At its annual meeting on Tuesday, June 18, members of the Sangamon County Historical Society elected officers to lead the Society in 2019-2020.

    Incumbent Vicky Whitaker was re-elected to a second one-year term as president. Whitaker previously served as vice-president and is editor of the Society's monthly newsletter, Historico
Stephanie Martin, who previously served on the board and chaired the Society's membership committee, was elected vice-president. Mary Mucciante, who also served as a director of the Society, was elected secretary. Incumbent Jerry Smith was re-elected treasurer. 

   The Society's 15 board of directors serve staggered three-year terms. When board vacancies arise, candidates can seek to fill the remainder of the term. Elected to the board for a three year term ending in 2022 were Jennie Battles, Kathy Dehen, Mary Schaefer, Larry Stone, Angela Weiss. Elected to fill a one-year vacancy on the board ending in 2020 was Elaine Hoff. 

   For a full list of the 2019-2020 officers, board and committees go to CONTACT US.

   The election was held at the Society's annual dinner held at the Pleasant Plains Historical Society's Clayville Historic Site in Pleasant Plains,15 miles west of Springfield.

   The evening began with a pre-dinner gathering in the new covered outdoor pavilion adjoining the air-conditioned Cunningham Barn which housed the business and dinner portion of the meeting. Historian and past president David Scott was the keynote speaker whose talk focused on the forces that shaped Illinois. Following the meeting, attendees were given a tour of the site that included the restored Broadwell Tavern, a former inn and stagecoach stop built in 1824 that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.                                                    Photos by Kathy Dehen


   Winners of the Sangamon County Historical Society's Special Projects Grants were announced June 18 at the Society's Annual Dinner, held this year at the Clayville Historic Site in Pleasant Plains. 

   Using a PowerPoint display that illustrated each proposal, Elaine Hoff, chair of the Society's Special Projects Grants committee, revealed the names of each recipient and introduced representatives of the organizations who attended the event as guests of the Society. They, in turn, provided dinner goers with details of their projects.

 The 2019 recipients are:
Central 3 Community First Project Inc., $1,000.
Project: Signage for first black firehouse in Springfield describing its history and role in the 1908 race riot. An architectural drawing of the new façade will be added following completion of restoration.

Springfield And Central Illinois African American History Museum,: $1,000.
Project: Exhibit on the national Negro League players from Springfield and Central Illinois and their impact on area baseball.

Pleasant Plains Historical Society, $500. (Catlin Memorial Award)
Project: Refine and rebuild wheel chair ramps to three historic buildings at its Clayville Historic Site. One award each year is designated the Donna Catlin Memorial Award in memory of the Society's late photographer, Donna Catlin who was widely known for her photographs of historic sites, amiong them Clayville.

Oak Ridge National Cemetery, $500
Project: Create an interpretive marker with historical information about the former third street enrance sign (circa 1900), now restored and ready for display at the cemetery bell tower.

Springfield Art Association/Historic Edwards Place, $500.
Project: Traveling history trunk program to bring history into the classroom.

(If you'd like to know more about the Society's Special Project Grants program and read more the past projects that have been funded, see GRANTS).


   Plans for the Society's Annual Echoes of Yesteryear Oak Ridge Cemetery Walk on Sunday, October 6, have begun, kicked off in May with site selections, followed by a committee meeting in June that included the first trial walk, all underscoring the areas it must address in planning an event that continues to break attendance records.

   In addition to chairperson Mary Alice Davis (seated, center), members of the committee are (from left) Jerry Smith, Jennie Battles, Linda Schneider, Ruth Slottag, Susan Helm, Mike Kienzler, Ernie Slottag, Pete Harbison and Mike Lelys, executive director of Oak Ridge. Also serving on the committee but not pictured are Curtis Mann and Larry Stone.

   The walk, free and open to the public, will have stops at the grave sites of six early Sangamon County residents who have schools named for them and a seventh stop at the grave site of the first woman elected to the Springfield school board. Dressed in period costumes, re-enactors at each site will take the audience back to an earlier time, providing insight into the personal lives of the individuals they are portraying based on extensive historic research. 

   The event will run from Noon to 4 p.m., with the last tour starting at 3:15 p.m. 
The 365-acre Oak Ridge Cemetery, bordered on the west by North J. David Jones Parkway (North Walnut Street) and North First Street on the east in Springfield, is the largest municipal cemetery in Illinois and is the second most visited cemetery in the United States after Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

   Attendees will be transported by bus from the start of the tour at the Oak Ridge Bell Tower, to the first gravesite, then walk to the other gravesites before boarding the bus to return down the hill to the starting point, a distance of about a half mile. 

   At the walk, attendees will be able to purchase both publications from the Society and snacks from the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum. They also will be able to view the reproduction of Lincoln's funeral hearse from the P.J. Staab Family Funeral Home that was created for the Lincoln Funeral Reenactment in May 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the President's funeral. (The original was destroyed by fire in 1887).

   The cemetery walk, co-sponsored by the Society and Oak Ridge Cemetery, was held annually for 12 years beginning in 1996 and ending in 2008. It was brought back five years ago by popular demand. 


   Trivia fans will have lots of time to put on their thinking caps. 

   Fresh from its most successful Trivia Night to date, the Society has set the date for its 2020 version: Saturday, March 21.

   "The location, Parish Hall at Christ the King Church in Springfield (right), will remain the same," says Mary Alice Davis, co-chair of the Society's Programs & Events committee who has guided the event since its inception.

   "This is our major fundraiser that helps underwrite our Special Projects Grant program, so we wanted to make sure that the date is on the radar, especially among die-hard trivia players who look forward to our event." Doors will open at 6 p.m. and as in past years, you'll be able to reserve and pay for tables of and individual seats on line or by mail. "It's always a fun night," Davis adds.

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