THE Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau deserves credit for a fresh approach to marketing the city and surrounding area.
"Quincy Off the Record: The Famous and Infamous 13" brings to light people, incidents and items with a tie to the region. It's safe to say many who currently live in West-Central Illinois would be either unaware or have forgotten about some -- or all -- of these featured subjects.
The bureau's latest promotional tool is designed to serve as not only a magnet of interest for those who live outside the region, but also provide a source of engagement for those who live in Adams and surrounding counties.
"We've never tried something like this before, so it's kind of exciting," said Holly Cain, the longtime executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The people and subjects being showcased are Mary Astor, Jennie Hodgers/Albert Cashier, Monckton Mansion, John Mahoney, James Stewart/Michael Swango, James Earl Ray, John Anderson, Dick Bros. Brewery, Roy Brocksmith, Woodland Cemetery and Quincy founder John Wood, Jonathan Browning and Robert Earl Hughes.
All are featured in a free, 20-page booklet that includes detailed background information about each of the Famous and Infamous 13. There are also key addresses associated with the subjects.
"We've designed this to be a driving tour that visitors or families who live here can both enjoy," Cain said.
Tourism in Adams County is a big economic driver. Last year alone, $100.7 million was generated through tourism, along with 760 jobs.
Normally, a promotional venture such as this accents only the positive, but the bureau is also bringing to light some parts of the region's history that Cain aptly describes as "shady."
One of the highlighted subjects is Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Stewart, a native Quincyan, who brought to life the dark story of another native Quincyan, Michael Swango -- aka "the Doctor of Death."
Also featured are details concerning the time James Earl Ray and his family spent in Quincy. Ray is the convicted assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ray's father was tied to criminal elements in the city at a time when Quincy was riddled with gambling, prostitution and bootlegging.
The Famous and Infamous 13 also includes the likes of Robert Earl Hughes, a Baylis native who during his lifetime -- he died at age 32 in 1959 -- was acknowledged as the heaviest human being ever recorded. Hughes weighed 1,041 pounds and was buried in a piano case-sized coffin.
"The information alone is fascinating," Cain said of the Famous and Infamous 13.
So is the overall approach to this unique marketing venture.