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Local

Putnam County Historical Society to celebrate 50 years

Putnam County Historical Society President Sidney Whittaker explains details of the master bedroom of the Pulsifer House in Hennepin.
Putnam County Historical Society President Sidney Whittaker explains details of the master bedroom of the Pulsifer House in Hennepin.

HENNEPIN – The Putnam County Historical Society is celebrating its 50-year anniversary during 2013.

The society held its annual dinner April 13 at the United Methodist Church in Hennepin. Entertainment was provided by folk singer Mark Dvorak.

The PC Historical Society shows a current membership of 400 individuals. Back in 1963, the group started with only 47 charter members.

“We have managed to grow some,” current President Sidney Whittaker said.

One of the main projects to honor the anniversary is the new book about history of Putnam County, which should be printed this year.

“That is the big project that has been going on the past year,” he said.

The book will be a hardcover, selling for $54.95. The group will take presales on the book and order a small extra amount for those who would like to purchase them at a later date. The book will be organized into sections by families, organizations, churches and schools.

“There will be somewhere between 200 to 300 families,” Whittaker said. “The general section will be about one-third of the book; the family section will be a little bit more; and the things like schools, churches and organizations will take up the rest.”

Another project Whittaker and the Historical Society are excited about is the joint project they have going this summer with the Mount Palatine Cemetery Board. Mount Palatine Cemetery is currently under the protection of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The cemetery board has contracted with John Heider of Monticello who specializes in restoring cemetery headstones.

The Putnam County Historical Society and the Mount Palatine Cemetery have entered into an agreement where the society will accept donations earmarked for the project under their own 501(c) classification, making it tax deductible.

“We will have the cemetery stones renovated by John Heider,” Whittaker said. “As soon as the weather gets nice enough, the project will get going.”

Whittaker said the society would appreciate any and all volunteers for this project, whether to work with Heider or to provide lunches and drinks for the crew.

Other items on the society’s agenda include the annual open house. This year, the open house will be held at the Putnam County Ag Museum Aug. 18.

“The Ag Museum is maintained as a museum where we keep adding new exhibits every year,” he said. “We try to have one or two spaces that are developed for the open house every year.”

Currently on display at the museum is a one room school; a 1910 farm kitchen; a farmhouse sitting room; farm equipment and tools; post office pieces from the old Granville Post Office; a general store display, and displays relating to the Illinois Valley area. The Ag Museum is open by appointment.

There are some unique items in the museum of which the Society is particularly proud. The group has a gun display from the Revolutionary War era to World War I. There is also a large United States flag from the Civil War era with a unique history.

“There is a very large America flag that was made and donated to one of the captains during the Civil War,” said Whittaker. “It was returned to the county after the war.”

Some people loan items to the society while some items are given to the group.

The group is the caretaker of the Pulsifer House, which is owned by the village of Hennepin. Whittaker said most visitors are often genealogists, and the society tries to help them with their research.

“The thing that people don’t generally think of are old papers,” Whittaker said. “Most go to the burn pile, and boy, we would really like to get our hands on those types of things. There are all kinds of things you can find there of historical interest. Records of what prices were and things like that or where they were buying things from. That kind of thing is often in regard to genealogical importance for many people.”

The society will always take old papers, receipts, pictures and records of any kind.

Current officers include Whittaker as president; Karen Bailey, vice-president; Will Duke, treasurer; and Theresa Clausen as secretary. Sharon Clausen is the group’s curator. The board of the directors for the group includes Dick Ashdown, Luke Holly, Brad Popurella, Sue Bruch, Sue Campbell and Lonna Naumann.

To contact the society, call 815-925-7560 or send an email to pchs61327@yahoo.com. The mailing address is P.O. Box 74, Hennepin, IL 61327.

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