Local History in the News - 2009

Press Release
December 30, 2009

Industry Township  -  Before our snow storms, Tim Eifert accepted a new sign for the Vail Cemetery donated  by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Vail Cemetery is located on the eastern edge of the village of Industry in McDonough County. It is an inactive family cemetery founded in 1839 with approximately 75 graves interred from then to 1916.
After Tim Eifert purchased his home, he discovered this abandoned and neglected cemetery across the street. The headstones are in good condition and can be read, although he had to clear the cemetery of tree limbs and brush.
Over the years, Eifert became the unofficial sexton mowing for the distant relatives of the Vail family. Currently, the village assumes this responsibility. But Eifert remains an interested historian of the cemetery.
The earliest known burial in 1839 was Thomas B. Vail. A relative, Samuel Vail was a veteran of the War of 1812. Thomas J. Vail and Ira Arnold were veterans of the Civil War.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Table Grove State Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Press Release
December 29, 2009

Macomb  -  Gary Rhodes, sexton of Oakwood Cemetery, recently accepted  a new sign donated by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Oakwood Cemetery is the city of Macomb in McDonough County. There  are seven veterans of the War of 1812, 268 veterans of the Civil War,  and four veterans of the Mormon War buried among approximately 14,000  graves.
One of the oldest headstones marks a grave from 1857 when the 
cemetery was established and incorporated by William H. Randolph 
(1813-1864), a prominent businessman and political leader in 
nineteenth century Macomb (who is buried there).
The original eleven acres had been an orchard on the farm of 
Randolph’s father-in-law, Thomas A. Brooking.
Additional land was added sporadically from 1880 to reach its 
current size.
Many historically significant Macomb citizens rest in Oakwood 
including William “Uncle Billy” Allison, Sarah Allison, and Harmon 
Allison, conductors in the Underground Railroad. Carter Van Vleck, 
C.V. Chandler, and William L. Broaddus, were officers in the Civil 
War. Sanford Daniels, a former slave who, after freedom, lived in 
Macomb until 101 years old, and Alfred Bayliss and Samuel B. Hursh, 
leaders at Western Illinois State Normal School (now WIU) are also in 
Oakwood. There is even a paupers corner.
Oakwood Cemetery is still active and beautifully maintained by the 
city. Rhodes is the current sexton.
City taxes are levied for its operation, along with charges for 
grave sites. Macomb Public Works maintains Oakwood and the Old Macomb Cemetery on Wigwam Hollow Road.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Mid-America National Bank,  the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Press Release
December 26, 2009

Industry Township  -  Paula and Jere Greuel, members of the Industry Cemetery Board, recently accepted a new sign donated by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Industry Cemetery is on the north edge of the township of Industry in McDonough County. There are 27 veterans of the Civil War and one veteran of the Spanish American War buried among approximately 2000 graves.
One of the oldest headstones marks a grave from 1880, but the land was not deeded as a cemetery until 1893. 
Industry Cemetery is still active and beautifully maintained by Industry Township.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Table Grove State Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Macomb's history detective conjures up the past

MHP DVD Case Cover-No Guides.tifBy Tom Fortuna
GateHouse News Service

 Macomb, Ill. -

Tune in to University Television this weekend to celebrate the premier of a locally crafted miniseries.

On Saturday, at both 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., enjoy the first hour of “Macomb’s Historic Places with Dr. John Hallwas.” The second hour premiers on Sunday, Dec. 6; the third hour on Monday, Dec. 7:, both showing at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.  All three segments can be seen at various times thereafter.

A Distinguished Professor Emeritus at WIU, Hallwas is a historian who’s dedicated long, passionate hours to the lively study of McDonough County and Macomb. To share the results of that research, he’s authored numerous books, including “Dime Novel Desperados” and the recent “Remembering McDonough County.” You’ve no doubt already seen on University Television at least part of his eight-part interview series with Gordy Taylor entitled “A History of Western Illinois University.”

Hallwas was an undergrad at WIU during the Sixties and taught in the English Department for many years. The warmth and charm of this miniseries springs from his amiable demeanor and his enthusiasm as he reveals Macomb’s secrets that hide in plain sight.

