Monday, June 7, 2010

Updates on Preservation Efforts

July 13, 2010

Finally, I made it to the McDonough County Court House where the very helpful staff in the assessor's office and County Clerk's office were able to determine that since 2005, the cemetery has been a seperate and distinct entity belonging to Bethel Township.  At that time the current owners of the (former) Greenup McClure land deeded the cemetery over.  (In the assessor's office it is listed as 0.4 acre, but the County Clerk's records documents 1.9 acres.)  I hadn't even thought about a township layer of government.  So, they provided me with contact information and getting in contact with those folks is the next logical step. 

That's it for now!

Earlier updates below:

Hi, All,

I received an email from the McDonough County Historical Society today (June 30, 2010).  They politely let me know that this is not a project that they are going to pursue.  I respect them being direct about it.  I wish we would have known this sooner so we could have proceeded accordingly.  Very disappointingly, the folks there in Macomb also haven't checked on the cemetery to make sure that the cows are out of there. 

I'll decided to use this bit of blog space to update the status of  "what's going on" in trying to pursue some concrete preservation attempts. 

The land that the cemetery is located on does not belong to the farmer who owns the land surrounding it.  In the off chance that the MCHS might "know" who owns it--I did email them to ask, but I also decided to make a call to the McDonough County Clerk's office where a very helpful lady instructed me on our next steps.  I'll have to go up there next week and do some research with the County Assessor and the County Clerk's office to sift through the propery records for this land from the time that our ancestor purchased it in in 1830's.  From there, we can pursue the steps that the state of Illinois has legislated for rehabilitating abandoned cemeteries. 

Over the weekend I submitted a letter to the editor of the McDonough County Voice, and I'll include it here--who knows if it will be printed: 
Dear Editor:

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:  

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
Chatham, Illinois
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.


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