A new guide makes it a bit easier to find some of McDonough County’s rural cemeteries. The full color publication was put together by the McDonough County Historical Society. The Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the GIS Center at Western Illinois University also helped with the project.
The Historical Society’s Gil Belles said people are interested in cemeteries for a variety of reasons.
“There are a lot of people who just love to go into cemeteries. They’re quiet, they’re peaceful, you can look at the native flora and fauna and the birds,” Belles said.
“You can see architecture and trees and the way minerals have been used for headstones, the way the artists have carved and etched stones over the years.”
He said there is also a lot of history to be found in cemeteries. For example, ethnic patterns can be traced by the last names on headstones and disease patterns can be uncovered by the way deaths are clustered.
Belles said the guide includes GPS coordinates for 35 of the cemeteries, which will make it easier to find some of the more remote locations. Belles has spent several years trying to uncover all of the county’s cemeteries so he knows how difficult some can be to locate.
“It took me sometimes two summers, maybe three to find some of them,” Belles said. “Nobody should have to do what I went through.”
The guide notes the location of 35 graveyards. Belles said there are more than 100 cemeteries in the county.
The guides can be found at several locations, including Macomb City Hall, the CVB, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Macomb Public Library.
It is also available on the McDonough County Historical Society’s website.
Belles said his next project is to help restore and preserve the Old Macomb Cemetery at West Adams Street and Wigwam Hollow Road.