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 , 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.