2013 Local History "In the News"

University Libraries is pleased to host, Greg Phelps, as he presents, "Cemetery Symbols" on Wednesday, October 30 at 12 p.m. in the Leslie F. Malpass Library, Room 180. 

Greg Phelps will be presenting Dead Men's Tales: Cemetery Symbols and their meanings. Have you ever wondered what the skull, hand, or rose on a tombstone meant? Dead Men's tales looks at the history of gravestones, their symbols and their meanings. Many tombstones have clues to the occupations and groups the deceased were involved with during life. Also included in the lecture will be a demonstration on how to make your own gravestone rubbing.

The event is free and open to the public. Questions about the event can be directed to Tammy Sayles at (309)298-3298. 

from the McDonough County Voice

Knowing Their History

By Lainie Steelman

Posted Sep. 20, 2013 @ 9:52 pm 


Macomb sixth-grade students from Edison School and St. Paul received a hands-on local history lesson on Friday morning.
During the annual History Day tour, about 175 students visited Chandler Park, MidAmerica Bank/Century 21 (the old Union National Bank), Macomb City Hall, McDonough County Courthouse, the Western Illinois Arts Center and Western Illinois Museum.
At each stop, a presenter talked about the significance of each place and its connection to Macomb.
In Chandler Park, former Macomb Mayor Tom Carper showed students the memorials honoring the city's namesake, General Alexander Macomb, and Commodore Thomas Macdonough, both heroes of the War of 1812.
Carper also talked to students about the Civil War cannon displayed in the park and C.V. Chandler, who gave the park to the city.
"Some things resonate, of course," Carper said of the students' reaction to learning about the park's history. "They find out who Macomb is named after. They get the significance, and the fact that someone — C.V. Chandler — gave their own money for a park for the community."
At the Western Illinois Museum, curator Sue Scott and Western Illinois University graduate assistant John Juliano helped students learn more about the artifacts on display as part of the museum's current exhibit, "From Food to Table: Our Food Heritage."
Students were assigned an artifact and, using a checklist, gleaned as much information about it as they could.
"They're learning how an artifact can reveal itself," Scott said.
Edison School Principal Maureen Hazell said History Day also helps students broaden their sense of community and what it means to be a part of Macomb.
"It really gives the students a sense of the history of Macomb," Hazell said. "It's one of their favorite events of the year. Overall, it's really about a sense of community and the wonderful community they live in. Being a part of the community means knowing their history."
Hazell thanked the McDonough County Historical Society and Western Illinois University Archives' Kathy Nichols, who have sponsored History Day for a number of years.

Read more: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20130920/NEWS/130929879/0/SEARCH#ixzz2g38iHnbB

The McDonough County Historical Society website has been reorganized to present information about McDonough County cemeteries in a more user-friendly way. 


The website now has a section titled:  McDonough County Cemeteries which can be found here: 



Grouped together in this section of the website can be found: 

GPS Coordinates of McDonough County Cemeteries (and driving directions!)

McDonough County Cemeteries Map

McDonough County Cemeteries Guide

McDonough County Cemetery Markers Photos

McDonough County Cemetery Markers E-book

Donations to McDonough County Cemeteries



We would like to share this information with you and please share this information with others.

    The McDonough County Historical Society created a window display for Heritage Days 2013 matching the event's theme of historical restoration and beautification.
    Many photographs, maps, and brochures documented the society's project of locating, installing a sign at, and cleaning up of cemeteries in our county.
    The latest work at the Old Macomb Cemetery, including a new fence and State of Illinois workshop, drew attention to our newer projects.
    In addition, the restoration of a Pioneer Prairie garden south of the Old Macomb Cemetery will serve as an attractive entry to this historic cemetery.
    Visitors saw a visual representation of the work of the MCHS over the last several years.

Historical Society Achieves First Goal
The McDonough County Historical Society achieved the first stage of its goals this summer (2013) in its development of the Pioneer Prairie restoration south of the Old Macomb Cemetery on the northwest corner of West Adams and Wigwam Hollow Road.One year ago, the Macomb City Council gave permission to the historical society to transform this empty two-acre lot into a historical prairie garden serving as an educational and beautiful entry to the Old Macomb Cemetery.Margaret Ovitt, a licensed landscape architect, together with Macomb Urban Forester Tim Howe, designed a savannah prairiescape representing the native trees, bushes, and grasses growing in this area in the mid nineteenth century. Tom Green, professor emeritus in the department of agriculture, offered suggestions from his experience with cemetery horticulture.Macomb Sexton Gary Roades suggested pedestrian and vehicle access paths for visitors and maintenance crews. Gary also removed concrete and metal remnants lurking below the surface.The historical society announced that individuals and groups could sponsor “Memorial” trees for the area. Twelve of these have been planted with two more coming in the fall.Mark Bernards, a professor in the department of agriculture at Western Illinois University and a specialist in herbicide control, sprayed the area to kill off unwanted weeds.And in July, Jeff Hudgens of Prairie Hills Forestry in Industry drilled the native prairie seeds into the ground.Gordona Rezab, president of the historical society, announced that all of these steps resulted in reaching the goals set for the first year.Ovitt added that it will take another two or three years for the new trees, bushes, and grasses to establish themselves as a low maintenance prairie gateway to the Old Macomb Cemetery. The Historical Society welcomes donations to its cemetery projects.

