Genealogy Sources: Some Personal Tips and Notes

I began my research into my family history and genealogy in 1982. I find it rewarding and something that I find makes time pass quickly. I lose myself when doing research and writing. In mid January 2022 I retired following a thirty-five year career as a professional Librarian. In retirement I now have the time (especially during the winter months) to begin writing my family history.

In this posting I will provide tips and advice on researching your family history. Most of my research has been Illinois and DuPage and Kane County centric. My maternal side dates back to 1852 in the Dupage County Illinois area. That is 170 years and generations living in the same location.

I support and encourage people to become members of professional genealogical organizations. I am a long-time member of the DuPage County Illinois Genealogical Society and the Illinois State Genealogical Society. The benefits of joining a Society outside of print and online publications and newsletters are the programs that each of the Societies sponsor. There is also the advantage of connecting with other individuals working on their own family histories.

In my research I use secondary sources to supply historical and social history context to my research. Secondary sources can include books, journal articles, speeches, reviews, research reports, and more.

Promotion Alert: I am a promoter and proponent of the use of your local public library. One reason to use your library is that you are already paying for the services a public library offers via your local property tax payments. I love my local Libraries. They have in their collections many local and state historical materials that provide background information and historical context of the state and the communities your family lived in while they were alive. There are a lot of materials that are not available for free on the internet and may just be waiting for you on library shelves.

Here is a list of some of the books that I found valuable in my research on Winfield Illinois when seeking photos and background information on the history of the town:

Louise Spanke. Winfield’s Good Old Days: A History. Winfield Public Library. 1978.
Jim McGuire. Images of America: Winfield. Arcadia Publishing. 2017.

County histories nicknamed by historians “mug books” due to the photos/illustrations/engravings of local residents contained in the volume. The mug book was sold by subscription and many of the people living in a county contributed their family histories. One cautionary note: the mug books should be used with a critical eye as the dates and material may be incorrect or contain biases as the biographies and genealogies were written by family members on their ancestors. Many of the relatives and editors wanted to portray their relatives in a positive light. Regardless of this cautionary note, mug books are still helpful and a starting point in your research. Here is the citation for the 1882 DuPage County mug book:

Bateman, Newton and Selby, Paul ( eds.) Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of DuPage County. 2 vols. Munsell Publishing Co., Chicago, 1882. You can click the citation to view it online.

Erastus Gary sepia portrait
This is an example of a photograph (or “mug” shot) from the above volume. This is Erastus Gary an early settler of Winfield Illinois Township. His property is now the St. James Farm Forest Preserve and part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Illinois.

Another resource is your local countycourt house. Materials available at the court house include: real estate transactions, probate records, naturalization, and birth and death records. An example, I was able to view the Daleiden family probate records at the DuPage County Court house. For a fee the Clerks at the court house can copy materials for your own files. I was also able to locate the actual deeds to properties owned by the Schlick family. One of Casper Schlick’s Deed dated back to the early 1860s.

Newspapers are another source of material for your family history. For example, I was able to review microfilm copies of the Wheaton Illinoian at the Wheaton (Illinois) Public Library. Many of the Daleiden, Schlick and St John Church articles were from the Illinoian. For research that I have been undertaking for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Illinois on the St James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville Illinois I have been calling upon the Librarians at the Nichols Naperville Public Library main branch in downtown Naperville Illinois in DuPage County. The Librarians were able to provide PDF scanned copies via e-mail of articles pertaining to Frank Gorton and the Chauncey and Brooks McCormick families who owned the farm. The Naperville Library staff were able to help me locate materials in their copies of the Naperville Clarion newspaper.

Newspapers contain local events and news during a particular time and era. Newspapers such as the Hampshire (Illinois) Register published in Hampshire Illinois in Kane County provided extremely helpful accounts on news and events in the lives of the Joseph and Mary Ann Schlick family of Burlington Illinois in Kane County. Most newspapers of the era contained columns that collected news from family and neighbors on family events and lives. The articles can add some meat to your writing and compiling of your family history. They were the Facebooks of their time. I concentrated on the local town columns. They were the Facebooks of their time. I was able to obtain ( in the 1980s) copies of the newspaper on microfilm from the Illinois Sate Historical Library in Springfield Illinois via my local library’s Interlibrary Loan Services. To locate newspapers where ones relative lived anywhere in the United States begin with the Library of Congress website on newspapers.

This is a clipping from the Hampshire Illinois Register newspaper of 1906. It tells the story of my great great grandfather and grand mother Susan and Casper Schlick’s wedding.

About Schlick Daleiden Families - DuPage and Kane Counties of Illinois

Kevin Davis is a retired Public Library Director. He is a Board member of the Winfield (IL) Historical Society. Davis has over 35 years experience working in public libraries. He is deeply interested in local Chicagoland, Dupage, and Kane County History. Davis earned a BA in History and an MA in Library Science from Dominican University. He is a volunteer researcher for the St. James Farm Forest Preserve part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in Illinois. His work includes extensive writing and research on the McCormick family line who were former owners of St. James Farm. He is an avid family historian / genealogist and has done extensive research on the Schlicks and Daleidens of DuPage and Kane County Illinois.
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