Tag Archives: SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Two Additional Genealogy Programs by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – Sept. 25 and Oct. 23, 2017 at NSLD, IL.

Two Additional Genealogy Programs by Vicki Ruthe Hahn –

Sept. 25 and Oct. 23, 2017 at NSLD, North Suburban Library District, Illinois:

These are both free 1 hour classes available to all.

NSLD/Loves Park

6340 N. Second St.

Loves Park, IL 61111



5562 Clayton Circle

Roscoe, IL 61073





“Family History for Beginners, and Detective Techniques for Experienced Genealogists”

Monday, September 25 from 2-3pm at NSLD Roscoe, Illinois


Effectively find the most that you can about your family history with hands-on exercises, and examples.  Be successful using basic genealogy research methods. Learn how to: search archives and on-line, record evidence, organize your genealogy, use timelines and “FAN” clubs, analyze records, and find missing clues based on what you know, etc.



Research Your Overseas Ancestors Without Going ‘Across the Pond’”

Monday, October 23 from 2-3 at NSLD Loves Park, Illinois


Learn how to find your immigrant ancestors’ information in U.S. records, in over-seas on-line genealogy databases, and in other, mostly-free, resources. How histories and maps help track their immigrations. What to do about language barriers. 


statelinegenealogyclub @ Beloit Public Library - Vicki RUTHE HAHN

Vicki Ruthe Hahn  – Public Services Librarian, Beloit Public Library, WI – BA and MLIS University of Illinois.  Blog creator of “StatelineGenealogyClub.Wordpress.com” 2014 ; founder of Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library 2012.  “Stateline Genealogy Sorter” SGS, with a background in Anthropology, History, clothing history, and teaching, she sorts out mysteries, rediscovers histories, weaves stories, and helps people with their family genealogy and local history,  specializing from Central Illinois to Central Wisconsin. 



Come be Irish with me at the Milwaukee Irish Fest 2017

On Saturday, AUGUST 19, 2017

I will be doing 2 genealogy presentations, and helping festival goers with genealogy.


Aug 17 – Aug 20 · Milwaukee Irish Fest · Milwaukee
Music · 5,601 people
Vicki Ruthe Hahn
Doing these presentations:
at 1pm “IrishAncestors.net
Irish Genealogy

and 4pm “What They Wore When”


On Saturday, August 19,

I went to the Irish Fest, learned a lot about specific Irish genealogy research, and had fun presenting my two programs and helping others with their genealogy.

This is the largest Irish Fest, and well worth going.

My sister and I went to the “Board School” and learned that Scotland means “Land of the Irish”.  Lots of interconnection historically between Ireland and Scotland.  Reminds me a bit of the Stateline connections between Illinois and Wisconsin 🙂

I never saw so many people dressed in kilts or in green before!  Too busy to take many photos, except these:


2017 Irish Fest Celtic Cross2017 Irish Fest Milwaukee2017 Irish Fest Vicki Hahn speaker2017 Irish Fest Vick Hahn & Melodie Alvarez, Milwaukee WIVicki Ruthe Hahn and sister Melodie Alvarez in front of “our castle” – found at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Happy Anniversaries to Us

Happy Anniversaries to Us

It has been a lot of fun, and I have learned so much from all of you, and from finding/writing  interesting articles to help you.

I always write as “Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter” if the posting is all my own writing.

If it is someone else’s work, I always put a reference to other writer’s work and add:

A special “shout-out” to Judith Nichols, who brought the idea of a genealogy  club to the Library, and helped me lead it for awhile.

Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library is 5 years old.


Blog  “StatelineGenealogyClub.Wordpress.com” is 3 years old.

Vicki Ruthe Hahn is the Blog creator of:

“StatelineGenealogyClub.Wordpress.com”                                                 June 15, 2014 ;

and the founder of:

Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library                                   April 13, 2012


As of June 20, 2017, there have been:

There are 12 WordPress followers, 40 email followers (total 52);

27 likes & 92 comments.

One day there were 62 views, the most ever.

These views seem to be in addition to Followers looking at emails.

My BLOG doubled with 2254 views in 2015, & 5164 views in 2016.

Half-way through 2017, there have been 2,396 views.

These were from 37 countries in 2015; & 77 counties in  2016, and

62 countries in 2017 so far.    Some just show 1 view per country, but

many have several views, so I feel that I am helping genealogists

throughout the world.

3 Year Anniversary Achievement

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com

3 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us.

Keep up the good blogging.

Stateline Travelers – Part 7 – My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me. She got teeth & fashion!

Stateline Travelers – Part 7 –

My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me.  She got teeth & fashion!

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Part of an On-going Series

June 11, 2017

Photo composite fun.

Imagine my shock when I realized that these two different looks were the same person – my great great great grandmother, Catherine McIntosh Greenup.

I love looking for the stories as I do family histories, and piecing them together verbally and visually.

In about five years, she completely changed fashions, and became confident (new teeth?) and very urban sophisticated.  She dressed less like the unsophisticated Virginia/Kentucky country look, and more like the “big” city of Macomb, Illinois look.

This is one of the slides that I composed for my genealogy program – “What They Wore When” or “Contemporary Fashion Through the Ages – How to Tell Which Timeline Your Ancestors Are, by What They Wore.”  I have given the program three times, and am booked for two more presentations in the next few months.


3 x Gt Grandma photos



Hint – I never expected to find that I had any ancestors from Kentucky.  Try to learn about all states that your ancestors lived in.

Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792.  it became the fifteenth state in the US and the first state west of the Appalachian mountains.

So it looks like my Gt-Gt-Gt Grandma Greenup was born in Kentucky 17 years before it became a state, and there are zero chances that there will be a state vital record of that.



New Old Beloit Newspaper Microfilm and a Magnifying Machine at the Library

New Old Beloit Newspaper Microfilm and

a Magnifying Machine at the Library

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

May 26, 2017

Thanks to our Library cataloger, we now have some long-awaited microfilms available (and a few more to come.)

There were many newspapers published in Beloit, Wisconsin before ( and contemporary to) the Beloit Daily News.

The Beloit Public Library will be closed on Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day, but take the time to research your military ancestors at home.

And come another time to see if any of these newspaper microfilms have your Beloit ancestors:

“Daily Graphic”, Beloit, Wisconsin – January 13, 1877 thru July 28, 1877.

“Daily Outlook” Beloit, Wisconsin – Two reels

December 20, 1881 thru May 31, 1882

June 1, 1882 thru November 22, 1882

You can also use the new magnifying machine in the Genealogy and Local History Collection area (similar to this image).  It was donated by a library patron.  It is very easy to use to enlarge one of our maps, small print in a book, etc.  It even has a reverse positive/negative that you can use to help interpret tricky handwriting, etc.


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



Stateline Travelers – Part 6 – Daisy Childhood Stories (1-18-2017) and Me (Part of the Series – “Stateline Travelers”)

Stateline Travelers – Part 6 –

Daisy Childhood Stories (1-18-2017)

and Me

(Part of the Series – “Stateline Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Interview of my Mom – Donna Bennett Ruthe (Daisy) by Vicki Ruthe Hahn  1-18-2017


(Daisy jacket that I made my Mom for Christmas.)

So Daisy is feeling better this last month, thanks to my sisters helping her try out a gluten reduced diet.  My Mom says that she never was miserable, but that her stomach “isn’t cloudy now”.  And her mind seems to be less cloudy too.

That is a happiness for all of us; I have missed her being there for us.  Daisy still forgets words, & has dementia, but seems to be more herself than we have seen for awhile.  Daisy will be 86 on Monday, and has had several major medical issues in the last 5 years; one year going to all 3 City hospitals.  So we are grateful that she is still here, and doing OK.

Hint – Who knew reducing wheat would make such a huge difference?  It might not just be “aging” that affects our elders (or us!)  Continue pursuing any thing that can help us all keep the life-stories clear. 

And record (oral/in writing) your relative’s stories while you can.  By the way – technology changes and things get damaged/lost.  My (young) children accidentally recorded over my one audio tape interview of my Grandmother.  I have seen fire, floods/leaking, theft, lost – all destroy.  Please backup 3-2-1 Three ways – Two places – One offsite place. 

And update your media as it changes.  CD disc players are not available standard on new cars or desk/laptop computers now, etc.  

