2010 January - March Local History in the News

Local history learning

The McDonough County Voice
Macomb, Ill. -

As the McDonough County Genealogical Society celebrates its 31st year, the group is opening its doors to the public to show the available research capabilities.
On Saturday, March 27, the society will host an open house at its offices, in the back of the Western Illinois Museum at 201 S. Lafayette St. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. 
“We want to show what we do and who we are,” said society President Marla Vizdal, who is retired from the Archives at Western Illinois University.
The non-profit society’s research collection focuses on McDonough and surrounding counties. A variety of search tools are available, including donated research from past members.
The society’s website; www.macomb. com/mcgs/ also offers a searchable surname index.
“There is no charge to come in,” Vizdal said of the society’s offices and search tools.
While the McDonough County Genealogical Society depends on donations and membership dues, it also charges a fee to perform searches for people.
“We get requests from all over,” Vizdal said. “The world of genealogy has really opened up with the Internet.”
Dick Jackson is the society’s main researcher and is currently training three new researchers to help with the requests.
The office and research center are run by volunteers and is open on Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition, the society holds meetings on the third Monday of each month at   7 p.m. The next meeting is Monday at 7 p.m., when Bridget Napolitano will speak about the “Argyle-Atkinson Cemetery.”
During the society’s open house, a drawing will be held for two one-year memberships, one for a current member and one for a non-member. Refreshments will also be served.
“We’ll have tours of our space and beginner charts of family trees,” Vizdal said.
Members of the MCGS have helped publish 65 volumes of McDonough County history.
Vizdal said work is also ongoing to catalog the society’s entire collection to allow better access to records.

The Courthouse Square Project

Lottie Phillips

(wium) - The Western Illinois Museum would like to literally hear from the public regarding memories about the courthouse square in Macomb.
The museum's Lottie Phillips is asking people with stories about the square to stop by and make a recording.
"What we're looking for is memories of the square, whether they be shopping there every Sunday, or if they were a store owner, what it was like to own a store on the square," says Phillips. "We're looking for those memories and social customs that were on the square."
Phillips says the audio recordings will be done every Wednesday during March. People can stop by the museum between noon and 2:00pm to make a recording. Those who cannot make it on a Wednesday can contact the museum to schedule an appointment for a different time.

The museum is located at 201 South Lafayette Street, just off the courthouse square.

"Time changes so much. Looking at what the square once was and what it is today - it's no longer the hub. People now go to the outskirts of town to do their shopping," says Phillips. "I think it's important to remember those (earlier) times and I think it's important for people to be educated about their local history."

She says people can also stop by to record their observations about the square today.

Phillips says portions of the recordings will be used as part of the upcoming exhibit The Courthouse Square Project: A History in the Making. She thinks the recordings will add character to the photographs and artifacts that will be displayed.

The exhibit will open on May 15 and close on September 30.

Phillips says the recordings will also be saved in the museum's archives.
© Copyright 2010, wium

Western Illinois Museum begins Collection of Oral History


What: The Western Illinois Museum will begin collecting the stories that are an integral part of our local history.  In conjunction with the upcoming exhibit, The Courthouse Square Project: A History in the Making, the museum is creating a collection of digitally recorded stories and memories about the social customs, businesses, rivalries, politics, and traditions related to Macomb’s Courthouse Square.  Recording oral history captures an individual’s experiences which in turn inform the collective history of the region.  This is a unique opportunity for the community to participate in the important work of preserving the history of the region.


When: Beginning Wednesday, March 3rd and each Wednesday in March, the museum will collect memories and stories from 12:00 – 2:00 pm or by appointment.  To make an appointment, call 309.837.2750 or email intern@westernillinoismusuem.org.


Where: Oral histories will be recorded at the Western Illinois Museum located at 201 South Lafayette Street in Macomb, Illinois.


The Court House Square Project: A History in the Making will be on view May 15 through September 13, 2010.  McDonough County’s Courthouse Square −built in the center of the county −has long been the focal point for area residents and visitors.  The exhibit will trace changes in the physical features of the square, record the stories, analyzing the impact social, political and economic issues had on the life on the square, and examine its traditions and culture.  These physical structures which hold a wealth of history will become the entryway to gain an appreciation for what exists today.


The exhibit is being organized with assistance from the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission.

