Home | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

Barry Schrader


I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Neat stuff from the county archives

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Sept 22, 2015

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

Sounds too weird to be true, but DeKalb County Historian Sue Breese produced the proof by showing us a badly battered LP record at the County Historical-Genealogical Society meeting earlier this month.

The vinyl record was a recording by Bob Dylan and had been found on a VAC bus loaned to Fairdale right after the April tornado. It was later learned that the record had been retrieved from a tree in town along with other debris lodged there.

Now here’s the weird coincidence: On that disc is the song “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Breese hopes the owner will come forward so they can return it, instead of adding it to the Joiner History Room archives.

A lot of other intriguing and revealing facts were shared by the panel of archive volunteers—Ann Marie Babich, Bud Burgin, Marcia Wilson, along with Breese. It was surprising to learn that they have collected and loaded online some 35,000 obituaries from county residents over the past century or more, and still have an estimated 35,000 to add as time permits. Using the computer system supplied by the county they have logged in 15,000 line items, many of them photographs that can be scanned and purchased from the archives.

The easiest way to access the online data base is go to the Joiner website at: www.joinerhistoryroom.org

Bud Burgin explained that each county treasurer

Members of the Joiner History Room staff giving the presentation are from left: Ann Marie Babich, Marcia Wilson, County Historian Sue Breese, and A.A. Bud Burgin. (Barry Schrader photos)

This closeup of a battered vinyl record found after the Fairdale tornado has the name Bob Dylan and one of his songs “Blowin’ in the Wind” on its label.

was responsible for paying their soldiers in the Civil War and they still have the original pay requests. Many were just small slips of paper asking that the money be turned over to a family member instead of sent to the men in camp.

A record of the 1902 controversy over relocating the county seat from Sycamore to DeKalb is contained in a 220 page petition with 4,400 signatures of people outside Sycamore. The only thing that saved Sycamore from losing the courthouse was a technicality that made the petition invalid according to a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court. One cannot imagine what a loss that would have been and how much of an asset it remains today for the people of that community. DeKalb had already hit the jackpot by outfoxing the competing cities to locate the Northern Illinois State Normal School there in 1895.

Another record of importance details how Sandwich broke away from Somonauk township in 1899 so it could have its own township supervisor and receive a fairer share of taxes from the south county. That came after a long battle which included a 12-11 vote of the county board not to approve the split and a final decision by the Illinois Supreme Court forcing the breakup.

People interested in cemetery records can find compilations of burials at the Joiner archives; also, Elmwood Cemetery data is being updated this year so families or genealogists will have ready access to more up-to-date information.

But Breese explained they are not an artifact repository, so don’t offer them your ancestor’s Civil War uniform, a wedding dress from your great aunt, or a collection of local arrowheads. Those should rather go to each community’s museum or offered to the Northern Illinois Regional Archives at NIU

Home | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115