Programs and Events
November 25, 2019
Well-known local history specialist Richard Day was the guest speaker at the first meeting of 2020. Day's topic was "Pioneer African American Settlers in Southeastern Illinois."
New Exhibit Opens
November 17, 2019
The newest exhibit put the spotlight on Lawrence County farmers and farm families. From the tools, farmers would have used in the barns and fields to artifacts that women would have used in their kitchens and lives, all were on exhibit. The local men and women who used these items were identified in most cases. Photographs showing horse-drawn equipment used in the county were enlarged and mounted. A special tribute was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lawrence County Bureau.
October 28, 2019
Doug Carroll, a weekly columnist for the Vincennes Sun Commercial, presented a program on legendary comedian Red Skelton and other notable local entertainers from Lawrence and Knox Counties including Brace Beemer (radio voice of The Lone Ranger), actor William Phipps, actress Josephine Nichols, early blues musicians and publishers the Melrose Brothers, and New York opera performer John Lankston.
September 23, 2019
Dr. Caroline M. Kisiel, an associate professor and member of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at DePaul University, was the guest speaker at the September meeting. Dr. Kisiel's program topic was "Anti-Slavery Activism on the Illinois Frontier: The Story of the English Prairie." Her appearance was made possible by the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Program
August 26, 2019
Local genealogist Dann Norton, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, presented a program on "Verifying Your Pedigree: How DNA Reveals Secrets in our Family Tree and Rewrites our Pedigrees." Norton also discussed the interplay of science and more traditional methods of genealogical research.
Billy Jo "B.J." Shaffer
July 22, 2019
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, local resident Billy Joe "B.J." Shaffer, an Engineer at the George Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1962 to 1973, gave an insider's perspective on that historic event.
Anna-Lisa Cox, an award-winning historian of race relations in nineteenth-century America, spoke about her most recent book, “The Bone and Sinew of the Land: American’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality.” References were made to Lawrence County's free blacks in the early 1800s.
Dr. Brian Richard Dirck
April 22, 2019
Award-winning Lincoln scholar Dr. Brian Richard Dirck spoke at the April meeting, about his recent book, "The Black Heavens: Abraham Lincoln and Death." In his presentation Dirck examined Lincoln's personal encounters with death, from the loss of his mother at age nine to the carnage of the Civil War, and how these tragedies both impacted and reflected his character and thought.
March 25, 2019
Nancy King shared ways of preserving family history including scrapbooks, family trees, published books, and a multi-media presentation of one family’s history at the March meeting.
Lynn and Stanley Stephens
February 25, 2019
Native American archaeology was the subject of a power-point presentation by Lynn and Stanley Stephens of the Central Wabash Archaeology Chapter for the February meeting. Entitled "Native American Life: Riverton and LaMotte Cultures along the Wabash and Embarras Rivers" the program told of recent archaeological excavations in the area. Some of the artifacts discovered during these digs were featured as part of the program.
January 28, 2019
Fairfield attorney Matthew Vaughn presented a program on Abraham Lincoln, with special emphasis on the sixteenth president's connections to Lawrence County.
Volunteers cut fresh boughs of local pine and cedar, as well as holly berries, to create evergreen swags as a fundraiser. All-weather red velvet bows added the finishing touch.
Dunseth Doll Collection
November 26, 2018
The History Center was turned into a holiday experience for the December meeting in order to showcase the Dunseth Doll Collection. Each of the 342 dolls told a story of an era, a culture, or a well-known personality.
September 24, 2018
Well-known Lincoln sculptor, John McClarey, was the guest speaker at the September, 2018, meeting. His presentation was entitled, "Angels Among Us," a reference to Lincoln's oft-quoted line about his mother, Nancy Hanks: "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
August 27, 2018
Stan Banish presented a program about the ‘Road to Illinois Statehood’ and discussed the role of France, Great Britain and Spain in early America and the impact of wars and treaties on the establishment of territorial and state borders.
August 25, 2018
Native American Artifact Identification Day was held on August 25 at the History Center. Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey examined local collectors’ finds and identified items according to use, materials and age.
