Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John Hallwas  

Pen Name: 


Audience: Adult;


-- Website --
-- John Hallwas on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Hallwas was born in Waukegan and moved to Antioch when he was five years old. He attended Western Illinois University in Macomb in Macomb, where he received both his BS and MA degrees. His Ph. D. is from the University of Florida. He was an English professor at Western Illinois University from 1970 to 2004, and he still resides in Macomb today.

Biographical and Professional Information

John Hallwas has been an Editor, Historian, Archivist and Professor. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Western Illinois University and has written and edited many books on Illinois, the Midwest, literature and history.During the 1980's, Dr. Hallwas wrote columns of cutural commentary forseveral Illinois newspapers. His essays have also appeard in the ''St. Louis Post-Dispatch'' and ''Des Moines Register''. In 1992 and 1993, his weekly radio program, ''Prairie State Journal'', focused on Illinois history was heard over various National Public Radio stations.He has published journal and magazine articles on more than two dozen Illinois authors. He has also written several plays about Illinois, including ''The Conflict: A Soldier's Memories of the Civil War,'' produced in May 2011 at Hainline Theatre, Western Illinois University. He currently writes a newspaper column titled "On Community" for the McDonough County Voice, in Macomb, and he speaks on Illinois historical and literary topics throughout the state.Hallwas has also edited several books. They include: *''The Vision of This Land: Studies of Vachel Lindsay, Edgar lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg'', Western Illinois University, 1976, edited with Dennis J. Reader *''The Poems of H.: The Lost Poet of Lincoln's Springfield'', The Ellis Press, 1982 *''Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition'', Univ. of Illinois Press, 1992 *''Tales from Two Rivers, I-VII'', Two Rivers Arts Council, 1981-2009, co-edited with various other scholars. *''Studies in Illinois Poetry'', Stormline Press, 1989 *''The Legacy of the Mines, Memoirs of Coal Mining in Fulton County'', Spoon River College, 1993 *''Kingdom on the Mississippi revisited: Nauvoo in Mormon History'', 1996, co-edited with Roger Launius.There is a ''John Hallwas Collection'' at Western Illinois University's Malpass Library in Archives and Special Collections. It has much information about John and his various books, almost all of which are related to Illinois, and has copies of his hundreds of articles. For additional information, contact WIU Archives at: 309-298-2717.

Published Works

  • Western Illinois Heritage, Illinois Heritage Press, 1983
  • Thomas Gregg: Early Illinois Journalist and Author, Western Illinois University, 1983
  • McDonough County Heritage, Illinois Heritage Press 1984
  • Illinois Literature, The Nineteenth Century, Illinois Heritage Press, 1986
  • Macomb: A Pictorial History, G. Bradley Publishing Co., 1990
  • Cultures in Conflict, A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, Utah State University Press, 1995 - written with Roger D. Launius
  • The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, University of Illinois Press, 1998
  • First Century, A Pictorial History of Western Illinois University, Western University Press, 1999
  • Keokuk And The Great Dam, Arcadia Publishing, 2001
  • McDonough County Historic Sites, Arcadia Publishing, 2003
  • Dime Novel Desperadoes: The Notorious Maxwell Brothers, University of Illinois Press, 2008
  • Remembering McDonough County, The History Press, 2009
  • Here to Stay: Reflections on the Dead in a Small-Town Cemetery, Illinois Heritage Press, 2012
  • On Community: A Crucial Issue, a Small Town, and a Writer's Experience, Illinois Heritage Press, 2015

Selected Titles At Your Library

Cultures in conflict :
ISBN: 0874211867. OCLC Number:

Utah State University Press,. Logan :. 1995.

The most extensive and thorough account yet of the struggle between Mormons and non-Mormons in frontier Illinois, Cultures in Conflict presents a wide selection of historical documents - a number of which never have been published - concerning a mini civil war that erupted during the 1840s. John Hallwas and Roger Launius introduce these documents with probing but balanced discussions of the causes that underlay the conflict. They note the relationship of attitudes and.

The Bootlegger :
ISBN: 0252068440. OCLC Number:

. .

First century :
ISBN: 0967151007. OCLC Number:

Western Illinois University,. Macomb [Illinois] :. 1999.

Keokuk and the great dam /
ISBN: 0738507350. OCLC Number:

Arcadia Pub.,. Chicago, IL :. ©2001.

McDonough County historic sites /
ISBN: 0738520446. OCLC Number:

. .

McDonough County Historic Sites depicts a remarkable agricultural region steeped in 19th-century tradition and community spirit. Originally set aside by Congress for veterans of the War of 1812 as part of the Illinois Military Tract, the land that is now McDonough County was settled by a diverse and ambitious population starting in the 1820s. From the trials of settlement to the coming of railroads and the establishment of small-town culture, McDonough County history reflects developments that have shaped America. The region's cemeteries, businesses, and homes that have endured-or vanished-offer stories of human endeavor that unite the people of the county to this day. The maps accompanying the chapters locate the county's many historic sites, such as the hotel in Macomb where Lincoln stayed during his 1858 campaign, the Prairie City Drugstore that launched a national poetry publishing company, and the remote village of Vishnu Springs that is now a ghost town. The historic images illustrate McDonough County's progress and controversy, small-town life and rural development, as well as religious diversity and cultural achievement.

Dime novel desperadoes :
ISBN: 0252033523. OCLC Number:

University of Illinois Press,. Urbana :. 2008.

This thrilling historical true crime narrative recovers the long-forgotten story of Ed and Lon Maxwell, outlaw brothers from Illinois who once rivaled Jesse and Frank James in national notoriety. Growing up hard as the sons of a tenant farmer, the Maxwell brothers embarked on a life of crime that captured the public eye. Made famous locally by newspapers that dramatized crimes and danger, the brothers achieved national prominence in 1881 when they shot and killed Charles and Milton Coleman, lawmen trying to apprehend them. Public outrage sparked the largest manhunt for outlaws in American history, involving some twenty posses who pursued the desperadoes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Nebraska. Nevertheless, the daring desperadoes were eventually portrayed as heroes in sensationalistic dime novels. A stunning saga of robbery and horse stealing, gunfights and manhunts, murder and mob violence, Dime Novel Desperadoes also delves into the cultural and psychological factors that produced lawbreakers and created a crime wave in the post-Civil War era. Every overview and encyclopedia of American outlaws will need to be revised, and the fabled "Wild West" will have to be extended east of the Mississippi River, in response to this riveting chronicle. With more than forty illustrations and several maps that bring to life the exciting world of the Maxwell brothers, Dime Novel Desperadoes is a new classic in the annals of American outlawry.

Remembering McDonough County /
ISBN: 1596298383. OCLC Number:

. .

Established in 1826, McDonough County, Illinois, has experienced fascinating changes since pioneer days, including the gradual disappearance of some small communities and rural neighborhoods. Remembering McDonough County focuses on the local tradition of notable storytellers and historians as it reflects the county's strange and colorful, poignant and meaningful earlier days - in Macomb, outlying communities, ghost towns, and wild areas. Award-winning author John Hallwas sketches memorable figures like pioneer storyteller Quintus Walker, Macomb newspaper editor W.H. Hainline, and Bushnell poet Marian Stearns Curry, and he depicts beloved, legendary, and sometimes mysterious places like Vishnu Springs, Gin Ridge, Ragtown, and Scott's neighborhood. Along the way, he portrays the racehorse and Civil War hero Chickamauga, the frightening Gooseneck Ghost, and the long-forgotten Crooked Creek Terror.

Here to stay :
ISBN: 1467527556. OCLC Number:

Illinois Heritage Press,. Macomb, Ill :. ©2012.

"Look into the lives of past residents in a downstate Illinois community - presenting the most varied array of small-town folks since Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology appeared."--Back cover.

On community :
ISBN: 1495170926. OCLC Number:

Illinois Heritage Press,. [Macomb, IL] :. ©2015.

In addition to short writings discussing "the issue of community being under siege from a variety of forces and examining the relationship between people and meaningful place, there are numerous biographical stories that allow readers to look into the lives of committed, often struggling or tragic, people in Macomb's past."--Page 4 cover. People such as Hannah Hemlock, Macomb's first female columnist; James K. Magie, a newspaperman and father of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie who invented "The Landlord's Game" which, many versions later, is now known as "Monopoly"; a Nineteenth-Century black leader, James B. Fields, lived and worked in Macomb for a time after the Civil War before rising to national prominence as a preacher, evangelist, and orator; historian Victor Hicken, and many others.


  • Society for the Study of Midwestern literature's MidAmerica Award, for Distinguished Contributions to the Study of Midwestern Literature, 1994.
  • Hallwas was honored at the 1995 Illinois Center for the Book's Illinois Authors Book Fair at the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.
  • John Whitmer Historical Association Award

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Contact author at or 404 S. Edwards St., Macomb, Illinois 6l455