Rural Cemetery Studies
Vicki’s note – a quote I read from another on-line source that I found. I am including the entire addendum from the on-line book. However, I could not find out who did the 2012 revision of this priceless 1970s publication. My hat’s off to any and all (Find-a-grave, Boy Scout, etc.) volunteer photographers, restorers, and researchers who find and preserve genealogical information for the rest of us.
I also love his quote about those ancestors, “…who dared to settle the prairie lands of western Illinois and raise their families.”
Read this just to know how lucky we are to have the Internet and computers to aid us in our research.
Hint – google on-line. You may just find the very exact resource you need for the tiny area that you are researching.:
RURAL CEMETERIES OF McDONOUGH COUNTY, ILLINOIS
NEW SALEM -ELDORADO
BY DUANE LESTER
GOOD HOPE, ILLINOIS
SCHUYLER –BROWN HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
THE SCHUYLER JAIL MUSEUM
” a monument is erected not because a person died, but because a person lived”
Mr. Lester’s Magnum Opus is nothing short of monumental. It is not easy to gain access to many of these historic family burial sites. By the time of Mr. Lester’s survey (1970’s) numerous plots were long left abandoned, overgrown with trees and weeds and monuments under attack by weather, livestock, vandals, and property owners who did not care about the burial sites of McDonough County’s brave pioneers.
Thankfully, we now (2012) have laws to protect our county’s historical legacy and these final resting gardens.
I am in awe of Mr. Lester for his transcriptions of hard – to – read tombstones and his laborious typing of his 18 Volumes of the Rural Cemeteries of McDonough County. He did not have access to a computer. In addition to transcribing information from tombstones, he had to painstakingly access county records (e.g. 1840 county tax list), federal census records, and local newspapers requiring a great deal of time and effort.
As a genealogist in 2012, I have access to the internet with fast access to US Census
records, Family Search (records kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints) and numerous other legal documents, books, and family journals.
Mr. Lester used an old-fashioned key – strike, ribbon tape typewriter where mistakes
were hard to correct and appear as overstrikes. There are very few attesting to his skill as a typist.
What an US Census record will not contain are the names and dates of infants who died between census surveys. Mr. Lester’s tombstone records give names and dates of children, whose lives were brief, but would otherwise be lost to history without his efforts. Frequently, he provides names of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers that allows for completion of family group sheets.
Another work of love for those who dared to settle the prairie lands of western Illinois and raise their families is being performed by Dr. A. Gil Belles. He has been able to install signs for each of these rural cemeteries and provide GPS (Global Positioning System) information making it easier for anyone wishing to visit a rural cemetery to help them actually find it.
Gil also works closely with Boy Scouts and other civic groups to help cleanup, clear brush and dead trees, locate buried tombstones, and restore stones. My revision of Mr. Lester’s document will provide information on all cemetery restoration projects.
Any changes made to Mr. Lester’s original work was done in blue color font. His maps were scanned and copied into the text and remain like his original work and are not subject to editing.
His text was transcribed using MS Word, enabling me to control font size and color. Retyping text also leaves room for typo errors. Mr. Lester’s rare typo errors are corrected but not displayed in blue. This MS Word document allows on -the – fly editing of any “Notes, Corrections, Additions, and Changes” found at the end of every cemetery. This was Mr. Lester’s intent to produce a working document and improve accuracy about the information on those buried.
I have retyped state abbreviations as they are now used (e.g. IL, instead of Ill.). On 1840 county tax lists I omitted cents (e.g. $140, instead of $140.00). The current MS Word font uses less space, thus, placing more text per line. This shrinks his documents and reduces pages. This , then, changes page numbering in each Table of Contents.