The following appeared in the Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society “Quarterly” publication. Volume 39, No. 3. January – March, 2019. pages 82-90. Mary Ann Erbach, Editor

The second article written: Fort Hill Cemetery Preservation Update (Click to Read)
Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society “Quarterly” publication article published in the October – December, 2020 issue written by Vernon B. Paddock on the Fort Hill Cemetery Preservation.

FORT HILL CEMETERY PRESERVATION
by Vernon B. Paddock

The historic Fort Hill Cemetery was officially established in 1847 and is located in Lake County, Illinois, in the southwest corner of Avon Township between Volo and Hainesville near the corner of Route 120 and Fairfield Road. It borders west of the St. Joseph Cemetery. How did the cemetery get its name? Who are the people buried there as their final resting place, and where did they come from? What is the future of the cemetery and why is it important? These are some of the questions I asked myself as I continued my Paddock ancestral research that led me to Lucy (Backus) Paddock, an early resident of Wauconda Township, Lake County, Illinois, and buried in the cemetery. Here is the story of the Fort Hill Cemetery preservation project and how the cemetery is being brought back to life.

FORT HILL IDENTITY

In 1833 the first settlers, mostly from the East, arrived in the Northern Illinois territory. The County of McHenry was established on January 16, 1836, after the split from Cook and LaSalle counties, which included what is now Lake and McHenry counties. On March 1, 1839, the County of McHenry was then divided to establish the County of Lake.

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1852 map sketched by Elijah Haines that includes the Fort Hill Settlement.
(from A History of Lake County, Illinois by John J. Halsey, LL.D.)

In January, 1837, there were no townships, incorporated villages or organized communities in the young county. Three early settlers of the region, Thomas H. Payne, Joseph Wood and Joel H. Johnson stood on top of a hill that January, and could see many miles of vast land around them. Payne suggested the name of the settlement to be “Fort Hill” and the others agreed. The hill, Fort Hill, was located in what is now Fremont Township on the north side of Peterson Road between Route 60 and Alleghany Road east of the Behm farm.

The Fort Hill Settlement today covers roughly the northwestern two-thirds of Fremont Township, northern two-thirds of Wauconda Township, southern half of Goodale (Grant) Township and the southwestern half of Avon Township. The Fort Hill post office was established in the spring of 1838 with Joseph Wood as postmaster, located about a mile and a half southwest of the hill. After the August, 1839, County election, the County Commissioners established Fort Hill as one of eight election districts. The Marble School House was built in 1841 and a new one built in 1850 which also became known as the Fort Hill School. Fort Hill School District 45 was established. The Fort Hill Cemetery also derived its name from the early settlement. In 1850, the township form of government was established in Lake County, and for decades the residents continued the Fort Hill identity.

FORT HILL CEMETERY HISTORY

The first known burial in the Fort Hill Cemetery was that of Warren Scovill, born August 24, 1798, in Harwinton, Litchfield County, Connecticut. On February 6, 1844, Warren purchased 40 acres in Section 27, Township 45N Range 10E (Avon). On October 10, 1844, at the age of 46, Warren died. According to the “Scoville Family Records, Part III, Harwinton (Conn.) Branch”:

“Warren Scoville (Abner, Ezekiel, Ezekiel, Stephen) born at Harwinton Aug. 24, 1798; married Evelyn Bellamy, Jan. 1, 1821. She was born Mar. 24, 1799. He died Oct. 10, 1844, at Waukegan, Illinois, killed at a log raising, or felling timber. Warren went from Connecticut to New York state about 1820, settling at Portage, where he lived until 1833, and then removed farther west. In the fall of 1842 he located in Illinois, at Waukegan, or Lake City.”

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Warren Scovill gravestone
(photo from the Vernon B. Paddock collection)

Warren Scovill was buried on land that was owned by Soloman Marble. On June 23, 1847, Soloman and his wife commissioned with the County of Lake a portion of his property to provide a burial ground for the early residents and the cemetery land was deeded to the Commissioners of Lake County.

According to “An American Family: Botsford-Marble Ancestral Lines”, there is a section written about Levi Marble stating who provided the land on which the Fort Hill Cemetery lies:

“Mr. Marble was taken ill shortly after, and died a fortnight later. His widow survived him more than four years. They both died in Waukegan, Ill., and are buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, the land for which was donated by his brother, Solomon Marble, and by George Thompson.”

