Brewer Cemetery, Fountain Green Township, Hancock County, Illinois
The Brewer Cemetery was set up at the west edge of the farm field, about a quarter mile back from the road and farm home (on the north side of an East-west road ). This farm is located in Section 29 of Fountain Green township, a mile or so north and a little east of the village of Webster.
This is the beautiful broken wooded farm area of the township around Webster which is historic Mormon country. The Lincoln country part of the township is a couple of miles off to the east in the Fountain Green Village area.
The following reference to John Brewer, second white settler (1827) who carved this farm out of the wilderness, occurs in the introduction to the McConnell cemetery burial list in this collection.
"This is a burial list for a beautiful world McConnell cemetery of Fountain Green township. Here sleeping the sleep of death may be found at the pioneer McConnell, Geddes, Brewer, Walker, and other families of this great township where life was lived proudly with taste in the last century, in Civil War days and in antebellum times ( meaning before the war).
Across the fence west of it lies the farm of John Brewer wrested from the wilderness when he came here from Kentucky and 1827.
Warren L. Van dine compiled this burial list. John Brewer who has been mentioned was his great great grandfather (through his grandmother's Salisbury who was Mary J.. Brewer). Back in Kentucky Brewer fought the disastrous Battle of raising river, Michigan. In January of 1813 in the War of 1812 or his regiment, the 17th Kentucky militia, was almost wiped out by General proctor's allied force of British and Indians. Here in Illinois he served in the Black Hawk war.
John Brewer came to Illinois and 1827 as stated , bringing his wife Jane and his two small daughters, Mary A. who was probably born around 1820 (she married here in Illinois and 1839), deceased 1847 and Joanna, born October 7, 1824, married in 1849, died May 30, 1891.
A son Thomas J. Brewer was born to this couple after they reached Illinois, born in 1829, died October 24, 1906 he is labeled the first white child born in Fountain Green Township (Gregg's 1880 history of Hancock County, page 819). He may have Been the first white child born in the county.
The Brewer cemetery back in the farm field probably was set up when Jane Brewer died August 29, 1851 at the age of 51 years, seven months, and 13 days. According to these figures she must have been born about January 16, 1800.
John Brewer passed over the river of death described by Bunyan and his immortal allegory "Pilgrim's progress", this on September 30, 1853. He was in his '70's. As has been stated he fought in the Battle of the War of 1812 Just 40 years before his death date. He left a will which no more than a century later may be examined with interest in the John Brewer Estates File in the office of the County Clerk in the Hancock County courthouse and Carthage, Illinois (index to Estates 1-P . , 15, box 29, Record of Wills 1, P. 61). He affixed his mark to this instrument July 29, 1853 about two months before he breathed his last.
In course of time according to people yet living (1967) who recall visiting this farm field cemetery and walking among the stones there were about 10 or 12 burials.
The farm was owned by the Brewer family till the late 1930's. After John and Jane passed on in the early 1850's their daughter Joanna and her husband, the Robert McConnell Family, owned it and resided on it. After they died about the turn of the century their three children Maurice C. (1855-1936), Mary P. (1857-1937), and Walter L. (1862-1937) remained in residence there they did not marry, staying there till overtaken by death.
The farm fell into the hands of strangers after the passing of this trio of John Brewer grandchildren. And one of a number of owners who came and went hauled the monuments to the barnyard of the farm home where he dumped them in a pile. The burying ground was plowed up and added to the farm field.
In the late 1950's Warren L. Van dine (a Brewer family descendant as stated) this of the farm. The house was now on an abandoned ruin with the land farmed by an owner who resided elsewhere. There were three monuments and left, two in the barnyard (for Jane Brewer and for a daughter-in-law Josephine Brewer, the first wife of Thomas J. Brewer) and one at the cemetery site in the field (for John Brewer). The remainder of the stones have not been found to date (the late 1960's). All effort to locate them has been unsuccessful and it is presumed that they have been destroyed.
These three stones were taken to the McConnell cemetery, now a township owned burying ground across the fence east of the farm field. A. Brewer family lot was staked off and the three stones set upon it . The dead still sleeps in death in the farm field but there stones are now in the McConnell cemetery.
This was done on Disinterment and Reinterments permits issued by the state of Illinois, this is the early 1960's. Statements were attached signed by a professional grave digger (Mr. David Stevenson of Carthage, Illinois of).
The following is a copy of the Steven statement.
"For the cemetery trustees of Fountain Green township:
I was in charge of the work of setting up to three upright American white marble monuments for John Brewer, his wife Jane Brewer, in McConnell cemetery, Fountain Green Township, Hancock County, Illinois, which Warren L. Van dine moved from a farm field beside the cemetery after they had been removed by someone from the graves in a Brewer family burial plot in the field.