Part 1 brings to life “Macomb’s Historic Downtown.” Watch Hallwas walk the Square as you have – except now you’ll live and breathe with him almost two hundred years of history. Like an eager detective on the trail of notorious murder, Hallwas draws us in as he uncovers a dilapidated bedroom in the old Randolph House -- where Lincoln slept in 1858 during the historic Lincoln/Douglas debates.  Another highlight is John’s climb into the Courthouse’s cupola -- where he examines the clock mechanism and bell cast in 1871. At the Western Illinois Museum, the artifacts of our past come to life through John’s inquisitive eyes and fervent voice. Now I’ll make sure to visit this local tourist trap.

Part 2 highlights “Western’s Historic Campus.” Hallwas’ keenness -- to show you the often forgotten outdoor theater in the Ravine, and the neglected auditorium on the third floor of Sherman Hall -- is heart warming. When he climbs into Sherman’s old fashioned bank vault with WIU President Al Goldfarb, John makes you feel like a kid discovering a lost room in the attic. You’ll also learn whom Lake Ruth was really named after. I found particularly involving Hallwas’ tour of Simpkins Hall -- where he taught for many years, and where I was a student and instructor too long ago.

Part 3 memorializes “Historic Oakwood Cemetery.” Could there be a better place for a history buff like Hallwas to prove his intrigue with the past? To illustrate Macomb’s history of racial segregation, he  marches into a corner that’s home to our Potter’s Field. Then there are the graves of those who championed the Underground Railroad, and the tombstones dedicated to Macomb’s Civil War heroes. Memorializing other fallen heroes as well, John also highlights the burial place of the cemetery’s founder William Randolph, the victim in a headline grabbing murder. Most intriguing is Hallwas’ tour of Oakwood Abbey: a mausoleum which holds the crypt of Macomb’s most famous 20th century resident.

A theme throughout the three parts is the town/gown alliance that has been so beneficial to Macomb. This miniseries is a testament to that.  A big step on the road to having the Square designated as a national historic district, “Macomb’s Historic Places” is also a notable step forward for University Television. Not bound to in-studio interviews, this production takes us on location in the bright sunshine of our home town. Director/producer Roger Kent keeps the action lively and the production values top notch. Kathy Nichols provided archival photographs that bring the past alive.
Thanks to the WIU Foundation and McDonough County Historical Society for their sponsorship, and executive producer Al Goldfarb for his expertise. Tune in this weekend and discover Macomb’s hidden history with a master detective, Dr. John Hallwas. 

HPC readies grant application

By Jillian Stambaugh
The McDonough County Voice

Macomb, Ill. -

The Macomb Historic Preservation Commission is a few alterations and several postage stamps away from submitting a grant application to pay for an extensive survey of the city’s historic district.

Included in the grant application are 30 photographs and block views of the historic district along with all the necessary paper work detailing the proposed project.
The grant application needs to be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 30. Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch told the commission he sent the application to a consultant he worked with in the past for her review.

“I sent the narrative, schedule and budget to her for review free of charge...she thought the budget was good and just saw a minor conflict in the time schedule, which I will need to double-check,” Basch told the commission.

In addition, it was suggested commissioners hold off on conducting an informational meeting for the public until their consultant will be available, most likely around mid-July.

“I’m assuming we get the funds by April 15, 2010; that’s the state’s expected turn-around time,” Basch added.

The amount the commission is requesting for the grant totals $14,850 and the city of Macomb will contribute $990.

“It’s a good deal in today’s world - you don’t see a grant for that amount,” Basch said.
The required end date for the project is the end of September 2011, and a total of 300 hours of work must be completed on the project by Basch, clerical support, volunteers, interns or other means.

Each hour applied towards the match must be accounted through weekly documentation of time sheets.

In other business:
• Sam Parker was added as a new member of the Historic Preservation Commission, while Marty Fischer was re-elected chairman and Dennis Danowski maintained his vice-chair position.
• When Macomb became a Certified Local Government, the commission had also asked the state to make it eligible for owner occupied tax freezes within the district.
Basch said while there are no property owners residing in single-family homes in the historic district right now, he would create a form for the purpose if it does present itself in the future.
• Basch told the commission he has not heard anything back regarding the businesses within pre-1900 homes along the 400 block of East Jackson Street.
• The HPC will not hold a December meeting unless urgent business presents itself.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m in the Macomb City Council Chambers.

