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Olney, Illinois Information

Olney (/ˈɔːlni/ awl-nee) is a city in Richland County, Illinois, United States. The population was 8,631 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Richland County.

Olney is known for its population of white squirrels. There are two hypotheses about how there came to be white squirrels in Olney.

The first is that in 1902 William Stroup was out hunting and shot a gray female squirrel. The shot knocked the two babies out of a nest, and he brought them home to his children. They were later sold to Jasper Banks, who put them on display in front of his saloon.

The second is that George W. Ridgely and John Robinson captured a cream colored squirrel and then raised several litters of them before bringing a pair to Olney in 1902. Mr. Ridgely sold the pair to Jasper C. Banks for $5 each. Mr. Banks made a green box for his albinos and displayed them in his saloon window.

In 1910, the Illinois legislature passed a law prohibiting the confinement of wildlife, and they were released into the woods.

In 1925, the city passed a law that disallowed dogs from running at large. In 1943, the squirrel population reached its peak at 1000, but now the population holds steady at around 200.

In the mid-1970s, John Stencel, instructor at Olney Central College, received a small grant from the Illinois Academy of Science to study the white squirrels.

A squirrel count is held each fall. Both white and gray squirrels are counted in addition to cats. The number of squirrels has dropped causing concern. When the white squirrels dip below 100, they are concerned about genetic drift, or changes in allele (gene) frequency, which may reduce genetic variation and therefore speed up the extinction of a small population.

In 1997, the Olney City Council amended its ordinance which disallowed dogs from running at large to include cats. The 1997 squirrel count realized a decrease in cats. They are hopeful this will have a positive affect on the white squirrel population.

White squirrels have the right-of-way on all public streets, sidewalks, and thoroughfares in Olney, and there is a $750 fine for running one over. The police department’s badge even has a picture of a white squirrel on it. The white squirrel has proved to be an enduring symbol of Olnean pride, and stands as Olney’s most defining feature.

The population of white squirrels makes Illinois the only state to have populations of white as well as black squirrels, the latter residing in the Quad Cities area.

Olney is located at 38°44′N 88°5′W (38.7306, -88.0819).

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 6.66 square miles (17.2 km2), all land.

As of the census of 2000, there were 8,631 people, 3,755 households, and 2,301 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,498.4 people per square mile (578.5/km²). There were 4,283 housing units at an average density of 743.5 per square mile (287.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.67% White, 0.48% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 3,755 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.7% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,084and the median income for a family was $37,365. Males had a median income of $29,547 versus $18,440 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,218. About 13.0% of families and 17.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

References and more area information on Wikipedia here >>

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