Emphasis – June 21
5:13 AM
FRI JUNE 21, 2013

The Macomb Courthouse Square Historic District

Macomb city leaders anticipate numerous benefits for the downtown area now that it’s been added to the National Register of Historic Places by the federal government.

“First and foremost, it means an opportunity (for business owners) to promote their business as being within that area,” said Mayor Mike Inman.


“And for property owners in the downtown, they’ll be able to apply for a federal tax credit for any improvements they make, and that will be up to 30%.”

The tax credit program could benefit maintenance or improvement projects for the outside and inside of buildings. Inman said the city also offers incentives to help property owners improve the downtown.


I think that being a nationally designated district certainly helps your cause 

The historic district is bounded by the railroad tracks, McArthur Street, Washington Street, and Campbell Street. It includes the courthouse square, the Old Bailey House, and the Lamoine Hotel building.


The city is in the process of planning aesthetic and infrastructure improvements to the courthouse square. Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch said the historic district designation could help that project, especially if the city applies for renovation monies through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“I think that being a nationally designated district certainly helps your cause because you have shown that you are committed to preserving the area, and you’ve gone through a process already, and you have something valuable to protect,” Basch said.

Mayor Inman credited Basch and the Historic Preservation Commission for working nearly five years to secure the national honor.

Basch credited numerous volunteers who spent countless hours going through archives. He said their research saved professional consultants the time and effort of doing the work, which in turn saved the city money.

http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20130621/NEWS/130629815By Lainie Steelman

June 21. 2013 9:54PM

Downtown Designated

According to news release from the office of Macomb Mayor Mike Inman, the Courthouse Square — bounded by Campbell, Washington and McArthur Streets, as well as the railroad tracks — was entered into the database on May 22.

Inman said the designation is the result of five years of collaboration between the city, the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission and particularly Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch.

"We're pretty pleased with (the news)," Inman said. "It gives us an opportunity to 'brand' our downtown."

Basch said that "branding" will include marketing and new signage. It also means, he said, the city can start include being a National Register district when marketing outside the area or on maps.

"Not everybody can say that. Part of the downtown revitalization will likely be some new signage and we can use the National Register district on signs," he said. "We've achieved something most people don't."

Building owners within the historic district can apply for a federal tax credit on improvements and repairs.

"If you have a contributing structure within the district," Basch said, "then you can apply for a federal tax credit which would give you an actual credit that is worth 30 percent of the actual work you do inside or outside."

Any work done on structures within the Courthouse Square national historic district must be done in compliance with guidelines already in place with the Historic Preservation Commission, but that's not anything new.

"There's not a new set of guidelines to jump through, it's the ones we're living with now," Basch said.

The National Register designation has been the goal of the Historic Preservation Commission since its formation in 2008. After a similar downtown historic district was adopted locally in May 2009 and the city of Macomb was appropriately designated later that year, the commission was able to receive two Certified Local Government grants in excess of $25,000. That funding allowed for the hiring of professional historic consultants to do a structural survey of the downtown district.

Several structures within the Courthouse Square district are on the National Register as stand-alone buildings, including the McDonough County Courthouse, the Old Bailey House and the old Lamoine Hotel.

City Administrator Dean Torreson also commented on the National Register designation.

"I think it's the beginning of something," he said. "It's a step in revitalizing the downtown area and it's not an end goal. This is a way to let people know we've got something valuable there that we need to protect."

Colchester Area Historical Society

does not met during the months of June, July, and Aug. 

Greg Phelps will speak on

“Tombstone Symbols” at the Tues. Sept. 17 meeting

which will be held at Colchester City Hall Community Room

at Friendway Park at 7 P.M. 

The society has changed the meetings nights for Fall 2013

to the third Tues. and the meeting change night will be evaluated at the Nov. meeting.


