Lake Villa Historical Society
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Angola Cemetery 1840 – 2016
by Sue Cribb
Angola Cemetery is one of four cemeteries in Lake Villa Township and the only cemetery within the Village of Lake Villa. People ask, where is Angola Cemetery? Located just 0.3 mile south of intersection of Rt. 83 and 132, it’s a little bit hard to see, as there is a grassy embankment in front of the cemetery. The only signage is a small bronze plaque on the gateway in memory of John K. Cribb, Jr. which indicates that the cemetery dates back to 1840 when the first person buried there was John Parker.
When early settlers died they were placed in family or community burying grounds. The burying grounds for Angola was part of the property owned by three Parker brothers, John, Oren and Abel. The first recorded burial was that of Fannie (Mrs. Abel) Parker who died in 1842. Extensive records were kept in ledgers that included names, ages, dates and cause of death. Very common causes of death in the nineteenth century were old age, kidney disease, consumption, accident, gangrene, cancer, killed at ice house, childbirth, stillborn, typhoid disease, measles, struck by lightning, dropsy, pneumonia, burned and infantile paralysis to name a few.
Angola Cemetery has three sections with approximately 236 lots. A Potter’s field was designated primarily to bury infants without caskets and lots were free for war veterans who could not afford to buy a lot. Families assumed responsibility for the care and upkeep of cemeteries.
In 1898 the State of Illinois required licensing and the Angola Cemetery Association was established. The fee was $10. Henry Sherwood of Avon, Ill signed off on the certificate. FYI: the Secretary of State in 1898 was James A. Rose. Bylaws were written providing the association with guidelines to raise funds to defray expenses of improving said cemetery. Monthly dues were $1.00 per meeting for men and $.25 for ladies. Cemetery lots were $5.00 each. By 1923, improvements included a driveway and a well house with electricity and running water. Paul Avery sold a pumping outfit to the Association for $100. That was the same price at which he bought the apparatus from Augusta Lehmann. He installed the pump at no charge. Also donating efforts was F.M. Hamlin who secured labor at half price to build the (service house) garden shed, which still stands. A wrought iron fence and flagpole were added.
Photo of garden shed in Angola Cemetery
Farrow grave stone from early 1900s
Fundraisers included events such as festivals, oyster suppers, sociable nights, card parties, strawberry festivals and bake sales.
By the 1940s it was clear that “Trust Funds for Perpetual Care” of the cemetery were necessary. It was voted that half the proceeds from every parcel of land sold should belong to the Trust Account and be invested for Perpetual Care of the cemetery to take effect June 1, 1944. The Board of Directors unanimously consented to raise price of lots as follows:
Single lot $35
2 grave lots $60
4 grave lots $85
5 grave lots $115
Meetings of the Association dwindled as older members died. Unused graves were given back to the cemetery by family, for resale and perpetual care. Members willed $100 for the trust account and dues were taken over by family members. Special meetings were called when there were serious repair issues.
In 1979 all the lots had been sold. The Board of Directors no longer needed to meet. President Jeanne Cribb Mack, Secretary Gertrude Zenor and Trustees Gail Mack and Pearl Reinbach were designated to deal with any future cemetery business. In 1980 the cemetery was declared to be in good condition.
Care and upkeep continued to be handed down from generation to generation. In 1996 B. Jay Cribb, Jr. was President and Donna Wagner Rosenberg was Secretary-Treasurer. These two persons continued to work with the funeral homes and grave digger when there were to be burials at Angola. In the last ten years (2005- 2015) there have been 10 burials.
However in those same ten years there was damage to the pillars at the entrance, bills for flagpole and tree damage due to high wind, a car accident which damaged the wrought iron fence and in 2014 numerous dead trees caused by the Emerald Ash Borer.
By 2015 the time had come when the cost of maintaining a cemetery outlived family members available to do so. Interest rates on the CD designated as perpetual funds was not enough to pay for basic expenses like mowing and insurance.
The Angola Cemetery Association officers went to the Lake Villa Township Supervisor and Board of Directors requesting they assume the role of caretaker for the historic Angola Cemetery. They agreed. Already they are doing a magnificent job. The dead trees were removed in November and December. Take a look when you drive by!!