The history of Macomb, located on the old “Burlington Trail” to Burlington, Iowa, is inextricably interwoven with that of McDonough County whose majestic courthouse dominates Macomb’s square. Both the city and the county were named for heroes of the War of 1812, General Alexander Macomb and Commodore McDonough, who later defeated the British at Lake Champlain. The whole area was part of what was termed the Military tract, grants of land set aside for those who volunteered for service in the War of 1812. For a while, McDonough county, as it’s known, was part of Madison and then a part of Pike Counties until its present boundaries were set up in 1826. Even then, though the county had it’s name and boundaries, its administration and tax collection were left in the hands of Schuyler County officials until the new county could gain a population of 350.
In the spring of 1829 Reverend John Baker, a Baptist Minister, built the first log cabin on the site of the present city of Macomb. This building stood about where the old high school stood, at the corner of West Jefferson and South Johnson Streets.