of the area’s history. They first settled in Coles County in 1831 on a farm about three miles south of the future site of Mattoon. Although he never lived in Coles County, the future President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, frequently traveled through the area as a circuit-riding lawyer. One of the famous debates with Stephen Douglas took place in Coles County in 1858.
Manufacturing became an important part of the local economy between World War I and World War II. The discovery of oil in 1940 gave Mattoon’s growth yet another boost.
Throughout its development, a key to Mattoon’s prosperity has been its location in the great Midwestern farmbelt. The rich, black farmland around Mattoon is abundantly productive.