July 23, 2018
St. Francisville native, Steve Shearer, was the guest speaker for the July Program. Steve spoke about the organization and operation of early telephone companies in Lawrence County.
June 25, 2018
Todd Carr, President of Hardin County Historical Society, was the featured speaker for the June program. He shared the story of Col. L. O. Trigg, who organized tours that led to the creation of the Shawnee Nat’l Forest.
March 25, 2018
Tom Emery presented “The History of Illinois” at the History Center on March 26, 2018, based on his recent book in commemoration of the State’s Bicentennial Celebration.
February 26, 2018
Art Dale presented the February program and asked the audience to take a trip down memory lane to the Lawrence County Fair 1945-55.
January 22, 2018
A short business meeting was held in January to elect officers and discuss upcoming projects. At the conclusion of the business meeting, two documentaries produced by the Historical Society were shown: the 1913 Bridgeport fire and the Sumner City Cemetery tour.
Beth and Trey Beckerman
November 27, 2017
Beth and Trey Beckerman, of Maple Hill Restorations, in Mt. Carmel, Illinois, were the featured speakers at the November meeting held at the History Center in Lawrenceville. The Beckerman’s specialize in the repair, restoration, and re-purposing of antique furniture. Showing some of their work through pictures, they explained the restoration process, and also provided some dos and don’ts for the repair of antique furniture.
October 23, 2017
John Musgrave spoke at the October meeting about the Shelton Gang to a standing room only crowd. The book, Inside the Shelton Gang: One Daughter’s Discovery, was co-authored by Ruthie Shelton, the daughter of Carl Shelton.
September 25, 2017
Veteran journalist and broadcaster, Joy Neighbors, was the featured speaker at the September meeting. Neighbors, who calls herself an “avowed Tombstone Tourist,” spoke on her new book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide. She discussed how to find ancestors’ cemeteries, how to record and preserve death and burial information, strategies for navigating cemeteries and finding tombstones, and how to interpret tombstone symbols and iconography.
August 28, 2017
Cemetery preservation was the topic for the August program, presented by John Fish, Knox County Coordinator of the Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project. Fish focused his remarks on pioneer cemetery maintenance, including proper methods of overgrowth removal, gravestone cleaning, and gravestone resetting.
July 24, 2017
The guest speaker for the July meeting was local train expert, John R. Hamilton, who presented a program on the Oil Belt Railroad. Hamilton, the author of the latest LCHS publication, The Oil Belt Railroad: A Little Railroad Saga, told the history of this ill-fated railroad company, that began in Oblong in 1909 and reached Bridgeport in 1913.
June 19, 2017
Novelist, essayist and native of Lawrence County, Lee Martin was the featured speaker at the June monthly meeting. Dr. Martin’s program was entitled “Who Were These People? Using Facts and Creativity to Tell Your Ancestors’ Stories.” Using his book, Turning Bones, he illustrated some of the techniques used to dramatize his ancestors’ characters and their stories.
May 22, 2017
Angela Mason, author of Death Rides the Sky: The Story of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado, was the guest speaker at the May meeting. In the early afternoon of March 18, 1925, the tornado was first sighted in Missouri. Moving east, it crossed the Mississippi, and continued across southern Illinois, until it then crossed the Wabash River into Indiana, finally dissipating near Petersburg. Over the course of 3-1/2 hours, the tornado travelled 220 miles, killing 695 persons, injuring more than 2,000, and destroying 15,000 homes, becoming the worst tornado disaster in US history.
April 24, 2017
Postcards, Their Origin, How They Have Changed Over The Years, And How They Became One of Our Most Common Forms of Written Communication --was the subject of the April meeting presented by Judy Cresap, a resident of Seymour, Illinois. She brought some of her large collection of vintage postcards to show.
February 27, 2017
The guest speaker for the February program was former Lawrenceville resident, Bill Hanson, who presented a program on the “History of the Telephone and How It Shaped Our Lives.” Hanson and his late wife, Helen, owned and operated Communication Products and Equipment Company for fourteen years, manufacturing telephones and associated equipment designed for the vision and hearing impaired. Prior to having his own business, Hanson worked 17 years for Suttle Apparatus as vice president of manufacturing, and before that he worked for International Telephone and Telegraph. An avid collector of vintage telephones, Hanson recently donated part of his collection to the historical society.
