Pioneer and Indian Burials in Urbana, Champaign Co., IL
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Champaign County Genealogical Society

Pioneer and Indian Burials in Urbana, Illinois


Champaign County Genealogical Society Quarterly: As published in Volume 9, Issue 2

The Indian Chief Shemauger and his tribes of Potowatomies held a great council, probably between 1825-1845, and signed a treaty with the settlers of Urbana, Illinois. The treaty was signed under the branches of the Great Elm tree east of Urbana. The tree still stands today [1987], but the location of the actual document is unknown. Chief Shemauger said that he was born by the Boneyard Creek where Main Street now runs. He was always friendly to the white man, and did many services for them. The Chief lived near Urbana until he died at an advanced age, and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. Many of his tribe would come back during the winter, and build their camp fire on his grave to light his spirit.

The old Pioneer Burial Ground was situated on land donated to the City of Urbana by the Webber and Busey families in 1833 for the Original Town of Urbana. The land had been used for burials for Indians, and the first white person buried there was the wife of Isaac Busey in 1834. Members of early families, soldiers from various wars, and Indians, including Chief Shemauger, were buried in the Old Cemetery.

In 1903, the city decided to make a park where the cemetery was, so the relatives were notified to move the bodies of their families. It is said that there are still 25 to 30 graves in the park. Locations of specific graves are unknown because tombstones were all removed or buried underground. The area is now known as Leal Park.




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