Pioneer Cemetery of Kane County, IL

Abandoned Cemetery..... is lost and never to be found what happens when they're really old and they aren't cared for.  It was gone!  TOTALLY GONE.  Nicely graded -- I did not fear for a broken ankle -- grassy, and very-neatly mowed, but gone.

created June 06
, 2006 6:35am

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 11:27:08 AM

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Susan submitted this June 2005.... made today June 07, 2006

When you close your eyes . . .

In Kankakee County, Illinois:  West of Bradley, IL, on the north side of the river, where IL Rte 102 travels NW to Wilmington, there was a small, very old cemetery.  It was on the south side of the highway, just as it makes the dogleg -- after it passes through the main part of the Kankakee River State Park and after it crosses the bridge over Rock Creek.  If you look at a property map of the park grounds, there's a small triangular patch of non-acquired land abutting the highway.  If you see it in person, today, the county or state park keeps the grassy knoll well-mowed -- but the tipped stones and little broken fences are no longer there. 

My father (his 100th birthday would have been Saturday, June 25, 2005) took me out there several times in the mid 1950's to step-around the headstones and straighten-up some of the little iron fences around the graves.  He said that some of his oldest relatives were there, old relatives from Kankakee and St. Anne (Saltsider's and Blessing's, from 1853 on, I'd imagine).  And, no, I am not mistaken.  I have a photographic memory of 'place':  Once I've been somewhere (and that includes driving around Boston), I know and I remember.  

Two years ago, as we started 'putting the family on paper', my sister and I did a cemetery-crawl out south to the Peotone Cemetery, Peotone, Will Co, to look at the Pfeil Graves (G-Grandparents Pfeil and many other family graves).  Then we did another cemetery crawl to the Elmwood Cemetery, Manteno, Kankakee Co, to look at the Blessing Plot (GG-grandparents Blessing and many family graves).  
        As a lark, I said that as long as we're down here, we should go to 'the cemetery in Kankakee' where the Saltsider's and more Blessing's were buried.  My sister is that much younger than I am, that she had no idea!  So we drove down Governors Highway, made the big turn, and there it was, Mound Grove Cemetery, Kankakee Co.  We stopped and got instructions to the Saltsider's graves (GG-grandparents Saltsider).  Then I said, now let's find the rest of the Blessings -- and there they were . . . I'd been dragged to those funerals & burials, 1948 ~ 1960.  She was so surprised, didn't know, hadn't an inkling.
        On our way back up Governors (she lives in Homewood, IL, a South Suburb, and I live in Glenview, IL, a North Suburb, 1 hour from her by I-294) I suggested we look-in-on a primitive cemetery -- what happens when they're really old and they aren't cared for.  It was gone!  TOTALLY GONE.  Nicely graded -- I did not fear for a broken ankle -- grassy, and very-neatly mowed, but gone.
Shy person that I am, I charged into the Park (Kankakee River State Park) Superintendent's Office -- "Where's the old cemetery?" (since their property surrounds it . . . ).  Basically, no one knows nottin' about nottin', and that was that.  They seem to have no knowledge that that cemetery ever existed or what became of it, or the stones, or the fence portions.  So there.

I see an Old Settler's Cemetery on their map IN THE PARK itself, now, and I wonder if the stones were removed and reset in this cleared-area.  I would think the graves couldn't have been moved, from a country cemetery, infants dating back to the 1850's?  To do that legally is a major undertaking - literally.   I don't know what the original Burying Ground was called, and our family death and burial records aren't that specific -- the best I could hope for would be a surviving chatty Death Notice or Obituary.

I will pursue this a bit, as to dbl-checking the headstones in the State Park's 'little cemetery' on our next cemetery crawl.  But, if I were to bring a bouquet of garden flowers with me, it would go out on the grassy knoll by the highway. 

Susan Blessing McConnell 

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