Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society

Ehrlicher Research Center
719 N. Eleventh Street
Pekin, Illinois
(309) 477-3044

Send a message to TCGHS

Mailing Address:
PO Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312

Map to the Ehrlicher Research Center

We are now on Facebook!  Visit our page by clicking on the above image. Enjoy!  Thanks to Charlotte Jibben for creating and maintaining our Facebook page!

The Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society library is located in the Ehrlicher Research Center at the above address. The library is open Monday 9 am-1 pm, Tuesday 9 am-1 pm & 7-9 pm, Wednesdays 9 am-4:30 pm, Thursday-Friday 9 am-1 pm, and Sundays 2-4:30 pm central standard time (closed on holidays and holiday weekends). The library is staffed with one or more trained volunteer genealogists.

Since we do depend on volunteers, unexpected closings can occur but are very rare.  If you are coming through town and can't stop by during our normal hours, email us and we'll try to make arrangements to meet you at the library.

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~~ Current Events & What's New ~~

bullet April Meeting - Tuesday, April 14, 7:00 pm
    Deb Clendenen will be discussing Find A GraveFind A Grave is a free website to help you find the final resting places of friends and family members. With millions of names, it's an invaluable tool for genealogist and history buffs.
    Deb has been a volunteer photographer with Find A Grave website for four years. She has added 22,000+ photographs and 23,000+ memorials. Deb will answer questions about how to join & use Find A Grave, how to add or edit an entry, and how to become a volunteer.  Normal business meeting will follow.
bullet Surplus Book Sale
We are clearing out duplicate books from our collection - they are all hardback and in very good condition.  Check the list to see if anything peeks your interest.
bullet May Meeting - Tuesday, May 12, 7:00 pm
    Tonight's presentation will be about Sanborn Insurance Maps—their accessibility, historical uses, and limitations.  The Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas in the United States. The maps include detailed information regarding town and building information in approximately 12,000 US towns and cities from 1867 to 2007.
     On display will be the 1903, 1909, 1925, 1931-1945 Pekin maps as well as the 1956 Peoria and East Peoria maps. 
Normal business meeting will follow.
bullet June Meeting - Tuesday, June 9, 7:00 pm
     Tonight is our 3rd annual grade school alumni reunion potluck—this year featuring Pekin's Jefferson School.
     Bring a dish to share, along with your memories, photos, & souvenirs of Jefferson School.
     Of course, you're welcome even if you didn't go to Jefferson!  Table service & drinks will be provided.
     And, for once, no normal business meeting will follow!
bullet 7th Annual Carolyn's Closet Rummage Sale - June 26-27
     Start saving items to donate for our annual rummage sale—please no TV's or clothing!  We especially need for our members & friends to keep an eye out for anyone wanting to donate used books to a good cause—the used book store which previously generously donated many boxes of books for our sales is no longer collecting them so we really need your help!
     All proceeds go to further the society's collection.  At the end of the sale, we always donate any remaining items to other local organizations.
bullet PCHS West Campus Shelf Sitter
     Despite the valiant efforts of many folks (including our society) to save the historic landmark building, the 98 year-old Pekin Community High School West Campus sadly succumbed to the wrecking ball.  As a memento to remember the building, the society has created a souvenir shelf sitter depicting the front of the West Campus.  This is a high quality keepsake which will capture your cherished memories of West Campus.  Here's more details and how to order your copy before they are gone!
bullet 2014/2015 Annual Nut Sale
     We are again selling Terri Lynn premium nuts, dried fruits, chocolate-covered and yogurt-coated products this yearone of the society's most successful yearly fundraisers. All monies raised from this project help fund the various services offered by TCGHS throughout the year.      We are no longer taking orders but we still have a good selection left from this year's sale.  Stop by the library to see what's still available!
bullet The Monthly now available electronically!
The Monthly is now available for home delivery in pdf format via e-mail. Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society members have always received a monthly print newsletter called The Monthly as one of the benefits of their membership. The Monthly is filled with Tazewell County historical and genealogical articles, documents, and pictures as well as information on Society special events, monthly meetings, and projects.   Members may now elect to receive their newsletter either through the postal mail service or electronically via e-mail.
bullet Supporting the long-term goals of the Society
Similar to a great university's endowment fund, the TCGHS Foundation Endowment Fund helps create a margin of excellence by supporting acquisitions, innovations, and special projects beyond the capacity of the Society's normal operating budget.   Commemorate your support by sponsoring a leaf for your family on our surname tree
or a tile for your company on our Tazewell County Business Plaque!  You can also contribute to the foundation by purchasing one of the foundation's historic shelf sitter buildings.

