Our Memorial Park
Many of our people perhaps would like to know something about its history (the Griggsville cemetery.)
Sec. Secretary E. S. Hoyt Writes an Interesting Sketch About Our City Cemetery
Contributed by Delaine Sanderson from the Independent Press, Griggsville IL, 17 April 1929
The first tract of land was bought in the year 1848 of Peleg Gardner, about two acres near the center of our present grounds, off in a field with no street leading to it. Samuel Hutchinson gave permission for passing through the north side of his premises, now occupied by the Newman families, which was used until the street was opened from the west end of Franklin street, at Mrs. Ball's corner to the present entrance of the cemetery.
The second purchase was made in 1851 of D. F. Coffey, this piece being 12 rods wide, running to a certain corner. The third tract, 19x32 rods, was bought of G. A. Mure in the year 1865. The fourth addition was deeded by Mrs. Emma Lasbury in 1896 - 100x805 feet along the western side. A fifth tract was purchased of Mary E. Bennett in 1906, about two acres. In 1908, L. W. McMahan and other trustees of the original Griggsville cemetery, deeded all these tracts to the new Griggsville Cemetery Association, chartered as a. corporation by the state, and is now functioning under that charter.
In 1920 a small tract, 40x100 feet, was purchased from Frank A Clement and in 1915 the pasture lot owned by J. M. Ireland was purchased, and the last addition is along the west side; 60 feet west, 805 more or less north, was bought of the Clement estate. Altogether some 13 acres of land.
Before this first purchase, bodies were buried in private grounds, a. few in a place, with no general burying ground, and when the cemetery was opened many bodies were moved from their resting places and deposited in the new grounds. On one of the old marble tombstones is a declaration that this is the first body buried in this cemetery, while the land was not purchased until 1848 -- rather conflicting, but explained only as having been moved from its original grave.
At the time the new graves were; laid out it became apparent that the town should have a hearse, and the woman members of the Congregational church took the matter up and soon had a fine black hearse with curtains, which was pulled by one, black horse, driven by the coffin maker, Mr. Jesse G. Crawford, sitting up on the end dressed in a black cape and broad black hat, Quaker style, and did the undertaker's part well.
But compare this gloomy outfit with the present day. A. fine, attractive looking "funeral car," driven by a "mortician," not undertaker, takes the remains lying in a cushioned casket of gray or other color, to the opened grave, adorned with flowers, and after the ceremony the family and friends depart before the grave is closed. How different from the time when an eight-year-old boy stood beside his mother's grave and listened to the sound of the clods that struck the coffin as they were thrown in, still echoing in the ears of a deaf old man.
The present tendency is to lessen the sorrow and sadness of these occasions and use less weird terms in speaking of the service. We now open graves, not dig them; close the grave, not fill it up; the remains are deposited in a casket, not the body put in a coffin. The term graveyard is discarded for "cemetery," and now that better care is given the grounds, the term Memorial Park is used. "Graveyard" will do for neglected grounds that have been allowed to revert to a natural forest, and so if we take any pride in our Memorial Park, let us endeavor to make it so in fact as well as in name. And we must have the annual dues to pay for the expense.