Next Historical Society Meeting


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The McDonough County Historical Society
holds free programs at their meetings four times a year in 

  • March
  • May 
  • September  
  • November

usually on the second Monday of the month.
The program features a fascinating speaker sharing knowledge of a historical topic.
The programs are free and open to the public.

Past meetings

March 9, 2020

A New Look at French Peoria During the War of 1812.

Speaker: Marty Fischer

Although current historical writing of the destruction of French Peoria during the War of 1812 all agree that the event occurred at the future site of modern Peoria,  accounts from 1812 up through the late 1800s do not support that view.  These early accounts place the site 100 miles downriver from Peoria near modern day Naples, Illinois.  I will review those accounts and show that they lead to several villages and a huge fort over three times as big as a football field that sits on the high prairie between Meredosia and Arenzville. 

The meeting will be held at 7 PM at the Spoon River Community Outreach Center at 2500 East Jackson Street.  The building is at the intersection of Bower Road and Jackson St. (Hwy 136 & 67). 

We encourage members to bring guests to our meeting and program.

Jan. 13, 2020

The next meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society will be Monday, January 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be held at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center, 2500 East Jackson Street, Macomb, IL. Our program will be provided by Professor Peter Cole. The title of his program is “The Chicago Race Riots of 1919". We encourage members to bring guests to our meeting and program.

The next meeting of the McDonough County Historical society will be Monday, November 11, 2019.  This meeting will be held at the Spoon River Community Outreach Center, 2500 East Jackson Street, Macomb.   Our program will be presented by John Hallwas and is entitled "Compton Park: Macomb's Celebrated Subdivision Beautiful."  In addition, the election of officers for 2020 will be held.

Monday, September, 9, 2019, at 7:00 p.m., the members of the McDonough County Historical Society will meet in Conference Room B at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street, Macomb IL. Our program will be provided by WIU history professor Greg Hall. In his talk, entitled "The First Illinoisans: Prehistoric Native American Peoples in Illinois with Special Emphasis on Western Illinois," he will present an overview of prehistoric peoples of Illinois, from Paleoindians to Mississippians.

Ginny Boynton
Ginny Boynton

The next meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society will be Monday, May 13, 2019, at 7:00 PM. 

The meeting will be held at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center, 2500 East Jackson Street, Macomb, IL.

Our program will be provided by Ginny Boynton. She will speak on “Women of the Illinois HomeFront during World War I”.   Boynton is a professor of history at WIU (and the former chair of that department). 

We encourage members to bring guests to our meeting and program.

Gerald White
Gerald White

The next meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society will be Monday, March 11, 2019, at 7:00 PM. 

The meeting will be held at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center, 2500 East Jackson Street, Macomb, IL.

Our program will be provided by Gerald White

He will be speaking about an archaeological dig at his family farm on the Lamoine River.   Native Americans lived in this area many years ago. 


We encourage members to bring guests to our meeting and program.

January 14, 2019

Spoon River Community College Outreach Center, 

2500 E Jackson St., Macomb, Illinois 61455

Marty Fischer will speak on "Ancient Works Near LaGrange" - a large fortification that is all but unknown today. Was it an Indian construction or a French post/fort or both? Why was it forgotten?

LAST MEETING OF 2018                                                                                    December 3, 2018 - NOTE CHANGE OF DATE!

Location: Spoon River Community College Outreach Center.

6:00pm light meal

7:00pm meeting will begin with an abbreviated business meeting followed by a special talk by John Hallwas.  

meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society will be Monday, September 10th, at 7:00 PM at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center, 2500 East Jackson Street, Macomb, IL. Our program will be provided by George Wanamaker speaking about antique tools, including antique tape measures.  We encourage members to bring guests to our meeting and program.  

McDonough County Historical Society Meeting

Monday, May 14, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.

Conference Room B -Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street, Macomb IL. 

Speaker will be WIU history professor Greg Hall speaking on “The Path to Freedom: The Underground Railroad and McDonough County, Illinois".

The programs are free and open to the public.