January 23, 2017
LHS Junior, Austin Hardig who is of Cherokee descent, was the featured speaker at the January meeting at the Lawrence County Historical Society. He presented a program on the “Woodland Native Americans.” At age eleven, during a visit to the Vincennes Rendezvous, Austin became fascinated with Native American culture and began researching his own Native American roots. He brought some of his own artifacts and other items used in re-enactments.
October 24, 2016
The Lawrence County Historical Society held its monthly program meeting on Monday, October 24, at 7:00 p.m., at the History Center on the corner of 12th and State Streets in Lawrenceville. Ryan Cox, minister at Pleasant Ridge Christian Church, was discussed how events in Europe resulted in the migration of a family whose descendants helped to found Pleasant Ridge in 1834, and 180 years later, continue to be active members of the congregation.
Robert Swenson & John King
September 26, 2016
‘Steamboats on the Wabash’ was presented by Robert Swenson and John King on September 26 at the Lawrence Public Library. On May 10,1823 the first steamboat arrived in Vincennes; 13 years later as many as 800 steamboats had docked at the city according to an early Vincennes newspaper. The same steamboats would have stopped at Lawrence County river towns such as St. Francisville, Belgrade Landing and Russellville. The program featured many photographs of these boats.
September 12, 2016
Paul Umfleet presented a program "Audubon on the Water Ways" at the Lawrence Public Library as part of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit. The program featured the life and work of the Audubon with special emphasis on the time he spent in this area.
September 11, 2016
Dennis Stroughmatt entertained the public at the Lawrenceville High School on Sunday afternoon, Sept 11, 2016 with fiddle music and stories about the mussel-shell industry.
August 22, 2016
Gary Zwilling, USDA National Resources Conservation Service, Victoria Goad, Lawrence County Farm Bureau, and Trevor Irwin, USDA Farm Service Agency spoke August 22, 2016 at the Lawrence Public Library. The trio kicked off the first of the scheduled programs held in conjunction with the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit about water and the ways it has influenced the lives of Lawrence County residents.
Annelise “Anni” Morris
July 25, 2016
Annelise “Anni” Morris presented a program on the black pioneer families of Lawrence County. Morris, a Lawrence County native recently completed a two-year community archaeological project of two black farmsteads near Pinkstaff. She discussed the project’s findings, and how many of the artifacts discovered help tell the story of early black settlers in Lawrence County.
June 27, 2016
Don Seger, Marketing Logistics Coordinator for AgReliant Genetics, spoke on the history of Akin Seed Company. Clarence Akin as a young graduate of the University of Illinois, returned home to Lawrence County and planted his first acre of seed corn in 1936 – then, over his lifetime, saw the company brand, Agrigold, become the leading hybrid seed corn throughout the nation.
May 23, 2016
Brad Fausnacht, retired marina waterfront development engineer and chaplain at the United Methodist Village, presented a program on his successful effort to place the St Francisville 13th Street Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.
Larry "Deedee" Reynolds
April 25, 2016
Former Lawrenceville resident Larry “Deedee” Reynolds, read from his latest book, Drums along the Wabash, at the March meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Society.
Illinois State Historical Society Award Presentation
April 23, 2016
The following Lawrence County Society members were recognized for their accomplishments by the Illinois State Historical Society April 23, 2016 at their Annual Award Meeting and Dinner in Springfield, IL. There were 35 nominations in several different categories from across the state, but Lawrence County exceeded all other counties by bringing home 4 awards. This is the second year that the Society has been acknowledged for submitting award- winning projects.
Nancy King, Kaye Fisher, Flossie Price, Irene Jackman and Todd Gray, the Committee for the Conservation and Collection of Military Uniforms, brought home an Award of Merit. Rose Robeson and Noble Brown,the Committee for the Centerville Cemetery Project, brought home an Award of Excellence. Larry Curry, Carl Curry and John King, the Committee for the Black History Project, brought home an Award of Superior. Donna Burton, Nancy King and Ellen White, brought home an Award of Excellence for the book, Weddings through the Ages.
