Historic America

Interview with Genealogist Ann Winkler Hinrichs

Ann Winkler Hinrichs was born in Charleston, Illinois but grew up in Greenup where both her parents were school teachers. Both sides of her family are from Coles County, as earliest as 1828. Ann has been a RN for 40 years but if she could change careers, she would be a Historical Archivist. She loves figuring out the genealogical/historical mysteries of the past and where they lead us. Ann was Chairperson of the 150th Anniversary of the Charleston Riot and is currently vice president of the Coles County Genealogical Society.

How did you become interested in genealogy and local history?

I loved listening to my Paternal Grandfather and Maternal Grandparents tell stories about their families. At 14 my Maternal Grandparents bought me a family tree book for Christmas, which they sat with me and helped to fill it out. I still have the book to this day. My Paternal Great Aunt wrote a great deal about our family, going back to the Revolutionary War. There is so much Coles County history in her writings since they arrived in 1828. My 3rd GGrandfather who served 7 years in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War is buried NW of Ashmore.

What do you think is so unique about Coles County?

The Lincoln connection is what I think is so unique. When most people think of Lincoln, they think of Springfield. Outside of Springfield/New Salem I think Coles County has the richest Lincoln history. The County was the home of Lincoln’s parents, he was involved in many court cases, one of Lincoln Douglas debates occurred here and the Charleston Riot.


Genealogy Coming Soon

What to do when you start with a pile of old documents and photos? I’ve been exploring my family history lately and been frustrated by lack of online sources, so I decided to start posting information in the hopes of being contacted by someone who can fill in the blanks. I’ve already learned so much on my own.

My paternal family history is something of a mystery. My grandma’s birth parents died in Germany after World War 1 when she was a toddler. She was adopted and brought to America in the 1930s. I know a bit about her adopted family, but very little about her birth parents. It’s even more difficult because all their records are in Germany.

My grandpa saved very little in the way of family photos. Thankfully, my grandma saved basically everything. We have six or seven different photos of my great grandmother’s headstone. Unfortunately, I learned this morning that it’s likely the cemetery she’s buried in was abandoned.

Maybe someday I can go to Germany and search for records of my distant relatives, but for now I’ll focus on what I can find in old photo albums. I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I do!