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- Daily Chronicle : DeKalb County Life
The Articles started December 2007.
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17 Years of Records: Volunteers like Marian
the world go around
By Barry Schrader.................................April
After interviewing a dedicated 17-year volunteer last week,
I cant help thinking people like Marian Anderson are what
make our world go around, just hoping there will be more people
like her coming along in future generations.
Marian lives at Barb City Manor, a retirement complex in the
old DeKalb Public Hospital building, and hung up her volunteer
badge three years ago because of failing eyesight, after spending
lots of days of her life over a 17-year period helping DeKalb
County historian Phyllis Kelley collect, index and file much
of the countys records that were stashed away in the basement
of the Sycamore courthouse. Plus, she became an expert in finding
and indexing obituaries from throughout the county for future
generations and genealogists so they could easily locate their
ancestors 10 years or a hundred years from now.
Gathered in front of the Sycamore Public Library, where
the Joiner History Room is located on the second floor, are (from
left) county historian Phyllis Kelley, Marian Anderson and Bud
Burgin. (Barry Schrader - Daily Chronicle)
Marian also had a lifelong career working in the county clerk/recorders
office, most of it under the late county clerk, Ralph Joiner,
whom she praised for caring about old records and making sure
they were preserved by finding places to store them in the bowels
of the courthouse during his many years in public office. She
was also thankful that a more recent county clerk, Terry Desmond,
also preserved historical files and continued Joiners efforts.
Anyway, Marian showed me a crooked index finger on her right
hand a testament to her years with a fountain pen in hand
copying land records and other files into big journals and ledgers
before there was such a thing as large typing machines and computer
scanners. Her main job was recording legal land transactions
and indexing other files in the county offices. She can even
remember some of the more colorful and creative boundary descriptions,
one of which went like this, from a stone in a creek to
an Oak tree, to an Ash tree, then so many chains and so many
links over to another stone ... and so on. This was long
before surveyors had the benefit of the GPS coordinates.
Marian also told about the earliest plat books that were handwritten
in beautiful script and hand-colored maps that are collectors
items today. The county hopefully still has those originals tucked
away. Besides her courthouse career, Marian, with a little help
from her late husband, Walter, had time to raise their six children
three girls and three boys.
But getting back to her volunteer work, I learned from historian
Phyllis Kelley how valuable Marian was in preserving records.
She spent hundreds of hours copying obituaries by hand from old
newspapers and clippings donated to the Joiner History Room,
then indexing and filing them in loose leaf binders where researchers
can access them in minutes. I also learned that another longtime
volunteer, retired banker Bud Burgin, has spent more than 10
years coming in weekly to the history center to perform a multitude
of tasks and has taken over the obituary indexing from Marian.
But now they have copy machines to make the task easier and faster.
Bud is also the History Rooms expert on southern DeKalb
County, having been a banker in Hinckley and Shabbona for many
years. Just ask him about any cemetery, church or business that
existed back in time and he can likely give you the answer you
are seeking, according to Phyllis.
All this leads up to the fact that the Joiner History Room (named
after the late county clerk and his wife, Bertha) will be observing
its 20th anniversary in existence at an open house from 1-3 p.m.
Saturday upstairs in the quarters at the back of the Sycamore
Public Library. When you come in the door, you are confronted
with an array of Turner Brass torches, maps and photos all over
the walls, rows of bookshelves, and a weathered roadside sign
that says Beulah P.O. It is best to ask Bud where
in the south part of the county that little crossroads settlement
was located. On that Saturday, besides Phyllis and Bud, you may
get to meet volunteers Sue Breese, Fran Besserman, Jackie Tyrell,
Shari Baker and Patsy Lundberg. The thousands of hours these
people and several before them have contributed to preserving,
filing and indexing our countys treasured past makes the
Joiner History Room one of the most valuable assets in our county.
Stop by and say thanks to them. And you might even stumble across
some family history you didnt know was on file there!
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PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115