Genealogy Trails

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, ILLINOIS
FIRST COUNTY SHERIFF
Thomas Sconce
Thomas Sconce
Birth Oct. 28, 1796
Died July 19, 1848
Sconce Cemetery

Thomas Sconce, the very first Sheriff of Cumberland County, was born in 1796. He became the Sheriff in 1843 at the age of 47 years. Five years later he was no longer Sheriff, because he was dead… or at least that’s what his tomb stone would indicate. Pictured below, this stone is a replacement, even though the original stone is still in place. To visit this graveyard is not quite as easy as the map below might indicate. One must traverse a twisting course through the bottom of a large and very active gravel pit. Once you’ve made it to the south end of the gravel pit you have to find a narrow path up a rise to the graveyard, which is still maintained quite well.

In the early days of Sconce’s tenure as Sheriff of Cumberland County he had only his horse, a tin badge and his gun. There was no jailhouse. So, reputable legend has it that along the banks of the Embarras River, somewhere in the Sconce Bend area was an enormous old cottonwood tree that died and broken off about 10 feet above the ground. The tree was hollow. After leveling and smoothing the rim of the tree a large piece of flat rock was laboriously hoisted into place atop the hollow tree. By sliding the rock sideways a bit, Sheriff Sconce lowered prisoners into the hollow tree that served as the first jail of Cumberland County. Sliding the rock back over the top sealed the prisoners inside.

Source Cumberland County Genealogical Society
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