Brianna Boggs, freshman at Athens High School, has just been notified that she won the Illinois State Genealogical Society Youth Award, for the third year in a row. She won her first ISGS Youth Award in 2005.

“This Award signifies the growing interest in genealogy by young people like Brianna, who has been accomplished in various genealogy projects, has been featured in the ISGS Quarterly and has been a previous winner of the ISGS Youth Award,” said President Bob Tenuta. “I am honored, along with the ISGS Governing Board, that she has chosen the state Society to showcase her talent in the field, in the hopes of inspiring other genealogists to encourage and support the young and budding family historians in their family. Way to go, Brianna!”

The ISGS Youth Award will be presented to her at the society's upcoming Fall conference on October 20, 2007 near Chicago in Elmhurst, IL.

Brianna began working on her own genealogy when she was 10 years old. The Sandridge German /Schoenewise Cemetery caught her interest when she learned that her 3rd Great Grandfather Christian Schonewise was buried there.

Christian Schoenewise was the son of Frederick and Kathern Schonewise, born in Gotckheim, Waldich, Germany, Jan. 17, 1842. He died Feb 24, 1915, aged 73 years, 1 month, and 7 days. He came to the United States when only nine years old, remaining one year in New York state then coming to Menard county. He settled near Sandridge, but later in life moved to Petersburg.

Brianna, with the help of her cousin Kelsey Wehrheim and brothers Nick and Cameron Boggs, photographed all the gravestones at Schoenewise. She then compiled pictures and the online reading into a booklet which she donated to the Petersburg Library in 2003.

Since then, she has worked in almost every cemetery in Menard county. She has also photographed gravestones and cemeteries in Scott, Sangamon, Cass, Mason and Morgan counties. Hundreds of her pictures can be seen online at the

Her interest started when she spent time with her Godparents Stan and Jeanie Lowe of Petersburg, who have been documenting Menard county cemeteries and putting them online for several years.

“We are very proud of Brianna,” said Jeanie Lowe. “Her interest in genealogy has brought us manyenjoyable road trips to other counties where abandoned cemeteries needed to be recorded. She is always eager to help others find their ancestors.”

Her most recent project included photographing the gravestones of former Illinois governors. The photos are used online with the biographies of the governors. This is an ongoing project and may be viewed at the Illinois Ancestor web site at by following the "governors" link.

Brianna's interest in genealogy is not only with her own ancestors. She has assisted researchers from other states. Following is a thank you from just one of those;

“I want to give my thanks and sincere appreciation to Brianna for assisting me with my own personal search for my ancestors,” said Barry Salsbury, of Larkspur, Colorado. “Brianna was kind enough to take her time and put the effort into finding the cemetery and photographing all of the grave stones she could find that belonged to the Cass family (Cass Cem., Sangamon, County, IL). You don't know what this meant to me. I live several hundred miles away and it could be a long time before I was able to do this for myself. It is rare these days for someone to help a total stranger to the degree that Brianna has aided me. Thanks again Brianna.”

Brianna is the daughter of Robin Boggs of Athens and Tim Boggs of Petersburg.

For more information about the ISGS Fall conference or the Awards program contact, ISGS, P. O. Box 10195, Springfield, IL 62791-0195 217/789-1968 or e-mail to

Date: September 22, 2007

Click here to see Illinois Governor's Page which Brianna is taking pictures of governor's gravestones. She still has some to go.

Copyright © 2007 Jeanie Lowe & contributors
All rights reserved
Illinois Ancestors