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McHenry County Historical Society

About Us > Society Pages:

The Society Overview

Graphical overview of the Society

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Since the mid-1960s, the McHenry County Historical Society has provided the methods and means of presenting McHenry County history to enrich life. Please join us in celebrating more than 50 years!

Established in 1963, our members, staff and volunteers have an over 50-year track record rich in preservation, education, and entertainment contributions to McHenry County.

Your individual or family membership in the McHenry County Historical Society is always welcomed and appreciated! Besides the knowledge that you are joining collective efforts to shape our county's future without forgetting its past, membership benefits include the following

On behalf of the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum, I would like to invite you to become a business partner with us and enjoy special benefits all year long.

Board meetings of the McHenry County Historical Society are on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the museum, with the exception of December.

The staff at the McHenry County Historical Society fields an average of 10 to 15 requests each day on property, building and site preservation, family history, business history and object conservat

The McHenry County Historical Society has a wide array of volunteer opportunities available for those who are interested, including data entry, indexing, filing, leading school tours, greeting visi

At the Museum Pages:

Museum Overview

Graphical overview of Museum Buildings, Exhibits and Videos

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Adopt An Artifact

Help MCHS preserve its collection by adopting an endangered artifact

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Museum Store

When you visit the Museum, don't forget to visit our Gift Store!

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School Tours at the Museum

Learn more about our available educational programs!

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Reserving the JAMES

Our Mobile Exhibit can come to your location!

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Acquisition Policy

Thank you for considering a donation to the McHenry County Historical Society.

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Museum Exhibits - Sorted by A - Z:

Visit the McHenry County Museum, with the West Harmony Schoolhouse and Gannon Log Cabin.

Grace Moline, former curator of the McHenry County Historical Society presents the special exhibit that is available on the Historical Society Bus, 'The James'.

Arrival--the 1890's in Marengo" is a new exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Museum in Union, IL.

Video shows the process of moving an 1870's Italianate Bay window from a house in Richmond owned by MCCD, to Union IL.

This quilt exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Museum is part of the Northern Illinois Quilt Fest (NIQF).

Learn more about the Gannon Cabin, built in 1843, and currently a permanent exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Museum.

Quilts from the McHenry County Historical Museum Collection

Ongoing Series of Postcards selected by Kira Halvey, and cross posted on our facebook pages.

Our Don Peasley Exhibit Opened on May 4th 2014, featuring photographs taken by photo journalist Don Peasley.

Perkins Town Hall is located at 3600 Franklinville Road in Woodstock, IL


The Pringle School was built in 1867 of limestone quarried at Garden Prairie and transported by wagon to the site.

Nothing says Christmas like Aluminum Christmas Trees!

Riley Methodist Church, built in 1898, is ideal for a wedding, baptism or any religious event.

The West Harmony Schoolhouse is now located on the McHenry County Historical Museum property.


About Us > Research Library:

Research Library Overview

Graphical View of All Available Research Online

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Research Library Materials:

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - I. Countywide Resources

The Research Library is open weekdays, year round, by appointment only. An appointment must be made at least 24 hour in advance. There is a fee for use by non-members.

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - II. Local Histories

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library - III. Historical Special Editions of Local Newspapers

By comparing data from an 1872 Atlas, and modern maps, we can see how mcHenry County has developed over the past 138 years.

The data shown is only a reflection of those cases located in the archives of the McHenry County Historical Society. For Further Information please contact the McHenry County Historical Society.

This "Day in McHenry County History" is not all inclusive. Dated material was taken from local history books up through 1994.

The small independent drug store has disappeared along with the rest of the small “independents.”

In 1917, as the United States slid to war with Germany, a group of women approached the White House in Washington, D. C.

Remember onion plasters, mustard plasters, oh how they burned our chests! But they would cure a chest cold, wouldn’t they?

Chart of Birthplaces of McHenry County Residents according to the 1850 Census.

Chart of McHenry County Occupations listed in the 1850 and 1870 Census

Chart of Cultural Sites Listed in the 1872 McHenry County Atlas

Cultural Sites Listed in the 1892 McHenry County Atlas

Chart of Cultural Sites Listed in the 1908 McHenry County Atlas

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, featuring Lustron Homes- All Metal Pre-Fabricated Homes, Post WW2

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

“Forgotten McHenry County” documents remnants of our past, be it ghost ads on buildings, addresses on transoms, post offices no longer in existence, slaughterhouses, distilleries, outside cellar doors and even corncribs & outhouses.

