Past Photos of the Month

March Site of Fort Creve Coeur —The first fort and crude log cabin in this part of the North West Territory. It was built by French explorer LaSalle, and his followers, in the winter of 1680.
April Chief Shabbona, "The White Man's Friend" who saved many Tazewell County settlers during the Black Hawk War of 1832.
May First Tazewell County Courthouse, built at Mackinaw, the first county seat, in 1827, by Amasa Stought, for $125.
June Old County Courthouse, erected in 1849 [in Pekin], was torn down in 1914, to be replaced by the current courthouse.  It cost over $8,000.
July Wreck of the Columbia, considered one of the worst inland waterway navigation disasters to ever occur in the United States. The steamship Columbia hit a submerged stump and sank into the Illinois River on July 5, 1918. We include both a close-up and long-range photo of the wreck site.
August Tremont Courthouse served as the location of the county seat from 1835 through 1849, when it was permanently moved to Pekin.
September Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969) served in the U.S. House from 1933-1948, the U.S. Senate from 1951-69, and as Minority Leader of the Senate from 1959 until 1969.
October Horse-drawn Ferry from Tazewell County across the Illinois River to Kingston Mines.  Photo was taken in 1929.
November Community of Delavan,  we display an 1878 bird's eye view and another taken around 1976. 
December Mineral Springs Park, Since 1902, Pekin's Mineral Springs Park has been one of the treasures of Tazewell County - enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.  Here is a 1912 vista of ice-skating on the lagoon in front of the park pavilion, as well as a modern Christmas nighttime scene.



South Pekin Tornado Homes Damage   On March 30, 1938, a family of three to five tornadoes moved across central and west central Illinois during the afternoon. The worst damage from the outbreak occurred in South Pekin, where seven people were killed, three city blocks were leveled, and 250 homes were damaged or destroyed. We display photos of two of them.
February/March South Pekin Tornado Railroad Damage  This month we displayed three photos of the damage done to the railroad yards at South Pekin by the March 30, 1938 tornado.
April The Berry Gang   Here's a tintype found in the floorboards during a recent remodeling of a home owned by the Berry family until the 1940's.   This is the only known photo of three members of the infamous Berry Gang, who terrorized Tazewell County in the late 1860's.  The Berry Gang's exploits are documented in the book Lynch Law.
May Tazewell County's First Legal Document - Book 1, Page 1  This is the first legal document ever recorded in Tazewell County.  Recorded on 6 July 1827, it authorized John L. Bogardus to operate a ferry across the Illinois River opposite Peoria.  Our thanks to Robert Lutz, County Recorder, for supplying us a copy of the document.
June Mackinaw's Historic Pendergast Inn  In 1837, James Pendergast bought a lot in the village of Mackinaw, Illinois, and erected the tavern known as the Pendergast Inn on what would become the corner of Market & Monroe Streets.  This inn was used as a regular stop for the stage line between Bloomington and Pekin, Illinois.  See where Abraham Lincoln once stayed!
July Richard B. Stolley  Starting his journalism career as Sports Editor of the Pekin Daily Times at the age of fifteen, Mr. Stolley became a reporter for Life magazine - eventually rising to managing editor of all magazines at Time, Inc.  Read more about Mr. Stolley's illustrious career!
August Keystone Steel & Wire  Building and maintaining split rail fences in the 1880's was backbreaking labor.   Peter Sommer, who lived on a farm in rural Dillon, came up with the idea of weaving wire into a "new kind of fence".  See where he started a business that survives to this very day.
September Letter to Abraham Lincoln  In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was locked in a fierce campaign for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent, Stephen A. Douglas.  This month's documents are a letter sent to Lincoln on July 20, 1858 by D.A. Cheever, secretary of the Pekin Republican Central Committee.   He requests that Lincoln come to Tremont to make a speech to "turn the tide in our favor and fix the wavering."  Read the letter for yourself.
October H.H. Cole was a pioneering photographer who pursued his craft in Tazewell County in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  See a sample of his work and picture of H.H. himself.
November General Santa Anna's Leg  A military engagement, a chicken dinner, $18,000 in gold, an artificial leg, and a Mexican Dictator - what do all these have to do with Tazewell County?  Read this intriguing story.
December Scott D. Altman   Most folks know Scott is from Pekin and an astronaut. But, did you know he also did the flying for Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun?  Read more about Scott's career.


