719 N. Eleventh Street
PO Box 312
Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
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.
Current Events & What's New ~~
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,
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
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!
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
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
A normal business meeting will follow.
Meeting - Tuesday, September 11, 7:00 pm
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
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
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
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;
Uncertainty: Trials of Potawatomi Removals; and
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.
Meeting - Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 pm
Jared Olar, a library assistant at the
Pekin Public Library,
“Road Bumps on the Road to
from the organizing of
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
A normal business meeting will follow.
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
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
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
Chief of Staff to the President of Notre Dame, recently commented on
O'Reilly's colorful post-war anecdotes from
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
now and help TCGHS out whenever you shop at Kroger.
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:
What if you don't wish to shop at Amazon? Just go to
through this link
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.
PCHS West Campus
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!
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 ~~
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 a list of
our current officers and
Become one of the almost 400 members of the Tazewell County Genealogical &
Historical Society. Or
renew your current membership!
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.
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
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 ~~
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.
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 August 2017 .
Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County,
Illinois (including Woodford County) -
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,
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.
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 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 ~~
|| 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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 Amazon.