Mon. Mar. 12, 20`18

7pm at Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, Jackson Street, Macomb

Speakers for the meeting: Kent Slater- State Representative 1984 to 1988 and Appellate Court Judge 1988 to 2006


Victoria Smith- Harvard Law School graduate and Faculty member in the Political Science Department, WIU

Title of presentation: Macomb’s Outstanding Legal Tradition

January 8, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018, at 7:00 p.m., the members of the McDonough County McDonough County Historical Society will meet at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street .We will have a brief business meeting, followed by a program entitled “Early Roads and Settlement Patterns in McDonough County” by our own Marty Fischer.

      Marty has spent years applying his engineering background to his investigation of trails and roads in our region of Illinois. What is more impressive is that he’s made use of his findings to enhance his understanding of the everyday experiences of our early settlers in this place—the ways in which those people lived. When I asked him for a brief overview of his talk, he said in part, “The county’s first trail was to guide southern Illinois pioneers from Beard’s ferry across the Illinois River to Rock Island and into the mining region of northwestern Illinois. In 1826, when McDonough County was founded, pioneers began settling in three distinct groupings that became three distinct settlements. When the county was granted self-governing status in late 1830, some of the first items that the commissioners went to work on were the laying out of roads to places of importance. Over the next twenty years, prior to the coming of the railroads, twenty-four settlements appeared.” As we prepare to celebrate Illinois’s Bicentennial, Marty’s talk will paint a fascinating and unique picture for us of the very early days of Macomb and McDonough County.

November 13, 2017 


Monday, November 13, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., the members of the McDonough County Historical Society will meet at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street . Our program will be provided by longtime Macomb Public librarian Dennis Danowski. He will be speaking about the history of our local library, which dates from 1881, when Mayor William Prentiss appointed a nine-member library board, including four women. Mahala Phelps was hired early in 1882, and the library opened that April, in the upper floor of the Stocker building on the south side of the square. The library building at the corner of Lafayette and Jefferson Street, constructed with funds provided by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, opened on March 16, 1903. In recent times the building has been expanded to double its size.

Sept. 11, 2017


Monday, September 11, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. 

the McDonough County Historical Society will meet at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street . Our program will be provided by plant manager of the Macomb branch of Pella Corporation, John Finn. 

Mr. Finn will provide us with a brief company history, in addition to summaries of recent corporate developments and plans for growth of the Macomb facility.

May 8, 2017

The next meeting of The McDonough County Historical Society  will be held at the Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, on Monday, May 8. 

This meeting will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the McDCHS and will feature a special dinner at 6:00 PM and the meeting/special program at 7:00 PM.


For Society members, the 6:00 dinner, catered by Hy-Vee, is free; but they must call or email Larry Zigler (309-337-7580; or Vice President Kathy Nichols (309-298-2717; by Friday, May 5.  For those who are not currently a member, this is also a great opportunity to join. Simply call or email Zigler or Nichols and indicate that you’d like to join (dues are just $10 per year), and your dinner is free as well. The program will focus on the Society’s many historical projects and committed people.


It is important that all members please notify their attendance with Larry Zigler (309-337-7580; or Kathy Nichols (309-298-2717); by May 5th.   Also, indicate if you are bringing any guests to this function.

March 13, 2017

The meeting of

the McDonough County Historical Society

will be on March 13 at 7pm.

Our speaker will be Tom Stites and the program will be

"Downtown Macomb Businesses: 1962-1968." 

The meeting will be held at the Spoon River College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street.

Jan. 9, 2017

The McDonough County Historical Society

Jan. 2017 meeting

will feature speakers

Paula and Dan Wise

who will speak about the

history of the L.I.F.E. (Learning is Forever) program

at Western Illinois University. 

Dan Wise is the president of the program and Paula Wise is the L.I.F.E. curriculum committee co-chair along with Kathy Nichols.

time: 7:00pm at the Spoon River College Outreach Center,

2500 East Jackson St., Macomb

Mon. Nov. 14, 2016

Monday, November, 14 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the members of the McDonough County Historical Society will meet at the Western Illinois Museum at 201 South Lafayette Street, Macomb.

