As we headed to my cousin’s memorial service in Rolla, Missouri, we had to take a break now and then, and what better way to stretch than to find an old, historic cemetery! The first day on the road had been an exercise in futility. the second day, wasn’t!
We decided to stop in Vandalia, Illinois to see the Historic Statehouse where Abraham Lincoln began his political career. It is the “Oldest Existing Illinois Captitol Building,” built in 1836. It served as the State Capitol for 3 short years. The grounds are manicured and beautiful. The eighth “Madonna of the Trail” that was dedicated stands on the corner of the State House grounds. There are twelve of these, commissioned by the NSDAR. They were placed in each of the twelve states that the National Highway or sometimes referred to as the National Old Trails Highway, went through. The highway roughly follows the old Route 66 or Highway 40. We love this highway and followed it from California across our nation.
These monuments were created by August Leimbach, a German immigrant. The first was dedicated July of 1928 (Springfield, Ohio) and the last April of 1929 (Bethesda, Maryland.) They were created to honor the spirit of the women who traveled this trail with their families, providing love, support and courage.The “Old State Cemetery” is a short block away from the State House, and was THE destination after the Statehouse. This marker was on a small incline as you entered the cemetery.One of the first things we noticed about this cemetery were these bronze markers placed throughout the cemetery. They either had a history of the person, or the transcription of an aged and weathered headstone that was no longer legible. We had a virtual history lesson of the area as we walked thru the cemetery! Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our Historical Societies took this kind of interest in settlers of their community? It appears that this old headstone has been cast into this cement slab to preserve it. Another example of how important this cemetery is to the community. The simplicity and size of this marker made it stand out. It appears to be cast from some type of metal that stands the test of time. It could have been on a larger monument at one time, I’m not sure, but it is very similar to what I refer to as “blue headstones.” I find these every so often at various cemeteries.This is an example of a complete transcription. Mary Hall and her son, James, entire stone has been transcribed to this bronze marker. My guess would be that when the transcription project began this poor stone was already too far gone to be transcribed. By leaving it to die a dignified death it honors the remains of the one sleeping under it. No old cemetery would be complete without at least one Civil War Hero, and Vandalia’s Old State Cemetery is no exception. This entire monument has been treanscribed, but not on bronze markers.This one has been transcribed on a monument directly in front of the original monument. Col. Greathouse was only 22 years old! How any 22 year old Colonels do you know of today? Does it appear odd that we have leaders from both sides commending this man? Or is it just me? How could they both had known him? It would be interesting to pursue this further. . .
If only I had more time!