Maquon Cemetery

Maquon Cemetery is located in the southwest quarter of Section 34 in Haw Creek Township

of the
The Simkins family consisting of three brothers their wives and children, the eldest brother being my grandfather, the second Benoni, around whom this little history centers to day.

Hiram, the youngest, emigrated from near Pittsburg, Pa to Martinsburg, Highland Co ohio in 1833 engaging in agriculture of which the chief product was tobacco, a little more than two years later they advanced to Terra Haute, Indiana arriving there in Feb. 1836. there they assisted in quarrying and hauling stone for the building of the National Bridge across the Wabash River, working till September they journeyed on to Illinois though having traveled some out of the way they crossed they crossed the Illinois River 16 miles below Lewiston, came within two miles of Lewiston Nov. 1836 with weather very much below zero and plenty of snow and here they camped for a month, while Benoni investigated and decided on a permanent location, which resulted thus: Benoni purchased land located on the south west quarter of section 34 lying northeast of the depot with only a road between, he moved into a little log cabin on the northeast corner of the southeast 40 of this quarter section, the other two families occupying cabins about 50 ft apart on the spot now the old homestead of Aunt Betsy Selby. only 20 acres of this land purchased by Benoni was enclosed, the remainder, and all land surrounding him for which was open prairie.

He brought to this country with him a young man whos name was Van Winkle to assist in tilling the soil and building up a home in famed Illinois.

While yet in his service in 1839 young Van Winkle sickened and died, emeadiatly Benoni sought a place to bury this young man. He was refused by John Walters who owned what now is termed the Briggs cemetery, also by Barbero both being owned by individuals and were considered family burying plots. He bethought himself returned saying that he would have a place to bury the dead of his own so he buried this young man close in the northeast corner of his farm near the corner stone, a young man by the name of Ben Weeden who also died while making his home with him the same year, was the second. a daughter of Benoni's was third, Mrs. Claypole my fathers sister was the fourth, several years it was thus, not enclosed, lying out in open prairie. The owners of the other three quarters of the same section, that comes in the center of the old cemetery - later on was owned as follows: Mr. Miles the south east quarter, Elisha Barrett or Philomon Selby the northeast quarter and Nagle the northwest quarter, Mr. Simkins soliceted these different owners to each donate a quarter of an acre making an acre in all in the center of the section, it is generally understood that this is authentic, but I find it controdicted. It has been stated to me that Mr. Simkins & Miles were willing and agreed upon the south half acre but that the owners of the two north quarters were not willing at that time, that the plan of this cemetery was carried out is evident to us all although there is no record of exact dates, no transfer by deed acceptable as a gift, used for the purpose for which it was given and generally recognized by each succeeding owner of theas lands. Through an agreement and a specified sum of money a transfer by deed of 160 acres of land on the northwest quarter of section 34 from Mr. Nagle to Noah Simkins was made May 31st 1855. This land was unimproved mostly prairie at that time. My father the same year enclosed the southeast 40 fencing out the quarter of acre, by so doing built the first fence around this part of Old Cemetery ever after, furnished and kept in repair this fence till his death in 1892 when another half acre was added from his land for a family burial lot - this enclosed with a new post and five-board fence same year.

About the year 1867 or 68 something of a cemetery association was formed and I am not sure of facts but their meetings were held in the Old Brick schoolhouse. The object mainly to get means to erect a new fence around cemetery.

Wm. Swigert, J. Burkhalter and Jack Henderson were the committee on the fence. They let the contract to Wm. Simkins the fence to be made of pickets and painted white, and surrounded the south half of Old Cemetery south east south and west. When the work was finished as per contract there was neither money nor association, consequently he never recieved any cash for material or labor.

Until the present road leading to the cemetery was made in 1859 the people went through fields or any way to get there, principaly through by Benoni Simkins house and down east of the depot through a gate near the farm residence of Mrs. Clark then across.

The first addition was the purchase of a quarter of an acre by David Housh for a family lot in 1877, the second addition was quarter of an acre by Samuel Andrew . North of theas were lots purchased by Con Jones, Donason and Barbero, also a quarter of an acre on the east, theas lots bought by Joshua Burnett 1877. The recent additions and lots improvements are well known to us all needing no further reminder. I will close with this statement that A. P. Weeden who died in the early day and Mattie Foster served in the War of 1812. No trace of a revolutionary soldiers nearer than two sons of one who served in the War of the Revolution, theas are Benoni and Horatio Simkins again I can say My great grandfather served in the Revolutionary War. [Author Unknown]

This was probably written prior to 1904, due to the statement about "Aunt Betsy Selby's homestead". Elizabeth (Gullett) Selby died March 25, 1904. It was possibly written when the Maquon Ladies Cemetery Association was formed in 1900. The author is unknown other than they were a grandchild of Benoni Simkins Jr., possibly one of Noah Simkins children. It was found in the Maquon Public Library in the Maquon Historical Society files that were accumulated for the publication of "History of Maquon and Vicinity 1827 - 1976", and I copied it as written from a photocopy of original handwritten copy. It was never published, although Ruth (Simkins) Swearingen used some of the information to compile a short history of the Maquon Cemetery. Her essay states that the first person buried here was James Van Winkle. He does not have a stone. Mattie (Matthew? Mathias?) Foster and Mrs. (Simkins) Claypole (Claypool?) do not have one either.

Up into the early 1900's most obituaries refer to this cemetery as Simkins Cemetery.

Contributed by Todd Walter in December 2001.

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