Contributed article by Tom Emery
A historical and free reading project conceived by a rural Gillespie man has earned the Certificate of Excellence from the Illinois State Historical Society.
A Rough Broken Country: Diary of a Wagon Train to the California Gold Rush was the conception of Lindell Loveless, a retired hog producer and businessman who died at the age of 87 on July 25, 2016.
The booklet presents the diary of Joseph Hackney, a farmer from Jersey County, during his westward trek on a wagon train to the gold fields of California in 1849. A prolific writer who provides vivid detail, Hackney was part of the so-called “Jerseyville Company,” one of the best-documented of the many wagon trains that carried hopeful settlers to the gold rush. He died in 1912 and is buried in Bunker Hill.
Loveless sponsored the effort to reprint Hackney’s diary and enlisted historical researcher Tom Emery of Carlinville to create an original, documented foreword to interpret Hackney’s experiences, his life in general, and the gold rush on the whole.
No copies of A Rough Broken Country were sold. Rather, copies were distributed free of charge to schools, libraries, historical agencies, and interested parties in central Illinois, to promote history, reading, and library usage. The project was released in the spring of 2016.
It was the second time that the collaboration of Loveless and Emery earned an award from the ISHS. They also won in 2012 for Soldiers with Picks and Shovels, a compact photohistory of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Loveless’ latest honor was announced at the ISHS Annual Awards Dinner in Springfield on April 22.