When this book was written in 1933, Fort Hill Cemetery consisted of two parcels: the 1847 parcel and a second parcel of land donated on May 24, 1900, by Mary H. Huson and her husband and William Thomson and his wife. Charlotte Renehan of the Grayslake Historical Society showed me a copy of a Fort Hill Cemetery survey completed by James Anderson, Jr., County Surveyor at Lake County, Illinois dated April 4, 1902. He certifies the cemetery was “surveyed, subdivided and staked under the direction of Caroline Cleveland, Mary Wilson and Mary Huson, Trustees of the Fort Hill Cemetery” Association, identifying the new portion annexed to the original cemetery established by Soloman Marble.

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Identifying land parcels to the Fort Hill Cemetery Association
(from the Lake County Recorder’s office)

According to a newspaper article from the Libertyville Independent, March 23, 1922, there was a third parcel to establish the St. Joseph Cemetery bordering east of the Fort Hill Cemetery:

“Chat Thomson sold one acre of land to the Round Lake church in 1921 for a cemetery, at $600 an acre, or over three times what George Thomson paid for the whole farm.” (136 acres at $1.25 per acre in 1837)


PADDOCK FAMILY RESEARCH

Interest in my family’s genealogy began in 1974 when my parents, Ronald and Margaret (Tekampe) Paddock, received a postcard from Robert Joseph Curfman requesting our family genealogy be submitted to him in preparation for his book on the Paddock family. My parents, unfortunately, did not submit information to Mr. Curfman, but I began to ask questions about my relatives. My father was a walking encyclopedia of the family. He knew and visited many relatives over his lifetime. My mother kept a shoebox of newspaper clippings of family obituaries, weddings and births in addition to funeral home prayer cards. I had a good foundation to start a family tree.

In 1977, the announcement came through the mail that Mr. Curfman had published “The Paddock Genealogy: Descendants of Robert Paddock of Plymouth Colony, Blacksmith and Constable 1646”. I immediately sent in the money to purchase my copy. When I opened the newly delivered book, I was exposed to a very large family rich in history I never imagined existed.

I began to question, “How did my Paddock descendants end up in Wauconda, Illinois?” Following the family trail in the Curfman book gave me the answer: from the Plymouth Colony to Yarmouth, Massachusetts; to Mansfield, Connecticut; to Hartland, Vermont; to Barre, Vermont; and finally, to Wauconda, Illinois.

In early 2015, I began an in-depth research of my third great grandparents, Lucy (Backus) Paddock and Dr. Robert Paddock. Lucy Paddock was born April 7, 1785 in Connecticut, possibly Plainfield, Winham County. She was the daughter of Stephen Backus, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and Polly (Shephard) Backus. Lucy was the third wife of Robert, after he lost his first two wives who had died young. Lucy married Robert, sixteen years his junior, on June 25, 1816, in Royalton, Vermont. Robert had eight children of which Lucy gave birth to three: Lucy Backus Paddock (1818-1854), Ellen June (Paddock) Loomis (1821-1850) and William Robert Paddock (1827-1904). During the War of 1812 Dr. Paddock was a physician and surgeon. Since 1794, Robert was a physician in Barre, Vermont and was past president of the Washington County Medical Society. “He gained great renown as a successful practitioner in the disease of smallpox, and prepared a number of important papers to be read before the State Medical Society.” Dr. Robert Paddock died December 23, 1842 in Barre, Vermont at the age of 74.

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Lucy (Backus) Paddock
(photo from the Vernon B. Paddock collection)

Lucy continued to care for her three children in Vermont. Her life began to change when her middle child, Ellen, died at the age of 29 on August 4, 1850 leaving behind a husband and a young child. Also, her first child, Lucy, died unmarried at the age of 36 on April 22, 1854. On November 10, 1854, Lucy auctioned off her 140-acre farm with two dwelling houses in Barre, Vermont. On December 6, 1854, she purchased 240 acres located in Wauconda and Goodale (Grant) townships, Lake County, Illinois from George W. Collamer for the amount of $4,800. Then on December 11, 1854, Lucy signed her last will and testament in Washington County, Vermont, bequeathing her assets to her daughter-in-law, Nancy (Stickney) Paddock, wife of William Robert Paddock, my second great grandparents.

