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Announcing the 2023 ISGS Honors & Awards Recipients!

The 2023 ISGS Honors & Awards recipients were announced at the Annual Meeting held this past Sunday. This year honored a fantastic group for their hard work in "Honoring Illinois Ancestors!"

Community Service Award: 
This award may be given to an individual, company, or institution for service or contributions to genealogy. Nominations may be made by local genealogical or historical societies.

The Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society’s
Underground Railroad Conductor Recognition Project
Left to right: Susan Rynerson, TCGHS Past President, Candace Marx, ISGS 2nd VP, and John Ackerman, Tazewell County Clerk

Beginning in early 2021, TCGHS embarked on a journey to create historical markers and events honoring the men and women that made the Underground Railroad successful in Central Illinois. John Ackerman was the event planner and Susan Rynerson researched the individuals to be honored. As each event was held, the stories of these Underground Railroad conductors would be published in the TCGHS monthly publication.

The first event was held in Morton, IL on March 2021, where TCGHS honored the Crosby and Roberts families. In June 2021, two events were held in Tremont (honoring the Jones, Kingman and Matthews families) and in Cincinnati township (honoring the Dillon, Summers, and Woodrow families). In September 2021, TCGHS was in Delavan to honor the Brown, Cheever and Tefft families. In April 2022, another event was held in Washington, IL, to honor the Kern and Scott families. In June, an event was held in Pekin to celebrate Juneteenth and honor UGRR conductor Peter Logan. The recognition program continued to evolve and lead to the discovery of so much anti-slavery work in Tazewell County (going back to 1824), that a book is being contemplated.

John Ackerman’s desire to have an umbrella organization that would connect all the Illinois Underground Railroad sites prompted him to reach out to Senator Koehler, resulting in SB 1623, which lead to the formation of the Illinois Underground Railroad Task Force.

The TCGHS award presentation was on WMDB Peoria evening news! Click HERE to watch the video!

CLICK HERE to see the event posted on Clerk Ackerman's Facebook page!

Special Recognition Awards:
This award may be given to an individual for the promotion of genealogy in general or for having been a major influence toward the success of the nominating organization. 

Stephen Watts, Author
Last year, Stephen published Searching for Charles, a work that details the multigenerational, multi-decade-long path to uncovering the history of his relative, Charles Watts. Charles emigrated from Britain in the middle of the 1800s, and found himself in Illinois. Searching for Charles is a massive work that documents not only Charles’ life through his letters, but also the genealogical work that went into uncovering the story. Searching for Charles sheds light on both the immigrant experience in Illinois, and the exciting, surprising, and rewarding process of genealogy. Because of this, it is hard to understate the importance of this work for genealogy experts, families looking to discover their own history, and historians of Illinois and 19th century American history.

Gail Ryan, Past President of the Fox Valley Genealogical Society
Gail Ryan is being nominated for expertly guiding the Fox Valley Genealogical Society through the trying times of the pandemic. She has been a member of FVGS since 2013. In 2018, her leadership involvement started with the role of Membership Chair. In 2019, she added the role of Conference Co-chair, which she has held since. Also in 2019, she became the Fox Trails newsletter editor, and continues to work in this role today.
From 2020 through 2022, she also took on the role as President. At the end of 2022, she stepped down as FVGS President, but continues to be involved. Gail is very organized, yet she is also very cordial and never demanding.

Bill Edmundson and Russ Cline, Winnebago & Boone Counties Genealogical Society
Bill Edmundson has been a valued member of the Winnebago & Boone Counties Genealogical Society for 15 years. 
Since 2010, Bill has been our Corresponding Secretary, handling all our correspondence, tracking our inventory, hauling equipment and setting up meetings. He has even presented several relevant genealogical topics to our members. He has also digitized many of our old records, making them easily accessible for our members.

He is currently doing extensive research on Rockford’s Water Power District, as well as trying to locate obituaries and history of each person buried in the Harlem Cemetery. But the most treasured thing Mr. Edmundson does for our organization, is that he willingly and very joyously handles all research requests. He will visit local libraries in both Winnebago and Boone Counties, and local courthouses, helping people find information on their ancestors- quite often giving the delighted researcher more information than they realized was available. We have lost count of the requests he has completed, but believe it is over 100!

Russ Cline has been a member of the Winnebago & Boone Counties Genealogical Society for 15 years. During that time, he has held many different positions, currently as Board President.
We were using a very old platform for our website, and Russ researched newer options to present to the society.  Russ taught himself how to work on the website, and we now have a very beautiful and up-to-date website with lots of new and relevant content. This process took over a year and a half, including updating broken hyperlinks and adding new content.

After the Covid pandemic ended, we struggled with hosting hybrid meetings. We had gained many new members around the country, and were trying to make our meetings accessible to them, as well as local members. Russ made many phone calls and did research on the subject, and again brought our society into the 21st century. We are now even able to record local meetings to share on our website for future viewing.

In 2021, Russ retired and wanted to step back as our Treasurer. Like most retirees, he was planning to travel. He still quite often joins our board meetings via Zoom from various campsites across the country. In 2022, we were very close to dissolving the society. Thankfully, Russ agreed to take on the President role. We are so grateful to Mr. Cline for his leadership, time and skills in helping our society remain active and relevant for the future, and a great value to our members.

ISGS 2nd VP Candace Marx "surprised" Russ and Bill with their awards virtually during WBCGS' October 9th member meeting!

Congratulations to this year's Honors & Awards winners!

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