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Mercer Home Page
Surnames Page

Mercer County Research Resources
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Mercer County Courthouse Aledo, Illinois, 1912

Mercer County Maps Link


As many of you know who use the Internet things are constantly changing and sites come and go. July 2008 we have updated the page by removing links that no longer work. Be aware that some of the remaining links may take some time to load so be patient - if they don't come up right away it does not necessarily mean they don't work! Particularly egregious are sites that use addoubleclick.net (this adds advertising to their page) - since many, many web sites use this for advertising it can lock up a loading of a page for some time. You will see it waiting for that site if that is the problem.

Mercer County Historical Society: This Web Site is being reconstructed (3/2010). Museum Hours are currently posted on the site. For Genealogy Queries write to: MCHS Genealogy Department, PO Box 269, Aledo IL 61231-2504.

Keithsburg Chronicles: This is a Web Site by Jim Jones about his mother's family, but he will be including some bits of Keithsburg History and has included some obituares. It has been our hope for some time that other people will do other townships in Mercer County and now there is one going!

More Keithsburg: Sharon Reason is mayor of Keithsburg and curator of the Sharon Reason Keithsburg Museum which has many items not available in other parts of the County. She will also do genealogical research concerning families from the Keithsburg area. The Museum is open Monday through Friday 8 A.M. to Noon and Sundays 1 P.M. to 5 P. M. and by appointment. Sharon can be reached at P. O. Box 79, Keithsburg, IL 61442-0079. If you are planning to visit make arrangements well in advance as Sharon is often out of town - also be patient with research requests. The Museum is run on donations so be generous.

Mercer County Mailing List: To subscribe to the Mercer County Mailing list send an email to ILMERCER-L-request@rootsweb.com with the word "subscribe" in the subject line. You will receive an acknowledgment email with instructions on use.

IlGenWeb Mercer County Illinois Page: View queries; list of surnames; family information; cemetery information; obituaries; Civil War lists; addresses of museums and the Historical Association; access to volunteers who will do lookups; much more. (Note: In 2003 Terry Davis resigned and a new coordinator was appointed in 2004 A new coordinator has been appointed and the site moved in 10/2008.)
4/2010: This site can be a little difficult to figure out. If you are trying to look at the cemeteries for example click to the left of the page on "Cemeteries" - it will come up with the heading "Cemeteries" and a blank page. Click on "next" and it will take you to the Aledo Cemetery and by clicking on "next" you get the list of names in Aledo Cemetery. If you want a different cemetery you can at this point clck on the name of the cemetery you want in the blue area to the left of the page.

Illinois Ancestors: Wini Caudell is a host of this site for Mercer County. She also has Henry, Warren and Rock Island Counties (just change the county name). A very nice web site with both genealogy and history.

Illinois - Mercer County - Preemption Township Paul Mack has created a web site for some of his Preemption Township ancestors He is also working on St. Joseph's Cemetery on Findagrave - linked on our Cemeteries page.

RootsWeb Mercer County Message Board: Type in the surname you are searching and make sure the "Mercer Board" is selected. Various information submitted by Mercer County researchers (obituaries included) is found there as well as queries about Mercer County families. If you have submitted items to rootsweb in the past you will find them here. Ancestry.com took over rootsweb some time ago and all the messages were preserved on this new site. It is a free service of Ancestry.com.

Mercer County Cemeteries Page: (more on cemeteries below) Link to cemetery lookups, photos of Shields and Eliza Creek Cemeteries in Eliza Township (as well as others in Mercer County), eleven maps showing locations of cemeteries in Mercer County, and in adjoining counties bordering Mercer (courtesy of Kevin Martin).

Illinois State Archives:Statewide Marriage Index; Public Domain Land Sales Records; Database of Civil War, Spanish-American War, and Black Hawk War Veterans; Servitude and Emancipation Records, more.

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index: (Direct Link) Marriages for most counties from 1763-1900. Includes instructions for ordering original marriage records.

