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Planning a Cemetery Trek

Planning a Cemetery Trek

Each year about this time we start thinking of those cemeteries we are going to walk or at least visit as soon as the weather allows. Visiting a cemetery in the city is very different than visiting a small rural cemetery in the middle of nowhere. If a rural cemetery is on your list here are some tips for that visit. Much of this has been posted before on one of my other blogs.

Cemeteries can be pretty remote with no one to see or hear you and quite possibly no other visitors for a long time, particularly if the cemetery is inactive.

Know how to get there. In some counties you can pick out a cemetery from several miles away [it is the only spot with trees] but that is not true everywhere. Google and Microsoft have detailed online maps. You can search GNIS, the government’s geographic names database at: http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/ for location and then plot it on the map of your choice with a couple clicks. Don’t forget the map.

If there is a map of the cemetery or an online listing of any sort that gives you clues on how to locate the particular stone print it out and take it along. USGenWeb sites often have cemetery listings, sometimes maps or layouts. Make a note of the people buried around your ancestor so if for some reason their stone is unreadable you’ll know you are in the right place and can go from there. Stone lists for Logan County can be found at http://logan.ilgenweb.net/stonelist.htm.

Wear a hat and take plenty of water. The only drinking available is highly likely to be what you brought with you. Dehydration is dangerous. Someone suggested if you drink too much water you’ll need the facilities and the cemeteries have no facilities. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to deal with that situation in the middle of nowhere. If you plan to be at the cemetery awhile you should take some snacks or even pack a lunch along with the water. In olden days people often picnicked in cemeteries. You can too.

Don’t go alone if you can avoid it. Take your cell phone. You could have trouble with your vehicle. [This is the voice of experience long before cell phones. It was a LONG walk.] You could fall and hurt yourself or even break something. The ground will not be smooth and level. Stones have been known to topple. Some places, particularly where cemeteries are not mowed regularly, have critters [they dug those ankle wrenching holes] or stinging bugs. Be safe. Take a friend and a cell phone. I always have a first aid kit in the car.

Take your camera with a large memory card but don’t forget pen and paper or a recording device. If you record on tape or digitally be sure to spell everything out even if it is spelled wrong. You might want to have your camera date each photo. If it is small cemetery do yourself and fellow researchers a favor and photograph each stone. You are there. It is an act of genealogical kindness. At a minimum draw a map of the stone location area so the next person can find the stone.

Recently I read an excellent suggestion from Jean Hibben. She takes a picture of the cemetery entrance first and then the stones. That way your pictures are partially organized when you download them.

Old Clark Stones

Old Clark Stones


This is the stone of Rev. David and Sarah “Sallie” Winans Clark in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. No, I can’t read it either anymore but back when you could it was read and it says:

Sally Wife of Rev. David Clark and Daugh. of Samuel and Hannah Woodruff died Dec 3, 1843 by the 54th year of her age
Also Rev. David Clark Born Aug 28, 1776 Died Jan 6, 1847 In the 72d year of his age

Nice of them to include the genealogy on the stone.

This stone is standing thanks to the work of Eagle Scouts from the area who, as a project, righted and stabilized stones in that old area of the cemetery.


There are other Clark stones in the area including this one for their son Rev. Richard Clark. It is only a seven years younger but it has survived better than the other stone.

I took these pictures but if you have an ancestor buried in the Mt. Pulaski Cemetery it is likely you can get Jane DeWitt of the Mt. Pulaski Township Historical Society to take a picture of their stone for you.

Warrick Cemetery Issues

Warrick Cemetery Issues

Warrick Cemetery is back in a field in West Lincoln Township less than a mile south of the Lincoln Correctional Center and the Logan Correctional Center, two “adult facilities” — in plain English they are prisons, medium security.

Warrick is a small, old family cemetery administered by the Logan County Cemetery District. Bill Stephenson, a Warrick descendant whose Black Hawk War ancestors are among those buried there, complained that the cemetery has been poorly treated.

The district is pretty good at taking care of cemeteries, even those that are rarely visited. Naturally those that get more visitors get more attention but all get mowed at least a couple times a year.

