The Pioneer Cemetery is located in the small town of Monmouth, Illinois. Cemeteries have a reputation for being scary or creepy to some people. Others may find this place interesting and intriguing. You have a similar place in your hometown. The Pioneer Cemetery is filled with history.
The Pioneer Cemetery is located on the North side of East Archer Avenue between North Fifth and North Sixth Streets. If you are on campus and standing behind Bowers Hall you can see the Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery is quite small so if you are passing by it is easy to miss if you are not looking.
In the Historical and Biographical Record Of Monmouth and Warren County, Luther E. Robinson offers the following data: the exact date for the establishment of the cemetery is 1833 (Robinson, 207). Daniel McNeil gave the cemetery to the county and was one of the three first settlers in Monmouth (Robinson). Along with being one of the first few to settle in Monmouth, “Daniel McNeil was the earliest postmaster appointed in the county” (Robinson, 207).
The first burial in the Pioneer Cemetery was for Sumner McNeil, Daniel McNeil’s son (Robinson). Sumner died on January 12, 1833 (Robinson). Unfortunately in the early 1830’s people did not mark many of the graves so it is nearly impossible to know exactly who is buried there. Some people have wanted to trace their history and know more about their ancestors, but have faced difficulties with the unmarked graves. “The cemetery contains remains of county pioneers, civil war vets, as well as victims of a local cholera epidemic and tornado disaster of 1851” (“Eagle”). If the graves are marked it is still hard to read them because they are very old and worn from the weather.
In 2012, Nicholas Mainz, an Eagle Scout from Monmouth, restored the Pioneer Cemetery (“Eagle”). The focus of the service project was to restore the gravestones in the cemetery. Not anyone can just restore a grave. If you are interested in restoring a grave you must take classes and become certified. Mainz was honored with being the first recipient of the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the year (“Eagle”). Mainz, along with other students and faculty at Monmouth College, continue to go to the graves to restore them. This shows that the citizens of Monmouth care about their town.
Anyone on campus can easily walk to the Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery is very small and the graves are scattered around. The gravestones look old and weathered. One thing I found very interesting was a circular mound with multiple graves. I have never seen something like that before in any other cemetery so it really stuck out to me.
The cemetery is very peaceful and is a good place to think. A cemetery is a very interesting place that is often overlooked. While vacationing in a city or passing through a small town on a road trip, there is a slim to none chance that the local cemetery is on your list of sites to see. But I encourage you to start paying more attention to cemeteries. There may be an ancestor you did not know you had that is buried in your local cemetery.
“Eagle Scout Honored with Adams Award.” The Register-Mail. 3 May 2012. Web. 12, Oct 2015.
Robinson, Luther E., ed. Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County Illinois. Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, 1927. Print.