Category Archives: History of Beloit Wisconsin

Getting to Know William Graydon’s Family, and Me – Here’s the Punchline!

By Vicki Ruthe Hahn


Duhhhh! I forgot to tell you the punchline this morning.

Great questions on my Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library program today.

“Getting to Know William Graydon’s Family, and Me – a Study Showing Genealogy Research Methods and Regional Connections”.

The biggest Stateline/regional connections are these:

Major Jesse Meacham’s extended family (I think) is connected to the 1833 founding of the community West of Chicago – Meacham Grove, Illinois

(I believe that this is the “Chicago” that Major Jesse Meacham, and later, Elizabeth Lulu Booth visited before going to Troy WI.)

While Jesse Meacham went on to found Troy, Wisconsin (where William R Graydon’s family later moved),

Caleb Blodgett bought a farm/acreage in Meacham Grove, Illinois.

After a short while, Caleb Blodgett sold his Illinois land, and moved to Wisconsin.

The French trapper Joseph Thiebault (Tebo) was the first white man who came to the Beloit Wisconsin area in 1820.  He was married to two American Indian wives at the same time.

Stephen Mack was the first white settler (mid 1830s) in the Rockton Illinois area, and was married to Hononegah, a Native American woman from one of the surrounding tribes.  He founded Macktown, Illinois.

Tebo and Stephen Mack knew, and traded with each other.

Caleb Blodgett bought “three looks” of land in 1836 from Tebo, and founded what became Beloit, Wisconsin.

Caleb Blodgett knew, and traded with, Stephen Mack of Macktown Illinois (near Rockton).


And now you know (some of ) the rest of the story!


Stateline Travelers – Part 8 – A Stateline Celebration for 100 Year-old South Beloit, Illinois and Me

Stateline Travelers – Part  8  – A Stateline Celebration for 100 Year-old South Beloit, Illinois and Me

Part of an on-going series by

Vicki Ruthe Hahn, Stateline Genealogy Sorter.

June 24, 2017


South Beloit, Illinois will be celebrating 100 years this year.

Their Centennial Celebration will be August 24 – 27, 2017.

Sout Beloit 100

Beloit Wisconsin and South Beloit, Illinois have been linked for our entire history.

Next week the Beloit Public Library is opening their new coffee and food shop, “The Blender”.

I am welcoming South Beloiters to Beloit Public Library to visit “their” GEN Club and Coffee shop here in Beloit.

Opening the week of June 26, 2017

Color Logo Grey Text

Blender interiorBlender sign

What a great place to go for a refreshing drink, smoothie, bakery snack, soup, sandwich, breakfast, lunch, or supper –  after doing genealogy at Beloit Public Library, after a Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library program.


…0r anytime.  I believe that the open hours of The Blender will be something like 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Thursday; and 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Maybe we can raise a “toast” to great collaborations between Beloit and South Beloit for another 100 years.

I was the Director of the South Beloit Public Library from 1991 – 1993.  Then I got a job as the Head of the Circulation Department at the Beloit Public Library, and I am still here, 24 years later, as the Public Services Librarian.

Catherine Hayes (at that time the former, former South Beloit Public Library Director) was the historian of South Beloit.  All historical knowledge stated here is from the book, “Our Golden History-South Beloit Illinois”, which is a non-copyrighted work by Catherine Hayes.  She wrote the book to inform the people South Beloit of their pre-incorporation roots for the Sesquicentennial.

Catherine and I had many friendly conversations, as she helped me learn how to be a library director, and taught me about the history of South Beloit –

“Always a City, never a Village!”

The South Beloit Centennial Committee is writing a new Centennial history book.



In 1818, the United States Congress told the people of the Territory of Illinois to form a state government.

A heated debate arose over the correct placement of the northern state line of Illinois.

If the old line of 1787 (Northwest Territory) were kept, Illinois would be much smaller than Wisconsin,

and Chicago would be in Wisconsin because Illinois would have no Lake Michigan shoreline.

A bill passed cutting 8,500sq. miles off of Wisconsin and adding it to Illinois, creating the current state line.


By 1838, the village of Turtle became Beloit.

South Beloit became the south part of Beloit.


Winnebago County voted in 1842 for annexation to Wisconsin.

However, the south had more people and out-voted the north.

So Winnebago County remained in Illinois.


They (south of Beloit) petitioned to become their own city in 1914.

In September 17, 1917, South Beloit became a city.