Historic designation considered for hotel

By Adam Sacasa
An application is in process to receive a historic designation for the former LaMoine Hotel. The application process was discussed Tuesday by the Historic Preservation Commission.
By Jillian Stambaugh
The McDonough County Voice

Macomb, Ill. -

The Lamoine Hotel is making its way towards preservation according to Americorps fellow and Community Development intern Dustin Hendricks.

Hendricks presented an update to the Historic Preservation Commission Tuesday afternoon regarding his work on the application in hopes of receiving a historic designation for the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Three main articles are included in the official application including one application for the U.S. Park Service, a similar form for tax information and a number of photographs detailing the building. Throughout the process, Hendricks had communicated regularly with Andrew Heckenkamp of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to make sure the application was as detailed and accurate as necessary.

“These are the final stages of the application process,” Hendricks told the commission. “The time line is open-ended and we are about ready to mail.”

Chairman Marty Fisher asked Hendricks if the owner of the building, GateHouse Media Services, has maintained its original interest in receiving historic designation for the Lamoine Hotel.
“I believe they still want to be on the register,” Hendricks replied, adding the application requires owner signatures for tax documents. “They have seemed very receptive throughout the process.”
Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch added he hopes the building owners are willing to be in the register as money for development could become available after the building is approved.

“Economic stimulus bonds could be in play with this process,” he said. “With this large of a process, you wonder what it would take to be done in a successful and timely manner.”
Hendricks requested the commission review the documents and let him know of any alterations or changes.

Historic Preservation Grant for Macomb

The historic courthouse square in downtown Macomb

(wium) - The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has awarded Macomb a $12,000 grant to help the city in its effort to gain National Historic District designation.
The money will pay for a consultant who will do an intensive building survey of the city's Downtown Historic District. It will be a lengthy process. Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch's goal is to wrap it up by September, 2011.
Basch says the building survey involves a great amount of research on each individual building, dating back to when it was built.
"(It will document) Any kind of cultural significance it has, any significance in terms of events or people who stayed there or owned the structure, and how it fits into the downtown as a whole," says Basch.

Basch says the research will be done by going through newspaper records, the WIU archives, and other sources.

Basch says there are benefits to a national designation.

"If you achieve national designation, it's not only a good marketing tool," say Basch. "But it also makes the city and the district and the individual buildings eligible for some other federal grant funds that otherwise they wouldn't be, plus it opens up the possibility of federal tax credits for rehabbing these buildings."

The city council must agree to accept the grant. Aldermen will be asked to do so next month.

Basch says the city will be expected to donate some volunteer time to the research project.

The state awarded grants to a total of 11 communities for historic preservation projects. A couple of the others are also in western Illinois.

The state says Jacksonville will receive $10,000 to update the historic structures survey in the city's historic district and revise the National Register of Historic Places nomination form accordingly.

Quincy will receive $3,000 to update a produce a brochure describing local landmarks.

© Copyright 2010, wium

Emphasis - January 29

A WIUM Radio broadcast --Rich Eggers interviews Bob Fischer about the Consortium -- to hear the broadcast-- click here
A portion of Macomb's historic square

(wium) - Rich Egger's guest is Bob Fischer of the McDonough County History Consortium.

The consortium was formed to improve communication among the multitude of local history groups in the county. The consortium also promotes local history through its website.

At least a dozen groups are involved with the consortium. Each maintains its own identity. Fischer says the consortium is always interested in getting more groups involved.

The consortium does not get involved in events but does try to help local groups connect to work on projects.

© Copyright 2010, wium

George Burton accepting sign for the Strader-Nankivel Cemetery
George Burton accepting sign for the Strader-Nankivel Cemetery
Press Release
January 20, 2010

Chalmers Township - - George Burton, a cousin in Good Hope of the Burton brothers, accepted a new sign for the Strader-Nankivel Cemetery provided by the McDonough County Historical Society. Tom Burton tells an interesting story while researching his family tree and finding this rural cemetery east of Fandon.
Strader-Nankivel Cemetery is inactive and recently maintained by the Burton relatives, Tom and Steve from Washington state and brother Bob from Idaho, and cousin George from Good Hope. The earliest head stone is from 1838. There are about 60 markers from then until 1902, the date of the last burial.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Table Grove State Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Strader-Nankivel Cemetery
by Tom Burton
Colbert, Washington

