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

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 10AM-3PM 


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Finding Hattie

In November, 2013, the Joiner History Room received a letter found in a drawer of a desk being cleaned by Thomas and Nancy Jake of Centreville, VA.  The heading read “Courtland DeKalb Co Ill, September 24, 1865” and signed simply, “Grandaughter Hattie.”  The Jake’s were wondering if Hattie could be identified so the letter could be given to a descendant. (Read letter)

Loving a good mystery, volunteer Sheri Baker took on the task.  Clues taken from the letter were: (1) the date and location of the letter; (2) a reference to Uncle Joshua with “the girls”; (3) a reference to Aunt Mary Jane; and (4) the writing style seems to be that of a mature woman.  Using census and burial records, obituaries and websites and, Sheri believes the letter’s author was Harriet (Peck) Love.  Who was Grandfather?  The only verifiable man could have been John Elliott, who died in 1877.  Unfortunately, after the 1870 census, Harriet could not be found.  This is her family record as best could be determined.

 Harriet’s father was Nathan H. Peck.  Nathan H. Peck, b. 1816 in CT and d. 1885 in Sycamore, DeKalb, IL. He is buried in Mounds Rest Cemetery, Cortland, DeKalb, IL.  He was a merchant and a brick mason.  He married (1) Margaret Elliott before 1840.  Margaret was b. 1822; d. 28 October 1849 and is buried in Berkshire Cemetery, Sunbury, Delaware County, Ohio. Children of Nathan and Margaret are:

i.                     Charles V. b. 1839 in Berkshire, Delaware, Ohio; d. 27 Nov 1863 when he was killed in action during the Civil War.  Burial site unknown.

ii.                   Mary J., b. 1842 in Berkshire, Delaware, Ohio; d. 1864, buried in Mounds  Rest Cemetery.

iii.                  Harriet E. b. 1844 in Berkshire, Delaware, Ohio; d. bet. 1875-1880

 Nathan married (2) Lydia K. Call on 22 Jan 1851 in Kane County, IL.  She was b. 1831 in Ohio and d. 1 Oct 1897 in Sycamore.  She is buried in Mounds Rest Cemetery.  Child of Nathan and Lydia is:  Frank, b. 1856; d. 1867, when he was just 11.  Burial site is unknown.

Census Notes: The 1860 census of Bradford, Lee County lists Nathan; wife Lydia; sons, Charles (21) and Frank (4); and daughters, Mary J. (18) and Harriet (16).

Harriet E. Peck, b. 1844; d. bet. 1875 and 1880 (based on birth and census records).  She married Henry B. Love on 10 August 1869.  Henry was b. 24 May 1842 in Danville, PA; d. 25 May 1926 in DeKalb, DeKalb, IL.

Children of Harriet and Henry are:
Lydia, b. September, 1869 in Albany, Whiteside, IL; d. unknown. 
Clara Belle, b. 1872; d. 1941, married Epenetus John Olmstead on 12 Feb 1891.  He was b. 25 Feb 1866 in Chatsworth, IL; d. 6 Jun 1930 in Allegan, MI. 
Jessie J., b. 16 Nov 1875; d. 1939; married John Hiram Sprague on 11 Feb 1903. 

Marriage Notes: Harriet and Henry’s marriage announcement in the Sycamore True Republican states, “Married—At the home of the bride’s father in Cortland, on August 10, by Rev. C. Combs, Henry B. Love of Albany, N.Y. to Miss Hattie E. Peck of Cortland”.  The announcement was in error as Henry was from Albany, Whiteside, IL.   

Census Notes:  The 1870 census for Albany, Whiteside, IL are Henry, “Hattie” and daughter Lydia, age 8/12 living with Henry’s parents Andrew and Rebecca Love and their daughter Rose.  On the 1880 census, Rose is described as an “adopted daughter”, born in Iowa.  There were no further records found showing Harriet or Lydia. 

The 1880 census for Cortland, DeKalb, IL shows Clary B. (Clara), age 8 and Jessie J., age 4 living with their grandparents, Nathan and Lydia Peck.

Elliott Family Notes:  Margaret (Elliott) Peck had a brother, Joshua, and a sister, Mary Jane.  This is the uncle and aunt mentioned in the letter.

Notes for Joshua:  Joshua was b. 4 April 1824 in Belmont, Belmont, Ohio; d. 28 April, 1904 in Union County, Ohio.  He married (1) Minerva Leonard on 27 April 1848 in Delaware County, Ohio.  Their children are:
Sarah Jane, b. 1850; d. 1937
Mary, b. 1852; d. unknown
William Leonard, b. 1863; d. 1934

He married (2) Lydia P. Ferris on 1 October 1863 in Kendall County, IL.  He married (3) Elizabeth Wycoff in 1873 in IL.  Their child was Frank, b. 1876; d. unknown.                       

Census Notes:  The 1860 census records for Cortland lists Joshua Elliott; wife Minerva; daughters Sarah (10); and Mary (8).  In her letter Harriet writes about taking care of the girls while their parents went to Ottawa.  

Notes for Mary Jane:  Mary Jane, b. 1830; d. unknown married John Boston.  Hattie writes in her letter to her grandfather, “Will Aunt Mary Jane move out to your house as soon as she is able or is she going to stay in Ashley.”   

The 1860 and 1870 Federal census records shows Mary and John Boston were living in Pleasant Township, Putnam, Ohio in 1865.  The 1910 census shows her living in Hartford, Blackfort, IN.

Past Website Articles
 Changling Movie Has DeKalb County Connection

Chicago and North Western Depot 

Letitia Westgate and the 1902 Smallpox Season

Early Weather Reporting

The Lincoln Statue

First Jury of Sycamore Women

Sycamore Electric Company

Sycamore Wagon Works

Obituary of Phyllis I. Horton Kelly

In Grandmother's Attic

The Own Your Own Home Association

Truman Vangalder

Fairdale Train Accident

Pictures Show A Sad Time In Kingston's History

Prather's Speedway

Franks, DeKalb County, IL?




New Military Link
Coffelt Database of Vietnam Casualties - Click on Military Records and scroll to bottom of page.

Great News!

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

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.

On Sale Now

Complete Information
and Order Form

Young Author Gets Acknowledged

Erin Templin, daughter of Dan Templin, "Young Author's" story was selected by Sycamore School District in her grade to attend a statewide young author's meeting in May.  Because her story takes place in one of Sycamore's most loved historical buildings, we are pleased to post it online. Adobe Reader required.

Sycamore City Council Minutes


Present Sycamore mayor Ken Mundy is a history buff.  He has compiled a brief description of each meeting held by the city council during the years 1858-1949.     By reading his work, you get a historical sense of the important issues for this growing city.  It is an ongoing project.  The manuscripts are available for review at the Joiner History Room. 

Adoptee Law Passed By Illinois Legislature
Excerpts From the Chicago Tribune 10 June 2011

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

JHR Adoption and Juvenile Court Records Database  Updated February 2012




Images of Sycamore

The Mighty Maroons

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.

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



Quick Links

Obituary Database


Sycamore True Republican


Joiner Room Journal
April 2014


Click here for more information on these Quick Links



Burkhart Funeral Home Records 1891-1943

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.  Click here to see list.


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.

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. 

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 on the DCCF logo or send a check directly to The Joiner Room at the address above.


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


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