Old Tombstones Recently Unearthed from Forgotten Illinois Cemetery

Genealogists are always digging.

So are backhoe operators.

It was a good thing that the Fosterburg Water District was digging for a waterline in Prairietown, Illinois, because while digging they found a long-abandoned historic cemetery.


No one had remembered that there was an old cemetery there. The tombstones had fallen and over the years were buried and forgotten.

Old Tombstone from Prairietown, Illinois Cemetery
Credit: John Badman, The Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 28 June 2013.

Credit: John Badman, The Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 28 June 2013.

The dig for the waterline unearthed these long-lost gravestones. Anthropologist Dawn E. Cobb from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency began studying why these tombstones were there. She looked at old Illinois maps and quickly found that there was a cemetery located at that spot in 1873, and a church was shown there on an 1892 map.

Years ago St. Mary’s Roman Catholic parish was merged with a parish in Macoupin County, Illinois. Now she is investigating how many people were buried there and researching the old records to find their names and genealogical details. Read the entire story in The Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 28 June 2013: http://bit.ly/1aZp9Ac.

How many small cemeteries are gone from our memories?

How many tombstones have tipped over—with solid genealogical information buried—waiting to be rediscovered?

Historic Cemeteries and Unmarked Graves Newspaper Articles

Take the time this summer to research and found out where the old cemeteries were in your area 150 and 200 years ago. Are they all still accounted for?

Let us know if you rediscover a “lost” cemetery and what you found in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Old Tombstones Recently Unearthed from Forgotten Illinois Cemetery

  1. From FindaGrave.com: “Cemetery notes and/or description:
    This information was taken from Volume I #3 of The Stalker, the newsletter of the Madison County Genealogical Society.

    Ridgely was a small community in northern Madison County. Post Office records show the Ridgely Post Office was active from 1847 to 1867. Local rumor has it that the cemetery was under the right of way of Renken Road and when the road was widened, the stones were thrown into the adjoining pasture.

    Parts of three stones were found in the pasture.”

  2. I have been working on my genealogy for many years. My origins go back it Scotland although I was born in Huron County Michigan. As a child, my father used to point out many single burial sites—sometimes one or two,,,,The locals are aware of them and preserve the sites

  3. Looking for parents of David Miller, born June 7, 1809 and died Nov. 9, 1879. He was married to Anna Margaretha Wolfgang. Can anyone help me with this problem??

    1. Hi Mabel Lou,

      On GenealogyBank you can search for a marriage or engagement announcement or an obituary in the newspaper listing parent’s names. It’s possible if David served in the military that you might find a listing for him in our historical documents collection (U.S. Congressional Serial Set).

      If you know the cemetery where David is buried I would suggest contacting them to see what further information they might have. Many times cemeteries will have documents and pieces of information concerning individuals and their families in their records that are not published elsewhere.

      I would suggest checking church records in the locations where he lived. I would also suggest going to the public library in the area where he passed away and see if they have a genealogical society that may house family histories and books. Tax records, land grants, and deeds that were left or passed on after his passing may be another worthwhile search.

      I hope this helps. Good luck in your research!

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