The First in Sangamon County
Submitted by Debbie Quinn
First County Death - The first death in the county is an undecided issue. Apparantly there were two deaths in the county; that of Mrs. Elizabeth Walker, daughter of Samuel Vancil, who died in the fall of 1819, and was buried in the "Wimmer Cemetery" in Auburn. An Incident occurred at the time of her death that exhibited one of the dangers that early settlers faced. While friends gathered around her bed, it was discovered that a prairie fire was approaching. The grass was seven to eight feet high and was very dry. The end of the cabin nearest the fire was kept wet and was saved. Admist all the comotion, Mrs. Walker took her last breath.
The other death is that of a Indian ranger near Loami. The date of this death cannot be proven. The sulphur spring in that area was known to the Indians, ans was a very early camping ground for the white settlers. When the rangers were pursuing the Indians, one of the rangers, whose name is unknown, was killed and buried by his comrades on a knoll near the sulphur spring. It was known to the very earliest settlers as the grave of the Indian Ranger, and was near the present Sulphur Springs Cemetery.
The First Cemetery- Elijah Iles donated four acres of ground west of town for a graveyard [at Pasfield and Adams Streets, where the Internal Revenue building now stands]. The graves were later moved to Oak Ridge Cemetery, but for many years a tombstone imbedded in the ground near the southwest walk in the old burying place still stood. The letters were unreadable, but one could make out the name Talbot, a five year old boy. The tombstone has been removed now.
A few years later the city's first official cemetery was donated by John Hutchinson. He donated six acres located in a grove further west [where Springfield High School now stands].
The First County Murder - On August 27, 1826, a blacksmith named Nathaniel Vannoy, killed his wife while in a drunken rage. For the next three days a special session of the Circuit Court, Vannoy was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to hang on November 26, 1826. Almost the entire community turned out for this event. Following the execution, the surgeons to whom the body had been sold, began dissecting it on the spot. The crowd was horrified at this and they moved the body to a more private location. Attorney General James Turney acted for the people and James Adams and J.H. Pugh acted for the defendant.
The First's of the Village of Auburn