The meeting will include recognition of Tim Howe, retiring City Forester, as a dedicated friend of the Historical Society. The evening program will complement the theme of this Newsletter by focusing on the history of Glenwood Pool from the first one built in 1923, to the current one. Chuck Wrenn and Gil Belles both served on the Citizens Committee (2005-2007) charged with investigating options for the future of the pool. They will explore the history of Glenwood pool. You will not need sunscreen! Please plan to attend the meeting and bring a friend.

Sept. 12, 2016

Rebecca Everly

Nancy Jameson

The next Historical Society meeting will be

Sept. 12, 2016 at 7pm.

 at the Western Illinois Museum, 201 South Lafayette St., Macomb 

The speaker will be Nancy Jameson, 

Administrator of Everly House Retirement Center of Macomb.

Ms. Jameson will speak about the

"History of the Everly Family and Rebecca Everly's contribution to Macomb" 

May 9, 2016

The next Historical Society meeting will be this coming Monday, May 9,

in MidAmerica Conference Room B at the Spoon River College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street.


From 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. we will have a members only potluck.


Beginning at 7:00 p.m. there will be a short business meeting.


After that, Nancy and Ray Krey will present a program entitled

"Forever Young - Mary Ewing - Never Met a Stranger - Treasured Every Friend."

Longtime friends of Mary, Ray and Nancy came to know much about her Bailey ancestry stretching back to pioneer days in Macomb and her deep sense of connection to the family summer getaway at Sequanota, Charlevoix, Michigan.

For this special end of season meeting they will share their knowledge and memories regarding Mary with us by means of words and images and a link to a Sequanota website. The meeting should be an exceptionally nice one, so please plan to attend.

March 14, 2016

Downtown Development Director and Mayor will speak 


Next meeting March 14, 2016 will be held in the Community Room of City Hall at 7pm.


The Macomb Downtown Development Director, Kristin Terry will speak at the next meeting

She will be speaking  about a variety of City issues including:  

  • Façade grant
  • revolving loan program  
  •  new mission and vision statement
  • new branding of the downtown
  • the Art Sculpture project that will be coming in June
  •  the update on the Downtown Revitalization project
  • events that will be going on in the Downtown Area and how that will work

Mayor Inman will follow with an update on the Lamoine Hotel project. 


Jan. 11, 2016

Next meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society will be on Mon. Jan. 11 at 7:00pm 

at the Western Illinois Museum at 201 S. Lafayette St., Macomb IL.

The program speaker will be Dr. Simon Cordery, Chair of WIU History Dept. He will speak 

on "McDonough County Railroads, Yesterday and Today". Dr. Cordery has just published a book: The Iron Road in the Prairie State: The Story of Illinois Railroading.

 Nov. 9, 2015

Historian John Hallwas has written many outstanding books about McDonough County, and we invite you to attend the introduction of his latest published volume, On Community.  Since Dr. Hallwas is known for his thorough research and riveting presentations, this evening promises to be both fascinating and entertaining.  At the meeting, autographed copies of On Community will be offered together with Society Memberships at a special discounted price. 

We encourage you to bring friends to our 7:00 pm meeting on Monday, November 9th, at the Spoon River College Outreach Center that is located at 2500 East Jackson Street in Macomb.

Also, the date for membership renewal is approaching and the meeting on November 9th is a good time to renew.

additional info. regarding Hallwas talk and book

A Striking New Book by John Hallwas

A New Book with a Distinctive Look at a Fundamental Social Issue and Macomb’s History


Author, lecturer, and long-time Historical Society member John Hallwas has a new local history book that will be available at the upcoming November meeting. His ninth book related to our town or county, it’s titled On Community: A Crucial Issue, a Small Town, and a Writer’s Experience.

Propelled by a deepening social problem, the decline of community in America, it examines the ramifications of that and then demonstrates the kind of positive impact that local history can have, by contributing to remembrance, appreciation, belonging, commitment, and meaningful inner life. Like several other Hallwas books, it has an original literary form.

