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

Tuesday and Thursday

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.


Wartime Mystery Disappearance Solved Fifty Years Later

Young Walter McHenry of Somonauk had wanderlust.  After graduating from high school in 1940, according to the Somonauk Reveille newspaper, he tried to enlist in different branches of the service but was rejected because of poor eyesight.  Walter wasn’t deterred.  Something drew him to New Orleans, LA where he obtained a position of cabin boy on the merchant ship Miraflores.

The Miraflores was a freighter owned by the British Standard Fruit and Steamship Company.  Its usual route took it between New Orleans and Central America, carrying fruit, coconuts and cashews.  On February 6, 1942, the freighter left New Orleans enroute to Haiti.  However, upon arriving in Haiti, the captain was ordered to load the freighter and sail to New York.  The ship disappeared and wasn’t found for 50 years.

The website http://njscuba.net/sites/siteMiraflores.html reports, “By the 20th of February 1942, the S. S. Miraflores failed to report in New York and it was soon evident that her loss was to remain a mystery until investigations by the U. S. government after the war.  Even then it was deduced that the ship was torpedoed, but the exact location was based on speculation.  It remained that way for several decades.  Families would find few answers if any from the shipping company or from any government agencies”.  Walter’s parents, Fred and Jeanette McHenry, would never find out what happened to their son.

The Miraflores was about 55 miles east of Cape May, NJ on February 19th, 1942, when a German submarine, identified as U-432, sunk the vessel in the early morning hours taking Walter and thirty-three merchant sailors to their death.  German records available after the war, don’t identify the ship as the Miraflores, but gives the date and a vague description of a ship on which they fired two torpedoes.  An aggressive Nazi program meant to frighten American citizens resulted in 348 ships sunk off the east coast between February and May 1942. 
The wreckage was discovered in 1992 by a fisherman scanning the ocean bottom for clams.  For two years the site was explored and 1994 a wreck diver, Jim Bowen, recovered a helm with an identifying serial number.  The Miraflores mystery was solved.

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

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.


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.