Historic Links of interest n McHenry County

How to Confirm the Age of Your Historic Home

To obtain a photocopy of an obituary please: Send the name and date of the obituaries you want along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to MCHS, P.O. Box 434, Union, IL 60180.

Dates of Original Land Purchases in McHenry County 1839-1850 (Chart)

Many of the small independent jewelry stores in McHenry County have disappeared along with the independent clothing boutiques and drug stores.

The 1920’s ushered in the age of American consumerism.

It didn’t take long for the public to take to motoring.

McHenry County Youngsters have always found a way to keep busy when not in school or doing homework. What did kids do before video games became so popular?

Reference Materials available in the MCHS Research Library -  McHenry County Conservation District

Newspapers, local history books and documents.

McHenry County

Sears sold these “Modern Home” kits from 1908-1940.

McHenry County Wartime Data from 1846 - 2003


Preservation Overview

Graphical View of All Available Preservation Online

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Thank you for your interest in the McHenry County Historical Society's Barn Registration Program.  Unfortunate as it is, this program may become the only record of barns that once predominated

Common sense approach – always start with the least invasive treatment but if you aren’t sure what to do, don’t do anything. Instead, contact the McHenry County Historical Society.

Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the sunset behind a McHenry County barn.

This was a prevalent Northern Illinois style barn from time of settlement in 1830's through probably the 1860's while wheat was grown and before dairying took over in 1870's.

Preserve the Past by revealing your place in History.

Please complete the Oral History Questionnaire.

News and Event Pages:

News & Event Overview

Graphical overview of News and Current Events

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Event Calendar

Check out our Museum Fundraisers and local history events!

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News: Sorted by Most Recent:

Dec. 1 Holiday Open House

Bake-off on point for taste

Halloween, costumes remain popular

Just when we thought last month’s frost had put the freeze on mosquito numbers, we’ve had to rethink our fall prognosis.

Historic House recognized on Sept. 29

Field trip by the McHenry Co. Joint Council of Historic Groups

Hardware family exiting the business

After almost 90 years, the Bohn family of Woodstock is exiting the hardware business and selling its store on Route 47.

Digitizing Documents

Newspapers and the communal history they chronicle are disappearing – not only current mastheads, but the many publications that have been relegated to memory.

History isn't always pretty

Logic Puzzle Museum a fun diversion

To me, the hyped-up arrival of biodegradable drinking straws is a little bit like the return of “old” Coke. Was it ever really gone?

Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

A stitch in time

Cities drawn into redevelopment

Not unlike the city of Chicago after the great fire of 1871, municipalities nowadays are being forced to takes a hands-on approach to redevelopment.

Forever Poppies.

A September 1912 edition of the Wilmot, Wisconsin, Agitator put the dairy dilemma this way:

We scream for ice cream

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Heritage Fair Car Show. It was the largest yet!

A slice above

Bridging generations

Caption: Former Allendale Road bridge in McHenry County

Shall We Give A Dam or Not?

This "dish" meant touching home

This church had many foundations

Pistakee Panache

The McHenry County Historical Society marked its 55th museum year with an opening soiree Friday, May 4, at the museum.

Green Thumb Brigade

May 20
Inexplicably, within two weeks of each other in March 1917, 10 children died and were buried directly behind the mausoleum in Woodstock’s Oakland Cemetery.

 Riverside was go-to destination

Historic Ag Day

Thanks to the village of Huntley for allowing a bunch of us history types to do a short walk-through of the former H.D. Catty Corp. building on Church Street.

Corn perfect fit for prairie

Could cold beer be sold here?

Let’s be honest. Can you ever really have too many local craft breweries?

Huntley certainly doesn’t think so.

Donny Discovered

McHenry County was home to an extraordinary number of women who made a difference in American history.

Huntley seeks proposals

Admiring Adelia

New approach to repurposing old

A century-old, 116-acre fresh air camp off Cary-Algonquin Road could re-emerge into a brave new world, the world of “glamping.”

Large crowd marks state bicentennial, transportation hubs

Antiques Great Show

Korean conundrum

Ignore at your peril

Gimme some "Gitche Gumee"


Moose on the loose

Among the 90 Moose lodges sprinkled across Illinois, only about a third have been around a century or more. Woodstock Moose Lodge 1329 is among them.

