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OLD CEMETERIES IN VERMILION COUNTY

By L. A. TUGGLE
Co. Supt. of Schoolsó 1940

[Source: "Stories of Historical Days In Vermilion County, Illinois," By Grammar Grade Pupils of Villages and Rural Schools, 1934-1935; Compiled for the School Libraries By L. A. TOGGLE, County Superintendent of Schools. Transcribed by K. Torp]


"GOD'S ACRE" was the first cemetery in Vermilion county. It was known, aside from its title of "God's Acre," as the Butler Burying Ground. Its title was vested by the donor, James D. Butler, in the "bones of those who may find rest here," and especially he wanted to make sure that his bones, and those of his good wife, and those of his good friend, Major John Vance and his helpmate, and others whom he loved, might forever rest undisturbed.

"God's Acre" was set aside for a burying ground in 1822 and is located south of the Wabash railroad about a half mile west of Catlin. Today the title to this acre is vested in the Vermilion county board of supervisors by virtue of a deed made and recorded some 70 years ago by Josiah and Elizabeth Sandusky.

James D. Butler and wife, John W. Vance and wife, Noah Guymon and "Grandma" Guymon are buried in the northeast quarter of "God's Acre." Marcus Snow and Annis Douglas are sleeping side by side in the west half of God's Acre."

Every person in Vermilion county should make a visit to this sacred spot where these hardy men and women who lived and died as we live and die. who labored and loved, who sacrificed and suffered, whose hearts beat to the same rhythm of hope and ambition that human hearts beat to in this modern age yet who lie unfrequently visited in "God's Acre."

The board of supervisors three years ago repaired God's Acre and rededicated it to the sacred memory of these noble patriots.



MT. PISGAH three miles west of Georgetown was one of the early cemeteries plotted. It lies on a gentle sloping hill back of which is a creek which makes good drainage. Jotham Lyons first wife was buried here on Christmas Day, 1827. He was buried August 2, 1843. Absalom Starr was buried in this cemetery on October 14, 1829. Many of the early settlers were buried at Mt. Pisgah. The writer went to church and Sunday school several years at Mt. Pisgah church and many Sunday afternoons were spent in contemplating the past activities of the Longs, Jones, Hewitts, Gepharts, Swanks and other pioneers who lie buried in this beautiful cemetery.


The beautiful and well kept CEMETERY AT VERMILION GROVE speaks the story of unselfish devotion of home ties of the early settlers in that part of the county. The first person buried in the Vermilion Grove cemetery was Hannah Mills who died in the summer of 1823. The Haworths, the Mills, the Hesters, and Holadays, the Mendenhalls, the Rees, the Elliotts, the Canadays, the Judds, the Smiths and many others are buried in the Vermilion Grove cemetery.


The AMOS WILLIAMS BURYING GROUND of Danville has long since answered the call of modern progress and where once lay the bones of many pioneers on Washington Avenue between east Madison and Seminary streets, are modern cottages and industrial plants. Dan Beckwith was buried in the Williams cemetery in December, 1835, but his body was later removed to Springhill cemetery.


THE LAMB CEMETERY is located on a beautiful knoll five miles northeast of Danville near the Lamb schoolhouse. The oldest marked grave is that of James Duncan who died October 1, 1819. The next is that of Mary Lamb, daughter of John and Phebe Lamb, who died September 26, 1826.

There are about 75 graves in the Lamb cemetery and are arranged in family groups. This family burying ground contains the families of the Lambs, Brewers, Campbells, Makemsons, Elders, Martins, Delays, Woods, and many others. The Makemson family first used this cemetery in 1881, the Campbell family in 1835, the Brewer family in 1851, the Martin family in 1860, etc. The Lamb cemetery continued being used as a neighborhood burying place until in the eighties. The last person buried there was an infant of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Henson in 1914.


THE OLD KICKAPOO BURYING GROUND near the mouth of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River four miles west of Danville bears the appearance of having been used by the Indians for many years prior to the time of the cession of the territory along the Vermilion by the Pottawatomies and Kickapoos. It is a level plateau of several acres, at an elevation that commands a fine view of both streams, and overlooking the bluffs beyond. The plateau is terminated at the westward by a precipitous cliff, the foot of which, nearly a hundred feet below, is washed by the Middle Fork. The stream has gradually encrouched upon the bluff at the water-line causing the earth to slide down from above.