~~ About Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society ~~

bullet Mission & Purpose
Here's what the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society stands for.
bullet Our Library
We moved into our new facility in 1997.  See more photos of our library and check out some of our holdings.
bullet Do you know of a group, no matter what age, who would like a tour of our library - whether it be a grade school class, church group, or civic organization?  If so, give us a call or send us an email to schedule a convenient time for a tour.
bullet Our Board & Committee Chairs
The Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society board consists of the elected officers, four elected at-large board members, and the immediate past president.  Here's our current officers and committee chairs.
bullet Society Membership
Become one of the almost 400 members of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society.
  Or renew your current membership!
bullet Pioneer Certificates
Do you have a direct ancestor who was an early (prior to 1875) Tazewell County settler?   If so, apply for our Pioneer Certificate.  It will become a proud addition to your home! (see sample).   So far, we've issued certificates for these Tazewell County Pioneers
. Updated March 2014.
bullet Tazewell County Shelf Sitters
   The TCGHS Foundation has created a series of four different collectable shelf sitters representing historic Tazewell County buildings regularly visited by Abraham Lincoln in the late 1840's through 1860.
   Collect all four - the Tazewell County Courthouse, the Jones-Menard "Red Brick" House, the Lilly Inn, and the Tazewell House!  
Here's more info including photos!

~~ Tazewell County Research Tips ~~

bullet Tazewell County Surname Registry - Free!
Here's a list of folks who are researching various Tazewell County surnames and who would like to correspond via email with other researchers.  Register the surnames you're researching now -- all we ask is you limit your entries to surnames which have a connection to Tazewell County. Last Updated March 2015
bullet Introduction to Tazewell County Vital Records - Free!
My ancestor was born in 1825 - can I get his birth certificate?  Where can I get a copy of a death certificate?  These questions and more are answered in our overview of Tazewell County Vital Records.
bullet Tazewell County Cemeteries - Free!
Here's a list of all known cemeteries in Tazewell County, including the township and section they are located in.  Some cemeteries have links to additional information such as cemetery history, location maps, driving instructions, and photos.
bullet Tazewell County Township Map - Free!
Here's a map of Tazewell County showing the township names and locations.
bullet Historical Tazewell County Maps - Free!
    Here are historical maps of Tazewell County covering 1833, 1857, 1873, 1896, 1920, and 1929.
bullet Ortssippenbücher (OSB) Collection - Free!
Many of the early settlers of Tazewell County emigrated from a region of northeast Germany known as Ostfriesland (East Friesland or East Fresia).  Ortssippenbücher (OSB) books contain important information for Ostfriesen researchers such as names, occupations, family relationships, and dates of births, marriages, and deaths for families from a specific Ostfriesen town or village. The information (usually extracted from local church records) is presented alphabetically by family group surname.  Our collection of OSB books is thought to be the largest in the State of Illinois. List last updated January 2012.
bullet Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County, Illinois (including Woodford County) - Free!
     Joseph Peter Staker has written a thoroughly documented extensive history of over 85 Amish Mennonite families who immigrated to Tazewell (and surrounding) Counties before 1856 - over 900 pages with around 1350 source citations.  Joe has graciously placed his three volume book on our website as Adobe Acrobat searchable PDF files which you can download for free!  Last updated in March 2015.
     Researched surnames include Abersoll, Ackerman, Augsburger, Bachman/Baughman, Beck, Beckler, Beller, Belsley, Birky/Birkey, Brenneman, Brickler, Camp, Chlopicki, De Guibert, Dellenbach, Dettweiler, Donner, Ehresman, Eigsti, Eiman, Engel, Ernst, Esch/Oesch, Farny, Gascho, Gerber/Garber, Gingerich, Goldsmith, Good, Grubb, Hauter, Heiser, Hochstetter, Householder, Kennel, King, Kinsinger, Kistler, Klopfenstein, Leman, Litwiller, Martin, Maurer, Miller, Mosiman, Nafziger, Neuhauser, Orendorff, Oyer, Petersmith, Plank, Ramseyer, Rediger, Reeser/Risser, Reust, Rich, Ringenberger, Roeschley, Roggy, Ropp, Roth, Ruvenacht, Salzman, Schantz, Schertz, Schlegel, Schrock, Schwarzentraub, Schweizer, Sharp, Smith, Sommer, Springer, Staker, Stalter, Steider, Steinman, Strubhar, Sutter, Ulrich, Unzicker, Vercler, Wagler, Wagner, Yoder, Yordy, Zehr, Zimmerman, Zook, and Zwalter. 
bullet Tazewell County Education Records - Free! 
Joy Wojtas, Certification Specialist - Tazewell County Regional Office of Education, discusses school records dating from 1911 through 1962 which may be of assistance for research purposes.  During the past one hundred years, many changes have taken place in education.  The maintaining of various records gives future generations some insight into what was happening during a particular period of time.
bullet Newspapers on Microfilm - Free!
Here's a list of the Tazewell County Newspapers prior to 1953 we currently have in our microfilm collection.
bullet Links - Free!
Here's some other websites, family histories, and mailing lists you might find helpful doing your Tazewell County research.  Last updated March 2015.

