McCord Cemetery

Irving, Illinois

Copyright January 2010 Jeanne Johnson

This narrative is the chronological record of McCord Cemetery beginning with its origin as a neighborhood burial ground and following its growth and subsequent decline through the years. It includes important, unusual, and interesting events that shaped its history and the lives of the persons buried here.

The History of  McCord Cemetery

By Jeanne M. Johnson

The story of historic McCord Cemetery is interwoven with the early settlement and growth of the surrounding area and spans 175 years. The Illinois Territory entered the Union as the state of Illinois in 1818 and the federal government's "Act of April 24, 1820" offered virgin land at bargain prices to encourage its settlement. Pioneers traveled to the area on horseback and in covered wagons primarily from Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Ohio. Nearly half of the land of Illinois was treeless prairie with rich fertile soils that was advantageous for farming. Earlier settlements in the farming regions to the east and along the Atlantic coast were becoming more populated and, as families increased in number, so did the need for additional land to support new generations. The early settlers in Irving County that are buried at McCord Cemetery had come to the new frontier in search of a better life.

 

The inscriptions of the grave markers, newspaper archives, and other sources reveal much about the interred such as their occupations, the wars they fought in, when their lives began and ended, and other personal information. Some of the grave markers are elaborate in design and large in size but the majority of them reflect the economic reality of the rural lives of early pioneers. There are 261 identified interments in this cemetery; the oldest cemetery marker displays the death year of 1835 and the most recent one is 2006. There have been only 11 burials in the last 30 years and these have belonged to individuals that were reunited with their family members that died before them and are interred at McCord Cemetery.

See Inscription Database for more information.

 

Sexton records for McCord Cemetery that would normally document each burial have not been located. With the cemetery's origins as a small neighborhood cemetery, these records probably never existed in its earlier years. McCord Cemetery was not associated with a church like many early pioneer graveyards, so church records are of no help in locating burial records. Individual estate files sometimes reveal the payment of burial expenses such as the purchase of a coffin, a grave marker, or a grave lot, but lot purchases probably weren't required for earlier burials in this intimate neighborhood burial ground. Even the name of "McCord Cemetery" cannot be found in documents earlier than the two deeds dated in 1894 conveying land to the "McCord Cemetery Association." Association records are sparse and appear incomplete from a review of the association records stored at the local county courthouse. There are no records dated after 1981 when this association appears to have become defunct.

 

In the absence of an association or other caretaker to oversee its upkeep, recent years had not been kind to the cemetery or respectful to those buried there. Unbridled weedy vegetation hid many of the cemetery markers and formed thorny barriers to visitors. But these conditions are now changing with the help of volunteers and donors who have offered their assistance after learning of the cemetery's plight. The future and the preservation of McCord Cemetery appear more promising.

 

This compiled history of McCord Cemetery is divided into four time periods: The Early Years (1826-1860); The Middle Years (1861-1892); The Later Years (1893-1999), and the 21st Century (2000-present):

Introduction

1

Chapter

2

Chapter

3

Chapter

4

Chapter

The pioneer settlement of Irving Township...the earliest land owners of McCord Cemetery and the surrounding area...the oldest burials...war veteran burials

The Early Years

(1826-1860)

The Middle Years

(1861-1892)

The effects of the Civil War...the cemetery is deeded to the county...a plat map identifies neighbors...the deaths of two community leaders

The Later Years

(1893-1999)

The McCord Cemetery Association forms...the origin of the cemetery’s name...notable items regarding the care and improvements of the cemetery...the tragic circumstances surrounding Lester Lohr’s death... typhoid fever and Spanish Flu victims...cemetery readings

21st Century

(2000-present)

The last burial...volunteer efforts...the Restore McCord organization...current conditions and future outlook

Early Years  (1826-1860)
Middle Years (1861-1892)
Later Years (1893-1999)
21st Century (2000-present)