Bill told me the stones in Warrick have been pulled up and placed in a pile. This stunned me. He says he is not aware of any plot map of the cemetery so, even if the intention is to replace the stones, there is no way they can be returned to their proper location. The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society may have some pictures but no map.

But Illinois law would seem to prohibit such removal of markers. From the “Illinois Historic Cemetery Preservation Handbook” issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency [June 2008]:

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) administers the Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act (20 ILCS 3440; 17 IAC 4170). This Act, passed in 1989, protects all unregistered graves, graves artifacts, and grave markers (including prehistoric burial mounds) that are over 100 years old and are not located in a cemetery that is registered with the State Comptroller’s Office under the Cemetery Care Act. The Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act offers protection from all disturbances including, but not limited to, excavation (including cultivation), vandalism, removal, defacement, or desecration in any way
(20 ILCS 3440/1). It is the agency’s preference that graves or cemeteries be undisturbed and preserved in place.

and further:

It is unlawful for any person or agent representing an individual to knowingly disturb or to allow the disturbance of human skeletal remains, grave artifacts, or grave markers without first obtaining a permit from the IHPA. Any violation of this Act is a Class A misdemeanor. Violators can face imprisonment of up to six months and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Any subsequent violation is a Class 4 felony (20 ILCS 3440/3-11).

I mentioned the two prisons in case the county or state is considering expansion and plans to relocate the cemetery. That has been done before. But the prisons would seem to be too far away for that to be practical and the local farmers are not aware of such a plan.

Stay tuned.

Military Markers for ALL Veteran Graves

Military Markers for ALL Veteran Graves

Logan County has six known Revolutionary War veteran burials, more than two dozen War of 1812 veteran burials and a massive number of Civil War Veteran burials. There are even some Spanish American War veteran burials. Those are just the ones we are aware of. There could be more.

According to new laws of the Veterans Administration, ANY SOLDIER with proven military service can have a free military stone or marker EVEN IF THEY NOW HAVE A PRIVATE MARKER. In 2009 they anticipate having a marker that attaches to the private marker as an option. I couldn’t locate a picture and don’t know if that is on schedule.

This means Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, etc. vets can have markers if the proper procedure is followed. There are special markers for some pre World War I wars like the Civil War. Confederate graves may also obtain markers.

Detailed information is available at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm_hm.asp

The form for the marker request is available online. It is not a snap but not terribly difficult either. Proof of service is required. “Service prior to World War I requires detailed documentation, e.g., muster rolls, extracts from State files, military or State organization where served, pension or land warrant, etc.”

They want copies of the actual documents which prove service. Often these documents will come from the National Archives.

It appears you do not have to actually be a descendant to request the marker.
This might be a project for the local genealogical and historical societies and/or the Eagle Scouts, to mark all the graves. In a rural county it is not likely to be expensive if you already have copies of the records — they may already be in local society files or available from a descendant.

Actual copies of Revolutionary War pension records are available at Footnote.com, a subscription service. They also have the Pennsylvania Archives free. Pennsylvania is a state which produced a lot of Revolutionary War vets. Some records are available through Ancestry.com which may be free at your local library. There are other sources.

Many Revolutionary War veterans did not receive a pension but they may have used their benefits to buy land. I have not noticed a lot of that in Logan County but it is something to check. Those who bought land using their military benefit are noted in the record book in Springfield.

Both the State of Illinois and the National Archives have Civil War military records and initial land purchase records. The information the state has is online but it appears you will still need a copy of the federal record.

The person who is going to receive the marker, someone local to the area of the cemetery such as the genealogical or historical society, must sign the application. The cemetery must also sign off that they will allow the marker. Someone must pay to install the marker. Neither requirement is a big deal in rural areas like Logan County but could be major in metro areas.

I know in 2009 we are looking for Lincoln but I know where he is and his grave is already quite well marked. Pick a cemetery and mark the early veteran graves.


Logan County Cemetery Information

Logan County Cemetery Information

Cemeteries in Logan County that are not privately endowed or owned are maintained by the Logan County Cemetery District. The good citizens of Logan County pay taxes to take care of cemeteries that might otherwise be in dispair or lost. For the active cemeteries the cemetery district also keeps track of burials and they have any records that exist for the old cemeteries which are no longer in use. This does not mean the old cemeteries are maintained in pristine shape but it does mean they are at least mowed several times a year.


