IS ITS BUSINESS
Illiana society has been collecting resources , assisting researchers for almost 60 years
BY HANNAH SHILLO HANNAH . SHILLO @ DANCOMNEWS . COM
O ne does not have to go far to find their roots in Vermilion County and surrounding areas .
With shelves upon shelves of books , binders , marriage records dating back to the 1800s , area high school yearbooks , military service records , cemetery indexes , church histories and old family photo albums , the Illiana Genealogical and Historical Society provides plenty of resources to assist someone in their genealogical journey .
The completely volunteer-run organization is the first and oldest chartered genealogical society in Illinois .
“ It ’ s interesting how it all started ,” current IGHS President Mark Denman said . “ There was a young social studies / history teacher at Danville High School in the 1960s . His name was Lowell Volkel .”
In 1964 , before his time spent as an archivist at the Illinois State Archives , Lowell Volkel organized a meeting because of his initial interest in genealogy and history . A total of seven people were in attendance , according to Denman .
The society had found its first home in the basement of Danville Public Library , and moved to several different locations before settling in the historic building where it is currently housed at 215 W . North St .
The home ’ s original owner , Anderson W . Heinly , came to the Danville area in the late 1870s and opened the Grand Opera House in 1884 , which later became the Fischer Theater .
In 1892 , Heinly purchased the North Street property . There had been a mansion on the lot that had been built in the 1830s by the Payne family , according to Denman , which is why the one-way street to the east
16 ILLIANA MAGAZINE | SPRING 2023