The Forgotten Men of Montebello Cemetery, Montebello Township, Hancock
The Forgotten Men of Montebello Cemetery, Montebello Township, Hancock County, Illinois
The 2,500 mile long Mississippi River whose mighty waters covered this Montebello Township cemetery (the upper Mississippi here is graphically described in the 1968 Hancock county history (page 89) as follows:
"The mighty Mississippi, famous for steamboats and tales of Tom Sawyer, and for which four nations struggled, played at an important part in the exploration and settling of this area. Mourning through the heartland of America, it moves eight times as much water as the Rhine, and One hundred twenty 7 times the volume of the Thames.
The Mississippi that had such a humble beginning at Itasca, Minnesota where one can walk across it without getting one's shoes wet, gathers its tributary waters from America's vital areas and flows on to the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1662 LaSalle visited "The Father of Waters" it is said that the name of the river came from the Ojibwas, better known as the Chippewa Indian tribe, who called it " Misisipi", "misi" meaning the big and "sipi" meaning River. The Fox Indians, clan of the red fox, and the Sauk of the woodland Indians, were part of the Algonquin tribe. They called it great river. Time has 0 paraded all names except the one given by the Ojibwas. those living in close proximity to the river refer to bed to simply as "The river" MANY fail to grasp its beauty, strength, power and and magnificence. "
The 1921 Hancock County History (volume to page 878) Charles J Schofield describes the Keokuk and Hamilton Dam which was completed in June of 1913, which according to this cemetery burial it caused the submerging of it beneath a mile wide River, as follows:
"The Dam structure is composed of 119 spans, each consisting of two piers supporting an arc which holds a causeway.
The concrete Dam, including the abutments, is 4,649 feet in length. It is twenty-nine ft. wide at top and forty-two ft. at the bottom. It is fifty-three ft. high. The spillway sections are each thirty ft. long and thirty-two ft. high. There are steel grates on top of this bill waste be 11 by 32 ft. operated with electric cranes. Powerhouse is 1,718 ft. long, 132 ft. 10 in. wide, and 117 ft. 6 inches high.
The lock is one of the largest in the world. It is 400 ft. long inside and 618 ft. 8 in. outside, 110 ft. wide, and the height of the walls are 52 ft. 4 in.. The lift is 40 ft.. The tri loc, located between the lock and the Iowa shore is a hundred 150 ft. by 463 ft., and is one of the largest and fresh waters. This sea wall is 1,110 ft. long and the height ranges from 45 to 73 ft.. "
It has been said this mighty structure backed up the waters of the river forty miles back. It not only put this cemetery beneath Lake Keokuk as the section of the river back of the Dam is called but it submerged all the islands of the river for many miles back.
Quoting from the 1968 work again (page 95):
"In 1913, the Dam had dealt a death blow to the islands when they were submerged by 30 ft. of water, creating a lake extending 30 mi. with a width of one and one-half miles. "
The village of Sonora landing in Sonora township and not much more than 3 mi. above this cemetery (the site anyway because it was practically a ghost town by 1913) was completely submerged and in Nauvoo in Nauvoo Township (the next river Township above Sonora) several streets were covered, with many trees, sheds, and are still beneath the river at this writing (1968) 55 years after the building of the dam.
There will be no list of names for this cemetery as no one knows now who was buried in it. It was a cemetery founded so early in the history of our county no one now living who was on earth when these dead were buried there. It has been at least a century since anyone did live who might be expected to know.
So instead of the usual list the statement about this burying ground can be made in 1968 county history will of necessity be used.
(1968 Hancock county history, page 382)
As the waters back in late Keokuk after construction of the Keokuk
and Hamilton Dam, there was an intended cemetery location of the old town
of Montebello which was completely flooded. Apparently no records
exist of burials there they were probably those of early settlers, although
it is possible that there were Indian burials to