Hint – these are the newspapers from Rockford Illinois that would also cover South Beloit Illinois:
Winnebago – Rockford   Crusader                  1952 – 1971
Winnebago – Rockford   Morning Star          1961 – 1963
Winnebago – Rockford   Register Star           1988 – 2007
Winnebago – Rockford   Register-Republic  1952 – 1972
The Rockford Public Library should have these on microfilm.
You can contact them for a search if you cannot get there yourself.
We have the Beloit Daily News (in microfilm at Beloit Public Library, Wisconsin)
which also covers news for South Beloit Illinois.
South Beloit does not have their own newspaper that I know of.
We would be glad to look up local history for you, but Beloit Daily News is not indexed for all the years.
We would need to know which date – at least the month and year.
For requests, please send us more information to our Interlibrary loan email.
Or you can contact me at the BLOG email

Beloit, Wisconsin has a City Flag!

By Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter.

City of Beloit flag, Beloit Public Library souvenir plate, and paperweight on Library Beloit Area Family Histories bookcase.  I believe the flag was created for the Beloit Centennial.

Hint – Beloit Public Library collects family histories of families and individuals linked to the area of Beloit, WI.  Look in the local libraries of where your families lived to find those, and local history.

BPL Beloit Families Bookcase & Flag


Thanks to Kim C. posting on the “closed” Facebook Group, “Beloit WI – Remember When”.  Hint – search for these types of groups in the areas your families lived.  There is a lot of reminiscing about local history that can teach you more about the people, clubs, businesses, and events that happened in the recent past history.

“It’s No Secret – Beloit Has a Flag” from Nov. 10, 1981 Beloit Daily News:

“According to the article, the left side is yellow and the right side is green with a strip of blue dividing down the center. The Yellow portrays fields of ripened grains. The green, the prairies and pasture lands and the blue the rock River.
Overlaid on the background is a ‘flaming wheel’ of red and blue. The center portrays the dammed mill pond around which the cities industry developed. In the center of the circle in red, a wheel is made to represent a ‘turbine, spoke, flange and vane’ that were important to early Beloit industries.”

There are other Beloit Wisconsin Facebook Groups as well:

165 members – closed group – ask to join
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is a progress. Working together is success ~ anonymous The purpose of the group: Pass on vital information that is” relevant to African- American people with connection to Beloit WI.
And area groups Rockford (IL) Rewind
These groups tend to have lots of old photographs of the area, ads, and people.  Just search on Facebook for the city/state name to find groups for your ancestors locales.

The Flood of 1973 in Beloit Wisconsin and South Beloit Illinois

The Flood of 1973 in Beloit Wisconsin

and South Beloit Illinois

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

April 3, 2017

A  loose- leaf book, about The Flood of 1973 in Beloit, Wisconsin and South Beloit, Illinois, was “presented”  to the Beloit Public Library by Robert Solem in 1973?  It was updated in 2011 by a (prefers not to be named) volunteer who had additional (personal) information that doubled it into a 123 page book.  He labeled the photographs, added location indicators and most of the pertinent 1973 Beloit Daily Newspaper articles (copied from the Library microfilm.)  Our volunteer then scanned the final product and gave both to the Beloit Public Library for local history.  Both versions are implied fair-use copyright for the Beloit Public Library.

I am endlessly grateful for the good that these volunteers, and others, do to help further the work of easier access to information about local history and genealogy.  From transcribing historic books into readable form, scanning, labeling, arranging, creating indexes and bibliographies, etc. – all are blessings.  Although, I am not able to link the digital copy to my BLOG, I wanted you to know the added good that will come of these volunteers’ efforts.

We got an ILL Interlibrary Loan request from a researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He wanted the original Reference book, which we do not send out of the Library.  That is so all you fine folks that visit libraries can access our local history.

That researcher will be using the flood information to build a model to help evaluate why the flood(s) happened.  The information will helpfully prevent future floods here, and elsewhere. I have requested that the researcher update me on his results, which I will include in a future Posting.

Looks like I will have to be sending the books pages in several emails.  That is entirely made possible and easy by the scanning that my volunteer did of this book.

The physical book is available to look at in the Beloit Public Library Genealogy and Local History Collection:

Title       The Turtle Creek flood, April 21, 1973 : Beloit, Wisconsin & So. Beloit, Illinois. With updated annotations Fall of 2011

Imprint [S.l. : s.n. ; 1973?]

