For years, dusty, battered volumes of records from the 19th and early 20th century have been stored in boxes in a forgotten corner of the Peoria County Courthouse.
The dirty, yellowed and rodent-chewed pages were on the verge of becoming useless. That was until Peoria resident Bob Hoffer stumbled across the books on a genealogical hunt for details in the death of his wife's great-grandfather.
Hoffer's interest in the records prompted the transcription of the scribbling's of local undertakers into tidy, easy-to-read columns.
The records are a snapshot of a bygone era, reflected mainly beneath the "Cause of Death" column.
Peoria Public Library's local history section worker Amber Lowery says the records are the missing link in Peoria genealogy.