These stories I have heard parts of before, but not with as much clarity as Mom told me the other day:

Trip to Pennsylvania

We were driving from Polo IL to PA to go to my grandfather’s funeral. Mom, Dad, sisters Irma and June, and I were going.  Pauline was grown up with her own children, and the three boys were grown up also.

Dad had traded in our old yellow car for a large milk hauling truck.  He always like to be in business for himself.  He picked up large metal cans of milk from the area farmers and took them to the dairy.  He was short, but very strong to lift those cans.  We did not have a car, so instead of riding around town in the truck, we got to places in other ways.

For the trip, we had to rent a car from the local dealer.  As Mom (Grandma Katie Zartman) got into the green car, she looked at the window frame and exclaimed to Dad (Grandpa Ralph Bennett), “Ralph, look here.  It is painted green over yellow.  This is our old car!”

The Feisty Overnighter  

One night, at age 8 or 10 or 12, I stayed at my sister Pauline  Bennett (McCombs’)  house next door.  Her two daughters/ my nieces, Louise (one year older than me) and Barb (one year younger than me) were my playmates.

Dad (Ralph Bennett) and Mom (Katie Zartman) were going to stay late at a function with an organization that they belonged to.  It did some good in the town, helping people.  I don’t remember what it was called. (Vicki’s Note  – My Mom said that it was not the Odd Fellows – Grandpa Bennett had an “OOF” tattoo on his arm as a member of Odd Fellows.)

Barb and Louise shared a 3/4 size bed, and I slept across the foot of their bed.  The two of them kept kicking me, and wouldn’t stop when I repeatedly asked them to.  I got mad, got out of bed, picked up my doll (or maybe it was my clothes), and told them that I was going home.  My parents weren’t back yet, but I didn’t care. I was going to stand up for myself. (Vicki’s note – Mom is the youngest of seven siblings.)

Barb and Louise panicked and yelled for their Mom.  Pauline came running and told me that I couldn’t go home.  She said the front door was locked.  I said, “Oh yeah, I don’t care”.  And “POW!”, I broke out one of the little windows in the front door, reached through, and unlocked the door, and went home.  Pauline phoned my Mom and Dad.

(Vicki’s note – not sure how this reverse breakout could work logistically, but that is what Mom said.  This incident is even more striking because it is unusual for Mom to be angry or physically forceful in any way ever!  I got to see a different side of her.)

Uncle Edward McCombs

My Uncle Edward McCombs was my sister Pauline’s (Bennett) first husband (dying young in 1953), and Barb’s and Louise’s dad.  They lived next to my  Dad (Ralph Bennett) and Mom (Katie Zartman) in Polo Illinois, and then on the other side of the same street (highway) farther down coming into town.

He liked to work independently, and had bought a big truck like my Dad’s milk truck.  Ed used his truck to pick up 8 – 10 cows from area farmers, and truck them about once a week to the city (Chicago?) stockyards.


Stateline Travelers – Part 5 – City Ordinances – Ancestor’s Lives in 1926, and Me

Stateline Travelers – Part 5 – City Ordinances – Ancestor’s Lives in 1926, and Me

 (Part of the Series – “Stateline Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter


Old City Ordinances are a unique way to find out information about what life was like for your ancestors.  This can add a lot to your understanding them, in your lifewriting family history. 

These are some ordinances that applied to taxi drivers in 1926 Beloit, Rock, Wisconsin.  We found them on-line for the City Clerk, on Beloit Daily News May 12, 1926; all 10 pages of them!  Thanks to Kim Caswell, (volunteering to capture these ordinances from microfilm), these will be saved to create a print copy for our Beloit Public Library Local History collection.  Imagine only 10 pages of laws for a city today?

Are there any ordinances from the city your ancestors lived in that might have affected their jobs? 

How high were these fees to be a Taxi driver in 1926?   There are several books in the BPL Genealogy and Local History Collection that can help you with that.  These books are in Reference now, but will be moved early 2017 to GEN:

REF 338.52 Value 2005 “The value of a dollar : colonial era to the Civil War, 1600-1865″, edited by Scott Derks and Tony Smith

REF 330.970 This “The value of a dollar: prices and incomes in the United States, 1860-2014″, by Scott Derks.

