Kane County Historical Society Fills Unassigned Role in Local History

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Turnquist

Kane County has had a long and storied history since it was created in 1836, but has never had a historical society dedicated exclusively to the county's history. That all changed this past fall when a group of interested citizens gathered to form the Kane County Historical Society.

The new society got its start in August 2004, after Elgin resident Richard Bennett said he learned that certain artifacts of countywide interest were being turned down by other area historical societies. Just because these items didn't meet the criteria for their particular locality, they were being sent elsewhere, Bennett noted. The establishment of a county-wide historical society with a broader mission would be able to accept these items, he believed.

Bennett, an Elgin printer and charter member of the Elgin Area Historical Society, single-handedly got the new county society going by printing and distributing fliers at various locales. He also ran releases in local newspapers calling for an organizational meeting.

The first meeting, held at the Elgin Law Enforcement Facility in August, attracted nearly two dozen history buffs from throughout the county. Recognizing they shared a common interest in establishing a new group, attendees agreed to gather again.

At another get-together in October, members adopted a charter, took care of other official paperwork, and elected officers. Bennett was chosen the group's first president, and Janet Siers of Gilbert was elected vice president. Lou Stotts of Elgin was tapped as secretary and Mel Magnuson took on the job of secretary. Other board members selected include Cindy Hardy of Burlington, Sarah Petersdorf of Hampshire and Al Price of Elgin.

And, what does the new society plan to do? Certainly, much of the focus will be interpreting the county's long history. Named after Elias Kent Kane of Kaskaskia, a highly regarded attorney who helped draft the first state constitution and served as a secretary of state and senator, Kane County once included all of DeKalb County and part of Kendall County. …