A few months ago I caught a segment on WGN about a man from Yorkville, Illinois who had an passion for local history in his hometown of Yorkville, Illinois. Thomas Milschewski takes existing historical photographs, anywhere from 20 to over a hundred years old, holds them up to the real life locations that still stand (or if they've been demolished where they once existed) and snaps a photo.
Almost my entire family is originally from Morris, just south of Yorkville on Route 47, so it was nice to see someone so passionate about their local history in small town rural Illinois. I messaged him on Facebook to let him know I thought his project was unique and congratulate him on his press coverage and success of his photographs. We got to talking a little bit about our research interests. I happened to be doing a research project for a client and distant relative who has roots in Yorkville. When I mentioned the family name and the store they owned, Thomas was ecstatic! We discovered that his current house was directly across the street from the family's home. Not only did he have old pictures of the house, but several of the store downtown as well. I shared the information with my relatives and they were able to provide a great photo of the house that Thomas currently didn't have. He created a new photographic by walking outside his house, holding it up to his neighbor's house and snapping a picture transforming my great uncle and his brothers to the front porch of their house once again.
Thomas currently lives in a house on Heustis Street. It happened to be built by the original founder of the Kendall County Record newspaper. He has collected photographs of his own house, neighborhood and downtown from his own collection, current and past residents of Yorkville and with the help of the historical society. He began the Yorkville Now and Then project in March of this year.
I took a trip down to the Law Office in downtown Yorkville where Thomas had an art show last week displaying his fabulous photographs printed on canvas. It was great to meet my new genealogy friend in person and see his work up close in print. He's currently taking pre-orders for his work and they are a must have for anyone interested in Yorkville History!