1926 Beloit, Wisconsin taxi-drivers had to pay a $5 license per car per year, and a $25 penalty if they violated any provision of these laws:

They had to be pre-approved by the Chief of Police as “a competent or fit person to be the proprietor or diver of a passenger automobile or similar motor vehicle for hire.”  The taxi driver/owner could have their license revoked, “because of any incompetence, moral or other unfitness of such licensee…” 

They had to have their name and (issued) number displayed/printed at one and one-half inches high on the outside of the automobile, and remove them if their license expired without being renewed.   

Their automobile had to be identified at night –  “…when driven or used for hire or waiting or standing for use on any public street or place in the nighttime; shall have fixed in some conspicuous place of the outside thereof a lighted lamp with plain or white glass front and sides with a number of the license painted with black paint thereon in distinct and legible figures at least one and one-half inches in height and so placed that said numbers may be distinctly seen from the inside and outside of said vehicle.”

Would that be a kerosene lamp, or an electric one?  Something needed in addition to standard issue car accessories.

Here are my two favorite sections:

“Every vehicle shall, between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, be lighted on the inside so that the interior may be plainly visible from the outside.”  No hanky-panky in that car!  Unless it is during the dark one-half hour after sunset, especially in the winter!

And, such a burden to provide; “Every such vehicle which has a door or doors to the same, shall have a knob or handle upon the inside of such door or doors by which said door or doors may be easily opened from the inside of such vehicle.”

The driver had to wear a metal badge conspicuously  in front clearly labeled  “Taxi” and the issued number of the taxi.

So laws and city ordinances were necessary then, as now, and written in the same legalize language.  But it is  interesting to see how the expectations and technology available then are different than now.




What can you find out about your ancestor’s job, or life, in their city’s historic ordinances?  Maybe your ancestors were farmers, like mine were.  Were there any County or Township ordinances that would apply to them?  Or what were the state laws?

Stateline Travelers – Part 4 – Local History In the Making and Me

Stateline Travelers – Part 4 –
Local History In the Making and Me

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin Visited the Beloit Public Library – August 12, 2016

By Vicki Ruthe Hahn,  SGS (Stateline Genealogy Sorter)

(Part of the Stateline Travelers Series)

Gov Walker 2

A program from the event, signed by Governor Scott Walker.

“Nick Dimassis, Director of Beloit Public Library welcomes Governor Scott Walker on August 12, 2016 to talk about the signing of Acts 99, 169 and 306. These bills were presented to legislature and signed by Gov. Walker in an effort to help libraries recover costs of materials not returned and collect on overdue accounts with large fines.”