Beloit Genealogy & Local History              GEN 363.34936 Turtle 1973         REFERENCE

Description         1 v. (loose-leaf) : chiefly ill. ; 30 cm.

Note      “Presented by Robert Solem”–Cover.

Subject Turtle Creek (Rock County, Wis. and Winnebago County, Ill.) — Flood, 1973.

Beloit (Wis.) — History.

South Beloit (Ill.)


Here is more information on historic flooding in the area, from the Beloit Historic Society.

Individual Membership
1 Year – $25 Membership at the The Beloit Historic Society   is well worth the value of receiving the 6 times a year newsletters filled with unique stories about Beloit history.  It also gives you a chance to support local history efforts in Beloit.

Another chance soon to support the Beloit Historical Society is to come hear my (short version) program – What They Wore When.  April 12, 2017.  This is one of several great programs that BHS Kelly Washburn is offering to the public.


Beloit Floods:

Beloit Flooding 1

Beloit Flooding 2



Donating Local History Documents and Photographs

Donating Local History Documents and Photographs

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

April 3, 2017

This is part of a  reply to a generous person who wanted to share an important hand-written local history document so that others could access it.  This is an important reminder to all of us to share information about our family’s histories that may help others from the local communities where they lived.

The Beloit Public Library has a special bookcase for books, booklets, or papers,  on people and families connected with Beloit, and two lateral pamphlet file cabinets for local (stateline) history.


Thanks so much for taking the initiative to let me know about the unique hand-written resource that you have on Roscoe history.

The very best place to donate that document would be the Roscoe North Suburban Public Library branch, as the Library is open more hours than even the local history societies.

(Donate copies of your family photographs too.  Each Library and historic society will have their own requirements and restrictions on what donations they will accept.  Please ask them first.)

There does not seem to be a historical society for Roscoe, IL (although there is one for Rockton Township.

The 2 North Suburban Libraries act as Roscoe’s historical society.

They have a local history collection (as does the Loves Park main library). I lived in the second oldest house (1839) in Roscoe for 12 years. When I sold that house, I donated a (mostly) hand-written mortgage deed to the Roscoe branch library (Reference desk).

You can read about that house, and more about Roscoe and Macktown IL, and Beloit WI history on this post from my BLOG:

Stateline Travelers – Part 3 – This Old House and Me

If you ask them to send you a written acknowledgement, you can use it if you itemize tax deductions. I have no clue what the value would be.  Ebay/Craigslist would give you ideas.

That Library also has a full copy of this book which I just found online (the index). There are Benders listed, but no Moshers.

The Story of Roscoe, Illinois

All history is not on computer or electronic media, especially local history. (Which is a common mis-conception.)  About 80% of genealogy/history resources are online at this time.  More are being added everyday, but many are in paid sites.

Even that 20%, facebook, and email,  has made genealogy searching so much easier than it used to be.  Not too long ago, people had to go from courthouse to library to historical society in person, or write letters, to find their family history.

I am sure that the growing numbers of (baby-boomer) retirees plus ease of searching has led to the recent growth in popularity of genealogy as a hobby.

I am continuously building up our Beloit local history collection, and some state-line history, but we have limited room.

Thanks again, for the generous offer, and information.

Now I will know that your document will be in a place that I (and others) can access easily.

Using The New York State Census to Track Your Ancestor’s Migration

Vicki’s note – article from Legacy News.  Many Illinois and (Beloit) Wisconsin ancestors emigrated from (or through)  Vermont and New York:

Your Migration Secret Weapon – the New York State Census


Those of us with westward migrating ancestors know how difficult it can be to trace people from their destination to their point of origin and vice versa. Even harder is finding the short stops along the way.

Many genealogists have learned to use the United States Federal Census as a clue to migration. By looking at the birth location of children in a migrating family, we can often determine some of the stops a family made on their journey westward. The only challenge is that the Federal Census is only enumerated every 10 years. That’s a big gap!

New York’s Role in Migration

New York played a big role in the lives of migrating families. Families who originated in New England often passed through New York, often stopping there for a few years before moving on. New York residents as well joined the migration west heading to Ohio and beyond.

The Trouble with New York

The challenge for many researchers is that the trail goes cold in New York. Vital records for most towns in New York state didn’t start until the 1870s or later. If you have New England ancestors traveling west this come as a cold shock when you’re used to vital records going back to the 1600s. Researching in New York is frustrating to say the least.