Two young men, John Ecard and Hiram Chester, living upon a farm nearby, were passing along the water's edge in April, 1855, and found a skull and some other parts of a human skeleton that had fallen out of a grave above and rolled down the hill. The skull was well preserved and had clinging to it the remains of a rotted band filled with plain brooches. The young men being curious proceeded to the top of the hill to the grave out of which the remains had fallen and found a part of the grave still intact. Ecard took a stick and digging around in that portion of the grave that yet remained unearthed, two medals were found which are believed to be none other than the silver medals attached to the "two large white wampum belts of peace, with a silver medal suspended to each bearing the arms of the United States" and which were given to the Wabash Indian tribes at their signing of the peace treaty with General Putnam September 27, 1792. Ecard sold these historic medals to Samuel Chester and the latter disposed of them to Josephus Collett of Terre Haute, Indiana.


THE GUNDY CEMETERY is one of the prettiest places in Vermilion county and was the burying ground for the pioneers of Myersville. It is located north of the bridge on the Bismarck "Moore's Corner" road. Joseph Gundy settled that part of the county about 1827. As years rolled along, new parts were added to this cemetery and today the utmost care is taken with this "city of the dead."

A Revolutionary War soldier, Jacob Gundy, is buried here. He died in September, 1845. Ruth Davison was buried in Gundy cemetery in 1835, Andrew Davison is 1842 and Elizabeth Davison in 1845. Many Davisons, Gundys, Keers, Carters, Woods and Wiles of early days are buried here.


THE DALBEY CEMETERY is east of the main highway between Muncie and Salt Fork River about two miles south of Muncie. This cemetery was laid out in 1838. It was on the property of Aaron Dalbey and James Cass. Because it was such a dreary spot when it was donated for common burial ground, Richard Cass, Jr. exclaimed, "I would not be buried in such a place," but he was the first to be buried there. The second grave was for Elizabeth Cass, mother of Richard, Jr. Richard Cass, Sr. was buried in 1843 and Aaron Dalbey in 1855. The Casses Radcliffs, Dalbeys, Meades, Boyles, McFarlands, Drapers, and many other families were buried in the Dalbey cemetery in the forties, fifties and sixties. This place was used extensively up to the sixties but today it is a tract of weeds and grass. Grave stones and markers are no longer reliable.


THE SHARON CEMETERY is a small pioneer burying ground about a quarter of a mile northeast of the Sharon school near Olivet. The writer (January, 1931) saw markers of Smiths buried there in 1815 and 1819. His eyes could scarcely believe the dates, but there they were. A great many of the Smith family were buried here between 1840 and 1849, and different Smiths have been buried in the Sharon cemetery each decade down to the present time.


THE LEBANON CEMETERY two miles southwest of Indianola was started in 1829. David Beard, age 70, was buried there in February, 1837 and David Beard, age 40, was buried in September, 1838. John N. McDonald was buried in August,

1837, William B. Dickson in September, 1839, the Dormans in 1838, the Willisons in 1849. This cemetery was the last resting places for a great many early pioneer families: Barnetts, Beards, Williams, Gaines, Pattisons, Swanks, Hiestands and Reeds.


THE WEAVER CEMETERY near the Snyder school near Indianola was laid out in 1836. This pioneer cemetery has a great many graves in family groups such as the Weavers, Gaines, Baums, Alexanders, Bairds, Coles, Donovans and Gilkeys. The last person buried in the Weaver cemetery was 25 years ago. Some of the writer's relatives are buried in this cemetery. For several years this cemetery was neglected and allowed to grow up in wood. In 1924, one of the trustees, Al J. McMillan of Indianola, took up a subscription of a thousand dollars and put every marker and monument in concrete and otherwise beautified the grounds. Trees were planted and the grass has been kept cut each year since 1924 so that today the old Weaver burying ground is good to look at. There is only one granite marker in this cemetery. All of the other markers and monuments are marble.


There are a lot of private cemeteries in the County. The early pioneers had not laid out burying grounds close enough to their homes on account of lack of transportation, so they were compelled to bury their loved ones, when they died, on the family lot. A splendid example of this is Sandusky family cemetery on the William (his father was Josiah) Sandusky farm, northeast of Indianola.


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