Gov Walker 3




Vicki Ruth Hahn and Gov. Scott Walker at Beloit Public Library, August 12, 2016 
Photo thanks to Kim Caswell 
 I’m not sure what was so funny, but I enjoyed meeting Gov. Walker as a person. And I was prepared for anything with my ever-ready pen behind my ear! 
Thanks to the whole Library staff; fun day; great program. 
2 good speakers. (Library Director Nick Dimassis, and Gov. Scott Walker). 
There were about 100 people total that day to honor Gov. Walker, including our local legislators who worked for the bipartisan passage of passing the three laws this year that support Libraries.  
Our Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library program was held that morning, and about 10 people came because I announced it there.  Several Club members also told Gov. Walker about the Club, and what we do here.  Gov. Walker now knows that we do genealogy and local history here at BPL. 
Through the years, other political dignitaries (Democrats and Republicans)  have visited Beloit, Wisconsin – Abraham Lincoln, Elanor Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, etc.  Also Dolly Parton, and other entertainers have come there through the years.  
Gov. Walker is a local small-town boy who grew up just down the road in Delavan, Walworth County.  (Delavan, Wisconsin was also the wintering-over location for the entertainers of many circuses for decades, and some of them settled in the area.)  U.S. House speaker Paul Ryan is a native of Janesville, Wisconsin.   State Representative Amy Loudenbeck (31st Assembly District) is a regular supportive visitor to the Beloit Public Library, (and I just found out from reading her webpage that she has been a fire-fighter.)  Hint – you never know what you are going to find out about people (your ancestors) until you look! 
The Republican Party was founded March 20 1854: 
“In Ripon, Wisconsin, former members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery. 
With the successful introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, an act that dissolved the terms of the Missouri Compromise and allowed slave or free status to be decided in the territories by popular sovereignty, the Whigs disintegrated. By February 1854, anti-slavery Whigs had begun meeting in the upper midwestern states to discuss the formation of a new party. One such meeting, in Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, is generally remembered as the founding meeting of the Republican Party. 
The Republicans rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of the Southern slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans won the presidency. In November 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president over a divided Democratic Party, and six weeks later South Carolina formally seceded from the Union.” 
Some of the many other visitors to Beloit have been -  Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even Dolly Parton!   Even if visitors were not famous, I have found short social snippets (and photographs) of ancestors in historic newspapers.  Even if the town is mid or small sized, or in a different state. Hint -  you may find reference to  ancestors in the newspapers, and library history files of other communities where they visited.   
This visit by Governor Scott Walker and speeches are documented in print in the Beloit Public Library Genealogy and Local History lateral file,  (and here in the BLOG.)  The speeches by both men are on the Youtube video link in the email quote below.   There are even more photographs of this event (as well as many other events) on the Beloit Public Library Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beloit-Public-Library/103890043485.
8-30-2016 Email from Nick Dimassis- Director of Beloit Public Library: 
“Greetings WLA Members, 
The video of the Governor’s visit to the Beloit Public Library is now online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zls5coRzqb4 (Youtube Title: “Libraries Transform!“) 
(‘Published on Aug 29, 2016  – ‘) 
An edited-for-the-written-word version of his remarks is attached as well.  Clearly, he knows the value of public libraries to the success of Wisconsin. 
It was a great event and one that I hope you will all build upon by inviting your legislators into your library to thank them for all they do–and have done.  Your library system director has a kit for making this easy and can assist with creating “Library Transform!” posters for your legislators.  It’s an important relationship-building opportunity that we should all take advantage of before the end of October, if possible.  File under: don’t think too hard, just do it. 
All three bills were passed by voice vote, proof that libraries enjoy broad and bi-partisan support.  Each and every legislator should be thanked.  Contact your library system director for more information. 
Nick Dimassis 
LD&L Co-Chair” 

Hint – current history is being “written” on emails, Youtube.com, and Facebook.com, etc.  Look for your genealogy  there also. 

Here are some other photos of the event: 


PhotoELF Edits:2016:08:14 --- Resized
Library Staff waiting for Gov. Walker “10 minutes out”.     Photo thanks to Susan Park.

Governor Walker made time ahead of the speeches to meet the Beloit Public Library Staff and local Librarians in the Library workroom.  Speeches by Library Director Nick Dimassis, and Gov. Walker.  You can see his inevitable security guards – at least 3 or 4.  Can you find some of the (about 10 out of 100) Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library members that were in the audience?   

Gov. Walker made time to meet and greet members of the audience after the speeches. He was very warm in his interactions with each of the children (future voters), and adults in the audience.  And then there was the inevitable press conference afterward.   
He spent time with the people instead of eating cake.  (How many cakes does he have to ignore at most of his stops to keep in good shape?)  That huge cake still was eaten completely by the appreciative audience! 

                                  Photos by Vicki Hahn  

Photo thanks to Shirley Bauer   

The ironies in my librarian/genealogist/blogger career are too funny.  
So many amazing connections and excellent adventures. 

