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2019 Fike Scholarship

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The McHenry County Historical Society has established an annual $1,000 college scholarship to honor its former administrator, Nancy Fike. 

For more than 40 years, Fike demonstrated her love for McHenry County and its history. Her attention to education and historic accuracy can be observed in the programs, museum, research library, and buildings now owned and maintained by the Society.

The Nancy Fike Scholarship is presented each year to a graduating senior from a McHenry County high school who plans to study education, history or the social sciences.  The financial award will be given on behalf of the student to his or her chosen college or university.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, provide two letters of recommendation as specified in the application, show proof of community service and write a minimum 500 word essay pertaining to McHenry County. Essay topics will be announced each year by the Society.

Submit your documents online, or download this PDF and mail your documents.

Other related subjects you may find helpful:

• The influenza pandemic of 1918

• Camp Grant in Rockford, IL

• Geneva Protocol of 1925

• Janette Rankin. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1917,  year later she opened debat on a suffrage amendment in the House.

Checklist and Application

The application packet must be complete and arranged in the order listed below. All original transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other required documents must be received by MCHS by April 7 in a single package. The application package must be stapled or paper clipped in the top left hand corner. Incomplete or nonconforming applications will not be considered.

The Nancy Fike Scholarship is open to graduating seniors attending any McHenry County high school who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who plan on studying history, education or the social sciences. Children and grandchildren of MCHS Board members and staff are not eligible.


[ ] Scholarship application

[ ] Essay of at least 500 words – Topic for 2018:

In 2018, Illinois will celebrate its bicentennial – 200 years since it became a state. Choose an individual – other than Abraham Lincoln – who you think best represents Illinois. This person could be from government, the military, education or entertainment.  However, he or she must have reached prominence before 1990. Briefly summarize his or her life and explain the reasoning for your choice.


     • WILLIAM LORIMER (Crystal Lake) – Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1909, she is the only person to be kicked out of the Senate, charged with bribing his way into office.

     • EDWARD D. SHURTLEFF (Marengo) – Illinois Speaker of the House, 1901 – 1910 and McHenry County Judge 1920 - 1934. Implicated in the Lorimer bribery case.  Involved in McHenry County’s prohibition problems.

     • LILLIAN KEATING DONOVAN (Harvard) – Intimate friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt  1927 – 1944.

     • MYRTLE SHAW (Union/Marengo) – National figure in polio prevention research.  Laid the groundwork for Jonas Salk.

     • JOHN DILLINGER – Nationally known bank robber and very popular figure in the late 1930s who vacationed in Fox River Grove. Close friend of Louis Cernocky, Sr.

     • ELMER BIGELOW (Hebron)  – The only McHenry County United States “Medal of Honor” winner  -  US Navy World War II.

     • SIMON S. GATES (Crystal Lake)  –  Founder of the American Terra Cotta Co.  Supplier of terracotta decorative tiles to numerous historic buildings of the 20th century.  Also originator of the noted “Teco” ceramics.

     • HIRAM HANCHETT (Woodstock) – Civil War Captain, 16th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry/ Murdered as a prisoner of war near the end of the Civil War – second most infamous war crime of that war.

     • WILLIAM SKIDMORE (Johnsburg) – Capitalist and Underworld wheeler dealer    Major resort developer along Pistakee Bay

     • EGBERT A. VAN ALSTYNE (Marengo) – Popular musical composer during the early to mid-20th century, including “Shade of the Old Apple Tree.”

     • ELBRIDGE A. BURBANK (Harvard) –Noted American artist who painted 1,200 important portraits of Native Americans in the 19th century.

     • HENRY FERRIS (Harvard) –Inventor of numerous labor-savings devices for dairy barns who co-founded Hunt, Helm & Ferris (Starline) in Harvard.

     • EUGENE V. DEBS – U.S. presidential candidate, labor leader and Socialist who was jailed in Woodstock.

     • GAIL BORDEN (Elgin) – Inventor of first useful condensed milk formula.  Founder of numerous Bordon Milk processing plants throughout McHenry County from 1860 – 1950.
     • ALLAN PINKERTON (West Dundee) – Founder of the “Pinkerton Detective Agency,” guardians of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. He began his career capturing counterfeiters in Algonquin.

Contemporaries you can speak with:
• JIM MAY (Spring Grove) – Nationally known storyteller and author.

• SUSAN DACY (Harvard) –Nationally known stunt pilot who flies out of Dacy Airport in Harvard.

• JACK SCHAFFER (Cary) – Schaffer served as McHenry County auditor from 1968 to 1972, before successfully running for the Illinois Senate where he served from 1973 to 1999. As state senator, Schaffer served as caucus chairman, minority whip and minority leader


[ ] Original high school transcript

[ ] Letters of recommendation (at least two, one from a faculty member or administrator at the applicant’s school, and another from a community representative)

[ ] Documentation of community service and involvement

[ ] List of extra-curricular activities, honors received and scholastic achievements



Applicants will be notified of the Society’s decision by May 1. The decision regarding the award is conditional until the applicant meets all the following requirements: The applicant must be accepted to a college or university by May 1, and notify MCHS where he or she will attend, as MCHS will pay the scholarship funds directly to the school on behalf of the scholarship winner. All applicants consent to the use of their name, image and story for MCHS press releases, presentations and other materials. All applicants further agree, should they be selected as the winner, to attend one MCHS board meeting for a presentation ceremony as well as to invite a MCHS representative for a presentation at their high school’s honors event. If the conditional scholarship winner does not fulfill the above requirements, MCHS reserves the right to award it to another worthy applicant.

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