Cemetery Tales

County Line Cemetery in Capron, Illinois

County Line Cemetery in Capron, Illinois

On cold days like we’ve been having recently, I start to yearn for warmer weather and all that accompanies it: ice cream cones, bike rides, and long walks through the local cemeteries. It might sound dreary at first glance, but taking a stroll through one of Boone County’s many beautiful cemeteries is definitely a delight, providing an abundance of fresh air, peace, exercise, and a history lesson to boot! A majority of Boone County’s cemeteries are still rural and small, and often contain generations of family members. One walk through a cemetery can tell you much about the residents and the time in which they lived.

In 1858, Adam Cline buried his brother on his farm, located right across the street from the Flora Church, and built a fence around the grave. Neighbors started asking to bury their family there, and the Flora Cemetery began. You may notice while walking around that many stones there predate 1858. This is because many families transferred their family members from other burial grounds, namely Charter Oak Cemetery in DeKalb County. Some common family names in the cemetery are Banks, Cline, Roach, Houdeshell, and Taylor.

Leroy Township’s Stone School Cemetery is a pretty corner cemetery located right across the street from the Leroy Community Grange, which was once the Stone School, on Leroy Grange Road. Sadly, many stones are broken and scattered around the cemetery today. It’s still worth a walk around. According to county legend, the cemetery contains two unnamed Civil War casualties who were shipped back to Boone County to be buried.

Situated in lot 28 of County Line Cemetery in Capron is an interesting headstone for a Captain Richard Macy, who died September 16, 1850. Although the stone is largely illegible now, it reads “Died at sea on his return from California in 1850.” According to local stories, Macy was bound for the California Gold Coast but he had to abandon his ship. On his way back, he contracted malaria and died. His wife Catherine is actually the only one buried there but the headstone certainly tells an interesting story!

Manchester Township is home to a beautiful cemetery along North Boone School Road. The Livingston Cemetery, begun in 1847, was intended to also be the site of a Baptist Church. However, there was not a strong enough Baptist presence in the area so the church was never built. In 1919, Frank, Edwin, and Charles Thornton commissioned the building of a chapel on the site originally set aside for the Baptist Church. This chapel was built to honor the memory of William and Ann Thornton, the brothers’ parents and early settlers in the area. The chapel, which features Prairie-style architecture and stained glass windows, was designated a Boone County historic landmark in 1996. The ornate arched double gate that welcomes visitors to the cemetery dates from 1924.

This summer, I’m excited to visit Drake Cemetery, on Dawson Lake Road, for the first time. In 2012, Andrew Geyer of Belvidere cleaned up the cemetery for his Eagle Scout project, clearing it of brush and debris. He also added a sign and gate, as well as a memorial marker which includes information on the families buried there, including the names of the three Civil War veterans who rest there.

So are you ready to do your own cemetery walking come springtime? No matter which cemetery you visit, please remember to always be respectful of other visitors and those buried there, as well as all cemetery property. For more information before you head out, you can find indexes and histories for all of Boone County’s cemeteries at Ida Public Library’s Local History Room in Belvidere.