By Tricia Goecks


BELVIDERE – On the outskirts of Kirkland, a little girl grew up fascinated with old things and dreamed of becoming an archeologist. Fast forward several years and that girl, now a woman, is the executive director of the Boone County Historical Museum.

Anna Gill assumed the role that was vacated by the retirement of Mary Hale. Gill received her degree in archeology with an emphasis in museum studies from Northern Illinois University in 2010.  Gill is engaged to be married this September to Belvidere North High School English teacher

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Gill worked in fossil preparation at Burpee Museum in Rockford and took part in archeological digs that the museum sponsored. She worked at Midway Village before finding her new home at the Boone County Historical Museum.

It should be no surprise then that as Gill explored the museum’s collection and archives, she discovered a box of rocks. The box as unlabeled and there is no indication of the rocks’ donor or origin.  On top of a card catalog in Gill’s office, the contents of the box of rocks are neatly arranged.

“I love this museum. It has been great,” Gill said. Before Gill applied for the position, Gill visited the museum and enjoyed the World War I poster exhibit. “There is so much potential here. There are a lot of opportunities for the future here.”

“I was surprised by the high quality of the collection at the museum. There are so many things here that are very special. It has been a surprise to see how much is here,” Gill praised the collection. “I love that there are nostalgia people that save these things.”

“I am very thankful to both the District and the Society for their support in giving me the opportunity to be part of the museum,” Gill said. She also praised the museum’s employees.

“Lonna Bentley and Richard Nelson have both been awesome.”

In addition to acclimating herself to her role at the museum, Gill is developing plans to partner with a different organizations within Boone County. She already has plans to meet with Jillian Fuller, local history and genealogy librarian at Ida Public Library.

Gill was impressed with the partnership between the museum and the library on the Belvidere and Boone County History book which was sent to the printer this week.  Many residents use both the library and the museum as sources of information as they delve into genealogy projects into their family history.

The book , which Fuller hopes to be available in time for the Boone County Fair, will tell the first 100 year story of the county from 1830 – 1930 through 200 photographs and commentaries.

“It was interesting how they combined efforts to pull everything for the book.”

In addition to partnering with the library, Gill envisions a greater partnership with District 100 and District 200 school districts. She would like to organize more tours with school children or develop some outreach programs.

The next major exhibit at the museum will be the history of immigration in Boone County. Bentley expects that the exhibit will be on display in mid-June to coincide with Heritage Days.

Among the projects that Gill would like to tackle is the natural history room, commonly referred to as the bird room.

“At the museum we have a complete femur of a mammoth that was found in Boone County,” Gill said. The collection also includes two fossilized mammoth teeth. Gill envisions giving the room some TLC in the future.

As Gill rests her eyes on the collection from the box of rocks, she is home.

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