Tom Green Honored for Distinguished Service
Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus Dr. Tom Green received the 2013 Outstanding Service Award at the May meeting of the McDonough County Historical Society in Macomb.
President Gordona Rezab recited the many contributions of Green to the mission of the society in preserving the history of the county.
Several years ago Green offered to help in the MCHS project locating, signing, and reclaiming the abandoned and neglected rural cemeteries in McDonough County. 
He took his enthusiasm to several Boy Scouts looking for Eagle Scout projects, for which he served as director.
Green utilized the 18 volume collection of documents created by Duane Lester in the 1970s, "Rural Cemeteries in McDonough County," as his primary source and tool for information about the cemeteries being restored. 
Dr. Green then began the monumental task of converting these limited edition mimeographed hard copies into digital formats for universal access by the current generation of internet users. In addition to the arduous task of merely retyping the hundreds of burial records of these 96+ cemeteries, Green updated the genealogical information included in each cemetery document.
The contributions of Green continue with his creative vision of attaching QR codes to each cemetery sign for instant access to all the information available about each cemetery.
Prior to the award presentation, Green spoke to the historical society members about the various types of trees associated with the historical evolution of cemeteries in our area.

Troubled and Violent Stories

Memorial Day Weekend - Oakwood Cemetery Tour

led by historian John Hallwas

See the graves and hear the stories of murder victims, suicides and violent deaths all buried at Oakwood Cememtery

Friday, May 24 and Saturday May 25

  • 10-11:30am
  • Price - $10.00
  • Meet at the Oakwood Cemetery Sexton office
  • Proceeds go towards preservation & beautification of the cemetery

Group working to restore Colchester barn on National Register of Historic Places

 By Lainie Steelman McDonough County Voice Posted May. 5, 2013 @ 6:00 am
COLCHESTER  --  A 1914 round barn on the National Register of Historic Places in need of structural repairs is getting a helping hand from a group of concerned residents.
Jerry Roberts of Colchester organized an interest meeting Thursday night at Macomb's Old Bailey House.
The Clarence Kleinkopf Barn, located north of Colchester on the west side of Argyle Lake State Park, was placed on the National Register in 1982. According to minutes of the meeting released by Jerry Robert's son Cody, the group discussed what repairs the wood barn needs and possible fundraising avenues.
The barn's roof needs to be replaced, some floor beams and shingles need replacing, and its exterior needs to be painted, and the cost is estimated to be around $60,000.
Jerry Roberts said Sherwin Williams has agreed to donate paint, Commercial Rental has offered to donate equipment and Macomb Glass offered to repair the barn's windows.
The McDonough County Historic Preservation Society, a 501(3)C tax-exempt organization, has volunteered to accept donations for the barn repairs.
The Colchester Area Historical Society's president and vice president, Alma Feathers and Gaylord Mason, attended Thursday's meeting and said their organization would also discuss accepting donations for the barn repairs.
Roberts said the group can do some work on the barn, such as removing straw, applying a base coat of paint and repairing the concrete floor, while fundraising for the major structural repairs.
The group working on the Clarence Kleinkopf Round Barn plan to continue to meet and will announce the next meeting.
The barn's owner, Kelly Coplan, is the granddaughter of Clarence Kleinkopf. She said the barn is structurally sound, but the repairs are necessary to prevent any further deterioration. She also said the recent heavy rains have caused some concern over roof leakage.
There has never been any prior repairs to the barn, she added.
"I have investigated grants," Coplan said, "but they're matching grants, and that's money I don't have."
Coplan's grandfather, who lived on the property in the 1950s, used the barn for feeding cattle. Coplan said the barn today draws visitors from Argyle Lake State Park.
"It's a place we'd like to restore just because it's a round barn and it's still in its original state," she said.
Of the three rounds barns in McDonough County — which were all built by a man named Dick Carmack — The Clarence Kleinkopf barn is the only one remaining.
Those interested in helping with the barn's restoration, either through volunteering time or making a donation, may contact Jerry Roberts at 309-333-9684.


You are invited to find out more about a new organization

“Friends of Oakwood Cemetery”

 Friends of Oakwood Cemetery is a

volunteer organization with a mission to preserve,

protect and promote Oakwood Cemetery,

a historic cemetery in Macomb, Illinois.

To find out more please see their website at


and check out their Facebook page and “Like” the page! www.facebook.com/FriendsOfOakwoodCemetery

Please consider joining the

Friends of Oakwood Cemetery!

Kleinkopf Round Barn News

The Clarence Kleinkopf Round Barn is a round barn in McDonough County, Illinois. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Kleinkopf Barn is one of the original round barns

The Consortium website is sharing this message in order to spread the word - original message posted on Roberts facebook pagewww.facebook.com/RobertsMaintenanceMore

For more information contact the email at end of message.

Hey everyone! We are sending out a request for help with a project this spring/summer. Some of you may know the round barn out by Argyle Lake in Colchester. We are doing a drive to help restore and/or repair this barn. We are currently looking for donations which can include:

  • money
  • materials
  • labor
  • meals

and at this point in time would like people to help send this request to others. We are just getting organized here so far, and it looks like we have the paint, and some materials so far. Please contact Jerry for any information or questions. You can reach him at roberts-cleaning@hotmail.com or by messaging us on this page - www.facebook.com/RobertsMaintenanceMore

Jerry Roberts,
Roberts Maintenance and More is a locally owned, and family run contracting business built and run out of Macomb, IL.

From TriStates Public Radio website: http://wium.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/post/repairs-approved-mcdonough-county-courthouse
8:09 PM
WED MARCH 20, 2013

Repairs Approved for McDonough County Courthouse

Restoration work will be done this spring and summer to the clock tower dome on the McDonough County Courthouse.


Credit Western Illinois Regional Council
This photo shows some of the repair work needed on the courthouse dome.


“The courthouse is kind of a centerpiece for the community,” said Nathan Cobb, assistant planner for the Western Illinois Regional Council, which helped secure a $30,000 grant for the work. The grant comes from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust.

“It is a historic property,” Cobb added. “There are some nice features on it and the grant was designed to help courthouses in Illinois with significant features, and the dome really stands out.”


The courthouse is kind of a centerpiece for the community


The copper on the dome will be replaced, new paint will be applied to the dome, and some holes will be filled.


Credit Western Illinois Regional Council
Copper on the dome needs to be replaced


The total cost of the repairs is $105,000. The county board agreed during its March meeting to cover the remainder of the expense.

The book McDonough County Historic Sites reports the courthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $155,000. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Take a look at the new

"McDonough County Historical Society - The Cemetery Markers Project"


fun way to see all the beautiful photographs

of the 95 cemetery signs installed by the McDonough County Historical Society in the past 5 years. 

It is a "page-flipping" way to see the entire project and read all about all of the cemeteries with signs in McDonough County -along with seeing images of people who care about each of these unique historic resting places.  The e-book contains a photograph of each cemetery sign as well as the story of the cemetery in a press release written when the sign was installed. The Cemetery Markers Project is coordinated by Gil Belles. All photographs and press releases by Gil Belles. 

Eric Zimmerman accepts a new sign for the Dye/Pope Cemetery located on his family's property.
Eric Zimmerman accepts a new sign for the Dye/Pope Cemetery located on his family's property.
Press Release
February 2013
Tennessee Township  -  Eric and Honey Zimmerman, the owners of property that includes the Dye/Pope Cemetery, recently accepted a new sign to mark the site donated by the McDonough County Historical Society. 
This cemetery is located in the far west quarter of Section 6 of Tennessee Township in McDonough County. 
The headstones are all fallen and partially buried under sod and weeds. It is difficult to estimate how many remain of the 17 original burials.
James Dye buried his first wife Barbara, here in 1846. He buried one of his young grand children, Caroline, in this place in 1845. James was murdered in 1854, allegedly by his much younger second wife. In the mid-1960s, out-of-state descendants of the Dye family removed the four Dye monuments from this location and embedded them in a family plot in Missouri.
  A sophisticated “poking” at this site might reveal more headstones marking burials between 1845 and 1881, the date of the last burial.
The Pope family later owned the surrounding property and five members of that family rest at this site with at least two of their headstones visible.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home, Assets Protection, Inc. (Robert Fischer, President), and the McDonough County Historical Society.

George Blome at Wilhelm sign
George Blome at Wilhelm sign
Press Release
February 13, 2013
Macomb - When George Blome first saw the Wilhelm Cemetery last fall, a trigger in his mind set off a chain of events that has culminated in completion of his major project to reach Eagle Scout.
 The cemetery has been abandoned and inactive since 1887, with the attendant neglect taking its toll in falling trees, limbs, and aggressive weeds.
The Wilhelm Cemetery is in Section 23 of Industry Township, about one mile southeast of the Village of Industry in deep, thick forest land.
Blome, a senior at Macomb High School, asked the McDonough County Historical Society if he could develop a cleanup project at the cemetery site. The society became an enthusiastic supporter of his proposal.
He then sought permission from the leaders of his Scout Troop #4303 and began his application for Eagle Scout based on the successful completion of this project. Blome’s Scout troop is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
After four afternoons of chain saws, weed whackers, loppers, stoop labor, and the cooperation of many Scouts and friends, the Wilhelm Cemetery has emerged as a beautiful and restored center of family and local history.
Tom Green, WIU Emeritus Professor of Agriculture, was Blome’s project supervisor.
The first burial at this site in 1850 was Mary C. Cockerham, a married 19 year old daughter of Joel and Elizabeth Pennington.
Ruth Pennington, a nine-month old infant, was the last burial in 1887. Of the 28 graves, 14 memorialize infants under four years of age.
The McDonough County Historical Society recognized the work of George Blome by erecting a new sign at the cemetery entrance.
The cemetery sign project is supported by Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Homes, Assets Protection (Bob Fischer, President), and the McDonough County Historical Society.