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home : news : north central illinois   April 30, 2016

1/20/2014 3:43:00 PM
Your family's history could be in Ottawa

Amy Flanery
Lifestyle Editor

Genealogy guild houses records of births, deaths and more, can save you money on online services

By Amy Flanery
NewsTribune Media Editor

OTTAWA — There’s no need to spend a fortune to learn about your family tree. Saturday’s wintry weather caused a meeting of the La Salle County Genealogical Guild to be canceled, but president Jenan Jobst of Ottawa said volunteers are happy to help people research their ancestry any time.

“We have on our computers, and we can look for them or they can look on it,” Jobst said. “We just charge for copies.”

The guild houses records of births, deaths, marriages and more as far back as 1831 at its Ottawa facility, located at 115 W. Glover St., a few blocks south of the Illinois River and just east of Route 23. It is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays, and other days by appointment.

Obtaining official records through the courthouse would cost $20, Jobst said. But people can pay $5 to have the genealogical society mail their relatives’ records to them. Or they can stop by the society and pay 24 cents per copy to print it themselves.

La Salle County Genealogical Guild also has a cemetery database that lists all the information contained on the tombstones of area cemeteries.

Guild members receive emails regularly from people interested in learning more about their family. They often have visitors as well.

“We’ve got people coming from all over the country,” Jobst said. “Not in the winter,” she allowed with a laugh.

For someone interested in beginning to research their family, the first step is very simple.

“Ask any older relative what they know,” Jobst said. “Start from there and then work backwards.”

Even without much to go on, the guild can help make new discoveries.

“They don’t really need to know anything; they can just come over and we’ll see what we can find,” Jobst said. “We get as excited as they do when they find out things.”

Some of the discoveries lead to family reunions.

Jobst said her family has lived in Ottawa almost 150 years, and through genealogical research discovered living relatives in Germany.

“They’ve been over here three or four times to visit the family,” she said.

Researching your family history can quickly become an obsession, Jobst said.

“It’s like a puzzle,” she said. “You want to find the next piece of the puzzle.”

Saturday’s meeting with Janice Fritsch of Sheridan speaking about Civil War military records will be rescheduled for a later date. The guild meets at 1 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. February’s meeting will be about the Rock Island Railroad.

A listing of names the guild has records for can be found at For more information or to schedule an appointment at the La Salle County Genealogical Guild, call (815) 433-5261.

Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or

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