The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 22, 2013

Illinois “Roadside History” is noteworthy

The Commercial-News

— It isn’t often that a reader finds it enjoyable to read a history book from cover to cover, but the contents of a new Illinois history book is interesting enough to promote such an undertaking. The book, “Roadside History of Illinois” by native Illinoisan, Stan Banash, includes a chronology of the state from before 300,000 B.C. to 2011, some Illinois facts (such as 2010 population and state bird), some Illinois “originals, (e.g., the first Dairy Queen shop in Joliet in 1940), a brief history of Illinois, and then a virtual tour of the state’s seven regions (Southern Illinois: Between the Great Rivers; Western Illinois: Utopia on the Prairie; Central Illinois: Lincoln’s Legacy; Eastern Illinois: More Than You Expect; Northern Illinois: Rock River and Beyond; Greater Chicagoland: Metropolitan Diversity; and Chicago: City of Neighborhoods).

Written almost as a tour guide, the book includes route numbers, road maps, historical markers, and little-known stories and facts about Illinois’ towns and cities, illustrated with 120 black-and-white photographs, many from the author’s personal collection. One can find easy reference to Hoopeston’s prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, the release of Sioux prisoners at Fort Sheridan after agreeing to join Buffalo Bills’ Wild West Show, Watseka’s paranormal events in the 1860s and 1870s, and many references to Abraham Lincoln’s activities in the state.

Illinois history becomes entertaining as well as informative — especially if visits to the state’s sites result from reading about them.

“Roadside History of Illinois” is a 496-page, softcover, 6-by-9-inch book, ISBN 978-0-87842-599-0, which can be ordered from Mountain Press Publishing Co., P.O. Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806 at $20 plus $4 shipping. VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover orders may be placed toll-free at (800) 234-5308 or online at

Stan Banash, a.k.a. “Tex,” graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor of philosophy degree in political science in 1968, and received his master’s degree in urban studies from Roosevelt University in 1972. His years of research have resulted in this most instructive and interesting history of the state of Illinois.

Cyndi’s updates

The well-known source of genealogical websites, Cyndi’s List at, should be frequently checked for “what’s new” in order to easily access the latest resources for family history research. For example, this month’s list, at, includes links to the free Learning Center articles on “next steps” after information is found on the U.S. censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880,1890 (and alternative sources), 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. Be sure to scroll down the very lengthy list to access the free FamilySearch wikis on U.S. census articles, as well as on individual states and counties.

A link to a helpful article originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neil for “Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources,” also is available from Cyndi’s webpage, or can be accessed directly at This Wiki is titled “Census Records for Illinois.”

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing