Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2001 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

What is 'Southern Illinois?'

Some time ago I laughed when I received a letter from a lady from the
Pacific area who asked me to do some genealogy for her. She inquired if
Cook County was conveniently located for me to go do research there.
Many times I've complained politically that people outside that county
(which includes Chicago) thought nothing else existed in our fair state
or called everything south of Chicago "Southern Illinois."

Generally speaking, I believe the counties of Madison, Bond, Marion,
Clay, Richland and Lawrence and everything south of those counties are
included as "Southern Illinois."

The late Grover Brinkman, who lived in Okawville, was one of the most
vocal champions of this part of the state. He lived to well into his
90s, writing and publishing tales and little-known facts about our
history. He once wrote:

"Southern Illinois is that near-utopia land where long ago the melting
pot of many nationalities and creeds came to a slow boil, simmered for a
while and then cooled into a provocative brew, one of wide diversity,
tolerance, appreciation for the land and gratitude for the countless
blessings of an all-wise Creator.

"From this mixture of humanity arose a simple, friendly, aggressive
human with a consuming passion for life itself and the soil underfoot,
its beauty, its untrammeled possibilities, its bigness.

"Southern Illinois didn't have the wide open spaces that are Wyoming and
Montana, but there was plenty of land on the horizon to satisfy the
people. There are no great cities in Southern Illinois, but there are
also no ghettos. Southern Illinoisans retain belief in the basic
democracy of the United States of America.

"The people of Southern Illinois, young and old, are a good, staunch
breed. They are a diversified lot with varied tastes. They like gospel
music and country music, and they also listen to the Boston

"Southern Illinoisans go to the church of their choice, have a deep,
abiding faith. It is evident in their honesty, their friendliness, their
good Samaritanship in times of need or stress. They are people of the
common clay, proud but not haughty or arrogant. They despise dishonest
politicians. They work hard, some on the land, some in the mines, some
in white-collar jobs, others in cultural positions, and they assure
themselves that they want no part of a permissive society.

"Southern Illinois--and Southern Illinoisans--are truly American, and
they are very special indeed."


The Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays
from 10 to 2. It's a good place to do genealogy research. If you're not
into genealogy, you might just like to browse through our section of
books on the history and settling of this part of the state.


Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.

Return to the Notes from the White County Historical Society Page

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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2001 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.