The Detmers have been traveling from their home
in Normal for the past sixteen years to bring their special skills
to help people from all over the United States and Europe. They use
the extensive resources available at the LCGHS do genealogical
The Detmers’ have been the longest serving volunteers at LCGHS. “I
estimated once that we put 64,000 miles on our car coming to Lincoln
at least once a week for the past sixteen years,” said Bill Detmers.
Before coming to LCGHS Bill Detmers worked in information technology
and computers at State Farm, and Diane spent her career at Illinois
State University. Both brought specialized skills to LCGHS that were
essential to their dedicated volunteer service.
A friend at the McLean County Historical Society knew they were both
from Logan County, and suggested they visit LCGHS. And the rest is
history. The couple was present when the LCGHS moved into its
present location at 114 North Chicago Street in Lincoln.
One of the books that Bill Detmers helped to research.
The LCGHS has a huge store of material on its
shelves, more than is currently computerized, and getting it into a
computer is essential to efficient research. Bill Detmers set up
working computers at the society. The more information he was able
to digitize, the easier it has been to do research.
The LCGHS archives are a rich resource for genealogy research. “Bill
and I did a lot of technology additions to LCGHS,” said fellow
researcher Bill Donath.
Bill has also written a book about his childhood in Emden “Be
Careful Crossing the Hard Road” detailing growing up in a small
town. But those are just a small part of his contributions to LCGHS.
He has taught genealogical research classes in Middletown, worked on
committees that wrote books on residents in Logan County who served
in the military, and a book on one room schools in Logan County.
Bill’s main job though has been to do genealogy
research for people from all over the United States who want to know
about their relatives’ lives as residents of Logan County. “I have
done research for people in just about every state and even from
Sweden and Germany,” he said.
A commemorative airmail envelope donated to the Society on the
Detmers’ retirement day. Diane catalogued it as one of her final
duties at the LCGHS.
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Diane Detmers, a Hartsburg native, has been
responsible for accepting and cataloguing historical donations to
LCGHS. When a request for research comes in, she has been the person
to find the correct volunteer to do the digging for answers to
family history. She also interviews those requesting research to
find out exactly what they want, to make their needs clear. Diane
also has been responsible for writing thank you notes to those
donating items to the society.
“We have made a lot of good friends working at LCGHS. It has been
like family,” said Bill Detmers. Diane readily agrees.
LCGHS President Diane Osborn presents Bill and Diane with a
certificate of appreciation for their years of dedication to the
“Bill and Diane have been wonderful volunteers, and
have enriched the society with their endeavors to serve the public.
They have become good friends,” said LCGHS President Diane Osborn.
“Bill and Diane have preserved a lot of history,” added author and
researcher Bill Donath.
While Bill and Diane are retiring from their weekly drive to Lincoln
to help with research, they are still available to do occasional
projects at their home in Normal. “I just sent Bill a request for
research by email,” said Bill Donath. Their unique skills are still
available thanks to the internet.
Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society needs volunteers of
all sorts, and particularly those who might do research.
The Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society collection
facility is located at 114 N. Chicago Street, across the street from
the Lincoln Amtrak Station and the Logan County Tourism Bureau.