College Cemetery

College Cemetery
College Hill
Willson's Grove

Township 15N, Range 10W
Morgan County, Illinois

No visible trace remains of this cemetery, which was formerly on what is now the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue in Jacksonville. Jonathan Baldwin Turner Junior High School now occupies the site. The Jacksonville Journal of Sunday, May 4, 1902 carried this news item about College Cemetery:


The so-called College cemetery on Lincoln avenue was platted in the early days of Illinois College, the purpose of the trustees being to supply a want keenly felt and at the same time to derive some revenue from the sale of lots. The college at that time owned a good deal of land which stretched out to the south from the college campus and a few acres were fenced off for cemetery purposes. The old New England idea of cemetery making was carried out, in that space was economized and the graves were placed very close together, the head stone of one being next to the foot stone of another. Before the other cemeteries came into general use, many old families held lots in this cemetery and buried their dead there. Among those who were interred there were Governor Duncan and Augustin Jean Frederick Provost, stepson of Aaron Burr, these being two of a long list which might be mentioned. Long sice they were moved to other burying grounds and the same is true of nearly all who were ever laid to rest in the "College Cemetery."

An earlier story in the Jacksonville Journal of May 30, 1870, listed two soldiers known to have been buried in College Cemetery: William Alexander and Thomas A. Smith. This cemetery was on land formerly owned by Judge Aaron Willson. In 1824, the site was known as "Willson's Grove".

The Jacksonville Journal of June 26, 1925, carried a letter written by Katherine Hamilton Boyd in which she mentioned a relative, Martin Robertson, who was buried in the old deserted burying ground to the left of the road on the way to Diamond Grove and the Catholic Cemetery. College Cemetery was a cornfield when she was a child. When the site was buldozed in preparation for the construction of Jonathan Baldwin Turner Junior High School, a number of tombstones and burials were allegedly uncovered and smashed by the operation, being covered over by the landscaping. But two cast iron coffins were moved to the Potters Field Section of Diamond Grove Cemetery. One of the men who helped move the two coffins told this writer that each coffin had a small window in the top, and that the bodies of an unidentified man and woman were in excellent condition. He described the color of their skin as being of a dull gold. This was in August of 1955. From the burial book of Diamond Grove Cemetery and news stories in microfilm records of old Jacksonville Journals, the compilers have copied the names of persons who were formerly buried here.

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