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Elkhart Hill Cemetery


The Kickapoo Indians were the first to live in this area. This is the story of how Elkhart got it's name.

"The Kickapoo Chief's daughter, White Blossom, had two lovers. One, a warrior from the Shawnee tribe from Ohio and the other a warrior of her own tribe, the Illini. During one of their annual hunting trips, they insisted White Blossom declare which one would become her husband. An elk passed by and White Blossom said, "the one who can pierce the heart of the elk will be my husband." the Illini arrow pierced the heart of the elk. They were married and took the elks heart as their family badge. Thus the name Elkhart (AKA Elkheart) has stayed with the hill."

The first settler was James Latham. In 1824 he was appointed by President John Quincy Adams to the position of Indian Agent at Fort Clark (now Peoria). He moved the family there and in two years took ill and died. They brought him back to the hill and buried him in Latham Cemetery (not far from where his first cabin was built) which has the distinction of being the oldest cemetery in Logan County.

John Dean Gillette moved into this area, buying a lot of land, becoming very prosperous and a very prominent figure in the area. On May 1, 1874 a town meeting was held and a request for more cemetery land was made. Gillette offered a portion of his land he called Gillette Grove. He made the Board of Trustees Executor and made a fine profit of the sales of each lot. In 1890 his wife, Lermira, had a chapel built on Gillette Grove in honor of her husband. This chapel, known as Chapel of St. John Baptist, is the only privately owned chapel in the state of Illinois. This area became known as Elkhart Cemetery.

Governor Richard Oglesby was born on July 25, 1824. After the Civil War, he decided to go into politics. He was elected Governor until 1869. He was elected again in 1873 but resigned eight days later to be elected an U.S. Senator. He served the Senate for six years. Again he was nominated and elected in 1882 Governor of Illinois for the third time. He built his home at the top of the hill and called it "Oglehurst". Oglehurst, was a fifty room mansion and served as their family home for eight years. Governor Oglesby died at Oglehurst on Paril 4, 1899. the funeral was held in the chapel four days later. The services were held in the chapel on the hill and his body was then placed in the vault in the chapel until the mausoleum was finished some time later. Internment took place May 8, 1899 in the Oglesby Mausoleum in Elkhart Cemetery. The vault is solid concreter 24 feet high, one half under ground and 18 inches thick. The doors of the mausoleum were antique bronze with glass inserts. In 1986 the doors were taken from their hinges by thieves unknown, along with a $5000.00 vase. The doors were estimated at a $20,000.00 loss. One door was found three weeks later in a field between Elkhart and Broadwell. The family, at that time, covered the opeining with brick that was found to match and compliment the stone that covers the outside of the mausoleum. His wife and one son is buried in the mausoleum. Now there is an amber colored glass and iron bars for the doors of the mausoleum. Sadly, someone has cut three openings in the glass, again an needless vandalism.

There seems to be supernatural activity going on in this cemetery. Is Governor Oglesby restless? Maybe his wife or son had unfinished business. Mist and apparitions not seen by the eye appear in pictures. A swirling vortex was photographed over one grave. Plenty goes on in this cemetery.

Written by: Debbie Lowery, Springfield Ghost Society/AGS Area Representative