Mercer County Marriage Records 1835 on: Available from the Illinois Archives above or from Mercer County Clerk, PO Box 66, Aledo, IL 61231. Charge is $2 for each name researched and $1 for each copy of a record from the Archives. Copies of the original certificate from Mercer County are $3.00 prior to 1914 and $7 1914 and later.

Probate, Divorce, & Civil Court Records 1835 on: Write Clerk of the Circuit Court, P. O. Box 175, Aledo IL 61231. There is a fee for this service so enclose a stamped, self addressed envelope so they can send fee information, or phone (309)582-7021.

Birth & Death Records from 1877 on: Write County Clerk, PO Box 66, Aledo, IL 61231 and obtain fee information as in Probate Records above.

Birth Records from 1916 on: Write Office of Vital Records, State Department of Public Health, 605 West Jefferson Street, Springfield, IL 62702. Ask for an uncertified copy for genealogical purposes as the fee will be less and you won't need to prove relationship. Send SASE for fee information, or call (217)782-6553.

Illinois Death Certificates: The Illinois Department of Public Health is the repository for death certificates from 1916 on. The law passed specifying the filing in 1916 was not closely followed for awhile so there are some 1916 deaths that are not found in the files. The Illinois State Archives maintains a Database of Illinois Death Certificates 1916-1950. You will also find information there on how to order death certificates.

Obituaries: Contact the Illinois State Historical Library, Old State Capitol, Springfield IL 62701. They will do obit lookups if you have the exact death date, city, and county the person died in. The charge is $1.00, and they ask you request nor more than 2 at a time.

Here is the Ancestry.com link to the Mercer County Board. Type in the surname you are looking for and make sure Mercer Board is selected. It will bring up everything for that surname and you can sort through to see if an obituary has been submitted.

An Internet site to search for obituaries {Click} You may want to search newspapers yourself (see our Newspaper link below) but be aware that not many obituaries were published in the early 1800's. Sometimes you will find a death notice.

Newspapers: Link to information about older Newspaper availability for Mercer County on this site. For the Aledo Times Record on line Click. To search for other Illinois newspapers: Illinois Data Base Newspaper Search Form.

Alternate Sources of Marriage, Birth, & Death Records: It is often overlooked that persons applying for a pension, whether it be private, military, or Social Security, had to furnish documents verifiying various vital records. Often these records were no more available when the application was made than they are to genealogists today and alternate forms of the records, such as affidavits, had to be furnished. As an example, we have set up a Welch Family Papers page and are adding links there to documents that were furnished by John Welch's descendants as evidence of marriage, birth, and death for obtaining a pension from his Civil War Service. And soldiers were not the only ones who applied. On the Burleigh family page there is a link to a mother's application for a pension. On the Civil War Resources page we have given instructions for obtaining such pension papers. As time permits we will add instructions for other types of pensions as well.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository, University Library, Western Illinois University, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455-1390. There are very helpful researchers at this site. Charge is $1.00 per page for copies found. They do not do family research but can locate interesting historical items. The Abraham Lincoln survey of New Boston was found by them. Illinois State Genealogical Society: Several ongoing projects for documenting records including bible, cemetery, ancestor charts, location of church records, ethnic record, marriage records, orphan train, pioneer certificates, civil war certificates, newspapers, links to other sources. To search for genealogical societies: Illinois Genealogy Society Directory.

Rootsweb Library "Books We Own" - Illinois: List of volunteers who will do lookups from books and CDs they own covering the state of Illinois. Be aware that persons doing lookups are limited under copyright laws as to the amount of information they can send you, and PLEASE be specific when requesting a lookup: first names, surnames, dates, places, name of book. A general request "what do you know about the Smith family?" probably won't even get an answer (as it shouldn't)! This site covers all states and some foreign countries. If you own a book or a CD, become a volunteer!

US GenWeb Genealogy Home Page: US GenWeb has many ongoing genealogical projects listed on this page as well as links to pages for all the states.

