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 September Meeting - Tuesday, September 9, 7:00 pm
     Barbara VanDyke-Brown, a Marbold family descendant, will speak about the history and ongoing restoration of the Historic Marbold Farmstead. The farmstead is located in Menard County along Illinois Route 29a few miles south of Greenview, Illinois.
     The Marbold house, named Elmwood, was built in 1849 by John Marbold as part of a 4000 acre farm.  It was expanded in 1880.  In its day, Elmwood was considered one of central Illinois' most notable homes. Over the years, the house fell into disrepair and became vacant in the late 1960's.
     The homestead sat decaying for decades until an association was formed in 2003 to try to purchase and restore the home.  In the meantime, even though they didn't yet have title to the home, volunteers tried to do enough maintenance to preserve what was left of the house.  After many years of negotiations, the association purchased the home and surrounding land in March 2012.  The home is now being restored and will eventually become a living history farm. 
     Normal business meeting will follow.
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 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. Here's a complete price list/order blank you can download & print or pick up a printed copy by stopping by the society's library at 719 N. 11th Street, Pekin. For more information, phone the library at (309) 477-3044, contact Sherry at (309) 346-7455, or email the society.
     The deadline for submitting orders is October 3payment is due at time of order. The nuts should be available for pick-up at our library in early November.
     We still have a little inventory left from last year's sale.  Stop by the library to see what's still available!
bullet 12th Annual Harvest Day for Genealogists Workshop - Saturday, October 4, 9 am - 3 pm
Professional genealogist Dr. Michael Lacopo returns as our speaker for this year's all day workshop.  Topics include Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving; More Than The Census: Our Families Did Exist Between Those 10-Year Intervals; and a 2 hour presentation on Using DNA Testing to Further Your Family Tree: A Primer.  Here's more detailed topic info and registration information!  And, a flyer you can pass on to your friends.  As usual, all lectures, lecture handouts, refreshments, and a luncheon are included in your registration fee.  Our library will be open after the conference if you want to do additional research.
bullet October Meeting - Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 pm
     Tazewell County Coroner Dr. Jeff Baldi will tell us what records are available from the coroner’s office to aid in family research.
     Business meeting will follow.
bullet November Meeting - Tuesday, November 11, 7:00 pm
     In honor of Veteran’s Day, Gary Fyke will share the story of the Four Chaplainsfour United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save civilian and other military personnel as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943 after being torpedoed by a German submarine. The chaplains helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
     Gary first became interested in researching this event when he saw a small monument honoring these WWII chaplains in Chillicothe, Illinois.  Business meeting will follow.
bullet Wersau Germany 700th Anniversary
      On October 29, 2013, our society welcomed Horst Rapp from the village of Wersau, Germany (located near Darmstadt) as our monthly speaker.  Mr. Rapp discussed the local 19th century hardships that encouraged families to choose to emigrate to America - particularly to Pekin/Tazewell County.  His presentation provided many interesting details about the village and residents of Wersau.  He mentioned that Wersau wanted to connect with families in the Pekin/Tazewell County area.
     Wersau is celebrating the village's 700th year anniversary in 2014.  Horst invites all of us to visit and help Wersau celebrate at any of the many activities the village is sponsoring throughout the year.  Wersau would love to have visitors to their town.  So, don’t hesitate to visit the village should you have a trip planned this year to Germany!
    The village has a 700th Wersau Anniversary Website you can check to see how the town is celebrating all through 2014.  Although the website is in German, your browser should have a translate function that will allow you to understand the text. Website is now in English!!
     Wersau resident Joachim Schneider has volunteered to facilitate communication between Pekin and Wersau.  Heir Schneider will try to answer genealogical questions (or will direct you to others).  His email address is jogi.wersche[at]web.de (Please replace [at] with @).  Jogi speaks English so don’t hesitate to email him.
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 2014
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 84 Amish Mennonite families who immigrated to Tazewell (and surrounding) Counties before 1856 - almost 900 pages with around 1300 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 July 2014.
     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, 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 July 2014.

~~ 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 © 1999-2014
P. O. Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
(309) 477-3044
Send a message to TCGHS
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Mike Dickson