In the early 1900s, Illinoisans were tired of the struggles with muddy roads and looked for a solution to the problem. At the same time, automobiles were becoming the mode of transportation, making the problem much worst. By 1902, the state of Illinois founded a state highway commission, which required automobiles to register and pay for “identification plates”. The fee for this plate went into a road fund. With the installation of good hard roads, people in rural areas could easily come to the cities and not worry about the mud and muck or not be trapped there if a rainstorm came up. All areas were eager to have these “farm to market” roads. DeKalb was dedicated to “pulling Illinois out of the mud,” a slogan adopted throughout the state. In October of 1913, the Township of Afton was chastised for not fixing the road that led north to DeKalb; so some of the DeKalb business and professional men chose to do it for them.
The Waterman Road looking north from Duffy Road
The men organized a “Good Roads Day” as a social event as well as getting the road in. Every able-bodied man was expected to help, especially those who traded goods in the southern part of the county.
Carter gravel pit was opened so that gravel could be hauled to the Afton Road (now Perry Road) which joined Fourth Street out of DeKalb. It was quite a spectacle with men in business suits and ladies in long dresses in a shovel brigade, showing a united front to get the job done. After the gravel was laid, DeKalb Township rollers secured the gravel.
In October of 1915, more improvements came when a proposal was submitted to the DeKalb County Board of Supervisors, whereby citizens of Afton Township would help pay to build a concrete hard road in their township. It would begin at the west end of the Afton Road (Perry Road), and go south to the north line of the Township of Clinton. The road was to be 17,888 feet long and 10 feet wide. Residents were asked to pledge as much as they could afford to get the hard road built.
The road was completed in 1917, to the joy of all who would travel on it. However, traffic was allowed on the road before the concrete was sufficiently cured, resulting in rutting from buggy traffic, which could be seen well into the mid-1970s.
Over 700 photos from the Floyd Ritzman Collection which are part of the Northern Illinois University Digital Library are now available on Flickr at https://flic.kr/s/aHskqwXroS. This collection of photos, taken in and around DeKalb County, was formerly part of the Taming the Wild Prairie website. Thanks to Matthew Short at NIU for making these historical photos available.
Under this law, original birth certificates cannot be issued in person by state or county vital statistics offices. This law allows adult adopted persons born in Illinois to request non-certified copies of their original birth certificates through the Illinois Department of Public Health. In most cases, the original birth certificate will list the first and last names of one or both birth parents. Birth parents of adopted persons born after January 1, 1946, may request that their names be deleted from this non-certified copy. All birth parents may indicate their preferences regarding contact with their adult birth child. The options available under this new law are different for adopted persons, birth parents and their family members. The options available also change depending on the date of birth of the adult adopted person. For more information see www.newillinoisadoptionlaw.com.
The DeKalb County Clerk's office has birth, marriage, death and naturalization indexes online.These records meet genealogical guidelines. Their website is www.dekalbgenealogy.com.
$ .25/page......Photocopy by patron at JHR
.50/page......Photocopies by JHR staff
2.00/scan......By JHR researcher
2.00/each......Photo quality prints
Scans will be emailed. To keep your costs down, we will try to get as much on one scan as possible. Photocopies by JHR staff and photo quality prints are sent U.S. mail only. Postage is also charged.
Sycamore True Republican, 1893
After several years of conversations, focus groups, and meetings, March 1, 2018 marks the creation of the DeKalb County History Center in Sycamore, Illinois! This new organization is a result of a partnership between the Sycamore History Museum and DeKalb County's Joiner History Room, plus collaboration with 20-plus local history organizations throughout DeKalb County. DCHC inspires curiosity in DeKalb County's history.
Coming in the spring of 2019, the brand new DeKalb County History Center will be home to exhibits and information on DeKalb County. For more information, please visit our new website at www.dekalbcountyhistory.org.
Join the Illinois Bicentennial celebration by nominating a individual, family, or organization for the 2018 DeKalb County Hall of Fame. Purpose of the DeKalb County Hall of Fame is to identify and recognize outstanding examples of community leaders. Annual awards to the Hall of Fame will honor men, women, families, and organizations, past and present, who have made outstanding contributions to the betterment of DeKalb County. The program will be a yearly opportunity to highlight the best in our county, present and past, and to recognize those accomplishments for future generations.
Click Here for nomination form and information.
The SLR Museum recently announced the following newspapers from the southern part of DeKalb County and Lee County have been digitized and are available online through their website at http://slrhistoricalmuseum.advantage-preservation.com/.
The Paw Paw News, 1874-1876
The Lee County Times, 7 Apr 1882-6 Apr 1883 and 1 Jan 1886-13 Aug 1959
The Shabbona Express, 13 Dec 1917-26 Mar 1925
The DeKalb County Express, 31 Jan 1929-27 Oct 1960
There are a few issues of The Compton Record, scattered issues from 1887-1895 and the Evening Times, September 1887.
We now have over 36,000 obituaries in our online, searchable database. The link to the database is above. Joiner History Room volunteers have worked for three years inputing obituaries. Because this is an ongoing project, we have many more obituaries to input and you may not find what you are looking for. Please contact us via email if this is the case.
A Burial Permit was initiated by the funeral home to report to the Department of Public Health where a deceased person was buried. The information includes name, identifying information, date and place of death, cause of death and where buried. A Removal Permit had to be completed if a buried body was to be moved to a different cemetery. The Joiner History Room has a limited list of names, dates of death, and cemetery where buried. This is not a complete list. Access list here.
The Midweek, a current DeKalb County area publication, has a column called "Looking Back" that has small snipits of local news dating back to the late 1800's. Most items are one or two lines long, just enough to give you a flavor of what was happening at the time. This index covers publication dates from the start of the column, mid-2010, through December 2012. If you find an item of interest, e-mail the Joiner History Room with date of publication and page number.
Funeral home records are often overlooked as a source of genealogical information. Joiner History Room volunteer Fran Besserman diligently compared a hand-written list of Burkhart burials with obits available from other sources in our collection. This may be the only record of a death.
View list here.
The Joiner History Room Endowment Fund was established in 2008 to honor Ralph Joiner and the first appointed DeKalb County historian, Phyllis Kelley. If you wish to donate to our Endowment Fund, click here or send a check directly to The Joiner Room at the address above.