National Archives and Records Administration: Military service and pension records, ships passenger arrival records, census records and land entry files can be ordered on standard forms. Don't overlook Land Entry Case Files (NATF Form 84) in your genealogical search. If a person ever filed an application for public land, whether they got it or not, there should be a case file for them. Very early ones may contain nothing more than the application, or a receipt if land was obtained, but many later ones contain much genealogical information such as records of marriage, of children, of military service, depending on the type of land applied for. Ancestry.com has an article up about how to use the National Archives Information Locator on line.
3/2008 using this site used to be simple - now good luck! The page for ordering forms to order pension records is http://www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html#part-a and order NATF85 for pension records.

Public Land Records: This is a Bureau of Land Management Site. An advantage over the Illinois Archives records above is that you can view and print the original document which gives the place of residence of the patentee. The site covers many more states than Illinois as well. Note: While trying to check the status of the BLM site we ran across a wonderful article on using deeds for genealogical research by genealogist William Dollarhide.

Mercer County Land Records - If your ancestor purchased land from a private party you will not find anything under Public Land Records. Mercer County Land Records can be ordered from the County Recorder, P. O. Box 66, Aledo, Il 61231-006. Send a stamped self-addressed envelope so they can send fee information (price will vary a little with the number of pages copied).

Tutorial on Reading Land Legal Descriptions: An excellent Web Site on reading legal descriptions - very helpful if Sections, Townships, and Ranges (eg. New Boston Township =T14NR5W)are a mystery to you). It also includes a map of Illinois with all the ranges and townships labeled.

SEARCHING THE INTERNET - Ancestry.com publishes helpful genealogical articles from time to time that are free to access. Following are links to a recent series on how to use search engines to find your ancestors: The Basics of Boolean Logic for the Genealogist; Searching for Peter Biegerís Pickled Pepper Web Page: Using Boolean Searches; Search Engine Searching - Update; Search Engine Math (for improving your searches). If you belong to Ancestry.com you can search their Genealogical Library Master Catalog which will give you bibliographic references to over 200,000 sources in libraries across the United States. You need not be a member of Ancestry.com to search their World Family Tree submittals. Just know that much of this information is undocumented and some of it can be quite wrong! See information on secondary sources below.

MORE SEARCHING THE INTERNET - As many of you know the Latter Day Saints Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City has their own Web Site. To search for your ancestor in their files {Click}. Also check out their family history resources as they sell many of them at their cost with no shipping charge. To check for an LDS Family History Center in your neighborhood {Click}. You will find helpful and knowledgable persons there to help in your search, and they do not proselytize. WARNING - information in LDS records has been submitted by individuals and you do not know the quality of the information (see articles on Secondary Sources below). It is a good source for hints but must be verified!

History of Mercer County, Illinois, (Chicago: H.H. Hill & Company, Publishers, 1882) This book can be accessed in several ways. It can be ordered on microfilm from your local LDS Library. Lookups can be requested through the IlGenweb Mercer County Web Site above. Do not expect the lookup person to copy pages for you as that is a copyright violation (the book has been reprinted). You can purchase the book from the Mercer County Historical Society (see first link above).

History of Mercer County Illinois 1882-1976, Daniel T. Johnson (Mercer County Bicentennial Commission 1977) Appendix C contains Genealogical information. The Genealogical sheets referenced are on file at the Essley-Noble Memorial Museum, 1406 SE 2nd Avenue, Aledo, IL 61231-2504.

Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois...and History of Mercer County, William A. Lorrimer (Chicago, 1903). Available at Chicago Historical Society. Contains some biographical data on Mercer County families. We will include information from this book in our family sites.

Past and Present of Mercer County 1914 (S. J. Clark, Publishers) Kevin Martin owns a copy of this book and has offerred to do lookups. Go to the index to see if your family is there. Unfortunately, as of 3/2007 Kevin's email is no longer valid and I do not have a new one. You might try interlibrary loan for the book if you see your name in the index.

Mercer County Almhouse Register 1859-1886. In 1853 land was set aside for a poor farm in Mercer County (see Part 3 History). The record book of those who passed through the poor farm was kept in this register. It is available on microfilm (#1689047) from the LDS Family Library. Some of the people listed here were travelers on the Mississippi River and not permanent residents, but many residents fell on hard times and needed assistance. We will be including New Boston and Eliza residents who were housed here in their family histories when it has genealogical significance. There is an interesting Web Site "The Poorhouse Story." (See also our Poorhouse page) IRAD has an index to the names in Mercer County on their Web Site. If you use the index be aware that the old writing was very hard to read and many of the records have faded over time so there are many errors. We have obtained copies of the records from 1859-1900 from IRAD and the data for the names will be posted here eventually.