I was in a employed at one time my life for a Nauvoo, Illinois monument dealer. I have in recent years been employed as a grave digger in Powellton cemetery in Sonora township in this county.
While I have not done very much this disinterment work, I am willing to give an opinion on this. In my opinion the letter of Warren L. Van dine, of the February 10, 1961 in which he outlines the reason for not being able to move the actual remains of the three and states he has only moved the monuments, is sensible and that is all that can be done in the matter. Nothing more is possible now in my opinion. I have read the above letter.
In addition to working two different days in McConnell cemetery I went with Mr. Van dine to the supposed site of the Brewer family burial plot in the farm field on the farm beside the cemetery. "
The following is a copy of the Van dine letter of February 10, 1961 referred to in the Stevenson statement:
"Mr. Allen and Geddess, Cemetery Trustee
Fountain Green township
R. F. D.
I enclose the Disinterment and Reinterment permits to cover the three members of the Brewer family for whom I set up the monuments on the Brewer family lot to which you allotted to me in McConnell cemetery.
After considerable discussion with a man who hired to do this work, Mr. David Stevenson of Carthage, who for years has done a grave digger in the Powellton Cemetery in Sonora township, I decided it would be impossible to move the remains and that all that would be possible would be moving the monuments which was done as you will recall.
All monuments had been removed from the family burial plot in the field where these pioneer Brewers were interred and though we knew in a general way where the plot is located in the cornfield if we were to date we would not know where the graves are located in the plot and if we succeeded in finding any grades there are said to have been between eight and twelve burials made there and we would have no way of knowing if we had the three people listed in these permits of the group or which was which. Also, these three people were buried there a hundred and ten years ago and it is extremely unlikely we would find anything in the ground if we were to succeed in locating the graves.
So for these reasons no actual digging for remains have been done. We believe you will agree this is a sensible procedure.
ThenNeiser funeral home of Carthage which is in charge of the procuring permits for this has suggested placing both the disinterments and the reinterment permit with this Cemetery Trustees of Fountain Green township. Usually you would just received the reinterment permit but as there is no regular cemetery we came from we wish to file the disinterments permit with you also. The farm field is in your Township. "
This means the Brewers are in McConnell cemetery on a legal basis as provided by Illinois State law and no one can object to the procedure
It is to be regretted it was not possible to maintain the Brewer cemetery in the farm field. The few square yards it covered could easily have been fenced in. This addition to the farm field does not mean much more crops, but owners of the farm after the passing of the Brewer family ownership in the late 1930's did not have sufficient respect for the honored pioneer dead of the County to do this.
Their action in destroying the cemetery also undoubtedly is an infraction of state law which if the writer of this is correctly informed does not permit desecration of the burying ground even if the person doing it owns the ground.
But what ever may be thought of this it has been fortunate there
is nearby McConnell cemetery just across the fence from the Brewer farm.
The Brewer family lot set up there is next to the Robert McConnell Family
lot where Joanna Brewer McConnell and her husband Robert McConnell rest
in death beneath imposing granite and also their three Brewer family lot
to which you allotted to me in McConnell cemetery.
The following obituary of Thomas J. Brewer (Nauvoo Independent, October 27, 1906) indicates he was not buried in this Brewer family burial plot in Fountain Green township. Is quoted here because of his prominence in the county in his day.
His first wife Josephine Wright Brewer is definitely known to be buried here and probably his second wife Mary Ann Tabitha May Brewer is also sleeping in death here.
"The First White Child
Death of Thomas Brewer, Who Was The First White Child Born In County.
Thomas Brewer died at his home near Niota at 5 oclock Wednesday morning of old age. He was the first white child born in Hancock County, and had he lived until the 15th of next December, he would have been 77 years old. He was born in Fountain Green township in 1820-10 years before the Mormons came to Nauvoo. He farmed in that township until 1889 when he moved to Niota where he has lived in retirement ever since. His wife and three daughters Mrs. James Fletcher and Mrs. Fred Saulsbury, of Fountain Green, and Mrs. Letha Mort, of Burnside, survive him. All the children were present at the funeral which was held Thursday afternoon. Rev. Covert conducted the services. Burial in the Niota cemetery.
The family of deceased desire to extend their grateful thanks to the neighbors and kind friends who assisted them an extended sympathy during their sad bereavement. "
The entry (no Instrument numbers in that section) in death record book D (1903-1909) in the county clerk's office in the Hancock County courthouse in Carthage indicates a third marriage for Thomas J. Brewer (to Mrs. Sarah Wilson of LaHarpe in 1873) survived him. . She undoubtedly also was not buried here, probably at Niota with him.
As the inscriptions on 3 Brewer family monuments transferred from the family burial plot in the farm field to McConnell cemetery are given in the McConnell cemetery burial list there is no reason for repeating them here.
See the McConnell Cemetery list for these: