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The Road was Home

A Road Scholar Program by Jamie Poorman

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, central Illinois was often visited by the Cooper family, a traveling band of Gypsies, who traded horses, told fortunes, and made many friends throughout the area. The death of a young daughter, and her burial in Marshall Cemetery, solidified the family’s relationship with the area, and they continued to visit for many more years. The Romani families left many traces of their visits here – not only in the tombstones in the cemetery, but also tales of a Gypsy Queen’s blessing on the town of Marshall, a small frame church outside Salem, a Gypsy wagon in Findlay, and memories with those who knew them. Their travels took them over much of central Illinois, and their family roots spread all across the region.

Getty Image of Gypsies
Getty Image

This presentation will begin with a history of the Romani, their origins and travels, and the discrimination that they faced throughout world history. It also looks at some allied families, then specifically at the Cooper & Joles families and their travels in southern and central Illinois.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Samantha Ralston at

Learn more about Jamie Poorman, this program, and how to book it.