Hamcock County Historical Society
40th Anniversary Open House

The Hancock County Historical Society will host a 40th Anniversary Open House in conjunction with the Kibbe Museum at their quarterly meeting on Saturday, February 16th from 4-8 pm in their new complex at 306-308 Walnut Streets in Carthage, IL.  These two historic establishments have reorganized due to the city offices relocating to the south side of the square in Carthage and provides both groups with much needed expanded space.


The Hancock County Historical Society, as we know it today, was officially organized on June 6th, 1968 at a meeting of interested citizens representing all areas of the county and the nine high school districts of the county.  The Directors were basically Leo Lamet (Warsaw), Clara Barker (Dallas City), Robert Cochran (Hamilton), James Lawton (Plymouth), Gladys McConnell (LaHarpe), Donald Parker (Bowen-West Point), Olen Smith (Carthage), William Walker (Nauvoo-Colusa), and Rachel Weinberg (Augusta).  Robert  “Bob” Cochran was chosen as President, which he held for 3 years.  A Constitution and Committees, which with little revision are still used today, were adopted.  The objectives adopted were to bring together persons interested in Hancock County history; to collect and provide safekeeping of materials which establish or illustrate Hancock County history; provide for preservation of historical materials; to encourage interest of young people in the historic heritage of the county and state; and to cooperate with other kindred groups in promoting and carrying out project of benefit to the community.  It was also decided that an informative quarterly newsletter would be of great value, especially to those members who were not able to attend the meetings.  On Wednesday evening, October 23rd, 1968, the first regular meeting was held with a display of tools, household items, kitchen utensils and other articles used by early settlers and their wives.  It was noted that at this time the membership stood at 271 members.  The membership today runs around 269.


There were 2 Hancock County Historical Societies prior to the one started in 1968.  In 1829 early pioneers of Hancock County started the first society and then Mr. Don Gordon started the second one in Hamilton around the 1920’s.  In 1967, the State of Illinois contacted the county supervisors wanting each county in the state to write a historical book for the sesquicentennial.  Bob Cochran, the general chairman, along with Floyd Burkhart, Harold Myers, Dale Owings and Ralph Vass were chosen to serve on this committee. Much hard work and research went into this book.  Five editors were chosen by virtue of their background, education and writing experience.  Plus the names of the many persons who wrote, researched or otherwise contributed to the history made a formidable list.  In fact, the committees did such a fantastic job of gathering information from all over the county that they received an avalanche of information that could not be included in the 1968 History of Hancock County, Illinois book.  All the information received was then kept, logged, sorted, and filed.  This information along with donated historical books became the basis for this Hancock County Historical Society.  2250  of the 1968 history books were printed at the Journal Printing Company in Carthage and sold for $10.00 each.


The historical society has continued the tradition of publishing historic books such as: 1979 Historic Sites and Structures of Hancock County; reprint of the 1874 Hancock County Historical Atlas; 2000 Hancock County Pictorial History; 2004 Families of Hancock County; 2006, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, WWII 1941-1945, as reported in the Hancock County, Illinois Newspapers.


Donald Parker, Bowen, Illinois, is the only original board member remaining on the Hancock County Historical Society today.  The society continues to value the importance of this 40 year board member who served as president of the society for a combined total of 7 years and has researched and put together the society’s newsletter for over 20 years which is filled quarterly with historic information found through continuous research of various newspapers and information found within the societies vast archives.   Mr. Parker continues to volunteer his services and research talents every Thursday from 9:00 to 3:00 pm.  Because of these pioneers and the many hours they volunteer and continue to volunteer over these past 40 years, the Hancock County Historical Society is proud to have experienced persons to help search for ancestors and/or historical data. 


The Hancock County Historical Society has remodeled, repainted, added more tables and chairs and changed their look with more room and area space.  The public is encouraged to drop by the open house and enjoy refreshments, complimentary of the historical society.  Feel free to challenge any of the board members to demonstrate how much information and how many different ways they can help find historical facts by browsing through the quarter of a million cards on file, microfilm dating back to the 1800’s from various county newspapers, thousands of obituaries, family genealogies, veteran information as well as historical pictures and scrapbooks.