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 ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Barry Cleveland, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Funkhouser materials now housed at library

Last week I enjoyed two conversations with Lucille Funkhouser, who is 98
years young. Lucille and her sister, Irene, 96, have resided the past
few years in Fairfield but lived most of their lives in the Burnt
Prairie area.

They have spent a great part of their lives doing family research.
Especially since they retired from teaching, they devoted many hours to
genealogy. People who visited White County often made it a practice to
hunt up the Funkhouser ladies, because they had so much information.
They always gave willingly of whatever information they had collected.
Much of their Funkhouser research was incorporated into a lengthy book
under the name of another author. However, the Funkhousers were given
credit for the research.

Irene has recently gone to live at the Way-Fair Nursing Home in
Fairfield, and Lucille is contemplating such a move. A nephew in North
Carolina wanted their research. However, they felt it should stay in
White County, since their ancestor walked from Virginia to White County
and died soon after. Another nephew suggested our library would see that
their work was preserved, and therefore, would be a good repository for
it. Another nephew brought their work in to us last Wednesday.
We have not yet filed this research, but a cursory examination shows
research, in addition to the Funkhouser family, into several other
families: Hunsinger, Lee, Williams, Vaught, Reeves, Cross and

We are proud to have received this work. In talking to Lucille via
phone, I decided she probably carries more family information in her
head than I have in my computer. What an extra-ordinary lady!


I write this next paragraph with apologies to Sally Roth--probably the
Tri-State's best-known naturalist.

Are you acquainted with the serviceberry tree? The dictionary shows this
may be pronounced as it is spelled, but it is also correct to pronounce
it "sarvisberry." I had always thought that was a colloquialism which
came from the South. This tree has white blooms in the spring, then
produces berries after the blooms fall.

From books about pioneer times, I've been led to believe these were so
named because pioneers held so many services (sarvises) about the time
the berries appeared. Pioneers might go months without a minister, but
one generally came around in the spring to hold services for those who
had died during the winter and were buried without benefit of funerals,
and to marry people who perhaps had been living together for months
because there was no one around to marry them. However, my tree key
lists the proper name of these trees as "serviceberry."

I always thought their correct name was "shadblow." However, the
dictionary says the trees were sometimes given that name because they
bloom about the same time the shad appear in U.S. rivers. So maybe
"shadblow" is the colloquial name.

At any rate, about May the bloom falls and edible bluish-black berries
appear. They make good pies, if one can get to them before the birds
arrive. However, every year at my house, the cedar wax-wing birds show
up at the same time as the berries and stay until they have eaten every
berry on the tree. Then the wax-wings disappear until the next spring.
I'm always amazed at how birds can know the exact time some particular
food is available for them.

What brought on all this commentary is that I looked out the kitchen
window this week. I have three thicket hawthorn trees in the back yard,
and they are covered with red berries. Lo and behold, one tree was full
of cedar wax-wings, filling their gullets with berries. These small,
crested, russet-colored birds are a delight to watch. They look like
little robbers, as they are easily identified by black masks across
their eyes. Now I'm wondering if I'll be visited by cedar wax-wings both
spring and fall.

(Next week perhaps I'll stick with genealogy!)


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

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

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