March 28, 2016
Chicago author Stan Banash presented a program titled Roadside History of Illinois. He drove old highways, state roadways and county roads to find people and places that contributed to Illinois’’ rich history.
February 22, 2016
Tom Emery, noted Illinois author and lecturer, was the featured speaker at the February meeting. He spoke on the personal lives of “Abraham Lincoln and his Family.”
Barbara Ross, of Crawford County, spoke on her work in identifying all War of 1812 veterans buried in Crawford and Lawrence Counties.
N King and I Jackman as well as other members sold books at the 4-H Center December 2015 Craft Fair. This was the first time the public got to view the newest publication, Wedding Through the Ages.
November 23, 2015
Allen Johnson was the featured speaker at the November 23, 2015 meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Societ. Johnson, a native of Lawrenceville, presented a program on the history of Lawrenceville High School, his alma mater, from its beginnings at Old Central on 12th Street, to its current new campus on James Street.
October 26, 2015
It's Halloween time, and this month the Lawrence County Historical Society got in the “spirit” of things with a program on the weird, wonderful, and unexplainable in our local past. Donna Wildes, retired teacher and student of the paranormal, was the featured speaker at the Society’s meeting on Monday, October 26, 7:00 p.m. at the museum in Lawrenceville.
September 28, 2015
llinois author Taylor Pensoneau spoke about the well- known gangster brothers of southern Illinois, the Sheltons and also of Blackie (Charlie) Harris, another gangster, during the Roaring Twenties through the late 1940’s.
August 24, 2015
Dennis Stroughmatt, a apecialist in North American French Creole and Cajun culture, was the featured speaker and performer.His fiddle playing delighted the standing- room- only crowd as he reconnected Lawrence County's French Creole connection to the past.
Slavery in Southern Illinois
June 22, 2015
Darrel Dexter presented his research of more than a decade on Bondage in Egypt; Slavery in Southern Illinois. For most Americans, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln, ‘The Great Emancipator,’ is thought of as a ‘Free state’ in America’s great struggle with slavery. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banned both slavery and involuntary servitude in the territory and state. But slavery legally existed in Illinois from 1720 to 1865 in thirty-four counties in southern Illinois known regionally as “Egypt.”
Centerville Cemetery Tour
May 30, 2015
About one hundred guests rotated through three stations at the Centerville cemetery as they listened to speakers tell stories of the deceased, the efforts by volunteers to clean up the Day Cemetery, one of the earliest black cemeteries in the state, and also the history of the town of Centerville that disappeared to make room for an Army Air base in WWII. Afterwards the guests adjourned to The Church of the Brethren for refreshments and to listen as Noble Brown shared the story of the relocation of the church building.
Jacob Adams and Gen'l Custer at Little Bighorn
April 27, 2015
A program, "Jacob Adams and Gen'l Custer at Little Bighorn", was presented by Jody Buchanan and Larry Whitmer. Adams, a Private in Benteen's battalion, was among the first to reach the scene of the battle after it was over. Ms Buchanan is the gr-grand-daughter of Adams, who lived out his post military years in Vincennes IN. An exhibit of artifacts will accompany the presentation.
Illinois State Historical Society Award Presentation
April 25, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015, eight members of the Lawrence County Historical Society as well as Sheriff Adams and his wife attended the Illinois State Historical Society’s 2015 Annual Award luncheon, held in the Old State Capitol in Springfield. The Society’s website www.lawrencelore.org received the highest award for best website treating themes in Illinois history, that of superior achievement, serving as a model for the profession. The site was evaluated for scope, quality of data, effectiveness of presentation, user accessibility, and relevance of subject.
Two of the Society’s 2014 events were nominated in the special project category that increased awareness of state and local history, developed and implemented to achieve a specific purpose. The George Bopp Fallen Officer Memorial brought home an award of superior achievement while the vintage wedding event-Wedding Memories Through the Ages- received a Certification of Excellence, recognizing a work of exemplary quality showing considerable creativity, serious scholarship and efficient utilization of resources.
