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 (TCGHS) 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 July Meeting - Tuesday, July 10, 7:00 pm
     Nationally known genealogist Michael John Neil will present Research on a Tight Budget.  This lecture discusses some no-cost and low-cost ways to expand your genealogical research. Michael will also mention those times when “free” or “low-cost” is simply not possible.
     Michael has written on genealogical research topics since the late 1980s and has lectured nationally at a wide variety of local, regional, and national conferences and workshops (including one at TCGHS).  He also leads annual research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
     Michael publishes a website, Rootdig, where he shares his thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk as well as a couple of blogs: Genealogy Tip of the Day (one genealogy research tip every day) and Genealogy Search Tip (websites he's discovered & the occasional online research tip).  All blog posts are kept short and to the point.
      This presentation is somewhat of an experiment.  In order to try to attract monthly speakers from outside the area, this will be the first time we will have a speaker presenting live over the Internet.  Come be part of TCGHS history!
bullet August Meeting - Tuesday, August 14, 7:00 pm
     Author John Butte will make a presentation based on his book, Darlene’s Silver Streak and The Bradford Model T Girls, John is a native of Bradford, Illinois.
     Darlene Dorgan, a “twenty something” Bradford beautician began organizing summer vacations in her 1926 Ford Model T in 1934, inviting several girlfriends to join her camping at Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin.
    
Seven more summer trips, from 1936 through 1942, took these “twenty-something” girls through 44 states, Canada, and Mexico in an era when such travel by a group of coeds was not common.  Logging almost 80,000 miles, these gals seemed to find adventure at every turn—attending World’s Fairs in New York and San Francisco and traveling to Canada to see the Dionne Quintuplets.  They also visited Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Toronto, and Montreal—sleeping in jails, churches, and country schoolyards along the way. They made the acquaintance of movie stars and moguls, as well as dignitaries and corporate leaders.  A special, enduring relationship developed between the girls and Henry Ford, who met with them twice.
     Most Model T’s were black, but not Darlene’s! She painted it silver!  The car was nicknamed the Silver Streak. At first, the girls referred to themselves as the Bradford Model T Girls.  The girls would become more famously known as the Gypsy Coeds, a name that seemed to fit them well. There was a strong kindred spirit among the girls and an equally strong love for the old Model T that carried them on their road trips.  Many of the girls would spend their adult life in the greater Peoria area.  Many made it to reunions held in the 1970s and 1980s.
     John Butte eventually found the Silver Streak, and returned this true piece of Americana to Central Illinois.  John will be available at 6:30 prior to the meeting to sign and sell his book and again after his presentation. The price of the book is $20.00.
     A normal business meeting will follow.
bullet September Meeting - Tuesday, September 11, 7:00 pm
     Author and historian George Godfrey will make a presentation about the removal of the Potawatomi Native Americans from Illinois. Mr. Godfrey, a Citizen Potawatomi, lived his childhood on the Potawatomi, Sisseton-Whapeton Sioux, Hopi, Omaha, and Winnebago reservations.

     He later was educated in biology and entomology.  After receiving a PhD from Cornell University, George researched butterflies & moths for 22 years at the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois.  He later was a faculty member at Haskell Indian Nations University (Lawrence, Kansas) and eventually served as Haskell's Vice President of Academic Affairs.
     During 2001 – 2005, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, as a National Program Leader. In that capacity, he assisted 31 Tribal Colleges and Universities in the development of their undergraduate curricula and research programs
     In addition to his 40+ scientific publications, he has written five books: Watchekee (Overseer) Walking in Two Cultures; Once a Grass Widow: Watchekee’s Destiny; The Indian Marble; Road to Uncertainty: Trials of Potawatomi Removals; and Cheyenne Oil.
     George is President of the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association. The association is memorializing the trail that the Potawatomi took when forcibly removed from north central Indiana to east central Kansas in 1838.
     George is also a traditional powwow dancer and story teller, activities that have taken him as far away as the Altai Republic in central Asia. He resides in a peaceful wooded area near Athens, Illinois with his wife, Pat.
     A normal business meeting will follow.
bullet October Meeting - Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 pm
     Jared Olar, a library assistant at the Pekin Public Library, will discuss Road Bumps on the Road to Pekin's Incorporation, from the organizing of Town Site in 1829-30 to the Illinois General Assembly's recognition of Pekin as a town in 1837.
     Mr. Olar is author of the Pekin Library's From the History Room Blog and a local history column in the Pekin Daily Times - writing articles highlighting events in the history of Pekin and Tazewell County.