Detailed Plan

This year's Rock Around the Quilted Tree theme is "Blue Christmas. Twenty-one quilts were entered in this year's seasonal show.

Switzer, Fiske leave a legacy in their wake


F.E. Rawson general store is seen in Greenwood. Frank Rawson and his wife, Viola, are seated on the far left.

Valued Volunteers

Crystal Lake McDonald's in 1961

Climb aboard Christmas Tree Ship on Nov. 19

"Serial Quilter" comes clean

Old jail landmarked

Our spooky past

An estimated 125 people filled Eckert Hall for this year's Historic Halloween and sat transfixed as our presenters relayed tragic stories from McHenry County's past.

Eugene V. Debs speaks to a crowd in Canton, OH, on June 16, 1918 . Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Students from Cold Spring School appear in about 1922. The school, built in 1870, almost disappeared forever. In 1927, the Lake Development Co.

Thanks for making this year's fest historic

Teaching teachers

"A two-hour tour ..."

Histioric structure threatened

Let's play two

Swedish immigrants Mons and Cecilia (Anderson) Peterson had five children – Louis, Gusta, John August, Minnie and Esther.

Everyone loves history, right? Most Americans put it in the same category as mom, as apple pie.

CAPTON: Before Illinois discovered that the Chain O' Lakes was a major recreational area and a big moneymaker for local businesses, a privately funded dam, seen here, was built across the F

I have been watching all of the back-to-school ads with equal measures of bemusement and horror. There are so many accouterments nowadays.

As our state teeters on the edge of bankruptcy and our healthcare system descends into chaos, it is worth noting that we’ve been down this road before.

Woodstock High School graduate earns scholarship

Jean Turner, Huntley

Heritage Fair Hootenanny

Banking on Clams

A surprising headline caught my eye just before Memorial Day: Sears Holding Corp. reported its first quarterly profit in nearly two years.

I know a little something about the power of words, which made the recent hub-bub over the wording of a state marker on the Woodstock Square particularly intriguing.

Must have been the shirts

Few, if any, soldiers’ careers compare to the depth and breadth of that compiled by Gen. John L. “Black Jack” Pershing.

Alden depot dismantled

One of the most important service buildings in Alden and one of the oldest to have survived on its original site in the county is gone.

Nancy Roozée named Woman of Distinction

3 p.m. Monday, May 15

Wine tasting, taste for history key


6 to 9 p.m. Friday

Pistakee Bay takes center stage

Historic Huntley High School demolished

WWI and Peaceful Protest

There are so many barns, after all, across McHenry County. Will one less, more or less, make a difference in a world where expediency and horse-trading reign supreme?

Of course.

Sidewalk Stories

John Shiel has become enamored with a town he worked near for years but never lived in.

Call to action

Historic house razed

Textile internship funded

 Lehmann mansion in Lake Villa

Dyer addresses full house

"Forever Poppies"

Many attended March 20 lecture

Reviving Newspapers

Record Turnout!

Performers called county home

On the radio

A Volunteer Valentine

With the Super Bowl still fresh in our minds, it is worth revisiting another homegrown champion of the gridiron – the Golden Tornadoes of 1920.

There isn’t much left of the King School nowadays, but at one time it was counted among the scholastic royalty of McHenry County.

MLK lessons

Stitch in Time


By Craig L. Pfannkuche
Long before anyone heard of Heaven’s Gate, there was “Heaven City” – a far more benign cult, of sorts, in McHenry County.

First quilt show in the books

Arlen Bird, Union, earned top honors as show champion for her "American Glory" quilt, a reproduction of a quilt first stitched in the early 1800s.

I was intrigued to read that Starbucks Coffee Corp. is poised to overtake McDonald’s Corp. as the world’s most valuable restaurant company.

Who knew?

Historial Society helps Salvation Army

The debate raging in Congress over the federal deficit and its possible effect on the social safety net isn’t all that different than what occurred a century ago.

Dyzart named "Volunteer of the Year"

About 100 volunteers packed into Eckert Hall Dec. 7 for the annual Volunteer Thank You Lunch.

Display continues through December

The Cary Fire Protection District, at long last, disposed of what remained of the River Bend restaurant – an abandoned, critter-infested shell – during a fire training exercise on Oct. 23.

