Early records now on Fremont Twp. website
Christina McCann has lived in Fremont Township for 30 years, but she's still considered a newcomer.
So it goes in the rural Mundelein area, where some families span centuries and the work of ancestors is evident in early township documents.
"There are a lot of families in these records who are still here today," said McCann, the township clerk.
State law requires original records be kept, she added. However, after years in fireproof storage, those frail paper accounts of town meetings and other proceedings dating to 1850 are now being digitally preserved and made available online.
So far, the oldest of the eloquently scripted records -- town meetings from 1850 to 1961 and highway commission records from 1884 to 1906 -- are among them, with more to come. Other historical accounts involving the township also are available at http://fremonttownship.com/
by clicking about and history.
"This is the beginning of the process," McCann explained. "What we want to do is eventually get what I consider the historically most important records (posted online) for people to search."
The old ledgers are battered and the print fading, but in some respects they are the same type of record books used today. The difference is the life and times of the early settlers were much different.
For example, Thomas Payne was present at and participated in the first town meeting. Motions acted on at the time included a regulation for what time of year stud horses could roam freely and instructions to the board of health to post warning signs at private residences where members of the family were known to have scarlet fever or other contagious illnesses, McCann said.
"They (residents) had a real opportunity to make their local government what they wanted it to be, which is pretty cool when you think about it," she said.
The township board approved $5,000 in funding for the project to include special software for scanning and a new computer. Some records are deteriorated to the point they need special attention -- several volumes have been sent to Northern Micrographics in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
"You put these on a regular scanner, you do these once or twice and you can't read them at all," she said.
McCann served as a township trustee for 16 years before becoming clerk in May 2013.
She said she became more intent on preserving the historical records after Courtney Wilhelm, a fourth generation resident of Fremont Township, was doing research for a paper and asked to look at the old books.
Wilhelm's paper, "The Story of a Community's Involvement in the Abolition Movement and the Welcoming of a Slave Family" focuses on the Joice family, said to be among the first blacks to live in the township.
The paper also is posted on the township website.