     A normal business meeting will follow.
bullet November Meeting - Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 pm
     Come play "Jeopardy!" and learn about nationally recognized author Tim Pletkovich's highly acclaimed new book, Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame: Stories of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Fighting Irish at our November meeting!
     In his new book, Mr. Pletkovich examines the early life of U.S. Army veteran Gerald A. O'Reilly. The son of a prominent Wall Street banker and grandson of a U.S. ambassador under President Teddy Roosevelt, O'Reilly was raised in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1920s and '30s, when stickball ruled the streets and rumblings of another war in Europe shook the earth from across the Atlantic.
     His story takes us from the bleachers at Ebbets Field in trolley-car Brooklyn to the hallways of Notre Dame during legendary football coach Frank Leahy's national championship years, to the innermost thoughts of elite Tenth Mountain Division soldier thrust into the horrors of battle in Italy's harsh Apennine Mountains.
     A brother-in-law of former United States Senator James L. Buckley and the late William F. Buckley, Jr., O'Reilly provides glimpses into the lives of one of the twentieth century's most revered political families.
     His nephew, novelist Christopher Buckley, recently described his uncle's narrative as
quietly heroic His splendid soul is on full display....”, Buckley said. I have known [Gerry] for over half a century, and knew that he had served with valor in World War II in the fabled Tenth Mountain Division.  But until I read his memoir, I had no idea what he went through.  And why would I have?  He was not the kind to talk about it....To quote James Michener: ‘Where do we find such men?
     Ann Firth, Chief of Staff to the President of Notre Dame, recently commented on O'Reilly's colorful post-war anecdotes from inside of the El Morocco, Toots Shor's, and the Stork Club, where celebrities and New York executives such as he mixed business with cocktails. His is an engaging memoir of momentous times and the Madmen era that followed.
     Mr. O'Reilly, who was the last surviving member of the military company, died recently at the age of ninety-five.  Tim interviewed him over a four-year period during which the two amassed more than fifteen hundred hours of conversation.
     A resident of Peoria, Mr. Pletkovich is married to a Pekin native, the former Melissa Williams. During the 1980s, he served as a baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs and later as an in-studio analyst covering the Boston Red Sox for Radio Station WATD in Marshfield, Massachusetts. He also spent twenty-five years as a secondary school teacher in New York and Illinois.
     Pletkovich was recognized at the 2017 Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield, Missouri, with the Ella A. Dickey Award for his first book, Civil War Fathers: Sons of the Civil War in World War II.  Past Dickey Award recipients have included former First Lady Laura Bush; former Texas First Lady, the late Nellie Connally; and 1972 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate and former United States Senator, the late George McGovern.  Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame is his second book. Both books may be purchased and autographed at our November meeting starting at 6:30 before his presentation and again after his presentation. The cost of Civil War Fathers is $25.  Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame may be purchased for $20.
     Business meeting and society officer elections follow.
bullet Tazewell County Deed Collection 1830-1929
     Our Tazewell County Deed Collection contains original deeds, titles, and mortgages from 1830-1929. This information has been recorded at the Tazewell County Recorder’s Office. However, the collection does not contain all records for this time frame.
     Check out the Deed Collection page for additional information on the collection, index lookups, and/or document copies.
bullet New Publication - Tazewell County Marriage Index 1898-1938, 4 volumes
     Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society (TCGHS) compiled this new index using the original returned marriage licenses which were in storage at the Tazewell County courthouse.  Each entry in the index contains Record Number, Bride & Grooms names, Date of Marriage, Surnames of Groom's mother, Surname of Bride's mother, and any other Surnames mentioned.
     This new index is available for purchase or may be consulted at our library.
     TCGHS is not responsible for any mistakes made in this index. Many of the names were originally recorded in very hard to read handwriting – so the transcribers sometimes had a difficult time deciphering them. Researchers should check any possible spelling variations when searching for a license. Researchers may also order copies of the licenses.
bullet Images of 1898-1938 Marriage Licenses are now available!
     TCGHS has scanned the original returned 1898-1938 marriage licenses which were in storage at the Tazewell County courthouse.  Copies of these original license images can be ordered for $5 each.
     Some of the licenses had extra papers dealing with the marriage – usually permission signed by the parents or guardians for underage children to marry. Copies of these additional papers will be included with the license at no additional charge.
     Orders may be placed at the Society's library, through the mail, or online.
bullet Do you shop at Kroger??
Were you aware that you can ask Kroger to make a small donation whenever you check-out using your Kroger Plus Card?  Sign up now and help TCGHS out whenever you shop at Kroger.
bullet Think about TCGHS when you shop online!
     If you ever shop online, please keep in mind that many online merchants will donate a portion of your purchase to TCGHS. You'll still get the same great prices and service you would get by going directly to any of these merchants. Over the years, the society has received several hundred dollars in donations this way.
     Amazon will make a 4-6% donation to the society for all purchases you make after entering through our website. You get the same great prices and services you always get from Amazon. So, next time you shop at Amazon, please enter through our affiliate link:

         https://amzn.to/1Lmt8Kj

     What if you don't wish to shop at Amazon? Just go to Igive.com through this link

        https://www.iGive.com/TCGHS

and select any of over 1,700 major merchants including names such as the Apple Store, Bass Pro Shops, Best Buy, Dell, Eddie Bauer, JC Pennys, K-mart, Kohls, Lands End, most hotel chains, most travel websites, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Sears, Staples - even Walgreens & Walmart. You'll get the same great prices and service you would get by going directly to any of these online merchants.
      So, whether you are buying big items such as a new computer, small items like an ink cartridge, or any item online, check Amazon and Igive out first.
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 Supporting the long-term goals of the Society
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 by purchasing one of the 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 a list of 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 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 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 June 2018.
bullet Tazewell County Shelf Sitters
   TCGHS has created a series of four different collectable shelf sitters representing historic Tazewell County buildings regularly visited by Abraham Lincoln in the late 1840s 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 September 2017.
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 August 2017 .
bullet Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County, Illinois (including Woodford County) - Free!
     Joseph Peter Staker has written a thoroughly documented extensive history of 90 Amish Mennonite families who immigrated to Tazewell (and surrounding) Counties before 1856 - over 1100 pages with around 1600 source citations.  Joe has graciously placed his four volume book on our website as Adobe Acrobat searchable PDF files which you can download for free!  Last updated in May 2018.
     Researched surnames include Abersoll, Ackerman, Augsburger, Bachman/Baughman, Beck, Beckler, Beller, Belsley, Birky/Birkey, Boshart, Brenneman, Brickler, Camp, Chlopicki, De Guibert, Dellenbach, Dettweiler, Donner, Ehresman, Eigsti, Eiman, Engel, Ernst, Esch/Oesch, Farny, Gascho, Gerber/Garber, Gingerich, Goldsmith, Good, Grubb, Habecker, Hauter, Heiser, Hochstetter, Householder, Jantzi, Imhoff, Kauffman, Kennel, King, Kinsinger, Kistler, Klopfenstein, Lantz, Leman, Litwiller, Martin, Maurer, Miller, Mosiman, Nafziger, Naffziger, 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, Von Diesbach, 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 a list of some websites, family histories, and mailing lists you might find helpful doing your Tazewell County research.  Last updated January 2017.


~~ 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  & property 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 Tazewell County Veterans of World War II Remembrances! On Sale for $30 shipped (50% off) through end of year!  Pick up at the Library for only $25!
     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 1860s, 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 AmazonRead an excerpt.

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Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society © 1999-2016
P. O. Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
(309) 477-3044
Send a message to TCGHS
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Mike Dickson