Here is the life-long work of a wonder-filled woman. The care and completeness of her work, her compassion for our landscape and its deep history, her unquenchable desire to tell the story so precisely and so well...puts into your hands the very life of those who pioneered this place. Treat it well, learn from it, find the essence of the unchangeable threads of our history.

Bruce Hannon
Jubilee Emeritus Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science and School of Earth, Society, and Environment, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

I was delighted to see that Elisabeth Hanson’s detailed study of our area of east central Illinois will finally see the light in print. I first met her when she produced a map of the forested area of Champaign County before settlement. Not only did she use the notes of the government surveyors, she studied soil maps. Her skill as a graphic artist is outstanding. The level of depth that she has employed in her study of East Central Illinois is could serve a guide for anyone who would wish to do a similar study elsewhere. Elisabeth is an exceptional woman.

Dannel McCollum
native of Champaign County, Mayor of Champaign, IL (1987–1999), author of “Remembering Champaign County” and “Your Life and Mine; Problems and Projects in Conservation” and “A Guide to the Big Vermilion River System” (with James O. Smith)

Thank you very much for the copy of your book. I am very impressed. I paged through quickly upon receipt and found it very interesting and see it will be very useful as we at NRCS start to develop Ecological Site Descriptions for the soils that are mapped. Your book fills in pieces of the puzzle in similar ways as I have been thinking about. I believe that the front end of any eco-site description needs to have documentation and materials similar to your book up front, before the interpretations are made, or will be understandable.
This type of information including the anthropology of land use changes well before European colonization reveals that a lot was going on to manage the land thousands of years prior. Much of the current push is to restore to pre-European settlement and, though this can be done; at times, this may not be the best for the landform, climate, soils, or current and projected future site-conditions. With a strong background in several disciplines, each site needs to be ‘read’ to determine what past it may have had and what path it should take.

Ron Collman
Illinois State Soil Scientist, United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

I am impressed and delighted with “East-Central Illinois: Exploring the Beginnings” by Elisabeth M. Hanson. She has done extensive research on the area and her text and graphics are truly amazing. Anyone interested in the development of the Illinois prairie should read this book.

Carol Kubitz
life-long resident of Central Illinois, retired graphic artist (UIUC)

What a wonderful and delightful project Mrs. Hanson has completed for understanding the land and settlement patterns in this important part of Illinois. The text is quite fascinating and the maps are wonderful. One of the aspects I love is that this was written by a “citizen scientist,” though with Elisabeth’s background, she clearly received a wonderful education in what I would call geography. I was also thrilled to see the names of Liberty Hyde Bailey and Charles Bessey. As a master gardener and native plant master I encounter both of those names frequently. 
Thanks so much to her for persevering in this important task which I know will prove invaluable for those in the east-central area of Illinois and likely also serve as a model for similar studies in other areas.

Judith Rice-Jones
former resident of Champaign-Urbana, retired librarian (UCCS-Colorado), geology student

Elisabeth Hanson is a true Renaissance woman. In late mid-life she began collecting the information for this book, going to original survey data and at times drawing her own maps from those data. Her book is a culmination of more than three decades of a determined and professional labor of love, a delight to read, and a priceless store of information about the prehistory and history of this unique area of Illinois. I hope Ms. Hanson and her work serve as an inspiration for other local historians to delve into, explore, and document their own equally small (and equally important) pieces of the United States.

Mary Severinghaus
Retired Associate Professor of Biology, Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois

Tomlinson Cemetery, a rural one-acre plot of prairie/savanna in the care of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, was protected and maintained with dedication and perseverance by Elisabeth and Al Hanson, with the help of friends, for more than ten years. Elisabeth’s work at the cemetery, and in the field, reflect the passion for protecting the environment that we strive to instill in the young and old alike every day. This book will provide the basis for many programs and teacher workshops for the Forest Preserve District so that we might carry on Elisabeth’s hard work and commitment for generations to come.

Barb Oehlschlaeger-Garvey
Director, Museum and Education Department, Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Museum of the Grand Prairie 

Congratulations on the completion of your beautiful book, “East-Central Illiinois: Exploring the Beginnings.” It both looks spectacular and brings a wealth of information together in one, easily accessible place. I’m amazed by how much I have learned by looking at your maps and reading the text.I know that this has been a life-long effort on your part, and I am delighted that you were able to bring your vision to fruition. Congratulations again! The book is a gem.

Stephen Marshak
Professor of Geology, Director, School of Earth, Society and Environment, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign