Highland News Leader

Anderson Cemetery needs your financial help

A group of volunteers stands near Maj. James G. Anderson’s obelisk tombstone.
A group of volunteers stands near Maj. James G. Anderson’s obelisk tombstone. For the News Leader

Anderson Cemetery needs your financial help. The bills are piling up as the old lawn equipment is wearing out and needs costly repairs.

Anderson Cemetery, which is located southwest of St. Jacob, will be 200 years old this Sept. 25. This is the oldest cemetery in this area. Gilmore Anderson died Sept. 25, 1816 — two years before Illinois became a state — and was the first person to be buried there. We have found the lower half of Gilmore Anderson’s tombstone, with his death date clearly visible, but we have been unable to find the top half.

What better birthday present for Gilmore Anderson, the father of Maj. James Gilmore Anderson, who served in the Blackhawk War 1831-1833, than getting Anderson Cemetery back in the black?

You can help by joining the Anderson Cemetery Association. Annual dues are only $10 a year for an individual. Family membership is $25; sustaining membership is $50. We also have life membership at $500. Perpetual membership is $1,000. Make your check to Highland Area Community Foundation for Anderson Cemetery. It will be tax-deductible, if you qualify.

It would also be great to have a roadway to the cemetery, which is located in a cow pasture. Most states around Illinois have laws that a deeded cemetery has to have a roadway to get to the cemetery. Why not Illinois? Can we reach our goal? Will you help?

Anderson Cemetery is a deeded ½ -acre cemetery with 46 tombstones now standing upright, including the 8-foot high obelisk, sitting on a 3-foot base, for Maj. James Gilmore Anderson and his wife, Hannah McAdams Anderson. There is also a 6-foot obelisk for their son, William Anderson, other children and grandchildren, neighbors and friends.

When we started rehabilitating this forgotten cemetery, there was only one tombstone standing upright. There cemetery is now completely fenced in and gated, but there is still no permanent roadway back to the cemetery. The old Goshen Road that went from Alton to Shawneetown, Ill., on the Ohio River, made the north side of Anderson Cemetery. The Goshen Road was closed at Route 162, just west of Troy, and remained open just south of Mount Vernon, to Shawnetown.

“Gilmore Anderson was born about 1773. He came to Looking Glass Prairie (today called St. Jacob Township) in February of 1816, with his four sons, William, Carroll, Robert G. and James Gilmore Anderson, and two daughters, Nancy Anderson (Mrs. John Penn) and Sarah Anderson Flynn.

“Gilmore Anderson died the age of 44, on Sept. 25, 1817, just 19 months after his arrival. James Gilmore Anderson was only 13 when his father died, and the family took over the new farm, until James G. married Hanna McAdms in 1823. James G. Anderson’s family maintained the family farm until 1880, when their two sons, John P. (born in 1836) and James W. (born in 1838), sold the 160 acres to John Schmidt.

“The deed to John Schmidt, contained the  1/2 -acre for the family grave yard.” So, it was deeded at that time. The deed continued with the: “Right title and interest in and to the family grave yard (being about  ½ acre) together with the right and privilege of ingress and egress of right way to and from the said cemetery, across said above descried land for the purposes of burying or removing bodies, repairing or decorating graves. It being distinctly understood that the fee simple to said family grave yard is to remain in the said party of the first part, containing 160 acres more or less… To have and to hold forever… The above granted premises, that they are free from all encumbrance.”

My question is: When did we pass, “forever”? We were granted road access.