The First Carthage Cemetery
The First Carthage Cemetery, (Carthage Lake Park), Carthage Township, Hancock County, Illinois

The First Carthage Cemetery, opened in December of 1834 the next year after the founding of the city (which was platted in 1833) is located on the grounds of what is now the Carthage Lake Park in Carthage, Illinois.  This park according to Mr. Ralph Williams, caretaker, was opened about 1939.

It is about a mile northwest of the Hancock County courthouse which is on the square in the Carthage business district.  According to Mr. Williams the building of the town was the town where the cemetery is located, but a few years later or before the end of the 1830s the effort was moved to the area around the courthouse.  That is supposed to be the exact center of the county.

But before this was down according to Mr. Williams there were to business establishments, a Lumber Mill and a Flour Mil, and at least six residences started at this cemetery location.  None of this construction is standing today.

The Charles J. Schofield history of the county (1921) gives the following account about this cemetery (volume to page 1425):

"Promptly thereafter (after the platting of the town), the county commissioners court purchased land for a public "burying ground" for the county seat.

December 5, 1834  ? ordered that the sum of $20. be in the same is hereby appropriated to pay Michael Rickard for two acres of land for a burying ground as selected by E. S. Freeman and Wesley Williams, and the treasurer will pay the same account of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated as soon as the said Michael Rickard shall execute a deed before said tract of land.

On April 25, 1835, the purchase of the "burying ground" was perfected by a deed now of record in the recorders office, which deed is as follows:

"The indenture made and entered into the twenty-fifth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred thirty-five, between Michael Rickard of Hancock County in the state of Illinois of the one part and Wesley Williams and Klam S. Freeman trustees for and on behalf of the citizens of the town of Carthage in said County of Hancock in the aforesaid said state of Illinois Witnesseth that the said Michael Rickard for and in consideration of the sum of twenty dollars to him in hand paid by the county commissioner's court of said County hereby sells, conveys and confirms unto the said town of Carthage for the use of the citizens thereof or such an all such as may at any time hereafter become citizens of said town, two acres of land being a part of the S.W. quarter of section No. thirteen of Township No. five north of range seven west and beginning at a stake a little southwest of the grave of Col. Freeman's infant from which a white oak marked W. bearers south 8 1/2 degrees just a little upward of 11 feet, tense east to the east line of the said the quarter section and lying north for quantity so as to include two acres and no more.  And it is expressly understood by these presents that the said Williams and Freeman hard to acquire no individual interest in the aforesaid premises, and are to be held the same interest for the use of the citizens of said town as a possible burying ground, and as soon as the said town of Carthage becomes incorporated and trustees are elected and then the title to the aforesaid trust of land to invest in dam and their successors for ever for the use specified and no other.  In testimony hereof the said Michael Rickard have hereunto set is hand and seal the day and year herein first written.  If Michael Rickard (seal)

The Carthage Republican in its December 4, 1918 No. presented the following write about this cemetery: (it is reprinted in the Schofield county history, same page).

"The earliest Carthage Cemetery is little known to the average citizen and we have not been able to ascertain how or by what remains the old "burying ground" was designated.

It is located in W. O., Kunkel's feedlot or pastor just north of the fairgrounds and would be difficult to locate as there remains now but two grave stones burying inscriptions.  Carthage was surveyed for county seat in the '30s and the dates of death on the two stones are 1841, no one will realize that very likely this high a knoll in what was then a heavy timber was selected by the earlier residents of this town and vicinity for the burial of their dead.

The location of this cemetery has given rise to much speculation, for any relation to our present system roads it is remote from any beaten path  It will be remembered that in that early period  of our local history no system of roads had been established over the county, and  trails led directly from any town in the county to the county seat. The old road to Nauvoo ran directly northwest from Carthage.  The first house on the outskirts of Carthage on the Nauvoo -- Carthage road was the Louis Stevenson cabin on the sight on the present residence on the fairgrounds, so that the old Nauvoo road did not run by this cemetery, but from a topographical standpoint it lies of easy access from the Nauvoo road on the west, as it curves into Carthage from the old camp meeting ground and could be approached over level ground from the east from Carthage.

Elliett Conklin and family man a small five acres plot of ground now operated by Ann Paris as a truck garden.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Conklin roamed the timber is on the surrounding hills and this old cemetery was a favorite haunt.  This study the inscriptions on the old is tombstones and no them by heart.

But there uancherished desolation lies this old cemetery marked only by two dislodged in broken stones, about which lying a number of sunken unmarked graves.  It rests on a close cropped knoll is where cattle wonder that we all and visited only by roaming small boy or  the curious hunter.

To get to it now one follows the blacktop road into the park from the south park entrance.  About halfway through the park going north the two stones mentioned in the above may be seen from the road (about 10 feet from the edge of the blacktop) lying flat now like markers to the upright typed and once used that way.

The burial list, also quotation from the December 4, 1918 Carthage Republican Wright up:

"One of the two stones remaining, is that of Ellis Hughes. The  stone is a product flat marble slab, very handsomely carved, and had been originally supported by six short pillars and probably a coping.  This stone in said to have been shipped from Virginia and that facts and the inscriptions on the stone would lead one to consider that the deceased was of some consequence in his family and very possibly in the community.  The inscription is as follows:

Sacred to the memory of Ellis Hughes who departed this life March 23, 1841 aged 33 years, and two months.  He was in most devoted man, and an affectionate Brother and faithful friend.
Two weeks, and it is well; for tears hold earth's partings.  Yesterday song was upon the lips of this pale clay and sunshine seemed to dwell were ever he moved to work on and the blessed.

"His transit Gloria mundit !"  With all this elaboration of effort to make a perpetual shrine and memorial at this grave we have found no one who can tell us of this Hughes family, a number of whom are buried here, or anything of this young man who went to this grave so mourned and honored.

The other stone March the grave of Nancy Pool, wife of the first Methodist minister located in Carthage.  The inscription reads:

Nancy  Pool
Consort of Rev. Isaac Pool
Warren near Lynchburg, Virginia, June 3, 1806
Died in Carthage, Illinois, May 16, 1841
aged 35 years and 13 days

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.  From henceforth, saith the spirit, the rest from their labors and their works do follow them."

These two stones are still that these graves in 1965 as is indicated on the title page but apparently are more weathered and perhaps more broken up than in 1918.  The writer of this (Warren L. Van Dine) examine dam on Nov. 23rd 1965.  The few words of the inscriptions which he was able to make out showed them to be the two stones describe any about.  The main "Ellis Hughes" can still be read on the first and the first line of the epitaph on the second.

(Resuming the question): (citizens have stated that in their childhood when they went to roaming heavy words which then came within block of the public square, they came into this little city of the dead and found 12 or 14 graves, to what the elaborate stones setting forth the virtues of the deceased, the others having been rough hewn sand stones to mark them."

It will be recalled that the name of one person buried here is named in the material copied from the dead to this cemetery dated April 25, 1835 quoted on this title page.

This reads:

"Beginning at a stake a little southwest of the grave of Col. Freeman's in front from which a white oak" etc.