Over the past 18 months, a committee of members of the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society, including Judy Brazle (chairperson), Virginia Rigdon, Donna Ruble and Cathy Smith, have overseen the submission of family histories for a new county history book.
The collection of family histories was Part 1 of the project. Many people took the publishers up on their offer to submit a family history of up to 500 words, with a picture, all for free. Additional photos could be added at a nominal fee.
That part of the project is done, and the history of the families has now been typeset.
Part 2 of the project has now begun under the chairmanship of myself, as a county historian. This part entails the telling of the county’s history through its businesses, churches, farms and schools.
Since the publication of the last history of Fayette County in 1910, it would be impossible to accurately retell all of the important happenings in the county since that time.
By having the businesses and churches tell their story and add to this the family stories, the county history will be woven together not unlike a quilt.
This is not the first history of the county. The first was in 1878 and cost $2, and the second, part of a two-book set, was published in 1910.
Brink, McDonough & Co. was the publisher in 1878 and in the preface acknowledged the help of nearly 50 men in collecting the history for the book, which included a large number of the early settlers.
Several important men of the day from each township were chosen to be interviewed for a biographical sketch and a lesser number for a lithograph made for inclusion in the pictorial section of the book.
For a fee, one could have his or her name listed in the back of the work with occupation, date of arrival in the county and township in which they lived.
In 1910, the county history was a two-volume set, titled, “Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Fayette County.”
Almost all Illinois counties got one of these. Volume One was the “Encyclopedia of Illinois,” while Volume Two was the history of the participating county.
For Fayette County, the publishers turned to Robert W. Ross and John J. Bullington, both well-qualified, to lead the project in recording the history for Fayette County.
The task of publishing a county history is daunting. It is made easier knowing that the history contributed through the businesses and families will add to the story we will tell.
My challenge is to make the most recent county history book one that people will return to as a reference for years to come.
For more information on the newest Fayette County History, you are welcome to contact me or the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society at P.O. Box 177, Vandalia, Ill. 62471.
The book will sell for $54.95 and only a limited number will be printed.