Section one, “Culture and Community in a Problematic Era,” deals with such interrelated matters as the  loss of sense of belonging, the decline in face-to-face interaction, and the weakening of commitment to others.  Hallwas says in an insightful essay called “The Decline of Neighborliness,” that “a rich complex of human associations, thoroughly absorbed, and interacting with our genetic make-up, fosters our individuality . . . . Neighborliness is nothing less than acknowledging our social interdependence, our need for others. A town full of people who do that will have a pervasive sense of community, promoting both sympathetic understanding and actions that express our humanity.”

Hallwas is a great champion of small-town life, and sees the importance of community for both a town like Macomb and the individuals who reside in it. As he says in an essay on “Small-Town Culture in America Today,” “In a certain sense, remaining in a smaller town is becoming an act of rebellion, against a fast-paced, impersonal, city-dominated culture that, however fascinating in some respects, is commonly spiritually shallow  and socially fragmented. In my view, smaller towns like Macomb need to be explicit about their flourishing ‘spirit of community,’ and small-town residents, for their own meaningful life experience, need to embody it.”In a section titled “The Way It Once Was in This Corner of America,” Hallwas delves into the history of Macomb, to show “the significance of local life for earlier residents,” who lived in a culturally problematic but socially connected world. Among my favorite writings in that part of the book are “Early Bias against Blacks: Macomb’s ‘Mockingbird’ Case,” “The Emergence of Female Social Activism in Macomb,” and “Families Coping with Diphtheria Generations Ago.”

In that piece on the horrific impact of diphtheria in nineteenth century America, Hallwas recounts a story originally told by Macomb Journal editor W.H. Hainline. Like Hallwas, Hainline was a champion of community and concern for others. At the close of a simple but powerful account of the struggle of a local couple faced the agonizing death of two of its young children and isolated by grief and quarantine, Hainline says to his readers, “Oh, you who fret and worry over the small ills of life, who pine and fume and rebel if everything does not go your way and to your liking, stop your murmurs long enough to think of the terrible ordeal through which poor Bob Bingham and his brave wife are passing, while feeling that they are deserted by man. And you could hardly blame them for almost doubting the justice of God himself.” Hallwas reiterates Hainline’s call for a spiritual sharing of the Bingham’s sorrow and adding, “If there is a more powerful example of how a newspaper report can foster our humanity and support our sense of community, I have not seen it.”

And Hallwas insists on the value of such vivid accounts, for the problem of fading community in our time—or as he puts it, “the meaning of our own lives can be impacted by our awareness of the complex social story in which we are taking part.” So, he is, in a sense, driven to have an impact on the inner lives of his readers.

The book’s third section, “People of the Local Past Who Should be Remembered,” provides brief life stories from Macomb’s history—again, with an eye to enlarging our sense of relationship to local tradition. Or as Hallwas says in his introduction to that section, “. . . one important realization for us, surely, is that people of the past can be both interesting and significant for us, if we can comprehend them well enough—more deeply than local histories normally allow. They can help us understand and appreciate our place—the human tradition in a given community—as well as ourselves, for they coped with a variety of universal problems, especially the struggle to belong and the effort to have a meaningful life.”

 Among the most fascinating figures in that part of the book are several that Hallwas re-discovered, in the forgotten annals of the past, and who have never been written about before. A few of them are James Brattle, who publicly contributed to the establishment of communities by means of his early surveying work and who exemplified devotion in his private life; Hannah Hemlock, the first female newspaper columnist in Macomb, and probably in Illinois, who through her writing pointed up the lack of respect for females in a male dominated culture; early school administrator Daniel Branch, who not only called for upkeep of schools but for teaching that fostered character development and social responsibility; and nationally known circus performer Frank Gardner, whose story reminds us all that we hold within us the capacity to make much of our lives in the face of adversity.

Hallwas, who provided the inspiration for the recently erected  Women’s Social Service Memorial in Chandler Park, through his writing and speaking on social activist figures like Rose Jolly, Josie Westfall, and Dr. Elizabeth Miner, continues his crusade for appreciation of women in the past through compelling stories about ordinary figures like Olive Stewart, Ellen Westfall, Mahala Avery, and Mary Short. He also tells the remarkable story of the three Tunnicliff sisters, pictured above, who were perhaps the most socially committed sisters in Illinois history. The youngest one, Ruth, is also a figure honored on the new Women’s Memorial. I doubt that another county in Illinois has so many well-researched, insightful stories about females of the past, thanks to the efforts of John Hallwas. 

