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Janet Turner Stilson (born June 20, 1941) is an American historian and author. She is primarily focused in the field of studies pertaining to Lorado Taft, the Chicago sculptor who fashioned the Fountain of Time on the Midway Plaissance at the University of Chicago. Taft and his friends also summered at Oregon, Illinois for pleasure and work. Stilson has authored Art and Beauty in the Heartland (2006))[1], the story of the Eagle's Nest Colony at Oregon, Illinois 1898-1942 (2006 Stilson), the archivist of the Church of God General Conference from 1980-1990 and subsequent intermittent years, has also authored a work on Church of God Abrahamic Faith history through the book recently released by Word Edge entitled Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith, 19th and 20th centuries (2011)[2]. This book, 620 pages in length, contains many photographs, illustrations, charts, maps and 26 appendices. This work is robust enough to give scholars pause, and simple enough to be enjoyed for its heartwarming stories.[3] Stilson lives in the Midwest with her husband and enjoys her family of three children and their spouses, three granddaughters and two grandsons.[3] She is presently working on a novel about the millennial age that includes ideas about the Age to Come not generally considered.[3]

Biography

Stilson was born Janet Turner in Oregon, IL—the center, at the time, of both the Eagle's Nest Art Camp and the headquarters of the Church of God General Conference. Stilson would go on to base much of her work in the aforementioned areas of her hometown history. Following high school, Stilson attended the local Christian college, Oregon Bible College, and graduated in 1963 with a Bachelor of Theology degree. This path led Stilson to meet and marry classmate Eugene Stilson in May of the same year. Following a short stint in the Shenendoah Valley of Virginia, Stilson would return to Oregon, IL, now with two small children, and begin a Bachelor of Social Studies program at Northern Illinois University (NIU) that she would eventually complete in 1975. It was during this time that Stilson first gained an interest in writing, but it wasn't until she found inspiration at her next job that she began her first major work.

Stilson began work in 1977 at the NIU satellite campus, Taft Campus, in Oregon, IL. Situated on the original grounds of the Eagle's Nest Art Camp frequented by Lorado Taft and friends decades earlier, Taft Campus was a portal through which Stilson gained interest in the subjects of Eagle's Nest, Lorado Taft, and northern Illinois art history in general. While working at Taft Campus library, Stilson returned to NIU to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science; one in which she completed in 1980. It was after this point in 1980 that Stilson began to jot down ideas for her first book, Art and Beauty in the Heartland, a book that would see 26 years before it would be completed.

Stilson spent much of the 80's and 90's working as a librarian overseeing libraries in a variety of environments including a hospital, a newspaper newsroom, and a college. It was during an eight year tenure as librarian of the Oregon Bible College library (and her attendance of this college 20 years prior) that Stilson began to become familiar with resources that would later lend to the creation of her second major work.

Starting in 2005 Stilson began work with the Church of God General Conference History Committee on a comprehensive historical piece, or encyclopedia, that brought together two centuries of influential figures in the Church of God Abrahamic Faith. The resulting book, Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith 19th & 20th Centuries, is a 620-page tribute to those that kept the history of the church "alive and fresh." [1]

Today, Stilson continues to contribute her thoughts in writing to various magazines, journals, and book reviews.

Art and Beauty in the Heartland

Art and Beauty tells the story of Lorado Taft and his artist friends who worked together to found and perpetuate the wonderful story of the Eagle's Nest Art Colony. Their story lives on today through the works of Charles Frances Brown, Oliver Dennet Grover, Ralph Clarkson, Lorado Taft and Leonard Crunelle.

Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith 19th & 20th Centuries

The focus of the work is on the leadership and life stories of many notable people across America. Men and women, both laymen and pastors, founded the work simulataneously in several parts of America around 1845. Editors such as Joseph Marsh, Rochester, New York and Benjamin Wilson, Geneva, Illinois were catalysts who brought others together through their various journals. Men in New England, the Southland, and the newly developing frontier read Voice of Truth, Advent Harbinger,Bible Advocate, Prophetic Expositor, (j. marsh, editor)The Gospel Banner, (b wilson editor) and Herald of the Coming Kingdom (t. Wilson, editor). These journals coalesced into one title that all men read and revered, The Restitution, Chicago (1870-1874, Plymouth, In 1874-1911 and Cleveland, Oh 1911-1925).

Stilson's Biographical Encyclopedia points out that the men and women who preached the message of the Age to Come, Kingdom of God on earth, and Restoration of Israel to its homeland, were unpopular among orthodox denominations. They were also unpopular even among Adventist groups founded by William Miller, (The Advent Christians), Dr. John Thomas (the Christadelphians), Ellen G. White (The Seventh-day Adventists) and other smaller Adventist groups, all of which had their beginnings in the early years of the 19th century in America. Points of difference include the time of Israels' restoration, worship on the first day or Saturday, the time and nature of the resurrection and the nature of God. Clearly written, this book is for students of the Bible, of church history or of American history.

References


Bibliography

  1. Stilson, J. (2006). Art and Beauty in the Heartland. Copyright Jan Stilson 2006
  2. Stilson, J. Turner. (2011). Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith 19th & 20th Centuries. Copyright Jan Stilson 2011
  3. Stilson, J. (Personal Interview). Conducted Sunday, June 10, 2012.
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