Press Release-- November 24, 2009

Colchester Township  -  Howard Kreps recently accepted a new sign for  the Neece Cemetery donated  by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Neece Cemetery is located in south central Colchester Township in 
McDonough County. It is an inactive family cemetery founded in 1838 
with approximately 20 graves interred from then to 1928.
When Howard Kreps purchased his rural home he discovered this 
abandoned and neglected cemetery on his land. The headstones are in  good condition and can be read, although the area is full of trees 
and brush.
In 1992, Macomb police officer Gary Tilden, with his wife Vivian, 
and friends Tom Carey, Randy Allison, Joe Richbark and Steve 
Richbark, cleaned up this cemetery. They found the marker of Civil 
War veteran Oscar Florey, husband of Ada Neece.
The earliest known burial in 1838 was Mary D. Neece, first wife of 
Jesse Neece who moved into McDonough County in 1821.
Andrew Jackson McCown's parents are in the Barber Cemetery. Jack and his wife, Fidelia Neece, rest in the Neece Cemetery.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral 
Home in Macomb and Blandinsville, the Community Quality of Life 
Advisory Committee, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Press Release--November 18, 2009
Blandinsville Township - - Martin Diestler, local historian and 
genealogist in Blandinsville, accepted a new sign for the Duncan 
Cemetery provided by the McDonough County Historical Society. 
Diestler found some interesting stories while researching this rural 
west of Blandinsville.
Duncan Cemetery is inactive but beautifully maintained by the 
Blandinsville Township cemetery committee headed by Laura Melvin.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral 
Home in Macomb and Blandinsville, the Community Quality of Life 
Advisory Committee, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the  McDonough County Historical Society.

Duncan Cemetery by Martin Diestler

In 1840, President Martin Van Buren raised revenue by selling 
government land in Illinois.  Two halves of the SW quarter of Section 
31 in what later became Blandinsville Township were purchased by two 
settlers from White County, Tennessee:  Joseph Duncan and his father- in-law, Isaac Harris.  Perhaps because of limited choice in the 
sparse population, the Duncan children, of whom there were 10, often 
married into the same families as their brothers, sisters, and 
cousins. Thomas and James married Susan and Melvina Marlow. Cosby,  Sarah, and William Duncan married Mary, Thomas, and Lurena Atwater. The Marlows and Atwaters, like the Duncans, came up from White County.The SE corner of Joseph Duncan's farm was not well suited to  agriculture. It sloped with dense woods. In that quiet, green acre,  however, Joseph provided the final resting place for many of his 
children and grandchildren.  Beginning in 1851, when two  grandchildren, Cosby and Laura, were buried there, until 1900 when 
his nephew, James, followed his wife Melvina to his grave, at least 
14 Duncans, three Atwaters, three Chapins, a Steele, and a Marlow 
(all of them related) found their final resting place in what became 
known as the Duncan Cemetery.  Although there is no headstone 
surviving, it appears likely that Joseph himself was buried in the 
Duncan Cemetery around 1880.
There are stories of tragedy and comedy to be found among the 
gravestones.  Elijah Marlow left his wife, Nancy Smiddy and eight 
children (the youngest not yet walking) to fight for the Confederate 
Missouri 11th Infantry.  In 1863, at age 42, he was killed. He now 
lies beneath a small flag in the Duncan Cemetery.  His daughter, 
Melvina, married James Duncan, and his son, Jasper, worked on James  Duncan's farm.
On a much lighter note, Elias, son of Joseph Duncan, returned from 
the Civil War and, at age 28, he eloped with Nancy Woodside from 
LaHarpe.  They were married on a Mississippi riverboat on her 16th 
birthday.  Her father's efforts to reach the river and stop the boat 
from sailing were thwarted when Mr. Woodside “nearly run an old mule 
to death trying to get to the dock to head them off, but was too 
late.”  Elias and Nancy, nonetheless, stayed married through the 
rest of their lives and raised eight children.
Since 1900 the cemetery has had no known burials and few visitors.  
Truly those buried there have been allowed to rest in peace.

WIU Librarians' Project Makes Western Illinois Historical Newsletters Available Online  [from WIU website]

MACOMB, IL -- As the holidays approach, many in western Illinois may start to feel the tug of nostalgia. Memories of Thanksgiving meals with family and friends, recalling the searches for prime snow-sledding spots on the region's relatively flat terrain and recollections of simpler times likely will always be very much alive in the hearts and minds of those who have called western Illinois home.