The same might be said of black figures from the past, who are often notoriously hard to write about due to lack of historical records. But Hallwas provides engaging, thought-provoking accounts of a nationally known black minister and lecturer from Macomb, James B. Fields; a local African-American leader, who headed the first local black rights group, Milo Newsome, and John Hannah, a poor mulatto who struggled against race prejudice

by becoming a noted figure in circus freak shows. The author’s superb accounts of those struggling blacks alone are worth the price of the book.

The thirty stories by Hallwas about “People of the Local Past” include some recent figures many of us knew, such as historian Victor Hicken, nature writer and advocate Alice Krauser, archivist Gordana Rezab, pianist and social activist Rosa Julstrom, and elementary teacher Margaret Harn. His personal acquaintance with them allows for sensitive portrayals that allow us all to realize how distinctive and precious the human lives are that come our way in a community like Macomb.

The section called “Other Voices for Community” probes the insights of famous writers who explored or advocated community in a variety of ways, such as the vision of national connection and appreciation championed by Walt Whitman, the plea for self-realization within community by Edgar Lee Masters, the need for broad empathy in our social experience in Carl Sandburg’s poetry, the spiritual importance of small-town culture in Baker Brownell’s Earth Is Enough, the importance of memory and belonging in Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley, and even our place in the complex community of nature through writings by Donald Culross Peattie, Aldo Leopold, and Virginia S. Eifert.

These insightful essays about books and authors attest to the unusually broad reading, and remarkable inner growth, of Hallwas himself, so we are likely to conclude, “No wonder he sees so deeply into a multi-dimensional aspect of human life, like community experience.”

But the item in this section that is most original and compelling, surely, is “Our Place, My Quest, and the Novel Raintree County,” which combines commentary and memoir in a remarkable way, to probe the meaning of a famous bestseller about a Midwestern locale that is stunningly similar to McDonough County. Hallwas conveys the personal impact that a book can have on a certain reader, and evokes some important dimensions of his inner life.

If you don’t realize from the Raintree County essay that On Community is partly a spiritual memoir, you absolutely will in the final section of the book, “A Small-Town Writer’s Experience—and Vision.”  One article after another takes readers into the life of John Hallwas and helps to explain his intense focus on social relationships in a small-town setting. His own loss of place, for example, is effectively set forth in “My Experience of Change; Our Need for Continuity.” The personal background to his intense focus on remembering the dead and relating to a community is set forth in “Mortality and a Meaningful Life: Reflections at Seventy,” and it closes with a fine brief statement of what is at stake for us all in the twenty-first century:

“By enlarging our sense of connection to others, both the living, who reside in our town and elsewhere, and the dead, who faced similar challenges before us, we can avoid the creeping sense of meaninglessness that so many commentators regard as a major psychological problem. . . . If we maintain historical awareness and foster concern for others, we build community, and in personal terms, we expand the spiritual boundaries of the self.”

The two longest essays in On Community, which close the book, dramatize that outlook, that vision of what’s deeply true about the human experience.  In the first, “Midwestern Writer: A Memoir,” Hallwas depicts his relationship to a talented but struggling older man, a writer and local historian, much like himself, who lived in nearby Hancock County decades ago. Combining aspects of biography and memoir, it is a very engaging narrative account of a personal relationship, loaded with insights into the impact of death, the often life-shaping role of memory, the fate of small communities, and the all-too-common conflict between self-realization and social connection. In the final essay, “The Mysterious Bard of Sangamo,” Hallwas depicts the personal impact of a completely forgotten Illinois figure, a talented poet from Britain who struggled for belonging in a frontier village (Springfield) as well as self-realization as an author during the 1830s and 1840s. That blend of history, commentary, and memoir is a testament to the various communities that a human being must strive to appreciate—towns, cultural traditions, social groups, the ever-increasing dead, and the complex natural world. And the sense of connection Hallwas experiences with that man from another era vividly reveals aspects of his own spiritual life.

