Illinois Ancestors: Visit state in new 'Roadside History'

Illinois Ancestors: Visit state in new 'Roadside History'

Anyone with an interest in the history of the cities and towns in Illinois will enjoy Stan Banash's new book, "Roadside History of Illinois," which is both informative and entertaining. Written almost as a tour guide, the book identifies Illinois' cities and towns in seven regions: Southern, Western, Central, Eastern and Northern plus Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago's Neighborhoods.

Road maps, route numbers, historical events and historical markers enable readers to experience a virtual visit to this state's many historical locations.

Want to visit an "ambush spot for pirates and bandits"? Cave-in-Rock has been noted for such "wild times" as well as rock concerts more recently.

Watseka is famous for its supernatural activities and has "the first documented case of spiritual possession in the United States."

History buffs might be interested in the totem pole in Vienna commemorating the Cherokee Indians' 1830 Trail of Tears.

Researchers might want to visit Cairo's A.B. Safford Memorial Library, which has more than 600 books on the Civil War in its Special Collection Room.

Banash's book has 120 black and white photographs, many from the author's personal collection; its extensive bibliography (12 pages) is an indication of the immense number resources consulted for this work.

Illinois is also famous for many "firsts." For instance, Ronald Reagan was the first president born in Illinois. Softball was first played in Illinois. The inventor of the mechanical Braille writer, Frank H. Hall, was born in Jacksonville. The first successful open-heart surgery was performed in Chicago's Provident Hospital.

Of course, there are many references to Illinois' favorite son, Abraham Lincoln. The index cites more than 100, including his law office in Danville, attempted assassination, attempted theft of his body, debates, Springfield home, U.S. patent, Black Hawk War military service and marriage.

"Roadside History of Illinois" is a 496-page, softcover, 6-by-9-inch, indexed book (ISBN 978-0-87842-599-0), which can be ordered from Mountain Press Publishing Co., P.O. Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806 for $20 plus $4 shipping. Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover orders may be placed at 800-234-5308 or online at

Banash, also known as "Tex," was born in Chicago and now lives there with his wife, Laura. He received a bachelor's of philosophy degree in political science from Northwestern in 1968 and his master's in urban studies from Roosevelt University in 1972.

Readers of any age will find his new book most instructive and interesting.

Webinars scheduled for 2014

The Illinois State Genealogical Society has posted its list of free 2014 webinars on its website at (Click on "ISGS Webinars" on the left.)

Beginning at 8 p.m. Jan. 14 will be "7 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists," presented by Thomas MacEntee. Attendees will "learn how savvy genealogists find the best ways to save money while researching your ancestors." Click on the link to register for this session.

Other scheduled webinars:

— Feb. 11: "Printed Legends and Missing Footnotes: Dissecting 19th and 20th Century Compiled Genealogies."

— March 11: "Going Nuclear: DNA Discoveries to Trace All Lines of Descent."

— April 8: "Using Canadian Records to Find Your Midwestern Ancestor."

— May 13: "Organizing (or Reorganizing!) That Family Reunion."

All of these webinars are being sponsored by FamilySearch. ISGS has also provided a link to its 2014 webinar brochure so that copies can be easily printed and distributed at genealogy meetings.

Organize those papers

The Wyoming State Archives has prepared a helpful booklet titled, "So You Have a Box of Papers" at

The 16-page guide covers the identification, arrangement, description, and preservation of that "box of papers" and also includes a list of organizations or websites that provide detailed information on preserving and protecting such records.

The United Kingdom also has a helpful website at

This website also provides links to brief booklets on caring for photographs, books, and/or prints, drawings and watercolors.

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.

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