Earlier this year, two Western Illinois University librarians took it upon themselves to make the historical past and collective memories of the western Illinois region more accessible to those near and afar. Bill Thompson, librarian and associate professor at University Libraries, and Jeff Hancks, Baxter-Snyder Professor of Regional and Icarian Studies and University Archives and Special Collections unit coordinator, applied for and were awarded a grant through the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). The grant enabled Hancks and Thompson to spearhead a project that makes the content of several western Illinois historical societies' newsletters available online. Included in the online collection -- which is available at collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_wiu_hsn.php?CISOROOT=/wiu_hsn -- are newsletters from the western Illinois counties of Hancock (1987-present); McDonough (1982-present), including the Colchester Area Historical Society (1995-present); Rock Island (1966-present); and Schuyler (1969-present).

"Western Illinois University's Special Collections already had hard copies of the materials," explained Thompson. "It was a matter of getting permission to scan them and make them publicly accessible, so Jeff worked with the various historical societies involved to get their permission to put the material online."

Thompson noted the collection has been available online since late last summer, and the newsletters online are browsable by individual issue. Perusing the many stories about people and places in the western Illinois counties, Thompson pointed out, highlights how the seemingly simple recounting of the lives of the people in the region provides contemporary insight into the "simpler" days of yore.
For rest of the story go to:

Civil War Demonstration Draws Crowd

Civil War enthusiast Don Bath (right) shows off an authentic Henry rifle to interested onlookers.
(wium) - It may not have been a battle re-enactment, but it sure drew a crowd. This past weekend members of the newly formed Western Illinois Civil War Roundtable presented a demonstration including authentic weapons, artifacts and pictures from the Civil War.

WIU Chemistry professor Don Bath is a self proclaimed history buff. He says he and the Civil War Roundtable hope to combat some of the misconceptions surrounding the war. He says many people equate the time of the Civil War to the "Dark Ages" in terms of strategy, weaponry and even intellect.

"They weren't total ignorant heathens during that period," says Bath. "There were a lot of things that were done that are still done in the sciences these days, some of the techniques. This was not an illiterate period in the history of this country. A lot of people knew about many things that many of us today don't know about."

Bath says he hopes to use the demonstration to generate interest not only in the Civil War, but also in the Western Illinois Civil War Roundtable itself. He says he hopes the demonstration would generate enough interest to start a sizable group.
For the rest of the story go to:




Bushnell honors veterans with new memorial unveiled Saturday

By Lainie Steelman
The completed Bushnell Veterans Memorial. This picture was taken on Sunday, the day after the memorial's official unveiling.    
 By Lainie Steelman
The McDonough County Voice

Bushnell, Ill. -

After almost two years of planning and construction, the city of Bushnell unveiled its new veterans memorial Saturday in the VFW Park.

Several hundred people attended the event. Bushnell Mayor Steve Russell, Bushnell City Clerk Donna Coates, Bushnell American Legion Commander Lyle Payne, Illinois State Police Capt. Robert Elliott, Rep. Rich Myers and Congressman Phil Hare’s District Director Pat O’ Brien made remarks before the centerpiece stone of the memorial was uncovered.

Each of the speakers noted Bushnell’s extraordinary efforts to continually honor its veterans.
“I don’t ever recall one with this kind of a crowd,” Myers said about the memorial’s unveiling. “We and Western Illinois are proud of Bushnell and its dedication to veterans.”

Elliott said the efforts of the Bushnell Flag Crew, which sets up several hundred American flags along city streets on holidays and whenever Bushnell military personnel return home.

“When you place 350 flags when a soldier returns, it means a lot,” Elliott said.

Each speaker also mentioned the efforts of Bushnell City Clerk Coates, who was largely responsible for the memorial’s construction.

“I would like to thank a little lady who had a dream a couple of years ago,”  Russell said. “Her name is Donna Coates.”

For the rest of the story go to: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/homepage/x2087390610/Bushnell-honors-veterans-with-new-memorial-unveiled-Saturday

Museum has friends

By Erin McCarthy/THE VOICE
Ken McClintock, of Bushnell, and Grace Baker, of Macomb, take a look at Native American artifacts Wednesday evening at the Western Illinois Museum exhibit "Clay Works: Industry to Arts." These artifacts were discovered by Richard Fishel during recent archaeological digs in the region and will be on display through Nov. 21.  
By Erin McCarthy
The McDonough County Voice
Macomb, Ill. -

The Western Illinois Museum board and staff hosted a program called “What Friends are For” Wednesday evening to inform residents about upcoming exhibitions and events, as well as how to become a “friend” of the museum.