In May 2006, my two brothers, Steve and Bob, and I began an Internet search for the resting place of our grandfather’s birth mother, Laura Alice Nankivel, we thought from Macomb, Illinois. We knew nothing of her life or circumstances. 
As it turned out, Laura died five days after giving birth to her fifth child who died at birth. Laura was 25 years old. The year was 1878 and our grandfather was three years old.
Using the Internet, I was able to locate great grandmother Laura and our Nankivel relatives in the Strader-Nankivel Cemetery. I contacted George Burton, our newly found cousin in Good Hope. He gladly did the scouting, contacting, locating, and verification of the abandoned and neglected cemetery. We are indebted to George for his persistence and then gracious invitation to his semi-annual Burton Reunion in June 2006.
Five members of our family attended this reunion hosted by George and his wife Liz. They took us to the cemetery deep in the woods behind the home of Becky Cramer, who graciously allowed us access.
We did some modest clearing and discovery of head stone identification of many of our relatives. Steve, Bob, and I decided that another trip was necessary.
The June 2009 Burton Reunion brought us back to enjoy our extended family and work on the cemetery, which had been a victim of the local winter ice and wind storms. George, our local host in Good Hope, organized some friends, Jack and Susan Pace, Mary Vogler, and Becky Cramer who gathered tools and enthusiasm to make the project work.
We spent three days sawing fallen trees, clearing brush, raking debris, and discovering the perimeters of this isolated graveyard. We left our ancestors with a much better looking resting place and have a stronger connection to their lives in rural Macomb.
And thanks to the McDonough County Historical Society, the cemetery has a new sign!

Current exhibit featured on Illinois Stories with Mark McDonald


Illinois Stories

The current exhibition, Quilt Stories, will be featured on Illinois Stories with Mark McDonald. The program will air on WMEC-TV, channel 6 and 20 on Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 PM; Friday, January 22, 6:30 PM; Wednesday, January 27, 6:30 PM.


The program includes a tour of the Western Illinois Museum's exhibit, Quilt Stories with Kim Nettles and Sue Scott. The program also features interviews with artist Pat Hobbs and Lisa Gruver, coordinator for the Rain Forest Quilt Project, both participating in the WCI Arts Centers exhibit, Quilt Expressions.


Quilt Stories is on view at the Western Illinois Museum through April 24, 2010. Quilt Expressions on view at the WCI Arts Center through February 20, 2010.


Join Western Illinois Museum for

Who Collects What...

Understanding Your Quilt

With Kim Nettles, local quilt restoration artist who also serves on the Kibbe Museum Board


What: The Western Illinois Museum and the Kibbe Museum in Carthage are pleased to host Kim Nettles who will share her knowledge about vintage quilts and fabrics.  You are invited to bring your quilt for evaluation by Kim and hear her informative presentation on how to research and interpret quilts. Her talk will provide guidelines on dating and identifying patterns, and how to create a strategy for researching the history of a quilt.


When: Saturday, January 30, 2010

Talk, Understanding Your Quilt: 10:00 – 11:00 am Individual quilt evaluations: 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Evaluations will be on a first come, first serve basis. (approximately 12 to 15 appointments will be available)  Contact Western Illinois Museum at 309.837.2750 or info@westernillinoismuseum.org to sign up for an evaluation.


How much: This event is a fund raiser with all proceeds benefiting both the Kibbe Museum and the Western Illinois Museum. The recommended donation for the talk is $10, and $15 for individual evaluation.


Where: Western Illinois Museum, 201 South Lafayette Street, Macomb, Illinois


About Kim Nettles

Kim has been restoring quilts since 2006.  She is an alumna of the Nancy Kirk Basic and Advanced Quilting Restoration Seminars and volunteers her services to the Kibbe Museum.  


About the Kibbe Museum

Located in Carthage, Illinois, the Kibbe Museum is dedicated to preserving the multi-faceted history of Hancock County and its citizens.  A new wing was opened in 2009, making way for expanded and new exhibits on military history, barn architecture, railroads, churches, and education.


About the Western Illinois Museum

The Western Illinois Museum is a regional history museum that teaches the importance of knowing, valuing and respecting the past and provides the west central Illinois community the means to take ownership of its heritage.


About the series

Who Collects What… is a new series of programs for the inquisitive mind.  Collecting takes focus, determination and keen vision.  This series looks at the wide range of collections in the region and provides insightful presentations by those who are seasoned collectors.  Whether you are a passionate collector or curious observer, these programs provide a glimpse into the practice of collecting, how to manage and care for a collection, as well as, an opportunity to exchange ideas and swap stories.


