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Posted 16 May 2001   For week ended May 11, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15May01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Reporter's History Articles Win Illinois Award

MORRIS, ILLINOIS -- Vickie Speek, a reporter for the Morris Daily Herald, was recognized, along with her co-author Jo Ann Hustis, by the Illinois State Historical Society for their contributions to local history. Speek and Hustis wrote four newspaper articles, published last September, on a young civil war soldier, Hamilton Peterson, and his family.

The Illinois State Historical Society's president Rand Burnette said that the articles gave readers an idea of how historians work, "By showing how historians can piece together stories from fragmentary evidence, Ms. Hustis and Ms. Speek have encouraged average citizens to become involved in local history. Their enthusiasm and their efforts to use sound methods are salutary." The society each year recognizes individuals and groups across the state who have contributed to the knowledge of state and local history through historical scholarship, education and preservation work. Speek and Hustis received their award at the Society's annual meeting April 28th.

The award-winning articles arose from an old letter discovered in the wall of an old house being renovated. The letter had been written by Peterson at the time of the civil war, leading Hustis and Speek to try and find out more about him. Their research led them to research records at the Illinois State Archives and the National Archives in Washington DC. They also researched local court and civil records, tracing the lives of Peterson and his family.

The articles, including Speek's genealogy column for the same week, which also covered researching Peterson's history, got a great response from the public. Both reporters received phone calls and email messages from readers who enjoyed the series. "You were able to take a seemingly insignificant piece of Civil War memorabilia and turn it into a fascinating piece of local history and intrigue. Not only did you trace the war life of Mr. Peterson, but you also provided, to anyone who read the articles, the knowledge of how to uncover facts concerning their own ancestors who fought in the Civil War or were early pioneers in the Grundy County area," wrote Ronald E. Slack, president of the Starved Rock Civil War Round Table.

The two reporters still plan to write a follow-up article on Peterson once they have uncovered how he died and whether or not he had children.

Speek is also a regular contributor to Mormon News.


Historical Society honors MDH reporters
Morris Daily Herald 10May01 P2


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