Quilt Presentation

Historians among honorees

Presidential straw poll a dead heat

Traditions continue

Oct. 12 event draws full house


On the circuit

So if you’re trying to bring religion to a bunch of pioneers scattered across hell’s half acre, what do you do? You bring the shepherd to the flock.

Hops could replace roses as county's signature crop

Heritage Quilters strut stuff

Poster art program draws interest

Quick view of the 2016 Heritage Fair Car Show.

It was a "corker"

You the "Poké" Man!

Historical Society at the county fair

The word “pageant” serves up “cheesecake” images of bathing beauties or perhaps boats bedecked in Venetian splendor.

After 145 years, Haeger Potteries closed its East Dundee factory June 30 in what company President Lexy Haeger Estes characterized as the company’s “most difficult” decision.

Preservation ordinances

Beer has a history all its own

A crowd thirsty for beer knowledge gathered at the museum July 24 to hear home brewer Dave Oberg pontificate about something he knows a lot about: Beer.

Romans in Romania

Sweet treat

See Photo Gallery for Event Highlights

A tale of two schoolhouses

Judy Lovaas has cared for a unique piece of county history since 1966 but the time has come for another committed caretaker to step forward.

Pringle pageant a rousing success!

Pringle pageant captures a century of progress, 1836-1936

Museum hosts annual members' meeting

History re-created

An energetic crowd turned out Thursday, June 16, to witness history: The release of Eugene V. Debs from the McHenry County Jail in Woodstock on Nov. 22, 1895.

Thank you McHenry County!

On Nov. 22, 1895, Eugene V. Debs stepped out of the front door of the jail on the Woodstock Square a free man.

Envisioning Harvard today as the go-to center of McHenry County may be difficult, but there was a time when it was all that and more.

Stengele, Mack and Viger Honored

Railroads developed McHenry County

History protected

Lakewood Farms placed on list

History celebration starts April 29

For historical events marking Look at Local History Month click HERE

Book her, Dano!

Sampler Lecture

Nearly 100 people attended the fourth and final Sampler Series lecture on Monday, April 18, at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum.

Super Supper

Music part of farm life

March 30

County records storage shown

MCCF invests in the community

Members get sneak peek

Donate through May 1

History minded quilters earn award

Special Exhibits for the 2016 season!

Radio program


Published Feb. 1, 2016 in the Northwest Herald

Published in the Northwest Herald on Sunday, Feb. 14


Museum hosted throng Feb. 27

Future TV Special

Deadline April 9

Dec. 9 Lunch

CL woman has winning ticket

Through Jan. 8

Radio history

The McHenry County Board is accepting applications from individuals interested in appointment to the McHENRY COUNTY HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION.  One position is available for a

Winning Mood

Veterans honored with quilts

Tickling the ivories

Tabletop history

Window to the past

Ghost stories with Jim May

Museum serves slice of history, apple treats on Oct. 4

Mail Order Phenomenon

McHenry County Joint Council of HIstoric Groups fall meeting

C & NW Historical Society

Special tour of Queen Anne masterpiece

The Peterson farmstead is located at 2903 Vermont Road.

Historic farmstead to be plaqued

Author Dave Lester speaks.

Grand champion Jim Ratway won the 2015 Pie Bake Off

Henry Kenyon shares a cold beverage in our brewing exhibit.

Seeking vintage cars for our annual summer celebration

Kyla Singleton, History student and Crystal Lake resident.

Midnight Carboys

Annual favorite: the Perkins Players performers, circa 2015.

Civil War base ball game ends in tie.

From Museum Opener May 1st

Division medal winners Bob and Chris Frenz

Coventry farmstead protected

Countywide tour of history related events

A large crowd was on hand Tuesday night, April 14, for the third of four Sampler Series programs at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum.

APRIL 2015 Palm Sunday in 1965 looked like a keeper. Fifty years ago, people woke April 11 to clear skies and unseasonably mild temperatures.

About 85 members viewed the private collections

Part of the 2015 Sampler Series

Presented Grants on March 25th

Focuses on the Standard School Program in Illinois

A 1946 Chevy pickup captured Best of Show honors.

A Musical History of McHenry County." presented by Speaker Mary Ellen Heelan, of Cary.

