719 N. Eleventh Street
PO Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
to the Ehrlicher Research Center
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 usually staffed with two
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.
Current Events & What's New ~~
May Meeting -
Tuesday, May 14, 7:00 pm
Life member Dr. Tom Dirksen and his wife
Jean will present The North and South of the Lincoln Rocker - a
story that “just fell into our laps" about a
bit of history and genealogy relating to the refurbishing of Ford's
Theater (location of the Lincoln assassination) and a secret that's
hidden in its new furniture.
Dr. Dirksen is a native of Pekin, Illinois. He
graduated in PCHS Class of 1949. Tom has lived in Texas and New York and
in Augusta, Georgia since 1967. He is a graduate of Bradley University
and the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Dr. Dirksen
received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester and
completed a residency in Pediatric Dentistry at the Eastman Dental
Center. Tom retired from the Medical College of Georgia as
Associate Dean Emeritus in 2000. He and Jean are long-term members
of the August Genealogical Society - he served as President soon after
Jean Dirksen, a native of Canada, has a degree in
Medical Record Administration from the Medical College of George and was
employed in several hospitals in the Augusta area. Her hobby is wood
working - an interest that led to the story about Lincoln's rocker.
Tom and Jean have traveled throughout the United States
to see their six children and thirteen grandchildren. All trips some how
seem to go through Salt Lake City for Tom to dig into genealogy. Jean is
an expert on finding other activities while Tom is researching and likes
to explore antique shops and flea markets.
Tom also serves on the Georgia Archives Historical
Records Advisory Board (GHRAB). He was instrumental in in the
Augusta Genealogical Society securing a grant for the preservation of
Richmond County loose papers, a project that won recognition for the
Society from the Georgia Archives. It's an interesting story - perhaps
we can get Tom to talk about how the project came about - suddenly and
Tom returns to Pekin every year to continue his
research and attend the board meeting of the Dirksen Center (Tom is
Senator Everett Dirksen's nephew).
Normal business meeting follows.
Cemetery Walk - May 19, 2:00-4:30 pm, Lakeside Cemetery
Visit the graves of various passengers on the sinking of the
Columbia Riverboat on July 5, 1918 to hear their stories portrayed by
costumed interpreters. Open to the public and free.
Lakeside Cemetery is located on Illinois Route 29 (Eighth Street) just
north of the Pekin. Free. Open to the Public. Rain
Date is June 2. Here's a flyer you can
share with others!
New Book released on The Wreck of the Columbia!
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
We're now on Facebook!
You can now go to our Facebook page any time by simply
clicking on the link above (immediately below the library photo).
Enjoy! Thanks to Charlotte Jibben for creating and
maintaining our new Facebook page!
2012 Edition of Cemetery Volume 1 -
Dillon & Delavan Townships just published!!
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
Many thanks to those who added and proofed all the new
genealogical data—the 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
Released—Everett McKinley Dirksen…a Boy from
Several months ago our society became aware students at
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.
On March 27, copies of the books were presented to the Dirksen
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.
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.
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!
About Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society ~~
Mission & Purpose
Here's what the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society stands
We moved into our new facility in 1997. See more photos of our
library and check out some of our holdings.
||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.
||Our Board & Committee
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
Become one of the almost 400 members of the Tazewell County Genealogical &
Historical Society. Or
renew your current membership!
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
Tazewell County Shelf Sitters
The TCGHS Foundation has created a series of four different collectable shelf sitters representing
historic Tazewell County buildings regulary 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 ~~
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.
Tazewell County Vital Records
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.
||Tazewell County Cemeteries
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.
||Tazewell County Township Map
Here's a map of Tazewell County showing the township names and locations.
Historical Tazewell County Maps - Free!
Here are historical maps of Tazewell County covering
1833, 1857, 1873, 1896, 1920, and 1929.
Ortssippenbücher (OSB) Collection
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.
County Education Records
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.
||Newspapers on Microfilm
Here's a list of the Tazewell County Newspapers prior to
1953 we currently have in our microfilm collection.
||Links - Free!
Here's some other websites, family histories, and mailing lists you might find helpful doing your Tazewell
County research. Last updated May 2013.
Research Services, Historic Photos, and Society Publications ~~
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.
Tazewell County Notable Men Photographs now
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.
Tazewell County WWI Soldier Photographs now
Included in the society's L. Sidney Eslinger Glass Negative
Collection are over 100 glass plate
identified area soldiers in uniform, probably from
around the time of World War I. There are many, many more unnamed ones.
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.
|| 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
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!
One of our members, Jim Conover, has co-authored the definitive book on the history of
"the Berry Gang", which terrorized the people of Tazewell County for years in
the late 1860's, despite the efforts of Pekins tough City Marshal Alfred Stone,
Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt, and his deputies - including the gang's eventual
downfall. A classic piece of western frontier history right here in central
Illinois! Here's a brief overview of the book, including surnames mentioned, and
directions on obtaining your own copy.