I've been doing this website for quite a few years now and here are some of the most frequently asked questions I have received.....

Who Are You and why are you doing this?

Ok, nobody really sent me this question, but I figure plenty of you have thought it. My name is Kim Torp. My last "real" job was working for a large bank in Florida as a Technical Writer (of bank procedures) and after my department was "discontinued", I decided to "semi-retire" and stay home to raise my child. I now design websites for a few businesses, do some landscaping for various relatives, and play lots of golf.
After various moves, I now live in Kane County, IL where I have no genealogical ties. Genealogically speaking, my ggg-gf Ellis Hicks was in Coles County from 1842-1850, moving on to Jasper county where he died in 1866. Members of his family lived in both counties. I enjoyed researching, but was having a hard time keeping everything straight. I decided to make a website to develop my family's story and one thing led to another....

What is Illinois Genealogy Trails?

A group of volunteers (read that as "UNPAID") who transcribe data and put it online. It keeps us off the streets and out of the bars....

How Can I Help with the Coles County website?

Type up and send in the data you've found during your research. These records can include birth, death, marriage and cemetery burial records. The older the record, the better. Type it in an email or in Word and attach it to an email to me at KimmySueT@aol.com

What Shouldn't I Send?

Please - no gedcoms and no family trees where I have to pick out the Coles county data. That takes too much time and frankly, I don't know how accurate that information is - especially since most folks don't cite their sources. I don't want your tree, but the original records you used to put that tree together.

Can I send you a picture of Uncle Joe and this unknown person so someone will see them online and tell me who it is?

I used to do that, but after a while how many pictures of Uncle Joe can one website have? And in all the years I've posted those pictures, there's not one person who has written in and said "I know that person - it's Aunt Sally!" So... the answer is, sorry, no, I won't be posting any more family pictures like that. I will post group pictures which will help more researchers. By group pictures, I mean class pictures, reunion pictures, etc., but I will edit it to make it web-safe and conserve on server space.

Why can't you get this marriage/death/birth record for me?

I'm not a professional researcher and I don't live in Coles county. My "job" as a volunteer (and I do stress the word "volunteer") is to transcribe data and put it online. It takes a lot of time and if I spent my time finding records for folks, I wouldn't have time to transcribe.

Do you know a professional researcher I can hire?

I did, and she did a good job for me the one time I used her, but she never answered my emails when I tried to hire her again, so no, I can't recommend anyone.

How do I contact the Coles County Genealogical Society?

They have a website - search google.com for it. There you can find their contact address. Be aware that they have started charging for their services - $15 an hour, plus the cost of copies and postage. It used to be a completely free service and I never hesitated in giving out their email address. Now, I see no reason to help them make $ off of us researchers.

Are you affiliated with the Genealogical or Historical Society?


Will mentioning your name give me an "in" with these societies?

I'm afraid not. Hopefully it won't have the opposite effect either, but best not to tempt fate. We give away for free what societies are trying to sell. That makes us NOT at the top of any society's Xmas list.

Are you affiliated with the USGenweb project?

Nope - we actually believe in putting data online. (that was catty, wasn't it? heh heh )

Will you accept a donation?

I will gladly accept donations of microfilm or census cds or old newspapers, or anything else you think I can transcribe and place online. If you want to send money to our organization to help pay for our server space or to help us to purchase materials to transcribe, contact me at KimmySueT@aol.com and we'll chat. I do have a PAYPAL account under that email address if you want to surprise me :-)

Where can I find.....

Marriage Records

The County Clerk's office, the Illinois State Archives or the IRAD headquartered at EIU in Charleston. IRAD has originals, but not for all years

Death Records

The County Clerk's office, the Illinois State Archives (via their Death Index)

Birth Records

The County Clerk's office

Census Records

The Illinois State Archives will do a look-up for a fee.

You know where to subscribe to view them online for a fee - they don't need my help.

Microfilm or cd's can be bought through Microfilm Expeditors (http://www.censusmicrofilm.com/)

Probate Records

The Circuit Court Clerk's office

County Histories

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (former Illinois State Historical Library) will do a search for your relative. Their website explaining their policies is here

Cemetery Burial Listings

The Charleston Library has a good selection. Otherwise, the IL State Historical Library will do a search in the published books. Their website explaining their policies is here


The Mattoon Library has many. Otherwise, the Abe Lincoln Pres. Library will do obit look-ups. Their website explaining this is here (Different from the info for the county histories).

Do you know my relative?

View my HICKS family website at http://hicksgenealogy.com. If you see a familiar name, then yes I do. If it's a name the same as someone on there (i.e. the WILEY, WRIGHT, COOPER families), then chances are I have something in my personal database on them. Otherwise, probably not. Do you know MY relative? Email me.

I think I'm related! Will you send me all the information you have on my relative?

I get this one a lot. Sorry, no. I'm a little tired of giving my life history to strangers and not getting anything in return - not even an acknowledgment that they received the info I sent, much less a simple thank you. I might give you basics depending on how the researcher before you behaved and how disillusioned I am, but you must do your own research.

When will [fill in the blank] be put online?

I absolutely hate receiving this question - it sounds too much like "what's taking you so long?". I'm one person, with two semi-arthritic hands, volunteering my time and efforts (not to mention the money to purchase the item in the first place). I do try and have an outside life occasionally too. Consider helping me transcribe and it'll get online that much faster.

Why are there question marks in a transcription?

Cuz I couldn't read it, whether through my inadequacies as a transcriber or because of the original record-taker's sloppiness, or even through some defect in the original film (splotches covering names and such) You are always advised to obtain the original record for yourself and check it.

How accurate is the data transcribed?

I do my best, but sure, there are errors. That's a fact of life in transcriptions. Again, you are always advised to obtain the original record for yourself and check my transcription against it. Not doing so is sloppy researching.

Here are specific questions recently received:

Just checking to see if there is any chance that an 1870 Mortality Index exists -- or if the 1860 or 1865 census records will be transcribed. Wish I lived nearer -- would love to help with those projects. By the way, I love your spooky background pictures and music on the website!

There is an 1870 mortality index for Coles - available for purchase on microfilm at U.S. Mortality Schedules or you can obtain a copy of the microfilm from the Illinois State Historical Library via inter-library loan. Ask your hometown librarian to do the paperwork. It'll take about 3-4 weeks to receive the film from the ISHL and you'll have it for a month.

As for whether the 1860/65 census will be transcribed, the 1860 census will eventually be - I have the microfilm. I do not own the 1865 state census though, so I will have to say no, it will not be transcribed by me for quite a while. I have enough pending projects to last me for several years. Some of these pending transcription projects for which I already own the microfilm for Coles county include:

Coles Co. Birth records 1900-1921
Coles Co. cemetery deed records, 1868-1914
Coles 1860, 1870 & 1880 census

And I do host other counties, so I have to divide my time between them.

And thank you - visit again next Halloween.


(From folks not actually wanting anything from me who just took the time to make my day with some kind words.... Feel free to do the same :-)

By the way. I'd like to congratulate you on what a FANTASTIC job you've done with that web site. It's well organized and easy to navigate. That coupled with a TON of information makes it, in my book, by far the best County web site I've come across to date! Keep up the super work!! John Wolfe of Corinth, Texas

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for the wonderful job you have done of putting up and maintaining this web site. It's terrific!
Thanks, Janet Snow

Kimmy Sue,

Just wanted to take the time to say Thanks for all the info you have provided on your website! You have done and continue to do a great job. Thanks again,
--Deb Pyles Columbus, OH.

....Great information you have put on the web, we appreciate you sharing this information for free. Thank you.
Jesse and Janice Douglas

Hi Kim:
Really enjoyed your new section, FAQ's -- very helpful information!..... Thanks so much for all you do to help Coles County researchers. You are terrific! Carol Gould

REPLY: And we definitely thank Carol for the 1860 Humboldt Twp Census transcription she sent in along with this email.

Hi Kim....Have enjoyed the site & found the Threllkell letters of much interest. Found a bit of information as well. Wish I could see that photograph of the Van Deren ladies mentioned. Four generations back then was not really common I don't think........But again, I have enjoyed the site & go back to it every so often. And I appreciate the not for pay, thus the time I took to enter this. Rose

REPLY: And many thanks to Rose for the 1865 Paradise and the 1860 East Oakland Census pages she sent in along with this email.

I am an avid genealogist (not necessarily good) and just stumbled across your website. You are to be commended for this exceptional site. It is by far the most user friendly website. It is packed full of useful data and I will return. This is the best county genealogical website I have found any where. Keep up the good work.

Phil Bousley
My Illinois lines include Ping, Brooks, Byrd, Dickey, Friedley, Hiestand, Reid, Rousch

REPLY: I'm blushing.... thanks! You didn't indicate which of my county websites you were visiting, but I figured it was either Coles or Jasper since they're my best sites and since my Jasper site doesn't have a comments page, I thought I'd just post your comment here.

Hello Kim,
I just wanted to write to you and say this a wonderful web site and you have done a excellent job with it. It must have taken alot of time, hard work and true devotion. Thank you for your efforts. Julie Wallace

Fantastic website. You are doing a great job. I've been going thru it looking for a relative. Lot's of great information and no "broken links." Great Job!!! Harold Shull

Dear Kim,
Thank you for all your hard work you have blessed so many people including me.You are much appreciated. Thanks again, Roger Ashmore

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