Located in the Sycamore Public Library
103 E. State Street
Sycamore, IL 60178

Tuesday and Thursday

Carving Honors People of Sycamore

Sycamore’s Pumpkin Fest happens on the last full weekend of October. Hundreds of pumpkins are carved, decorated and displayed on the court house lawn for the enjoyment of those attending.  The pumpkin deemed the best is awarded the distinction of being the "Pick of the Patch”.  The winner’s name is recorded on a wooden trophy, carved by Ward Miller Jr., and on display at the public library.

The carving is 44 inches high and weighs about 100 pounds.  It is carved out of solid oak from a tree on the Harold Engh farm, north of Sycamore.  Jerry Malmassari, a member of the Pumpkin Fest committee, recalled that for several years before it had a permanent home in the library, the carving traveled back and forth between the Lions Club and Miller.  Each time it was returned to the Lions, there would be additional features carved in the wood, such as the lion hanging from the left eye, and Mr. Pumpkin, Wally Thurow, standing on the top.  Miller did not use a drawing as his guide for the carving, but pictured it in his mind as to what it should look like.

Ward Miller comes from a family of men who worked with wood.  His grandfather, Fritz, emigrated from Latvia where he was trained as a wood carver and cabinet maker.  His father, Ward Miller, Sr.’s, hobby was woodcrafting and he was a builder of two homes.  Ward, Jr. remembers being with both men as they worked with wood. 

Before retirement, Miller was a teacher and the director of the Natural Resources Education Demonstration Center in Genoa.  He believes in the hands-on method of teaching and would make carvings to use for demonstrations so his students would get a better understanding of the subject.

Miller said his hobby is a family affair.  His children and wife, Judy, also have helped him.  Judy does all the painting for him.  His carving of gold miners called Souls of the Past was featured on the cover of Chip Chats magazine and he has won several awards for his carvings.

When you attend the Pumpkin Fest, be sure to include a stop at the library and see this wonderful gift given as a thank you to the people of Sycamore.

Adoptee Law Passed By Illinois Legislature

Since last year when the bill was signed, about 645 adoptees born in Illinois before 1946 have been issued their birth certificates. Starting November 15, 2011, those born after 1946 will be able to do the same thing. The law also allows birth parents to have their names redacted from any released birth certificate by filling out a form by Nov. 1. For more information see newillinoisadoptionlaw.com.

Birth, Marriage, Death and Naturalization Records

The DeKalb County Clerk's office has put online birth, marriage, death and naturalization records that meet genealogical guidelines.  You can print the document image for $3.00.   Their website is dekalbgenealogy.com.

New Malta Obituary Collection

“A Scrapbook of Obituary Collections, People with a Connection to the Community of Malta, IL”  Compiled by Dorothy W. Stoddard, December 2012.  3,274 obits.  These obits are not part of our online database.  If you are looking for an obit on someone from the Malta area contact the Joiner History Room. This collection is also for sale in printed ($80) and CD ($20) formats.  All proceeds go to the Malta Historical Society.


Can you help?

The Joiner History Room is seeking to add to its archives pre 1960 telephone books and city directories for the cities of Dekalb and Sycamore.  We are also interested in historical documents pertaining to DeKalb County.  You don't have to send the original historical document, copies will be just as good.  If you have such an item to donate, please email the Joiner History Room.  In the subject line enter "Item to Donate."  Thank you.

Copying/Scanning/Mailing Pricing

$ .25/page......Photocopy by patron at JHR
   .50/page......Photocopies by JHR staff
 2.00/scan......By JHR researcher
 2.00/each......Photo quality prints
Scans will be emailed. To keep your costs down, we will try to get as much on one scan as possible. Photocopies by JHR staff and photo quality prints are sent U.S. mail only. Postage is also charged.
Sycamore True Republican, 1893

Goodbye Fran

The Joiner History Room is sad to say goodbye Fran Besserman, who has volunteered here for 16 years.  She and her husband are moving to North Carolina.  We will miss her and wish her the best.

Our New Look

The Joiner History Room’s new website look was made possible by the Douglas C. and Lynn M. Roberts Family Foundation.  We are deeply grateful for their support.  The website was designed by Trittenhaus Design of Sycamore.  Many pages had to be transferred to the new look and we think they did a spectacular job.  Thank you to both organizations.

Donated Photo Needs Names

This picture was found in Kate Pierce's home in Malta.  It was donated to us by Diane McQueen.  We are looking for names of the individuals so we can properly add this to our archives.  If you can identify these people, please email us at JoinerHistoryRoom@DeKalbCounty.org. 

Joiner Room Honored To Be Part Of The DeKalb County Community Foundation

The Joiner History Room Endowment Fund was established in 2008 to honor Ralph Joiner and the first appointed DeKalb County historian, Phyllis Kelley.  If you wish to donate to our Endowment Fund, click here or send a check directly to The Joiner Room at the address above.

Images of Sycamore

The Mighty Maroons boys' baseball team had this formal portrait taken at the local M. F. Carlson studio, circa 1900.  Mascot Raymond Branen is front and center.  Team members, from left to right, are (second row) Will Sell and Rex Shield; (third row) Doug Langhorn, George Murray, Captain Charles B. Townsend, Earl Branen, and George St. Dennis; (back row) Harry Cornwell, Jim Branen, and Walter Wallmark.


The Mighty Maroons

*Picture and historical information used with permission of Sue Breese and the Joiner Room Staff.

See More Like This In Images of America-Sycamore Available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at Local Stores

Looking Back Index Available

The Midweek, a current DeKalb County area publication, has a column called "Looking Back" that has small snipits of local news dating back to the late 1800's.  Most items are one or two lines long, just enough to give you a flavor of what was happening at the time.  This index covers publication dates from the start of the column, mid-2010, through December 2012.  If you find an item of interest, e-mail the Joiner History Room with date of publication and page number.
Access Index

Burkhart Funeral Home Records

Funeral home records are often overlooked as a source of genealogical information.  Joiner History Room volunteer Fran Besserman diligently compared a hand-written list of Burkhart burials with obits available from other sources in our collection.  This may be the only record of a death.
View list here.