Oral History of Forgottonia – How Fulton County Was Divided During the Civil War: Jayson Stead’s Interview with Tim Roberts, WIU History Professor & author of “This Infernal War”


Continuing our Oral History in Forgottonia series, Cuba High School junior Jayson Stead once again takes the microphone to explore Fulton County during the Civil War. In this episode, Jayson shares his conversation with Dr. Tim Roberts about his Civil War book This Infernal War: The Civil War Letters of William & Jane Standard.


Dr. Timothy Roberts has been a history professor at Western IL University since 2008. He received his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 1998 and worked as an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey from 2002-2008. He often leads WIU students on study-abroad trips to Turkey. Dr. Roberts co-founded an anti-human trafficking group at WIU called “Western Against Slavery” and he’s received numerous awards & fellowships like the Andrew Mellon Foundation Research Fellowships and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to his 2018 book “This Infernal War,” Tim has also written “Distant Revolutions: 1848 & the Challenge to American Exceptionalism.” 

Tim spoke with Jayson via Zoom to discuss his motivations and challenges in writing “This Infernal War” which is set in the heart of Fulton County (Lewistown, IL).


  • Tim’s motivations and challenges in writing This Infernal War and the story behind the survival of the correspondence between William & Jane Standard of Lewistown, IL.
  • How Fulton County was divided during the Civil War (what the Standard’s letters reveal)
  • The challenges faced by the Standards during the war
  • The lessons this story offers us today

Jayson Stead BIO

Jayson is a junior at Cuba High School and the son of Georgeanna & Christopher Stead. Jayson is involved with history club, youth group, track & field, and e-sports. He enjoys a good old-fashioned home-cooked meal, Fast and Furious movies, and all of Mr. Brewer’s history classes. After high school, Jayson is thinking about being a truck driver.

We mentioned Tim’s book in our previous episode. The Standards were antiwar Copperheads which demonstrates that not everyone in the western Illinois area was fond of Lincoln during the war years


Our ORAL HISTORY of FORGOTTONIA series is part of the NCHE Rural Experience in America grant in partnership with the Western IL Museum, and the Western IL University Archives.  In 2021, the National Council for History Education (NCHE) recruited teachers nationwide to participate in free and open professional development that occurred asynchronously and synchronously online, focusing on rural history and historical inquiry using Library of Congress sources. Teachers traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to collaborate with a community partner selected from their hometown to create a public history project.

These community-based, service-learning public history projects enable students to investigate their local and regional histories deeply and to connect their own histories to the larger human experience. A key purpose of this project is to link rural communities and their histories to national narratives and primary source collections, and the targeted focus of this proposal provides an avenue for such purposeful connections.

Our project, The Oral History of Forgottonia, is one of several throughout the country featured by the NCHE. To learn about other projects featured by this grant, check out this list and visit the links at the bottom of this post.


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