THE LAWRENCE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The Lawrence County Historical Society was organized on Jan. 23, 1961, when a group of local residents met at the Lawrence Township Public Library to discuss the growing need to systematically collect and preserve the county's historical materials. Winifred Armstrong, owner of the Lawrenceville Daily Record, welcomed those in attendance, which included: Guy McGaughey, Sr., Trissie Sutherland, L.L.B. Jacobson, Oran Calvert, Roy Rucker, Phillip Lewis, Byron R. Lewis, Cornelia Carter, Don Mefford and Ruth Garrett. By July of that year, membership in the Society totaled 97. Elected as charter officers were Byron R. Lewis, president; Winifred Armstrong, vice-president; Cornelia Carter, secretary; and Don Mefford, treasurer.

Throughout its history, the Society has sought to identify and preserve primary and secondary resource material relevant to Lawrence County and the heritage of its people. For many years the Society housed its collection at the Lawrence Public Library. In October, 2001, the Society's longtime goal of finding a permanent home for its materials was realized when Heritage State Bank donated its downtown facility to Lawrence County for the creation of an historical museum and library. To that end the Society is now seeking to enlarge both the size and scope of its collection. (see museum link)

The Society has also been responsible for publishing several volumes of local history. Realizing that few original copies remain extant, the Society issued reprints of the Atlas of Lawrence County, Illinois, and Combined History of Edwards, Lawrence, and Wabash Counties, Illinois, both of which titles, published in 1875 and 1883 respectively, contain valuable information on the county's early history. In 1973, the Society published member Tom Kirkwood's A History of Lawrence County Physicians. Besides these Society publications, several other members have put their research into print. An invaluable reference work for local historians and genealogists is Irene Black's Cemeteries of Lawrence County, Illinois. In 1995, the Society published Lawrence County, Illinois, 1821-1996, the first comprehensive history of the county to appear in more than seventy-five years. Copies remain available for purchase, (see Publications link)

The placement of historical markers and monuments has been another important concern of the Society. In cooperation with the Illinois State Historical Society, local society members in 1970 placed a marker on the courthouse lawn to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's activities in Lawrence County as a young Whig politician, and in 1973 placed a similar marker in Red Hills State Park to identify the location of the "Indian Boundary Line." In 1984, Stoy Fox led the Society's successful effort to dedicate a monument at former George Field, now Mid-American Air Center, in honor of the men and women who served there during the Second World War.

Over the years, the Society has been blessed with many hardworking and dedicated members. The meticulous record-keeping talents of Cornelia Carter, Clara "Turk" Waggoner, and Winifred Davis come immediately to mind, as does the scholarly enthusiasm of B.R. Lewis, Trissie Sutherland and Tom Kirkwood, or the raconteur spirit of E.K. Whittaker. Longstanding members will always cherish the hospitality of E.K. and his wife Lois, who would often invite the group to their log cabin north of Lawrenceville. Upon entering the cabin - originally built in 1859 and completely restored on the Whittaker farm - members were treated to hot coffee and cider, fresh pies baked in the wood-burning stove, and large bowls of "fall fruits".

Today, the Society has a total membership of 45. Meetings are held on a monthly basis, with quarterly business meetings in January, April, July, and October. Current officers and directors are: Mike Neal, president; John King, vice-president; Roberta Talley, secretary-treasurer; and Dennis Bridwell, Hazel Chansler, and Billie Seed, directors.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP LCHS needs and wants new members. The Museum and Library will require new ideas, new energies and new committees. The society meets on a monthly basis. Annual dues are $25.00
LCHS is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue code. Donations and gifts are tax deductible.

For further information contact
Lawrence County Historical Society
P.O. Box 425
Lawrenceville, IL 62439
Or call
(618) 943-2300
Or email history2@umfleet.net


Byron R. Lewis, one of the Society founders, at work in the library, 1930's.
click on picture to enlarge


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Lawrence County Historical Museum and Library
Historical Photographs of Lawrence County
Articles About Lawrence County History
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