~~ Research Services, Historic Photos, and Society Publications ~~

bullet TCGHS Publications
Tazewell County records transcribed, indexed, and published by the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society.  Classic research materials such as searchable county histories and atlases (CD-ROM) cemetery listings, marriage records, land records, naturalization records, census records, atlases, and directories.  We've recently added several items including previews of our historical postcards.  And, we now have an online shopping cart for your convenience!
bullet Tazewell County Research Services
Our society can provide research services to those unable to visit our library such as surname searches of the TCGHS library holdings, obituary searches at Pekin Public Library, searches of Tazewell County courthouse records (birth, death, marriage, & probate), and photographs of your ancestor's grave.
bullet Tazewell County Notable Men Photographs now available!
Our archivists were recently given access to over 1500 5"x7" photos taken by 19th century photographer H.H. Cole.  These photos have been stored in the basement of the Tazewell County Courthouse for decades.  Most of these photographs are of early Tazewell County settlers.  We have scanned the collection and the images are now available to researchers.  Check our list for your ancestors.
bullet Tazewell County WWI Soldier Photographs now available!
Included in the society's L. Sidney Eslinger Glass Negative Collection are over 100 glass plate negatives of identified area soldiers in uniform, probably from around the time of World War I. There are many, many more unnamed ones. These photographs were taken by H. H. Cole, the well-known Tazewell County photographer.
  Our archivists have scanned the collection and the images are now available to researchers.  Check our list for your ancestors.
bullet 2012 Edition of Cemetery Volume 1 - Dillon & Delavan Townships just published!!
After many hours of hard work visiting cemeteries and consulting the actual cemetery & death records, we've updated and released a new version of our listings for Dillon & Delavan Township cemeteries.
    There's now 252 pages - up from 140 pages in the previous edition.   Listings are now current through December 2012.  In addition to the index of the interred, we've also added an every name index which includes every name mentioned on a stone as well as including other available genealogical data such as parental information, place of birth and death, and marriage information.
     Many thanks to those who added and proofed all the new genealogical datathe late Elaine Ogden, Jerry Bietz, Linda Stegall and chair Margaret Bush.   Pick up your copy at the library or order online and we'll mail to you ASAP!
bullet Everett McKinley Dirksen…a Boy from Pekin
     A year or so ago our society became aware students at Dirksen Primary School in Pekin had no idea who Senator Everett Dirksen (the school's namesake) was or what he had done during his public service.  Since there were no books documenting the Senator's life available at an elementary reading level, a committee was created to research and write a biography for elementary students.  Copies of the books were presented to the Dirksen Primary students.
     Although written for a third through seventh grade reading level, the book presents many facts and photos of the Senator's life that adults would also find interesting.  Here's more information on the creation of the book and how to get a copy.
bullet Tazewell County Veterans of World War II Remembrances!
     The Society collected oral & written histories, documents, and photos from over 450 Tazewell County WWII veterans in order to preserve their stories for future generations.  These memories have been published in an approximately 500 page 8.5" x 11" book entitled Tazewell County Veterans of World War II Remembrances.  As you can see, the book has a high quality, long-lasting library binding.
     Pictures of most of the veterans have been included with their stories.  This is a unique opportunity to relive how these “ordinary” men and women made amazing sacrifices during those extraordinary times, forging the values that made our people and nation great! This book would make a gift that will be cherished for generations to come! Follow this link for more details and to get your copy today! 
bullet The Berry Gang
     One of our members, Jim Conover, has co-authored the definitive book on the history of "the Berry Gang", who terrorized the people of Tazewell County for years during the late 1860's, despite the efforts of Pekin’s tough City Marshal Alfred Stone, Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt, and their deputies. Then one day the gang made the fatal mistake of resisting the law once too often. The next few days would result in fatal gun fights, murder, aggravated assault, mob action, suicide, and a lynching that would make news nationwide.
     A classic piece of western frontier history right here in central Illinois!  Here's a brief overview of the book, including a list of surnames and cities mentioned, and directions on how to get your own copy.
bullet The Wreck of the Columbia - A Broken Boat, a Town’s Sorrow & the End of the Steamboat Era on the Illinois River
One of the worst disasters in the history of United States inland navigation occurred at midnight, Friday, July 5, 1918 when the excursion steamboat Columbia, returning to Pekin from an excursion in Peoria, struck a sand bar and sank into the Illinois River near Wesley City (present day Creve Coeur) with 496 passengers (mostly from Pekin).  Eighty-seven passengers, mostly women and children, drowned in the submerged wreckage.  The rest lived to tell their stories of horror, bravery, and survival.
      After extensive research using the society's collection and other sources, TCGHS member Ken Zurski has written a gripping account entitled The Wreck of the Columbia - A Broken Boat, a Town’s Sorrow & the End of the Steamboat Era on the Illinois River - documenting the true story of the worst maritime accident in the history of the Illinois River.
     You can purchase a copy of this definitive book directly from the publisher or from AmazonRead an excerpt.

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Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society © 1999-2015
P. O. Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
(309) 477-3044
Send a message to TCGHS
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Mike Dickson