A few days after Gov. Walker’s visit, I was helping a Library Patron to find a book to read on the plane.  I learned the title of a book from her, which improves my skills of doing Reader Advisory.  I used her Library card to put the book on hold to pick up at the Hedberg  Public Library so that she could get it before her plane left.  Hint – Did you know that any card from one of the seven public libraries in Arrowhead Library System ALS can be used interchangeably, (except for a few purposes)?  
When I saw the name “Stephanie Klett” on the card, I said, “I know who you are.”  She replied, “I know who you are too.”  I quipped, ” I know why I know who you are, but how do you know who I am?”  (Stephanie Klett, born in Beloit, Wisconsin, is Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and was the host of the tourism TV show  Discover Wisconsin.) 
Stephanie asked, “Haven’t you worked at the (Beloit Public) Library for a really long time, and do all kinds of things here?”  We chatted about the programs and services that I have been involved in.  I mentioned the pleasant visit at the Library with Gov. Walker, and the Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library, and this BLOG.  Stephanie is interested in learning more about genealogy, so I invited her to the club.  We had an enjoyable chat getting to know each other.
So Stephanie, if you can make it in your busy schedule, I know that any of the great folks who come to the club would like to help you, and anyone else.  We look forward to learning the insights of anyone who attends.   
And Stephanie, if you are reading this, I finally am getting this posted.  (Too many photo difficulties.)  Ahh, production problems. 
I will leave with a quote from Wisconsin Department of Tourism, because we Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library “locals” love to share the hidden gems of our community(s), our ancestor’s histories, and making sure that generations of families make memories: 
“Wisconsin is a place you know you’re always welcome. Where locals share hidden gems. Festivals happen at the drop of a hat. And generations of families make memories. Let us share the real Wisconsin with you – because when you’re having fun we’re having fun.”    


Stateline Travelers – Part 3 – This Old House and Me

Stateline Travelers – Part 3 – This Old House and Me

(Part of the series Stateline Travelers.)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

September 5, 2016

Having always wanted to live in an older house again, my youngest child and I moved north to live in the second oldest (double-thick brick with limestone foundation) house built (1839) in Roscoe, Illinois.  It had really deep window thresholds.  Any electric wiring had to be be inserted into chiseled lines, or in piping.  It had radiant heat, and 6″ pine floors that had enough dips that carpeting was the only feasible floor covering.  I enjoyed the character of the historic house, and enjoyed living in it.

I later donated the (mostly handwritten) 160 year old mortgage transcript to the (North Suburban Library District) Roscoe Public Library. I am not sure if it stayed there, or went to the Loves Park Library Local History Room.  I did not take advantage of the chance to do a genealogy of my Roscoe house at that time, but wish I had.  Maybe later.  Hint – you can research the history/genealogy of any house.  Go to all of the local public libraries, genealogy and historical societies, and the County Courthouse to find out more about your house’s history.  (Or the histories of your ancestor’s and their houses.) There are tax transcripts, City Directories, County Histories, old phone books, also GIS maps online at those places.  Not every facility will have all of the documents or books.  Compare the photographs.


Ralston house

Vicki’s Roscoe, Illinois 1839 Greek Revival house.

My house’s outside brick walls have a stabilizing black metal S brace at either side (painted over in white by the previous owner).  These were similar to many from that era, including the braces on the nearby Whitman Trading Post in Macktown, Rockton, Illinois.  Both of these houses were Greek Revival style and built in the same year 1839. These two houses point out that Stateline connections were historic.

Macktown Whitman Trading Post

The Whitman Trading Post, part of a living-history center near Rockton, Illinois

(Note the similarities of the original part of my house to the right in the previous photograph to the house/building on the left in the photograph above.)

                        ∨              ∨

I do not remember the name of the first owner of my Roscoe, Illinois house but he, and Stephen Mack of Macktown, (Rockton) Illinois, and Caleb Bloggett of Beloit, Wisconsin were early pioneer contemporaries, and probably interacted.  (They would be the few early settlers in that whole stateline area, and probably would have traded – even with the much longer than 45 minutes travel time that we do now.   Hint – research nearby houses and people of the same era to get an idea what architecture and life was like for your ancestors.

(What a nice surprise to find the appropriate article below, as I know an Anna Carlson, who is very likely this author, as her family is very interested in history.  If so, (or not), thanks Anna.  I will have to ask your Mom next time I see her.)

(Article from http://www.lib.niu.edu/1999/ihy990450.html, by Anna Carlson, Heritage School, Rockford ):

“Stephen Mack was the first white settler in northern Illinois. He came to the Rock River Valley in the early 1820s as a fur trader. He was heading for Bird’s Grove but missed a turn and ended at Grand Detour. He traded with the Potawatomi and married the Indian princess Hononegah. In 1835, after the Black Hawk War, Mack founded the town of Pecatonica where the Pecatonica River flows into the Rock River in Winnebago County. It came to be known as Macktown.

In 1839 he built a Greek Revival home, which was the largest frame house west of Chicago at the time. He also established a ferry across the Rock River and later built a bridge. He was supposed to receive money for it from the state, but he never did. In 1851 the bridge was washed out. Rockton was a town across the river founded by the Talcotts. Rockton was the rival that survived Macktown. After Mack’s death in 1850, the town was slowly deserted.

Today Mack’s house and the trading post survive. The Rockton Historical Society http://rocktontownshiphistoricalsociety.com/  and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve restored them. Macktown is the only community from the 1830s that is standing in northern Illinois without subsequent development. After Macktown’s demise, it was farmed and in 1926 became part of Macktown Forest Preserve. Re-creating this time period is difficult because there are few records from the 1820s and 1830s. There was no courthouse yet, because Winnebago did not become a county until 1836.”


I have heard that my historic Ralston house had been the first meeting place of the local Methodist church, a button shop, and maybe a post office.  The original house was a small 2-story farmhouse with a limestone foundation over a dirt crawlspace. It was about 15′ x 25′.  The front door location was changed, and a porch and living room added on later. The original house looks very similar to the Whitman Trading Post/house – compare the photographs above.  They were built in the same era.

The first floor had a front room (living room/dining room/bedroom?) which probably had a wood burning stove in the middle of the room, with a small pantry/storage room at the rear.  The smaller room became a full bathroom later. For many decades there was an outhouse.  There was an outside door from each of those rooms, with the smaller one getting bricked up into a bathroom window later.

A steep, narrow ladder-like stairway went up  from the hallway between the two rooms to the two bedrooms on the second floor. This was remodeled into a more modern – normal wide stairway much later.  One upper bedroom was probably split later to became even smaller when an second indoor ½ bath was added.  Both upstairs rooms had low angled plastered ceilings with no attic above them. The brick stove chimney through the middle kept those rooms warm. There were no closets in any room because of tradition and to prevent extra tax charges.  (Closets were added later.)

The dirt crawlspace was dug down into a basement with more limestone added to the foundation walls, and the floor was cemented.  A living room was added onto the large downstairs room putting the staircase into the center of the house with an inside basement stairway.  Later an attached double garage and another separate double garage were added.

The original separate brick kitchen room (a small house behind the main house) was eventually connected up to the rest of the house by adding a dining room and den (4th bedroom) to the living room (with crawlspaces under.)  This created an open flower garden alcove (where the outside basement stairs and water pump had been) with the house walls on three sides.  There had been a barn, a root cellar, outhouse, and bee hives.

We discovered that the cement barn floor was still there, 8″ under dirt, when we tried to rototill  up some grass  on the raised barn foundation hill to plant some shrubs.  The previous owner had built a small toboggan run on the top of the four foot hill. My grandchildren from Arizona enjoyed the novelty of sledding down the hill on a snowy Illinois visit.

The farm was right next to a (now removed) road for stagecoaches that went from behind the house (in front of our neighbors), across the road in front of our house to the brick stagecoach stop two houses down. Our neighbors were descendants of the original farmhouse builders behind our house, and shared stories of the houses’ histories.

That stagecoach inn is now a residence right on the corner of the main (original) cross-roads of Main Street and Bridge Street.  Main Street became the two-lane Highway 51, which was the main route north from Rockford, IL to Beloit, WI. 

Interurban Streetcar Trains were an important connection between those (and other area) communities between about  1900 and 1935.

(Quote from Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interurban):

“The interurban (or radial railway) is a type of electric railway, with streetcar-like light electric self-propelled railcars which run within and between cities or towns. They were prevalent in North America between 1900 and 1925 and were used primarily for passenger travel between cities and their surrounding suburban and rural communities. Limited examples existed in Europe and Asia. Interurban as a term encompassed the companies, their infrastructure, and the cars that ran on the rails.

The interurban, especially in the United States, was a valuable cultural institution. Most roads and town streets were unpaved, and transportation was by horse-drawn carriages and carts. The interurban provided vital transportation links between the city and countryside. In 1915, 15,500 miles (24,900 km) of interurban railways were operating in the United States. For a time, interurban railways were the fifth-largest industry in the United States.