The Future of Lanterman Park Buildings
February 23, 2015
The history of both Pepple School and Dr. Schrader's Office was presented by David Burgett. These two buildings at Lanterman Park are in need of serious repair. The slide show program was followed by discussion as to their fate.
January 26, 2015
Kevin Borden presented a multimedia show about the Borden genealogy. From the first Borden in England in the 1200's to his newest grandson. he shared stories about Borden's in his family and in the news.
September 22, 2014
Lawrence County Historical Society enjoyed the presence of over 60 guests who attended the presentation on Monday eveninb September 22. Anne Marie Marx, owner and operator of Jewel Craft Jewelry store Main Street, Vincennes presented the program on Wabash River Pearls.
Crawford County Museum Tour
June 29, 2014
Society members were guests of the Crawford County Historical Society in Robinson on Sunday afternoon June 29th. The museum, housed in the former Schmidt Clinic south of the town square, is filled with displays of local Crawford County history.
St. Xavier Catholic Church
March 30, 2014
St. Xavier Catholic Church in St. Francisville welcome Society members and guests for the March meeting. History of the beautiful church windows was shared as well as plans for their preservation.
Frederick Douglass, Black Orator
February 24, 2014
In a well-attended program at the LTHS auditorium, Steven Cole, a Frederick Douglass impersonator for over 20 years, delivered an emotion-filled argument debating the immorality of slavery. As Douglass, he effectively presented the challenges and intellectual struggles that to be fought and won before slavery was abolished. Cole, a native of Freeport, Illinois. is a historian and an avid researcher with family roots in Lawrence County, Illinois.
Free African American Community in Lawrence County
November 25, 2013
The room at the Museum that is used for programs was almost too small to hold all the members and guests who attended the November meeting. The speaker was Annelise Morris, a PhD candidate at Berkeley, who presented an interesting program about the results of her two summers of "digs" on her ancestor's homestead near Pinkstaff. She found over 800 artifacts, and brought some like a coin from China, hairclip, and pieces of pottery to show the group.
Indiana Military Museum
August 26, 2013
About 30 folks listened to Jim R. Osborne, Director of the Indiana Military Museum, Vincennes, Indiana. describe the collections. One of the buildings of particular interest to Lawrence County folks, was an original George Field Barracks. Outside are several military airplanes, helicopters, tanks, and trucks while at the north edge of this field is a reconstructed bunker.
Captain James Lawrence
June 24, 2013
Kevin Borden presented a media show featuring the life of Captain James Lawrence for who the county is named. Society members were intrigued by the number of ships that had been named USS Lawrence and the counties and cities that have also used the name. Lawrence is attributed with the quotation: "Don't give up the ship!"
Black History Tour
May 25, 2013
Carl and Larry Curry shared the County's Black History with participants as everyone enjoyed a beautiful Saturday touring Lawrenceville and Bond Township on the bus. Being able to see where free black settlers owned land in the arly 1800's, attended church and were buried, made this often forgotten part of the County's history come alive. Since both the morning and afternoon tours were sold our, a repeat performanceis planned in the future.
Sumner Cemetery Tour
May 19. 2013
The harness on the draft horses belonging to the Steve Cunningham family jingled as participants were slowly driven along the tour route in the Sumner City cemetery. Using research prepared by John King and Kevin Borden, Cindy Seabrook and Donna Burton shared stories about the famous and infamous buried there. Water was provided by the Weston Mowing Service. All 6 tours were sold out, and future cemetery tours are being planned.
Sgt. Earl E. Scherer
February 5, 2013
Sgt. Earl E. Scherer and his cousin Ron E. Scherer presented the February program. Ron is the author of the book "The Soldier from Illinois-One Man's Courage" about Earl's WWII war time experiences. After sharing some of his person memories of France, Germany and the Netherlands, Sgt. Scherer, 96 years young played "God Bless America" on his harmonica to the crowded room causing more that a few tear-filled eyes in the audience.