In honor of our retiring board members, we will be posting their biographies (from the 2013 BHHA Annual Report) over the next couple of weeks.  Today’s biography is of former President Cheryl Dowell:

Cheryl is a Bishop Hill Colony descendant of ancestors from Halsingland, Sweden.  Her Great Great Grandmother, with a clan of about 13, arrived in Bishop Hill with the first Bishop Hill Colonists on the brig, The Charlotta. 

Campbell Center, Mt. Carroll, provided courses that trained Cheryl in historic landscaping, historic furniture restoration, archival photography, conservation techniques for artifacts and textiles. She worked at the Bishop Hill State Historic Site for 28 years from which she retired as Assistant Site Manager.  At the State Site she trained under Historians Ron Nelson and Martha Downey.  In those years she was responsible for the State Site artifact and archival collections while creating a genealogy research source for Bishop Hill Colonists.  Upon volunteering at the BHHA, Cheryl continued to enhance the BHHA genealogy program and answers genealogy requests.

The State Site’s Live-In program for grade school children was created and put into action in 1980 under Cheryl’s guidance.  She also developed a “One Room School” program for children, presented at the Colony School, sponsored by the BH Old Settlers’ Association.  The Bishop Hill Society at Biskopsulla, Sweden, chose Cheryl to receive the Olov Isaksson award in 2008.  That award is given annually to a person that has helped bridge relationships between the two countries.

At this time, Cheryl serves not only on the BHHA board, but also on the boards of Henry County Historical Society, Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church, Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association and is also a member of the local VASA Lodge.  In 1996 at the time of Their Majesties, King Carl Gustav XVI and Queen Silvia’s visit to Bishop Hill’s sesquicentennial, Cheryl was serving as BHOSA President and was hostess to the Royal couple. 

Cheryl has always lived in Bishop Hill with the exception of her first three years when her parents farmed near Ulah, Illinois.  She has traveled to Sweden eleven times and is an avid collector of Swedish glass and other 1850 items for the Swedish Stuga (Cottage) on her property.