As this brief overview reveals, On Community is not just another local history book. In fact, I have never run across a historical volume like it, in which the author’s own experience, of looking into other lives, verifies the probing psychological assertion that community orientation and inner growth are deeply interrelated.

Monday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. at the Spoon River Community College Outreach Center on East Jackson Street, we will be treated to a special meeting at which John Hallwas will speak about his new book. On Community is, in fact, dedicated to Robert Anstine, our current president, which in my view is particularly appropriate in view of his many outstanding contributions to Macomb and to communities in general in Illinois. After his talk, Hallwas will be recognized for his decades of crusading effort on behalf of our community by Mayor Mike Inman.


Kathy Nichols

Sept. 14, 2015

McDonough County Historical Society Sept. 2015 meeting

Monday, Sept. 14, 2015

Conference Room B of the Spoon River Community Outreach Center on East Jackson Street

Gil Belles will speak on the 150th Anniversary of Macomb's first public high school.

May 18, ,2015

Story in the McDonough County Voice 5/31/15 regarding Nemec talk

Story in the McDonough County Voice 5/20/15 regarding Carper talk

Monday, May 18, 2015 

The McDonough County Genealogical Society


the McDonough County Historical Society

will hold their first joint meeting.

At 6pm both groups are invited to attend a potluck in Conference Room B

of the Spoon River Community Outreach Center on East Jackson Street.  

Please bring table service and a dish to share.

At 7:00 p.m.,

Historical Society member and Genealogical Society president Allen Nemec

will present a program entitled

“Original Town of Macomb Pre-1870 Homes,

illustrated with a PowerPoint presentation.

An authority on local historic homes and author of Macomb Homes with Names: A Look into Macomb, Illinois’ Historic Homes, Their Past Inhabitants and a View of them Today, Allen will talk about the early residents of each of these homes and their contributions to early Macomb.

In addition, former Mayor Tom Carper will provide timely updates on Macomb’s train service situation in a talk entitled

“Amtrak in Illinois 1971-Present: What About Tomorrow?”

and will welcome questions afterward. 

After the program, the two societies will hold individual business meetings.

March 9, 2015

 Monday, March 9

at 7:00 p.m.

Mayor Mike Inman will speak to the McDonough County Historical Society.  The meeting will be held at the Senior Citizens’ Room of the YMCA and is open to the public.

Mayor Inman’s topic will be

“The Lamoine Hotel: Update Leading to the Future.”

Jan. 12, 2015

Here is a link to a newspaper story about the Jan. 2015 meeting of the Historical Society where the Community Development Coordinator and Mayor spoke. 

1/16/15 McDonough County Voice newspaper


Monday, January 12, 2015, at 7:00 p.m., members of the McDonough County Historical Society will meet at the Senior Citizens Room at the YMCA on Calhoun Street.

After a brief business meeting, former Mayor Anstine will introduce Shannon Duncan, our Community Development Coordinator.

Ms. Duncan will define the term

“Certified Local Government”

and explain what it means for Macomb, in regard to establishing partnerships with state and federal agencies to support and further local historic preservation activities.

Mayor Michael Inman will follow Ms. Duncan with a talk entitled

“The Plans for the Macomb Downtown Revitalization Project.”

The meeting should be an especially exciting and informative one.

Nov. 10, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.,

members of the McDonough County Historical Society

will meet at the Spoon River College Community Center,

Conference Room A, at 2500 East Jackson Street.

After a brief business meeting,

Dr. Donald Dexter and Dr. Richard Iverson will present a program entitled

“Medicine in Macomb and McDonough County.”

Sept. 8, 2014

Presentation by Bill Knight - Historical Society meeting Sept. 8, 2014

Macomb's Ben Hampton:  the First Modern Multi-media Man

Macomb's Ben Hampton: the first modern multi-media man
Text for presentation given by Bill Knight - Historical Society meeting Sept. 8 2014
Hampton for MCHS.doc
Microsoft Word Document 56.5 KB

             Images for the presentation