Throughout the years the Society has sought to exemplify the ideals set forth in its mission statement. They have been active in preserving the genealogical heritage of the community through the diligent creating of books and copying of records. The Society consistently has two or three members at work on books and other projects. The result of this labor has been the creation of the large and valuable Genealogical Library located at the Greenville Public Library. Volumes of these books now reside in other libraries as well including the Mormon Library and the Library of Congress.
However all of their work does not take the form of research and typing. The Society has offered tours of cemeteries and burial grounds as part of many community festivals and events. On these tours visitors from age eight to eighty learn stories of their ancestors. Veterans of every American war, farmers, college presidents, and powerful businessmen come to life as their stories are told at the place of their final rest. Along with these stories tourists learn the science of Genealogy. Stories of long and tedious hours of research mingle with the joyous tales of how a tiny fact complete a family and a genealogy.
One of the Society's proudest story is that of the cemeteries themselves. In the mid eighties it came to the attention of the society that most of the county's eighty-five burial grounds and cemeteries were is horrible disrepair. Many were strewn with broken stones, a testament to mowing machines and vandals. Seeing this as a disrespect to the memory of those who had founded Greenville, the Society approached the City Council for help in a restoration project. The Council agreed to help and soon volunteers from the Society and community began to converge on one of the oldest cemetery in the city.
Known to most as Old City Cemetery, the small burial ground on the west side of town was the final resting place of Greenville's earliest settlers. Years of neglect and vandalism were slowly removed by the hands of the volunteers. While some volunteers scoured the ground for broken pieces of stones, other went about the task of cleaning and resetting other stones. Still other workers began cataloguing the names of those buried in the cemetery. Among the facts discovered was that of Mr. Lansing's sale of the cemetery to the city for $1. Befitting this generous act the cemetery was named Lansing Cemetery.
Due to the large number of veterans buried in the cemetery, the Society went about ordering official stones from the Federal Government for creation of a memorial to their sacrifice. The ordering required extensive research to find the service records of the deceased. Once the stones were received they were set in stately rows surrounding a flag pole bearing Old Glory. This simple memorial set on the edge of the cemetery facing the road, stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made by Bond County in this country's wars.
The back breaking and at times tedious work progressed throughout the spring and summer and into the fall. As memorial day approached the following year it was apparent that the project would be completed in time for festivities. That May an old tradition was reinitiated as the VFW and other veterans marched from the VFW post to Lansing Cemetery on the city's west side. Over three-hundred people turned out to hear local dignitaries speak and to join in remembrance.
Invigorated by this success, the society continued to repair and clean cemeteries until all in the county were catalogued, cleaned, and open to those wishing to pay respects to their ancestors.
For this labor of love the Society was honored by the State of Illinois. Every year the state awards groups who improve their communities with volunteer service. In 1990 the award went to the Society. President Anthony and his wife were on hand to receive the award. Also receiving awards for their exemplary service to the community, were the coordinators of the local JTPA program. This summer youth program and its advisor had provided a large portion of the labor involved in repairing the cemeteries.
All is not hard work however for the Society. Every year the society gathers for its annual dinner. Many times they have gathered for a potluck on the lawn of one lucky Society member. In recent years it has been held at the building where they hold their meeting. Each dinner is highlighted by some form of entertainment, whether it be an address by Abraham Lincoln, and Calamity Jane or a musical group from the community. Above all it is a time for the members to fellowship and to look back at the year past and what has been accomplished. In September 1996 the Society started an annual bus tour of Bond County cemeteries and historical sites.
The more regular activities of the society take place on the second Monday evening of every month. All members are welcome to attend the monthly meeting and look forward to a program of some sort. Members will often speak of their respective projects.
One summer the society was privileged enough to learn from Dave Beeler and Dave Warren, the fine art of privy digging. In a time before weekly garbage pickup the privy was often the final resting place of many broken artifacts of the day. The diggers scout out possible privy locations and then dig, hoping to discover a treasure or two. One such treasure, a ironstone chamber pot is now proudly displayed in the Society president's house.
As you can see, the Society is a thriving community oriented organization, actively pursing the science of genealogy while educating the community as to its importance. If you would like to become involved in the society please check out the membership part of this website. We would love to have you.