Illinois Ancestors: Site pays tribute to Civil War at 150

Illinois Ancestors: Site pays tribute to Civil War at 150

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War continues to be acknowledged in Illinois at, where special events throughout the state are posted in addition to a most comprehensive list of links to Civil War data.

From the home page, click on "Resources" and be taken to a list of more than 100 links to such topics as African Americans, slavery and abolition; correspondence and the homefront; dissent and disorder; genealogy; Illinois in the Civil War; libraries and institutions; Lincoln; online books; soldiers, regiments and camps; and women.

Genealogists and historians who are compiling data on Civil War veterans in their families will find many important websites having data that can confirm or complement family information already assembled.

For example, the pages devoted to Civil War flags of Illinois allows one to choose a category (artillery, cavalry, infantry or captured Confederate), and when a selection is made, one can be linked to a page describing the military actions of that unit as well as illustrations of the flag/s carried by that unit.

There is also a link to "Boys in Blue," where one can search the database of more than 7,000 images of Illinois Civil War soldiers that are part of the holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. One can search for an individual in the database that lists the soldier's name, town of residence, and other information. The photos are not available online, but one can contact the library for more information.

A search can also be made on a residence (for example, a search for Danville results in 35 "hits" with 33 of those listed having the surname Black; the other two surnames are Castle and Newlin) or for a specific regiment.

There is another link to an article pertaining to a 2011 exhibit of some of those images. The veterans whose photos are shown are Charles A. and Dorsey C. Andress, William and Stewart Auld, Francis E. Beck, Henry C. Carico, John Cook, James H. and John W. Davis, Lytle R. Henline, Luke Dickerman, John Wesley Lee, James S. Jackson, Noah E. Mendell, Thomas J. Maxwell, Phineas Pease, Henry P. Robinson, Ransom P. Stowe, William B. Smith and Jester M. Williams. (This article appeared in Journal of Illinois History, Volume 14, spring, 2011.)

The link to "Collection of Online Books and Publications Related to Civil War Regiments" (listed under Soldiers, Regiments and Camps) allows one to read/download any of 70 such works not easily obtained. For example, the first book listed is "Army Life of an Illinois Soldier: including a day-by-day record of Sherman's March to the Sea" by Charles Wright Wills, compiled by his sister, Mary E. Kellogg, 1906.

Several links go to pages telling of Civil War monuments, including those in DeKalb and Tazewell counties. A poignant article includes the following: "At the outbreak of the Civil War, 100 men volunteered for service from the small farming community of Byron. Thirty of them lost their lives. In September 1865 the Byron Monument Association was formed to build a suitable monument to honor the fallen soldiers. Early in 1866, the Soldiers Monument was erected in the center of town, its entire cost of $1,400 raised through public subscription. The monument was dedicated on October 18, 1866, with an imposing ceremony, drawing participants from the entire village and surrounding countryside." It was "one of the earliest Civil War monuments in the state (and was listed) on the National Register in 1985."

Karen E. Everingham of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency tells that the most complete list of Civil War monuments in Illinois is in "Blue Book of Illinois 1905-06," pages 546-63. "The Blue Book" can be found online at

An important list, found under "Illinois in the Civil War" on the home page, is the Illinois Civil War bibliography. This 15-page list "highlights titles relating directly to Illinois history" from the 1850s to the 1870s.

And did you know that there are published articles about women in the Civil War who served as soldiers, nurses and spies?

Teachers should note the important links under "Curriculum Materials."

Civil War events hardly seem relevant in today's modern age. Nevertheless, we Americans would not be enjoying our freedoms today if it had not been for the sacrifices made by those veterans 150 years ago. They must never be forgotten! Thankfully, the state of Illinois remembers, and its sesquicentennial website can continue to remind us all!

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.