Your New Secret Weapon

All is not lost! You were on the right track when you used the U.S. Federal Census. While we may not have the advantage of New York vital records we do have the New York State Census.

The New York State Census was taken for the years 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Not all counties in New York have extant records for all years but for 1855-1905 the coverage is very good
with the exception of a few counties.

Each of the census years asks for different information, of varying value to genealogists. It’s the 1855, 1865 and 1875 censuses that I want to bring your attention to. These three censuses asked for the county of birth. If
your ancestors are making stops within New York before moving on, this information is invaluable in tracing their steps.

In addition, the three censuses indicate if a person owned land and the 1855 census mentions the “years resident in the town or city”.

An Example in Action

One of my “challenging” families is David Allen, his wife Mariah and their five kids. Between a common surname, transcription errors and migration I was fit to be tied tracking down this family.

Then I found them in the 1855 New York State Census. The family was living in Volney, Fulton City, Oswego County, New York. David was listed as being born Jefferson County, New York according to the 1855 census. His wife Mariah (no maiden name yet discovered) was also born in Jefferson County about 1823. Their first child Henry was born about 1844 also in Jefferson County.

The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing.

The 1855 New York State Census showing the David Allen family. Please note the image has been altered to show the headers directly above the family listing.

The next child, Elizabeth, only one year younger that Henry, was born in Lewis County. A second daughter, Eleanor, was also born in Lewis County about 1849. The last child, Charles, only 11 months old was born in Oswego County.

This tells me I can place the family in Jefferson County, New York at least up until 1844. They are in Lewis County from about 1845 to no later than 1854. They arrive in Oswego County in time for Charles’ birth around 1854.

But there’s another clue. Column 13 – “Years resident in this city or town” – shows that the Allens have been in Volney, Fulton City for 2 years thus changing their likely arrival date in Oswego County to 1853. Column 20 – “Owners of land” – indicates that the Allen family did not own any land.

This one census helped to clear up where the family started and where they stopped along the way in New York on the travel west. It gave me new locations to search for new records. By 1860 the family had moved on the Manlius, LaSalle County, Illinois.

If your family traveled west during the mid-nineteenth century be sure to check the 1855, 1865 and 1875 New York State censuses (available on to find the clues to solving their migration mysteries.

Unfortunately the Allen family remains a bit of a mystery for me. In the 1880 US Federal Census I find a David Allen, Maria Allen and son Charles Allen of appropriate ages in Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota. But I also find in a different 1880 census a John Slocumb, Elizabeth Slocumb and a widowed Maria Allen living in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan. A Michigan marriage record indicates that a Libbie Maria Allen born in Lewis County, New York married John Slocumb in 1877. It will take a bit more digging to determine which is my Allen family!

For help researching your New York ancestors see our New York series by expert Jane Wilcox in the Legacy library!


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also a speaker, writer and the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.




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I, too, have found the NY state census records to be invaluable. One of my huge brick walls is John Jones from Wales. Born in about 1820 in Wales, I have no idea how his parents are and I did not know when he had emigrated from Wales and immigrated to the United States. the NY State Census helped me with that. I still don’t know the date of immigration, but the 1855 NY State Census told me that he was 32 years old in 1855 and had lived in Utica NY for 26 years. So he immigrated as a child between the ages of 1 and 6…. approximately (because we know that ages are often wrong on censuses.) The 1855 NY State Census also told me that he was a naturalized citizen. I have discovered a lot of information about John and his wife Sarah and all of their children thru the various NY State Censuses that I did not get from the Federal Censuses !!!

Obtain John Jones’ naturalization papers post-haste! Good chance his parents are listed, and also good chance they were naturalized.

Also check censuses for the Utica area for anybody named Jones, born in Wales. You have a good shot at this!

Rock County Postcards

Rock County Postcards

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn


Here is a on-line site for you to see the history of Rock County by looking at historical postcard photographs.



We also have a book at Beloit Public Library on Rock County postcards:

A postcard history of Rock County

Belvidere, Ill. : Boone County Journal, c2000. c2000

Beloit Genealogy & Local History GEN 977.587 P845 Reference

and Beloit Adult Non-Fiction 977.587 P845 to check out.


Beloit Wisconsin History Archives at Beloit College

Beloit Wisconsin History Archives at Beloit College

by Vicki Hahn


There is a fantastic treasure of Beloit History documents, photos, etc. at the Beloit College History Archives in the Morse College Library. They cover the history of the city of Beloit, Wisconsin, as well the College – businesses, restaurants, Under-Ground Railroad, area documents, historic photographs, etc.

Here is a link to their Beloit History Archive Collection Index.


Sounds like a tour for our Stateline Genealogy  Club @ Beloit Public Library next year.  We are all scheduled up for tours in 2017.

There is no way that Beloit Public Library can hold as many local history documents, but I try to continuously add to our Genealogy/Local History Collection here.

The Archivist Fred Burwell is very helpful, and we have done some collaborative work.

Here is a link to their hours, and location.   Or you can see a lot by looking at the Beloit College Archives website.


Historic Beloit, Rock, Wisconsin Maps now in Genealogy/Local History Collection; and Shifting

Historic Beloit, Rock, Wisconsin Maps now in Genealogy/Local History Collection; and Shifting

By Vicki Ruthe Hahn


Thanks to the great help of the Beloit Public Library Technical Services Dept.,

We have large historic Beloit, Rock, and Wisconsin maps now in our Genealogy/Local History Collection.

These maps will be very exciting and welcomed by our patrons.

(Look up “GEN Map” in call number to see what we have.)


The maps look very professional, processed into protective archival plastic sleeves that I was able to find.

They are currently on top of the first bookshelves section for patrons to look at.

A map case would be nice some year :).

(You can  borrow a magnifier from the Reference Desk if needed.)

I moved the large 2008 Beloit street map to GEN also.

Shifting – several REF books are being re-cataloged as GEN and moved to the (new to GEN) 2nd  section of bookcases.

These books will be better used in the Genealogy/Local History Collection than in general Reference.

I think that you will surprised at the helpful books that you did not know that we have.

I will be putting labels onto books that are “Local History” OR “Genealogy”.

(The Reference area is being condensed to make room for a Career/Jobs/Exams Center on the last shelving section next to Western books.)

The City Directories and High School Yearbooks will be moved to the GEN shelves closest to the tables, to ease study of them.

The Beloit/Rock/Wisconsin/Stateline area connected books will start on the two shelving sides in the middle of the two sections.

They will have “Local History” labels.

The Genealogy aid books – more general maps, how to do genealogy, (world) wars,  history timelines, historic era/area encyclopedias, etc.

will be on the farthest shelves, next to Fiction books.

They will have “Genealogy” labels on them.

All changes and additions are going to increase your research.

City Directory Surprise – U.S. Census Demographic Summary!

City Directory Surprise –

U. S. Census Demographic Summary!

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn


I discovered a nice surprise today.  The Polk City Beloit Wisconsin Directories in our Genealogy and Local History Collection have a U. S. Census Demographic Summary for our local area in each of the Directories from 1998 thru 2017.  (Not found in City Directories before 1998.)  That means that each one has very helpful information at the back of the book, on specific statistical Census information for our area.  Our Polk City Directories cover Beloit Wisconsin, and Rockton, Roscoe, and South Beloit Illinois.

We are very much a stateline community with fluid moving of people, and businesses, across the Wisconsin Illinois state boundary.  (Hence the name of our Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library.)

Remember, these are Criss-Cross directories, and include separate lists by person’s name, address, or phone number.  Some of the older city directories also have a section by businesses and social organizations, clubs, churches, etc., and some business ads.  You can find out a lot about your family’s connections by researching those parts as well.

Our 1998 -2017 directories includes these in the Demographic Summary  for our area:

  • Glossary of Demographic Terms
  • Street Guide to Census Tract
  • Census Tract to Street Guide
  • Neighborhood Composition
  • Education and Income
  • Housing

The Census Enumerators would use the Census Tract location numbering system to organize their interviews of residents for the Census.  This was the way that written form interviews were also organized.  It means that those mysterious Census Tract numbers on the Census sheets can be transcribed, and used for searches to find street names and numbers.

The Census records for 2000 and 2010, at least, are represented in these directories.  (I did not take the time to see if each annual City Directory was updated by year.)  These will be a helpful local summary of Census statistics readily available for our area.

Those BLOG followers from other areas can look in their own City Directories to see if a Demographic Summary is included in those directories.

So we can now find all of the following great information in city directories, as well as more!

Be sure to refer to the abbreviations and coding in the front of each city directory, as they change through the years.  See 2017 example below: