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Dundee Township museum keeping local history alive

The Dundee Township Historical Museum is located 426 HighlAve. West Dundee.

The Dundee Township Historical Museum is located at 426 Highland Ave., in West Dundee.

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Updated: April 29, 2013 11:22AM

WEST DUNDEE — For nearly 40 years, a building located on Highland Avenue here has been highlighting the historical importance of the Dundee Township area. But many people aren’t aware the Dundee Township Historical Museum exists.

“We’re not located on one of the main streets in town, so we’re not as visible as if we were right down downtown or out on a highway,” said Marge Edwards, president of the Dundee Township Historical Society, which oversees the museum.

Located at 426 Highland Ave., the museum has a vast display of collections that change each season. One of the permanent displays is of famous detective Allan Pinkerton, a Scotsman who once called West Dundee his home.

The museum’s collection includes books, documents, pictures, slides, probate records, newspapers and census records. The Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit includes photographs of buildings and other sites that were in the township before 1861.

Edwards said research also shows the Dundees have a connection to the Underground Railroad.

“People think just because it’s a little town and because Abraham Lincoln wasn’t here or George Washington didn’t sleep here it doesn’t have history. But there’s history everywhere,” she said. “Every little town has a history.”

Jack Wendt, a member of the Dundee Township Historical Society as well as co-chair of the museum committee, said the building was once St. Catherine of Siena’s first school building.

“We bought it and got a lot of help from local organizations to put up drywall and paint and so forth,” he said. “We put all of our blood, sweat and tears into this building we have now.”

A new exhibit at the museum for 2013 features some of the men from Dundee Township who served in the War Between the States. Among the regiments that local men served in were the 36th, 52nd, 65th, 124th and 153rd Illinois infantries; and the 8th, 9th and 12th Illinois cavalries. Photographs and information give insight to how area residents were affected.

The Dundee Township Historical Society also is responsible for searching out historical sites and buildings in the area that are at least 100 years old and worthy of special preservation recognition. Plaques are awarded to sites of historical significance.

Each year, the society hosts a house walk fundraiser. Traditionally held in September, it has been moved to June 22 this year to avoid a conflict with Heritage Fest. Volunteers are needed to spend a few hours in the homes to relay the history of the property and those who once lived there, as well as point out items of interest. To help, call Edwards at 847-609-3585.

For those interested in genealogy, the museum has the Dundee Hawkeye newspaper on microfilm as well as many census and cemetery records.

“We have a very good research library,” Edwards said. “And if we don’t have the information, we can help you find it. Whenever I’m researching, I’ll find something I wasn’t looking for that is of interest.”

Museum hours are 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays.

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