Highlights from February 28th event

Archival storage sites maintained by the C & NW Historical Society

Quilters begin the 2016 raffle quilt benefiting the McHenry County Historical Society

McHenry County was WWII home of German POWs, Japanese-Americans. At a time when some in this country feel a sense of antipathy toward Arab-Americans living among us, it is worth remembering that during World War II a number of Japanese-Americans – as well as German prisoners of war – were working and living in McHenry County.

Rankin/Bass Productions historian and archivist Rick Goldschmidt

Estate Planning can benefit future generations, leave a lasting legacy.

The Huntley High School Treble Choir entertains volunteers

For a donation to the Historical Society, take a photograph of you and/or yours standing next to or sitting on this historic ride!

Visit our Holiday display Tuesday through Friday, until Jan. 9

Tour of the Old Courthouse on the Woodstock Square

Don Purn (left) and Bob Frenz educated students on the Civil War

Quilt Drawing Followed Debra Henniger Presentation

Historic Halloween is presented every October

Grand champion honors for Mary Argall's Candy Apple pie

Volunteers from Grace Lutheran Evangelical Church in Woodstock

The McHenry County Historical Society hosted a Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce mixer Aug. 12 at the museum.

MCHS presented the historical plaque on Sunday, June 29

Register Now for our 2014 Summer Sunday Series

Return to the Classroom

Includes Quilted Barn Locations in McHenry County!

May 31 bus tour of historic, one-room schools in McHenry County

MCHS plaqued the 113-year-old George Burger house May 2014

Overview of the 2014 Sampler Series, 4 great presentations.

Chris Frenz was among those who volunteered to teach students at the 2014 Ag Day, April 15-17, at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.

Camp Algonquin is on the 10 most Endangered Historic Places

Have an original piece of art showing portraying a historic structure, landscape or vista? Contact the Historical Society to find out how we help each other – and further historic preservation.

MCHS Committee plaqued the El Tovar Theatre, Feb. 8, 2014

MCHS President Bob Frenz accepts certificate from Rich Carter

DECEMBER 2013- The unassuming gravestone with the surname “Sayer,” found in McHenry’s St.

The city of Woodstock has begun the process for the acquisition, restoration, preservation and reuse of the historic old McHenry County Courthouse built in 1857.

More than 200 people celebrated golden anniversary of the McHenry County Historical Society

In late summer, while the cicadas drone, come and see the annual Afternoon Sing-along at the 1895 Riley Church, 9316 Riley Road, Marengo

By all accounts the two remaining cottonwood trees gracing the front entrance...

Keep an eye on our calendar for the next Quit Appraisal Day in 2014, it's coming soon...

About 66 yrs ago, the Ford School, c.1886, was about to be torn down...

Part of our past is taking root in Lake in the Hills.

If you have completed a renovation project, large or small, on your older home in the last two years that is in keeping with the historic character of the building, submit a nomination to the McHen

Harmony Road School Property Designated as a County Heritage Grove    

157-year-old structure

MAY 2013 - John Strohm began his presentation with panache.

MCHS presented a plaque at the Josephine and William Lorimer Jr. House May 2013

NOVEMBER 2013 - Unincorporated Alden, at the junction of Route 173 and Alden Road, may seem like little more than a wide spot on the road.

MARCH 2013- The ramshackle building barely is noticed by people driving on Alden Road, just north of Route 173 near the Nippersink Creek.

FEBRUARY 2013 - Examples of old mills repurposed interesting ways are not hard to find: A sawmill turned into a restaurant in downstate Urbana, an 1857 feed mill in Mazomanie, Wis., converted into

FEBRUARY 2013 - The debate raging in Congress over the federal deficit and its possible effect on the social safety net isn’t all that different than what occurred a century ago.

Shuttered since May after being condemned by the village, the Landmark Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake is teetering on the cusp of oblivion.

What a shame.

Readers can submit endangered historical sites from around the county

On Friday, October 21, 2011, our dedicated Curator, Grace Moline, was honored by her professional peers and named Illinois Museum Professional of the Year, receiving her award from David Becker, IA

On November 30, 2010 the Union Fire Dept. had the 1867 limestone building so they could put in a septic field for their adjacent fireshouse.

When you support the McHenry County Historical Society, many benefits become yours.

Contact Us and More...

How to Contact Us

Hours, Address and Directions, Email Form, & Free Museum Pass

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