Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brief History of Cemetery Roots in Bloomington

The following is transcribed from the Cemetery section of Bloomington and Normal in McLean County, Illinois, by J.H. Burnham, published in 1879. It's a brief history of early cemeteries in Bloomington.


We have stated elsewhere that the first cemetery laid out in the township of Bloomington, is the one in the Orendorff neighborhood, started in the year 1825. This is the oldest cemetery in the county.

Shortly after the town, now city, of Bloomington, was established, a cemetery was opened on the north side of the ample grounds now known as the Bloomington Cemetery. Here we find that the first burial was that of Mrs. Remington, about the year 1832. This tract included within the same inclosure with the Bloomington Cemetery, and contains some land owned by the city and used as a public burying-ground. As the town grew and it became evident it would be a place of considerable size, efforts were made in 1856 to establish a cemetery on a larger and more appropriate scale, and the result proves the good taste, wisdom, and judgment of those interested.

The Bloomington Cemetery Association was organized April 1, 1857. David Brier, Esq., was elected President, and L. Graves, Secretary and Treasurer, which position the latter gentleman has ably filled and is filling to the entire satisfaction of all; while the former gentleman held the presidency until he removed from the city, when Judge O.T. Reeves was elect to the position. The Cemetery grounds are located at the east end of Fremont street, and contain forty acres, and are sufficiently remote from the business center and every-day life as to render the place a fitting abode of the dead. The site chosen is a beautiful one. Its rolling ground is pleasing and is interspersed with a natural growth of trees and shrubs, making its landscape beauty unsurpassed for the purpose designed. It is a beautiful, secluded retreat, well adapted as a sacred spot for the reception of the dead, where monuments to their memory are preserved and cherished as a solace to the living. Many monuments and other valuable improvements are being made, which add beauty to and adorn the grounds, making it really a city of the dead.

The Catholic Cemetery is under the care of the Church. It is situated on West Washington street, near the city limits. This Cemetery, like the other, is fast filling up with tasteful monuments, which indicate a degree of civilization and culture greatly to be commended.

The Jewish Cemetery was laid out in 1874. It contains one acre of ground, near city limits, on the Springfield road. The President of the Association is M. Heilbrun, who first proposed the idea of a cemetery.

Source: History of Bloomington and Normal in McLean County, Illinois, J.H. Burnham, J.H. Burnham Publisher: Bloomington, 1879. pg 59-60



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