January Jonathan & Jacob Tharp  Unfortunately, our president, Norm Tharp, passed away unexpectedly in December 2000. His ancestors, Jonathan and Jacob Tharp, were the first settlers of the area that eventually became Pekin.  Read more about these early settlers and about the contributions Norm made to preserving Tazewell County history.
February Frank A. Blue, a registered pharmacist, operated the Tremont Rexall Drug Store, a prominent Tremont landmark, for forty years until his death in 1948. This month we display twenty labels from Mr. Blue's drugstore. See what typical treatments were in the early part of the twentieth century. (Note: Because of the number of labels displayed, this page can take a few minutes to fully load.)
March Anthony Cheever  Almost every day, from September 1861 to September 1863, Union Calvary Sergeant Anthony Cheever from Delavan wrote a few lines into his Civil War diary.  Read how his granddaughter, Charlotte Sawyer, and her husband, Russell, retraced his wartime footsteps.
April Norm Tharp, our previous president, passed away in December 2000. Here's a copy of the proclamation issued by the City of Pekin making January 22, 2001 "TCGHS Tharp Family Day" to honor the efforts Norm, his family, and TCGHS has made over the years to preserve the history of Tazewell County.
May/June Kiblinger and Merchenthaler Grocery This photo was taken in the spring of 1904. The store was located on the east side of Main Street in Morton, Illinois.
July Caterpillar Tractor  This photo shows 1930's Caterpillar bulldozers being loaded onto an Illinois River barge near the East Peoria plant. The skyline of Peoria, Illinois can be seen across the river.
August Delavan Train Wreck  A freight train wreck that occurred near Delavan, Illinois in 1886.
September Walter Louis Opper in a military uniform, circa 1918.  This photo is just one example of a collection of three thousand 8"x10" glass negatives recently donated to TCGHS by Mrs. Sidney Eslinger of East Peoria. Read about our efforts to preserve these negatives, including how you can help.
October/November Green Valley Presbyterian Church circa 1950. This building was later destroyed by fire. This is one of the featured churches in our 2002 Historic 1950's Churches Calendar.
December Pekin High School Class of 1894. This photo came from a copy of the commencement program which was recently found in the time capsule which had been placed in the cornerstone of Garfield elementary school in the mid-1890's.



Busy Bee Sewing Circle   This photo is of the members of the Busy Bee Sewing Circle during the Civil War.  One of these young girls would grow up to become one of the first principals of Pekin High School.
February Washington Township home of Conrad Seng. Conrad came to Tazewell County from Germany sometime in the 1830'sHe became a Farmer & Bee Keeper. He owned 160 acres of land in the SE 1/4 of Section 34 of Washington Township and built the house on this land.   Conrad Seng married Elizabeth Pfeiffer in Tazewell County on 29 September 1840. They had 5 children.
March Emma Richmond was one of the first woman jurors in Tazewell County.  See the summons she received and read about how it returned to Tazewell County from Florida.
April William & Phebe Hodgson - settled near Groveland in Tazewell County in 1832. See a photo of William & Phebe, a drawing of their farm, and a photo of flax that was grown and processed by William in 1838.
May Sand Hill School Souvenir Cards - The cards list the names of the teacher, school board, and students of the class of 1897-1898.
June Hinners & Albertsen Organ Company - manufactured quality reed and pipe organs from 1885 through 1940.  Photos include Mr. Hinners, Mr. Albertsen, and photos of some of the organs they manufactured.
July Hinners & Albertsen Organ Company - continuing last month's theme, this month's feature was a 1908 Hinners Organ Company purchase order sent to Hammond Reed Company of Worcester, Massachusetts for organ parts.
August Pekin, Lincoln & Decatur Railroad Company - Here's an 1870's stock certificate for this piece of Tazewell County railroad history!
September Ruins of the Tremont Courthouse - Tremont served as the location of the Tazewell County seat from 1835 through 1849, when it was permanently moved to Pekin!  Another photo was shown in August 1999.
October First Graduating Class from Pekin High School - Besides the six members of the 1873 class, we show photos of the high school building and the commencement program.
November TCGHS member awards - These photos recognize June Stoner for receiving a Community Service Award from the Illinois State Genealogical Society and Betty Conway for receiving the Joann Wood Award from the Pekin Intergenerational Network. June and Betty received the awards for their work on our Tree Branch Workshops for fifth-graders and their grandparents and on our Tangled Roots Workshops for elementary school teachers. Besides their awards, we have photos of June as the ?Prospector? and Betty as the ?Lady of the Past?!
December Jacob Winzler Farm - farmstead of early Tazewell County resident Jacob Winzler (1854-1932).



Maria Schrock - This 1892 picture of Maria with the Christmas note on the back to her son Karl Schrock were found in March 1993 in a Pekin antique/auction business.
March Unknown Soldier is of a uniformed World War I soldier, wearing the Distinguished Service Cross medal. This image was scanned from our glass negative collection. If you know anything more about this soldier, please contact the society.
April Unknown Soldier Retouched - Last month's image was scanned from our glass negative collection and was in very poor condition. Three of our visitors took it upon themselves to digitally restore the photo. Rather than try to choose just one, we've posted the results of all their much appreciated efforts.
May/June William Rufus Hammer - The photo was taken by H.H. Cole in his Delavan studio around 1900.  Both the photo and an obituary were contributed by Peggy Carey of Roseville, California.
July/August Jacob & Elizabeth Fischer - this wedding photograph was taken by H.H. Cole in his Pekin studio in February 1891. The photo was contributed by their granddaughter Louise Rollings of Salem, Oregon.
September/October Jacob & Elizabeth Fischer Family - taken around 1919. The photo was contributed by their granddaughter Louise Rollings of Salem, Oregon.
November TCGHS History - history of the founding of Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society twenty-five years ago (Sept/Oct 1978). The original newspaper announcements, photos of the first board, and photos from the 25th anniversary meeting in September 2003 are displayed.
December Lewis E. "Scoop" Lohmann- No Longer an Unknown Soldier - In March 2003, we displayed a photo of an unknown World War I soldier from our glass negative collection.  In April, three web site visitors took it upon themselves to restore the photo.  In early November, the photo was published in the Pekin Daily Times.  We were contacted by family members who identified the unknown soldier.



James Franklin Rollings - This month we display a photo of James Franklin Rollings who settled in Tazewell County in 1851. The photo was submitted by his great-grandson Ronald E. Rollings of Salem, Oregon.


Orndorff-Albright Massacre - On October 12, 1860, George Orndorff's wife and two daughters were violently murdered in their home near Delavan.  Sadly, the twenty-foot-tall monument marking their final resting place is in danger of toppling after 144 years. Read more about this moving story.
August Bud Joerger - a life long Pekin resident  on shore leave during WW II at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Havana, Cuba  - between fighting in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. See if you can identify the other sailors in the photo.
September Samuel & Daisy Rollings - This month's photo was the March 1908 wedding photograph of Samuel & Daisy Rollings of Mackinaw. The photo was submitted by their grandson Ronald E. Rollings of Salem, Oregon.
October-December Joachim, Augusta, & David Schroeder - This month's photo was a circa 1892 photo of the family of Joachim Christian Hinrich Schroeder of Hopedale. The photo was submitted by his great-grandson Father David Klein, SSC of Fort Worth, Texas.


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