Miscellaneous other Mercer Resources: For lookups in these items email Lois Retherford at "wiuqc_lois""hotmail.com" (put the two parts together with an "at" symbol and without quotes).
--Mercer Remembers 1985 - we do have an excerpt from it about New Boston published in the Times Record April 2, 1997 which we included in our history of New Boston - Part 1 - History.
--1918 Prairie Farmer's Directory of Mercer and Rock Island County Illinois
--Official Directory of Mercer Co, Il 1935 printed by Times Record Co, Aledo Il
--1967-68 Mercer County School Directory

History of the State of Kansas, William G. Cutler 1883- Many Mercer County people went to Kansas after the Civil War as Kansas gave special land bonuses to veterans. This book is on line at the University of Kansas Web Site. The chapters are arranged by County so do your homework before attempting to use it.

Family Histories: Family Histories and County Histories both often contain incorrect information, but they also often contain very good hints about where a family was located and who their ancestors were. See Searching the Internet above for locating such histories. One should be aware that sometimes histories were written by third parties who made up the information, just as many family crests are fabricated today. For a good web site on fraudulent histories {Click}. At least two Mercer County family histories are mentioned on the fraudulent site. When we know of existing family histories, we will include references on family pages and try to comment on the quality as well

Cemeteries: The cemeteries of Mercer County were censused in the 1960's by the DAR. This information was not published, but the eight volumes of information are available on microfilm from your local LDS Library. The indexes to the eight volumes of the cemetery records are posted to the IlGenWeb Mercer County Site. Lookups are available (done by Nadine Holder but she must have the volume and page number from the site to do the lookup (email on the site).. The cemeteries located in Eliza Township were: Miller, Section 5; Mills, Section 6; Glancy, Section 7; Leech, Section 1; Eliza Creek, Section 19. The cemeteries located in New Boston Township were: Mannon, Section 4, & Shields, Section 4; New Boston, Section 32; Davis, Section 36; Deserted near Spring Lake, Section 13 R6W (nothing there). Kevin Martin has prepared maps of Mercer County based on current USGS maps, and has located some of the cemeteries on them. Visit our Mercer County Cemeteries Page to see what he has done. If you are planning a trip to Mercer County to visit cemeteries we would highly recommend obtaining the LDS tapes first. The information was collected almost 40 years ago and many, many of the tombstones would have been more readable then. The books are in order as the DAR ladies walked around the cemeteries and you can make a list of the names near the tombstones you are interested in which should aid substantially in finding them. Be aware that some parts of some cemeteries were not done. Also, particularly in very early burials stone markers may not have been available and wooden markers that were used vanished long ago, so not finding your ancestor in these lists does not necessarily mean they were not buried in Mercer County.

Rock Island County: Remember that Drury Township in Rock Island County is just across the line from Eliza Township in Mercer County. Kevin Martin's maps on the Mercer County Cemetery page listed above include some of the Rock Island Cemeteries that are near the Mercer County Line. Also you can do research on the Illinois Gen Web Rock Island County Site.

Other Cemetery Web Sites: Findagrave now has a number of Mercer County items posted. You can search by cemetery or by name. Genealogical information is sometimes included. A Virtual Cemetery Project, is posting photos of headstones. Also Cemetery Records on Line. There is also an Illinois Tombstone Project in progress.

A good tip for locating related family members: when you visit a grave take a card with your name, address, and phone number on it and the words "researching this ancestor." Have it laminated and put on a little stake next to the headstone.

Sometimes you locate an unmarked grave of an ancestor and do not have the resources to place a headstone. Consider a small metal marker which can be made up at much less expense.