For more information contact:

Western Illinois Museum







Kibbe Museum




Leon Bainter, Dick Lacey, and Jim Frisbie (left to right)
Leon Bainter, Dick Lacey, and Jim Frisbie (left to right)
Press Release
January 15, 2010
Bethel Township  -  Leon Bainter, Dick Lacey, and Jim Frisbie (left to right), three members of the Archer-Bethel Cemetery Board, recently (before the snow storms!) accepted a new sign donated by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Archer-Bethel Cemetery is southeast of Fandon in northwest Bethel Township in McDonough County. There are 15 veterans of the Civil War buried among approximately 600 graves.
One of the oldest headstones marks a grave from 1838, the accepted date when the cemetery was founded. 
Archer-Bethel Cemetery is still active and beautifully maintained by a private cemetery association trust fund. Two other members of the board unable to be in the photograph are Craig Rigg and Gary Shelley.
The cemetery sign project is supported by MidAmerica National Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Vera Wheeler and Richard Russell, members of the cemetery board of trustees, accept a new sign for the Vance Cemetery donated by theMcDonough County Historical Society.
Vera Wheeler and Richard Russell, members of the cemetery board of trustees, accept a new sign for the Vance Cemetery donated by theMcDonough County Historical Society.
Press Release
January 14,  2010

Industry Township  -  Vera Wheeler and Richard Russell, members of the cemetery board of trustees, recently accepted a new sign for the Vance Cemetery donated by the McDonough County Historical Society.
Vance Cemetery is located a mile east of the Village of Industry in McDonough County. It is an active cemetery founded in 1835 with approximately 180 graves interred from then to the present.
There are four veterans of the Civil War and one from the Spanish American War resting in the beautiful and well maintained Vance Cemetery.
James Vance, Sr., came to McDonough County in 1826, and was the third white man to settle in the county. He was one of the first commissioners of McDonough County when it was organized in 1831. He was also a Justice of the Peace. Vance died in his home in 1835 and was buried on his farm in what is now known as Vance Cemetery.
His daughter Martha, one of 12 children, married John Wilson in 1828, the first couple to be married in McDonough County. Both Martha (d. 1881) and John (d. 1886) rest in Vance Cemetery. 
The cemetery sign project is supported by Table Grove State Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society.

Arlin Fentem (left), who mowed the area as a young boy, and Merle Parks, have grandparents in Dunkard Cemetery and both serve as trustees.
Arlin Fentem (left), who mowed the area as a young boy, and Merle Parks, have grandparents in Dunkard Cemetery and both serve as trustees.
Press Release
January 8, 2010
Bethel Township - - Merle Parks and Arlin Fentem, cemetery association trustees, accepted a new sign for the Dunkard Cemetery provided by the McDonough County Historical Society. Fentem and Parks (on the right) both have grandparents in the cemetery. Parks recalls some interesting facts and stories while reminiscing about this rural cemetery south of Colchester.  Dunkard Cemetery is still active and beautifully maintained by the cemetery trustees.  The cemetery sign project is supported by MidAmerica National Bank, the McDonough County Highway Department and the McDonough County Historical Society.
Dunkard Cemetery
by Merle Parks
A group of families emigrated from Virginia to McDonough County in the latter part of the 1800s. I’ve been told that this group organized the German Baptist Church of the Brethren in September 1879 with 35 members. They built a church building in Section 18 of Bethel Township in 1882 at a cost of $1075.68.
There were burials there west of the church building beginning in 1882. On August 19, 1901, William M. Harbacher and his wife Susan deeded the cemetery ground to the church for the sum of one dollar.
There are probably more descendants from the Reed Family buried in Dunkard than from any other family. Some other prominent family names are Carson, Dulaney, King, Parks, Stump, Wetzel, and others.
Perhaps the name Dunkard emerged as a slang term in the community for the cemetery because of the belief of the German Baptists for total immersion baptism.
The cemetery is still active and well maintained. It was not always well maintained as it is now. I remember in the 1930s a day was set aside when many descendants of the families came with scythes, axes, and other tools to clean up the cemetery.
Sometime in the 1940s I believe, Grace Fentem, a descendant of the Reed family, raised money for regular mowing by sending post cards to descendants of those buried requesting donations. When Arlin Fentem was a boy, he rode his bike from Colchester and mowed the entire church and cemetery grounds. It took two days to mow before power mowers.
Eventually a monetary fund was collected so that the interest generated was enough to pay for mowing.
The last church meeting was held July 16, 1961 and the property was transferred to the cemetery association May 2, 1962. The building was razed shortly after that.