By 1930, most interurbans were gone with few surviving into the 1950s. Oliver Jensen, author of American Heritage History of Railroads in America, commented that “…the automobile doomed the interurban whose private tax paying tracks could never compete with the highways that a generous government provided for the motorist.””

Highway 51 was very busy with cars, until the new four-lane Highway 251 was constructed two blocks away on the edge of Roscoe.  Hint – the main roads change in history, as do modes of transportation.  These (and the establishment of railroad stops)  affected the history and success of towns.  And I find Wikipedia helpful for a quick (unauthenticated) source of historic explanations.


History of Roscoe, Illinois

Roscoe Illinois Chamber of Commerce – http://local.townsquarepublications.com/illinois/roscoe/main.html

“The Roscoe area was first settled along the Rock River in 1835, and named for one of its early settlers. As Roscoe grew, it became a stagecoach stop for travelers heading west. By the first decade of the 20th Century, Roscoe continued its growth along the interurban railroad, with daily service being supplied by the Rockford, Beloit & Janesville Railway. The advent of the automobile eventually forced the interurban out of business, with the last car passing through Roscoe in October 1930.   The Village of Roscoe was incorporated in 1965…”

See also:

  • Our Golden History. South Beloit, Illinois: Its History and Legends 1835-1967 , 1967, by Mrs. William  Hayes (editor).  (Note – Mrs. Hayes was a previous Library Director of South Beloit, Illinois Public Library, and City of South Beloit historian.  I am pleased to have become a Director of South Beloit Public Library – 1991 -1993, and to have known her.  I learned a lot from her.)
  • Rockford & Interurban Railway (Images of Rail)“, Mar 23, 2015 , by Mike Schafer and Brian Landis
  • The Story of Roscoe”, 1987, by Florence Lovejoy Shugars, Edited by Dorothy Warner Hunter (See also the list of Pioneer names, and Bibliography of Roscoe History sources. http://www.ralstongenealogy.com/roscoestory.htm

We had several visitors who had a history with the Roscoe house, and who shared stories.  Relatives of those who had lived there, and folks just interested in it’s history would stop by.  My husband and I just had such a visit to our home in Wisconsin.  Hint – get visitor’s contact information to learn more about your house history later.  And talk to your neighbors who have lived there awhile.

Neighbors, my father, and architecturally minded people helped us decipher the house and additions.  Hint – you could hire a house inspector or architect to explain about the house architecture and additions. 

The previous owner, who had done most of the many recent improvements, left us documenting photographs of the remodeling process. Photographs of your house or neighborhood may be found in (local) historic newspapers.

Sometimes handymen, or the house’s residents, would write notes on the walls (children’s heights and ages, memorials of them being there) , or leave keepsakes in cubbies  behind insulation/remodelings for later folks to find. A local history buff offered to search my attic for historic relics, but I declined because it was full of new insulation, which did not faze him.  Hint – you may find historic photographs, drawings, or descriptions of your house at the local library or in the house.

A Library patron once brought me a 5″ ceramic plate stamped with a commemorative picture of the historic Carnegie Beloit Public Library.  (That was the first time someone from the public said , “I hear that you are the Library Historian.”)   

These plates had been sold decades ago to raise money for this Library . (It is now on the Beloit Area People Bookcase in the Beloit Public Library.)  To see more, click on these links:

Larry T. Nix  Send comments or questions to nix@libraryhistorybuff.org


Libraries were a common subject for souvenir china. In the early 20th century when Andrew Carnegie and others were helping communities build hundreds of new libraries, those buildings became objects of civic pride.  Local community stores (general stores, jewelry stores, gift stores) would arrange to have souvenir items of community landmarks, including libraries, made for resale in their stores. Most of the library china was made by companies in Germany or England.  The quality of the china and the processes used varied.  The poorer quality items just involved the transfer of an image design to the item, and the same image was used on many different items (cups, plates, etc.).  Some items were of higher quality and were hand painted.”

The woman had found the plate in her attic next to a deteriorated leather wallet that disintegrated as soon as she touched it.  A lost archive from a historic handyman. 

You never know what you will find out about your house, your family,  your town, and local history.