Mercer County Researchers: See Mercer County Historical Society link at the top of the page (also see Sharon Reasoner under Keithsburg at the top of the page). Also see the Cemeteries Page. Jill & Nadine will help you if they can from their existing files. Email on About Us Page. Please, please put Mercer County in your subject line and let us know exactly what you are looking for - we volunteer for other counties and are not psychic enough to guess the location you are asking about. Also neither of us lives in Mercer County so cannot do local research for you.

Census Records: Link to information about Census availability. Ancestry.com carries the AIS Census Index as do many LDS Libraries. You must be a member of Ancestry.com to use theirs. It is convenient as you can search by surname or by place. Civil War Resources: Link to resources for researching your soldier and also history of battles.

Bibliography: This is the list of references that we used for family research on this Web Site. It may give you some ideas for your own research. Most of the books are available in larger libraries or on microfilm from the Latter Day Saints Library in Salt Lake through local LDS libraries. When a source is given on a family page it should be found in full citation on this Bibliography page.

Secondary Sources: A good Ancestry Daily News Article defines what secondary sources are, with some strong cautions against pitfalls in secondary sources. Two more good articles are The Importance of Family Stories and Analyze the Tradition. Another one is What are We Going to Do About Bad Data on the Internet. The Fraudulent Lineage Web Site has an excellent article on secondary sources and how they are proliferating on the Internet. On our pages we are trying very hard to tell you what information is from primary sources and what is from secondary sources. Secondary sources are always good for hints, but must be verified.

Understanding both geographic location and point in time will help in your family search. An excellent link is the American Memory Timeline compiled by the Library of Congress that will give you brief encapsulated histories of what was going on in America that would have affected your ancestors.

Iowa Genweb Genealogy Site: Many Mercer County people lived across the river in Iowa for at least part of the year. Many Mercer County sons and daughters also immigrated to Iowa. See our Iowa Connections page. Iowa Marriages 1851-1900 for Muscatine, Louisa, Marion, Appanoose Counties (and several others) are posted on Ancestry. com. Many Mercer County folks are found in the Muscatine and Louisa County records. You must be a member to use them.

Iowa Cemetery Recordsfor Muscatine, Lee and Van Buren Counties (and several other counties) are posted on Ancestry.com. You must be a member to use them.

Indiana State Library Records: Many, many of the Mercer County families had their origins in Indiana. Much genealogical information is posted on this Web Site including marriages and digital copies of the 1850 census.

Morrison-Reeves Library, Indiana: includes a card file of newspaper articles in Indiana as well as a card file of their many fine genealogical books. For a small fee they will send a copy of a desired article to you.

Indiana Marriages: Ancestry.com site for marriages to 1941 - must be a member to use.

Wayne County, Indiana, Genealogy: Wayne County especially had connections with Mercer County. Much information on this site, including links to cemeteries.

Society of Indiana Pioneers: Many, many Mercer County families were early pioneers in Indiana. The Society of Indiana Pioneers has a number of family biographies submitted by researchers and will search their files for a small fee. See their Web Site for instructions on how to request information.

Value of Money: A useful Web Site where you can compare the purchasing power of money in the United States from 1790 to any other year including the present.

Essley Noble Museum: Shirley Crawford is curator of the museum at 1406 SE 2nd Avenue, Aledo IL 61231-2504. The Museum keeps family files for visiting researchers. Consider donating a copy of your family files to the museum; we have made new contacts with relatives by doing so. You can find more information about the museum at the Mercer County Historical Society Web Page (link at the top of this page)(Museum photo below).

New Boston Museum: (see below)

Essley-Noble Museum, Aledo, Illinois Photos by Barbara Essley Baker
New Boston Museum: Since May of 1991, the New Boston Historical Society has operated a museum in New Boston in the former John Sloan home, showcasing donated and loaned memorabilia from western Mercer County's past. The house was apparently built in 1856 as a summer home for Levi Willits and his wife, Clarinda. The museum collection ranges from furniture to old letters and newspapers. One of the centerpieces is an antique dresser, brought to New Boston in 1838 in the Chidester family's covered wagon. The articles are arranged to show what the house would have looked like occupied in the 1800s and early 1900s. Clorita Sloan Kenny kindly sent us one of her photos of the Museum, below.




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