|Photo from July 2011, courtesy of Bev|
|Great close-up of the dedication plaque on the gate post. Courtesy of Bev from July 2011|
Biographical information on more than 50 individuals buried in the historic Pioneer Cemetery in McDonough County, south of Macomb, Illinois. This cemetery dates from 1838 and suffers from severe neglect due to an isolated location in the middle of a farmers' fields and pastures. Many photographs and a few video clips document the condition of the cemetery.
"Erected in honor of the pioneers who cleared away the forests and destroyed the abiding places of the wild beasts so that civilization might occupy the ground."This cemetery is surrounded by privately-owned land with no direct access from the public road. An easement is granted to cross the owner’s field to gain access to the site which is "enclosed" by an unlocked, gated fence. There are more than 50 documented burials on this one acre tract.
Dear Editor:The other thing I did today was to call the farmer who owns the cows. Once again, I got his answering machine. When I'm up there next week, I'll stop to see him and the cemetery.
It’s not often that I get a chance to stop in McDonough County. When I do, it’s usually related to some matter of historical interest. The Pioneer Cemetery west of Industry where over 50 early settlers are interred is of particular interest to me. Over Memorial Day weekend, I was alarmed to find that the fence surrounding this landlocked cemetery had been compromised by a heard of beautiful, yet destructive cows.
Already in poor condition in recent years with many gravestones lying flat, the cows have created more damage in the cemetery by knocking additional stones from their bases and crushing damaged stones underfoot. Several individuals with ancestors buried there have contacted the McDonough County Historical Society to urge repair of the faulty fence, but we have not been advised of any immediate plans to mitigate the damage. Perhaps there is another, more appropriate, agency which can intervene to preserve this early cemetery?
Many early homesteaders, at least one Civil War veteran, and an early McDonough County commissioner are among those laid to rest in the Pioneer Cemetery. To learn about these individuals, see photos of the graves before the most recent damage, and view video clips of the cows damaging the cemetery, please visit this blog: http://pioneercemeterymcdonoughil.blogspot.com/.
It would be a shame to lose any one of the many, small historical cemeteries of McDonough County, and I sincerely hope some plan can be formulated to preserve this one from further damage. It’s ironic that a small plaque embedded in a gate post at the Pioneer Cemetery reads: "Erected in honor of the pioneers who cleared away the forests and destroyed the abiding places of the wild beasts so that civilization might occupy the ground."
Carolyn (Venard) Cooper
"An early settler of McDonough county, William Venard died at his home in Bethel township on June 5th, 1881. He was born in Harrison county, Kentucky in 1816, came to Morgan county, Illinois in 1821, and then to McDonough county. He was married to Sarah Jane McClure in 1836. He is survived by his wife, 6 sons and 2 daughters. The funeral was Monday, and he was buried in the burial ground near his residence. Attending the funeral of their father and brother-in-law were J.F. Venard and Robert McClure of Carroll county, Missouri and J.W. Venard of Cherokee, Kansas."
"Mrs. Lorrin Thompson was born at Shelbyville, Kentucky, in 1825. Her parents were Greenup and Mary (Macumpsey) McClure, who moved from Kentucky, to this county, and here died. Her husband died in January, 1872. Mrs. Thompson has a farm in Bethel township, consisting of 160 acres, 40 acres of it timber, the balance under a good state of cultivation, and well improved, on section 10. She is the mother of 11 children, four of whom are deceased."She was a member of the M.E. Church.