Interview with Local Historian and Preservationist David Kent Coy

David Kent Coy is a retired social worker, having a career of over 40 years working with people with developmental disabilities, severe mental illness, and also senior citizens. He is a Life Member of the Coles County Historical Society, the Coles County, Illinois Genealogical Society, and the Association for the Preservation of Historical Coles County. He is a Past President of the Illinois State Genealogical Society and was awarded their highest honor, the Lowell Volkel Medal of Honor.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you become interested in genealogy and local history?

When I was born, I had 12 living ancestors. I had both parents, one grandmother, two grandfathers, all four great-grandmothers, two great-grandfathers, and one great-great-grandmother. I can remember them all, except for one great-grandmother, who died at 86 when I was just a few months old. Two of my great-grandmothers lived until I was 16 and I started writing down their stories a little over a year before they both died in Oct. 1969. They each remembered a few of their great-grandparents – so that got me started. Going to college at E.I.U., in Charleston, Coles County helped, because several of my ancestors had pioneered there at an early time.

What do you think makes Coles County so unique?

The first thing I think of was that the boundaries of Coles County once were much larger and included Cumberland County and Douglas County. I think the presence of Eastern Illinois University has made a big impact on the county. The connections to Abraham Lincoln have always fascinated me also.

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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.

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