Friends of the Museum is a membership program that supports the museum in a variety a ways, whether it's through financial support or volunteering time as a docent or helping with an event or exhibit.

Western Illinois Museum Curator Sue Scott said without the Friends of the Museum, they would not be able to stay open 30 hours a week.

“My position is part time, so we rely on docents just to keep the doors open, and for each exhibit at least 100 hours of staffing is provided by these volunteers,” said Scott. “They are the unsung heros that keep the museum running.”

In addition to Friends of the Museum, Scott said Western Illinois University student interns, groups and Greek organizations offer a number of services.

“They bring an energy and curiosity to the museum that's invaluable,” said Scott. “The museum was started and run by students 35 years ago, and I'm so pleased this tradition continues today.”

The program also included guest speakers Richard Fishel, who gave a 3,000-year history of Native American pottery from his work as an archaeologist, and Tim Schroll, who provided a historical overview of the Moses King Brick and Tile Works National Historic District in Colchester.

For the rest of the story go to:

Returning to Civil War times

By Lainie Steelman
Civil War historian Donald Bath speaks to a group of fifth-grade students in Chandler Park last month as part of History Day. On Saturday Bath and others will present a Civil War in the Park, a living history event sponsored by the Western Illinois University Civil War Roundtable.
The McDonough County Voice

Macomb, Ill. -

History will come to life in Macomb’s Chandler Park Saturday when 19th century soldiers set up camp to share their stories with the locals.
Civil War in the Park, a living history event sponsored by Western Illinois Civil War Roundtable, will be an opportunity to recognize the upcoming Civil War Sesquicentennial.
“We’re not going to be shooting at each other, but we will have muskets, swords and other artifacts on hand and be dressed in period uniforms,” said WICWR member Don Bath. “We’ll also have demonstrations going on in the camp.”
Characters at the camp will include Union soldiers, wives, servants and possibly a prisoner of war.
“Ray Krey has a Louisiana Tiger uniform,” said Bath. “I suggested that since he’s the only Confederate, we ought to use him as a prisoner of war, but he hasn’t agreed to that, yet.”
Bath said Civil War in the Park stemmed from the History Day tour Macomb fifth graders take each fall.
Bath has dressed in Civil War uniform and spoken on the tour for a few years now, but he and a number of other amateur and professional historians want to expand by sharing the history with the general public.


Cemetery cleaning can bring out historic stories

The McDonough County Voice
Well kempt cemeteries, even if inactive, have a certain charm. A serendipitous stroll through the headstones standing haphazardly under a cedar or elm, creates a serene communication with our past.

Reading the chiseled inscriptions offers lessons in history, genealogy, demographics, and art.
 It seems a bit peculiar to me that we go to such lengths and expense to  honor our deceased parents, children, and siblings, but with such cavalier abandon neglect the resting places of our earlier forebears who were once the objects of similar love, compassion, respect, and honor.
The McDonough County Historical Society has taken a small step in restoring a fragment of recognition and attention to the 110-115 cemeteries in our county. In quite a few instances, the installation of one of our new signs has motivated a family, an Eagle Scout, or a sympathetic volunteer to tidy up and enhance a plot full of fallen trees, shoulder high weeds, out of control brush, and common litter.

As each of these often small family, church, or township sites is cleared and open, new and fascinating stories emerge about the people, their jobs, relationships, migrations, and families.
If you and some friends wish to assist in a cemetery cleanup, there are three or four neglected and abandoned resting places that need some work.
Gil Belles, Macomb

(wium) - Some improvements are in place at the only National Historic District in McDonough County.

The place is the Moses King Brick & Tile Works National Historic District, better known simply as The Brickyard. The improvements are sturdy steel portals - or entryways - for one of the beehive kilns.

The Brickyard's Tim Schroll says "This is a project to show that there is progress being made. We have to take little steps. That's all we're doing. Find something that's reasonable, attainable, do it, and then get it behind (us)."

The Brickyard held a fundraising campaign to pay for the portals. Schroll says more than 200 people donated. They gave a total of more than $9,000.

Many of the donors showed up for a reception at The Brickyard. It was held to thank contributors and give them a chance to see the completed portals.

Schroll says the next step is to fix the four other beehive kilns, which are not in as good of shape as the kiln with the new portals. Those improvements could prove to be quite expensive.

