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Oak Grove Cemetery History

Based on material from History of Jersey County, Illinois, Oscar B. Hamilton, 1919.

Oak Grove Cemetery was purchased in January, 1856 (20 acres). It is located in the eastern part of Jerseyville. The first sexton was Thomas Ford, who acted as such until the latter part of 1860. The second one was Joshua Walpole, who acted until May, 1867, and he was then succeeded by Jasper Sabo, who held the position until his death. The present sexton is Strother Kennedy. The cemetery is very well kept, and is a beautiful resting place for the dead.

First Person Buried

The first person buried in Oak Grove Cemetery was Clavira Stelle, a daughter of I. and R. Stelle, the date of her interment being August 6, 1856. The second burial was that of Elizabeth Ford, who was interred in September, 1856

Addition to Oak Grove

An additional twenty acres was purchased of Eugene Eberhard on January 19, 1898, and platted by A. W. Newton, county surveyor. There are 792 lots in the original cemetery, including fifty lots laid off for the potter’s field, and 690 in the new part, making a total of 1,482 lots, which, as a whole, makes one of the most beautiful cemeteries in this part of the state.

In the year of 1856 the town of Jerseyville bought from Newell L. Adams 10 acres of land, now in the eastern part of the town, for $80 per acre. Covered with timber, it was cleared off the same year and the ground fenced in the following year. Family lots were laid off.

1. The new cemetery

    First Grave – Clarissa, daughter of L. and R. Stelle
    Second grave – Elizabeth, daughter of Thos. and Maria Ford
    Third grave – Mary, wife of Dr. L. A. Brewster

2. Monuments and contractors

Beaumont & Co., Alton; A. Benedict, Alton; L. H. Fuller, St. Louis; H. Watson, White Hall; Houghtlin Bros., Jerseyville
The D’Arcy monument was the first one of any size that was erected in the cemetery. It was brought up from Alton in wagons and put up in 1864. Houghtlin Bros. erected the tombstone of American marble for Col. Elijah VanHorne in 1869.
Among the most costly monuments (1878) are those of: Abijah Davis, William Landon, Valentine Villinger, Dr. Asa Snell, Dr. Edward D’Arcy ($1000), Wm. B. Smith (over $800), Abner Cory, George W. Kirby, David Dunsdon ($500), Dr. Edwin A. Casey and the Vandervoort monument.

3. 1882 – reference to benches: “. . . Some time back, when the Courthouse up in town was re-furnished and seated with chairs, many of the old benches were taken to the graveyard, which make good rustic seats.”
1883 – Board asked $1.00 per lot to finish improvements.

4. New Addition: June 16, 1898 – “The last two lots in the original plat of Oak Grove Cemetery were sold this week.”
January 1898 – additional 20 acres purchased.

5. City Council improvements and recommendations.

Fences painted and white-washed; new well constructed near the Soldier’s Monument; new corner stones, indicating the lot numbers, put in new addition; 6 benches placed in the cemetery. Tool House to be built on the grounds; dirt drive-ways to be graveled.

6. Mausoleum – April 8, 1915 – owners of crypts organized.
January 1921 – Few crypts left for sale in mausoleum.

7. New entrance gate dedicated may 30, 1980.

On the 5th day of July I was ordered by the City Council to make a record of interments in Oak Grove Cemetery. With the assistance of Caspar Sabo, the sexton I got the names of those buried and the location of the graves, and finally adopted the written manner of recording same. While making this record I discovered the following interesting facts.

What is now known as Oak Grove Cemetery was purchased by the Town of Jerseyville from N. L. Adams on the 8th day of January 1856 for the sum of $800.00 payable in equal parts in 1, 2 and 3 years after date. The land was surveyed and platted by H. M. Chase chich plat was adopted by the Town Council on the 15th day of April 1856. The Town Board, at this time consisted of the following members: Alex B. Moreau, President; A. M. Blackburn, Clerk; A. G. Hinton, Wright B. Casey and Wm. P. Pittman, Trustees. The first sexton was Thomas Ford who acted until the latter part of 1866. The first person buried was Claviraa Stelle, daughter of L. and R. Stelle born in New Jersey Aug. 7th 1811 and died in this city Aug 14th 1856. The second was Elizabeth Ford daughter of Thomas Ford, born April 21st 1841 and died Sept 12th 1856. Thomas Ford was succeeded as sexton by Joshua Walpole who acted until May 1867 and was in turn succeeded by Caspar Sabo who has acted continuously ever since. In the 34 (yrs) as sexton he has buried 1779 persons, and from a patch of underbrush in 1856 has, more than any one person, made the beautiful Oak Grove Cemetery of today, with its beautiful avenues and well kept mounds, the final resting place of our loved ones, some long since forgotten, but many more who are still cherished in our memories. There are at this date 2290 persons buried in Oak Grove Cemetery of which number 286 are in the Potters Field. The 1st addition to Oak Grove Cemetery, containing 20 acres was purchased by the City Council from Eugene Eberhavett for the sum of $3000.00 part of which was surveyed and platted by A. W. Newton which plat was adopted by the City Council July 5, 1898. There are 792 lost in the original, including the 50 lots laid out for Potters Field and 640 in the 1st addition making a total of 1482. The present Board of Managers are Geo. W. Weir, Wallace Leigh and Fred Jacobs.

Jerseyville Feb. 7th 1901

A. W. Embley, City Clerk

(Notes added to the above): March 3, 1980 – 3028 lots in Oak Grove Cemetery. S. Mont. Erected May 30, 1885 by the citizens of Jersey Co.

Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.

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