A list of the cemeteries in Logan County can be found here. Someone has walked the cemeteries in red in the last 10 years and those listings are here. In addition, in the 1960s and early 70s the Decatur Genealogical Society in neighboring Macon County walked many of the cemeteries and has listings available for sale in their publications found on their website which is here.


The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society sells a CD which contains all the burials in Logan County through a few years ago. You can find more information on their website. That web site is in some transition but the main page should remain the same.

South Logan Cemetery Database

South Logan Cemetery Database

The most exciting thing going on in the cemeteries of South Logan County is the cemetery database which Jane DeWitt has been working on for years. She compiled it from a variety of sources, using the names from the tombstone transcriptions posted on the Logan County ILGenWeb site. There are nearly 10,000 names. If a person is buried in the area they are likely listed.

Jane used the county history books, an old coffin maker’s records, the “Green Book,” the records of the cemetery district and other sources in compiling the information. It contains burial information, including location of the stone when available, as well social information using information on the stone and the books and everything else available.

It was years in the making and is now in editing, a slow and painful process as we check information and attempt to make everything consistent. Yours truly is handling that in her “spare” time. It helps that I am related to a very large chunk of those listed. Members of the Logan County mailing list were given a sneak peek and several corrections and additions have come forth from that. Visitors to the Mt. Pulaski Historical Society may also get a peek. Jane may be using it to answer a question.

The project is currently in spreadsheet format. We would like to eventually convert that to something where one could search for, say, all the War of 1812 vets buried at Steenbergen. Suggestions are welcome!

Graveyard Rabbits

Graveyard Rabbits

Graveyard Rabbits are a group of bloggers who promoting the historical importance of cemeteries and grave markers and the family history to be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds and tombstones. Each has a location. Mine are the cemeteries of south Logan County, Illinois, in the very heart of Illinois, where almost every one of my ancestors who has died in the last 175 years is buried.

This blog will be devoted exclusively to cemetery information. For other posts see Ancestor Hunting.

Cemetery Walking

Cemetery Walking

It will be summer again [safe to say from Florida]. Are you planning a trip to a cemetery or two? Are they old cemeteries out in the middle of nowhere? Here are some things you need to consider.

Know how to get there. In some counties you really can pick out a cemetery from several miles away [it is the only spot with trees] but that is not true everywhere. Don’t waste your valuable time searching for the cemetery. If possible plot it out on road or plat map before going – and don’t forget the map. In some areas the Google Earth maps are useful. Microsoft also has online maps. You can search GNIS, the government’s geographic names database at: http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/ for location and then plot it on a map with a couple clicks.

If there is a map of the cemetery or an online listing of any sort that gives you clues on how to locate the particular stone print it out and take it along. USGenWeb sites often have cemetery listings. Make a note of the people buried around your ancestor so if for some reason their stone is unreadable you’ll know you are in the right place and can go from there.

Wear a hat and take plenty of water. The only drinking available is highly likely to be what you brought with you. Dehydration is dangerous in summer cemetery treking. Someone suggested if you drink too much water you’ll need the facilities and the cemeteries have no facilities. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to deal with that situation in the middle of nowhere. If you plan to be at the cemetery awhile you should take some snacks or even pack a lunch along with the water. In olden days people often picnicked in cemeteries. You can too.

Don’t go alone if you can avoid it. Take your cell phone. You could have trouble with your vehicle and be in the middle of nowhere. [This is the voice of experience long before cell phones. It was a long walk.] You could fall and hurt yourself or even break something. The ground will not be smooth and level. Stones have been known to topple. Some places, particularly where cemeteries are not mowed regularly, have critters [they dug those ankle wretching holes] or stinging bugs. Be safe. Take a friend and a cell phone. I always have a first aid kit in the car.

Take your camera with a large memory card but don’t forget pen and paper or a recording device. If you record on tape or digitally be sure to spell everything out even if it is spelled wrong. If it is small cemetery do yourself and fellow researchers a favor and photograph each stone. You are there. It is an act of genealogical kindness. Otherwise draw a map of the stone location area so the next person can find the stone.