The Simpson Cemetery after cleanup.
July 25, 2010
Tennessee Township - - Accepting the McDonough County Historical Society sign for Hills Grove Cemetery are two of the longest-serving trustees of the Hills Grove Cemetery Association board. John Cuba, left, served as a trustee on the board for 57 years. Cuba served as secretary-treasurer of the board from 1951 until 1992, retiring as trustee in 2006. Gerald Waddill continues to serve as a trustee on the board, serving since about 1985. The current president is Marlin Duncan with Mary Jane White as secretary/treasurer.
Mary Jane White recounts some of the history of this rural cemetery southwest of the Village of Tennessee. Hills Grove Cemetery is still active and beautifully maintained by the cemetery association.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home, the McDonough County Genealogical Society, the McDonough County Highway Department, Richard and Marilyn Jackson, and the McDonough County Historical Society.
Hills Grove Cemetery
by Mary Jane White
Isaac Holton graduated from the University of Vermont in 1814. He read law with his brother John in Massachusetts and taught school in Vermont and Maine. He traded a church pew in Bangor, Maine for 160 acres in McDonough County. He came to McDonough County in 1835. Holton started the Hills Grove Seminary, the first school in the area. He platted the village of Hills Grove. Hills Grove was awarded a post office in 1839. Hills Grove Cemetery was on land which was owned by Isaac Holton but was separate from the village of Hills Grove. The first recorded burial at Hills Grove Cemetery was that of Isabel H. Conant in 1841.
Isaac Holton was buried at Hills Grove Cemetery in 1850 as the fifth burial. In 1863 Isaac Holton’s widow, Phoebe A. Holton, deeded the land for the cemetery to Samuel A. Knott and Ambros/Ambers Owen, Trustees of
Hills Grove Cemetery and their successors of McDonough County. The deed was recorded in 1864. There were 20 burials between 1841 and 1864 which indicates it was an established cemetery well before the land was deeded to cemetery trustees.
Roswell Tyrrell, who is known as the first settler of Tennessee Township, is buried in Hills Grove Cemetery. Tyrrell was born in 1798 in Connecticut and came to live in what is now Tennessee Township in 1831, having purchased the land in 1826 while living in Fulton County. Tyrrell was a veteran of the War of 1812. Charles Fulkerson served in the Navy during the War of 1812. Several veterans of the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War rest in Hills Grove Cemetery. Flags of the United States are placed on each grave for Memorial Day by members of the Hills Grove Cemetery Association board of trustees. Hills Grove United Methodist Church holds a service each year at the cemetery on the Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend to honor the veterans buried at Hills Grove.
Hills Grove Cemetery is a private cemetery managed by the volunteer board of trustees of the Hills Grove Cemetery Association. Maintenance and improvements are provided by private funds held by Hills Grove Cemetery Association. There are about 300 burials at Hills Grove Cemetery.
July 22, 2010
Macomb - Marion and Ken Keudell, members of the McDonough County Historical Society, draw attention to the newest sign in the cemetery marking project of the MCHS. Old Macomb Cemetery lies on the west side of Wigwam Hollow Road.
Like many cities with deep roots in early nineteenth century United States history, Macomb has an outdoor archive full of fascinating information. Our Old Macomb Cemetery has the potential of drawing descendants, students, and visitors interested in family and community genealogy, local history, prominent citizens, immigration trends, impact of disease, and artistic sculpting.
Sadly, much of this potential is being lost to neglect and weather. Headstones once erect and connecting the past with the present, lay flat, damaged and gradually disappearing under soil, grass, and weeds.
Genealogist Marge Harris once documented at least 315 burials on the basis of incomplete records. There were probably more.
The first burial in the Old Macomb Cemetery, in 1830, was the young daughter of Peter Hale, who owned the land and a log cabin on it. She fell into a fire and burned to death.
Hale sold the two acres to a merchant William Bailey and Dr. Charles Hays. They in turn sold the property to Robert Garrett in 1835. One year later, Garrett sold the land to the county to be used as a public cemetery.
Scattered among the visible headstones are several with distinctive artistic sculpting and inscriptions as well as bearing the initials “JL” near the base. Theses stones with elaborate borders and short poems were created by pioneer stone carver John Long.
In one of his essays about the Old Macomb Cemetery, John Hallwas reminds us that Long’s “hand-carved headstones are the oldest historical artifacts in McDonough County that can be connected with the person who produced them, and they lend a quaint character to the long unused pioneer burial ground.”
The MCHS, by drawing attention to the 110 cemeteries in McDonough County, hopes to raise the collective consciousness of our community to its obligation to these resting places of our ancestors. It seems a bit peculiar that we go to such lengths and expense to honor our deceased parents, children, and siblings, but with such cavalier abandon neglect the resting places of our earlier forebears who were once the objects of similar love, compassion, respect, and honor.
Before more stones are damaged or buried, some volunteers need to restore this historical landmark cemetery to a more acceptable condition. Markers need to be reset, many need to be repaired, and countless need to be unearthed.
The Old Macomb Cemetery has two veterans of the War of 1812, two from the Mormon War, 11 Civil War, and one who served in the Black Hawk war.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home, the McDonough County Genealogical Society, the McDonough County Highway Department, and the McDonough County Historical Society. Ken Keudell, secretary of the MCHS, and his wife Marion encouraged this new sign at the Old Macomb Cemetery.