Near the end of December, 1854, Lucy, at the resilient age of 70, along with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren left Barre, Vermont. The Paddock family had traveled about 1,000 miles before settling into their newly purchased Wauconda farmhouse. According to “Portrait and Biographical Album of Lake County, Illinois”:

“the William Robert Paddock family came to Lake County on the first passenger train that ran into Waukegan.”

A new railway system, known as the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, was being built and played a historical role in the growth and settlement of Lake County. The construction of the line from Port Clinton (Highland Park) to Waukegan was completed on December 19, 1854. The Waukegan Gazette of January 6, 1855, stated the cars reached the county seat on New Year’s Day. The January 20, 1855, issue of The Waukegan Gazette newspaper gave a detailed account of the railroad celebration from the January 11th Chicago Democratic Press newspaper:

The first train from Waukegan left Chicago on that day at 9:30 a.m. John Cline was the conductor. The train was made up of new passenger cars “with all the new improvements.” They were built by Stone & Company, of Chicago. “They were, if anything, a trifle ahead of any we have yet seen, and we have seen a few in our time.” The company on board was made up of ladies and gentlemen from Chicago, including members of the city council. The train reached Waukegan at 12:30 p.m. and was welcomed with the roar of cannon, tendered by the brass field piece from Colonel Swift’s Artillery of Chicago. This salute was reinforced by the pealing of church bells, and the music of a Milwaukee band. Mayor J. C. Smith of Waukegan, welcomed the guests and the railway, and in the absence of Mayor Milliken of Chicago, Alderman Stickney responded.”

William Paddock, commonly known by his middle name Robert, farmed the Paddock homestead for forty-nine years and was elected the Wauconda Township Supervisor for three one-year terms: 1857, 1859 and 1865. He was also a School Director and Road Commissioner. Robert and Nancy gave birth to seven children. Two of their sons became elected officials: Robert William Paddock was elected for one term (1903-1904) as a Michigan State Representative for Charlevoix County, and Raymond Elliot Paddock was elected Wauconda Township Supervisor (1915-1928) and an Illinois State Senator for 24 years (1929-1953).

Lucy (Backus) Paddock died at the age of 75 on March 28, 1860, in Wauconda Township. She was laid to rest in the northwest section of the Fort Hill Cemetery. William Robert Paddock died December 20, 1904, and his wife, Nancy (Stickney) Paddock died October 22, 1911, both buried next to Lucy. Senator Ray Paddock died December 5, 1953 and his wife, Irma Grace (Huson) Paddock died December, 1972, both buried next to William and Nancy.

Also located in the cemetery is a small gravestone with the inscription “INFANT SON OF A. E. & J. L. PADDOCK SEPT. 10, 1904”, located about 75 yards southeast of the Paddock family lots. This possibly was the son of my great grandparents, Albert E. “Bert” Paddock and Josephine L. “Josie” (Mutaw) Paddock. Albert is the son of William Robert and Nancy Paddock. Josephine was the daughter of Lucien Mutaw and Nancy H. (Harvey) Mutaw of Warren Township and granddaughter of Jonathan and Wealthy (Buell) Harvey. Wealthy is better known as Mother Rudd. After Jonathan died, she remarried Erastus Rudd. The homestead of Jonathan and Wealthy Harvey is today known as the “Mother Rudd House,” — home and museum of the Warren Township Historical Society in Gurnee, Illinois.

FORT HILL CEMETERY PRESERVATION PROJECT

As my research of Lucy continued, I decided to stop by the Fort Hill Cemetery for the first time in mid- November 2015. My main focus was to view the Paddock gravestones, and did not observe the condition of the cemetery.

In early 2017, I began communicating with my second cousin Ray Paddock from Florida and grandson of Senator Raymond Paddock. Since we never met and knew nothing about each other, for months we shared many interesting family stories growing up. My great grandfather, Albert Paddock and Senator Paddock were brothers. In early July of that year, Ray came to Lake County for their family reunion. The next day I met with Ray and his brother Dick Paddock from Antioch for the first time. Afterwards, Ray and Dick drove to the Fort Hill Cemetery. Ray sent me a message that the condition of the cemetery near the family lots was looking pretty bad. A dead tree had fallen on the gravestone of Senator Paddock and his wife and moved the stone slightly.