Schroll says the public is not allowed to simply wander around the grounds because of safety concerns related to the other kilns. He wants to open up the site but cannot do so until all the kilns are secured.

In the meantime, tours are available for a donation.
For the rest of the story go to:



HPC plans historic district survey

By Jillian Stambaugh
The McDonough County Voice

The Macomb Historic Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday to take the next step toward getting national recognition for the downtown historic district by putting together an intensive survey.

Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch told the commission they had received the official notice from the state for the Certified Local Government (CLG) program, meaning they can now apply for and receive grant money.

At the last meeting on Oct. 6, the group considered either going for a national nomination or conducting the historic survey.

In talking to representatives from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Mike Ward and Andrew Heckenkamp, Basch informed the group both individuals didn’t think enough information had been gathered to proceed directly to national recognition.

“They suggested doing the intensive survey, analyzing it, then having the nomination done a year later,” Basch said. “It would be an awful lot to try and do both at once.”

The grants typically range from $7,500 - $10,000, Basch added. Using the grant money for signage on historic buildings is not an option, but he thinks the survey would be their best choice.
“To me, it appears that doing the survey is a logical act for us to pursue the grant,” he said.
For the rest of the story go to: 


Vishnu Springs finds new life as sanctuary

By The Capitol Hotel
By Lainie Steelman
The McDonough County Voice

Tennessee, Ill. -

A thriving community in the late 1880s that faded away to a ghost town is being revitalized.
All that remains of Vishnu Springs, a 140-acre wooded property hidden away in a remote McDonough County valley near Tennessee, is a crumbling old hotel covered in graffiti and a pond. But Western Illinois University, along with the Friends of Vishnu, is re-developing the property as a wildlife sanctuary.

The Friends of Vishnu, along with WIU, held an open house Sunday at the Vishnu site to re-introduce the property as The Ira and Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Western Illinois University Foundation acquired the property in 2003 from the Posts’ granddaughter with the stipulation that it be used as a wildlife sanctuary.

Marla Vizdal, Friends of Vishnu co-chair and a member of the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission, gave an historical overview of the property at Sunday’s open house.

According to Vizdal’s speech, turning Vishnu Springs into a wildlife sanctuary is a return to the property’s roots. Named for the Hindu god Vishnu, preserver of the universe, the property was once a place where people went to restore themselves and enjoy the serenity of the natural environment.
For the rest of the story go to:

For another story on Vishnu Springs,

"Hope Springs Eternal at Vishnu Springs"

at the Tri-States Public Radio website, click here:  www.publicbroadcasting.net/wium/news.newsmain/article/3007/0/1569587/Local.Specials/

The McDonough County History Consortium

[from the Tri States Public Radio website]

(wium) - There are many groups researching and preserving the history of McDonough County.  But they don't always know what the others are up to. Now steps are being taken to make that confusion a thing of the past.

Various history organizations in the county are forming an umbrella group. It's known as the McDonough County History Consortium.

Spokesperson Bob Fischer says this will improve communication among the organizations while allowing them to maintain their individual identities.

"That's one reason I believe this concept is better than some ideas that came out several years ago," says Fischer. "There were ideas of trying to consolidate and form new organizations with mutual interests. Often when we do that, we find that the specific interest of one group does not fit well with another."

Fischer says the consortium could also prove to be a point of contact for government agencies looking to provide history-related grants and other funding.

"Sometimes it's difficult to know exactly where to go," says Fischer. "My hope is we can contact the appropriate organization and perhaps pull some additional monies into the county."

Fischer says a list serve has already been established for the consortium and he hopes to add more names to the list. He says other steps are already being taken to improve communication between various organizations.

Among the groups representing various aspects of McDonough County history are the McDonough County Historical Society, the McDonough County Historical Preservation Society, the McDonough County Genealogical Society, Friends of Vishnu, Western Illinois University Archives, and Western Illinois Museum.

In addition, there are historical societies in Bushnell and Colchester, a civil war reenactment group, and the McDonough County Antique Gas Engine Association.

Fischer says the McDonough County History Consortium is still getting started, but the Genealogical Society and the Historical Preservation Society have already agreed to give it a try.

Fischer wants as many groups as possible to know about the consortium and hopes many will get involved. He says groups devoted to McDonough County history can call him at (309) 259-0360 or send an e-mail to rjfish@macomb.com.

© Copyright 2009, wium