In early August, 2017, I drove to the cemetery to view it myself and walked around the whole cemetery, noticing the overgrown bushes amongst some of the gravestones. Some scrub trees had grown large, bumping up to some of the stones, Also, a number of the old gravestones were either tipped over, broken or missing. Several of the Senator Paddock descendants eventually cleared the overgrowth and cleaned up the area near the Paddock burial lots.

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Examples of overgrowth of the Fort Hill Cemetery
(photos from the Vernon B. Paddock collection)


As I walked around the Fort Hill Cemetery it was astounding and discouraging for me to see the poor condition of this sacred ground. I realized there were still a few families that paid tribute to loved ones by cleaning up the area around their gravestones and placing flowers as a memorial. I felt all the people buried in this cemetery still deserve the respect and dignity that time had forgotten. To honor and respect not only my ancestors but to all the individuals buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, I decided to take action on that August day.

Later that month I spoke with representatives from the Justen and Strang Funeral Homes which gave me an address and telephone number of the Fort Hill Cemetery Association. I made attempts to contact the association, but there was no reply. I contacted the Avon Township Assessor’s office and the Lake County Recorder of Deeds, but was unsuccessful in locating a person that had any knowledge of the cemetery. I spoke with my brother Roger Paddock, who is a Hampshire Township Trustee in Kane County, and Glenn Swanson, Wauconda Township Supervisor, about the abandoned Fort Hill Cemetery. Based on their knowledge of townships maintaining abandoned cemeteries they recommended I contact the Avon Township Supervisor.

I met with Terry Wilke, Avon Township Supervisor to explain the status of the historic Fort Hill Cemetery. I presented him with 32 photos of the cemetery and a written formal request for the township to take ownership of the cemetery for the purpose of a major cleanup and historic preservation. Terry immediately contacted the county to learn that Lake County had title to the cemetery. He was very instrumental and successful in honoring my request to preserve the cemetery.

In the summer of 2018, the deeds to the Fort Hill Cemetery has been transferred from Lake County to Avon Township. In July, 2018, a company contracted by the county has removed all the overgrown bushes, trees and stumps, in addition to grass seeding the areas left bare from the overgrowth. Avon Township maintains the grass cutting and makes the cemetery more presentable. The condition of the cemetery landscape has improved dramatically.

Also, in August, 2017, I viewed the Findagrave.com website to discover there were 177 memorials for the Fort Hill Cemetery. I painstakingly took photos of over 380 gravestones, documented each burial and spent considerable time determining the inscriptions on stones that have deteriorated to almost becoming illegible. I visited the Lake County, Illinois, Genealogical Society, located in Vernon Hills, to continue my research. In 1986, the LCIGS published “Avon Township Cemetery Inscription: Lake County, Ill.” which documented the burials at the cemetery. I realized there were people listed but did not have a gravestone. Since that publication I came to the conclusion that additional gravestones might be missing. I updated and added many memorials of the cemetery to the Findagrave.com website. Some contributors listed memorials as St. Joseph Cemetery rather than the Fort Hill Cemetery. I am still trying to have the memorials transferred to the correct cemetery.

Finally, after documenting all the individuals buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, I felt I needed to take my research to another level by creating a genealogy of each individual. I wanted to learn: Who were these people? Where did they come from? Who were their families, and were some of these people related to each other? During my research the last sixteen months I have utilized: Ancestry.com to search census records, birth, married and death records; Findagrave.com for the burial locations of their relatives; Newspaper.com and the Lake County Independent newspapers from the Cook Memorial Public Library in Libertyville where I was able to locate some obituaries or stories of some of the individuals. For many of the individuals I have been able to document their parents, siblings and children.

Currently, I am in the planning stages to create a Fort Hill Cemetery website to include the results of my genealogy research in addition to the history of the Fort Hill Settlement. I wish to share my findings online as a tool to help others in their genealogical research. Hopefully, there will be family members that will be able to fill in some of the voids of my Fort Hill Cemetery genealogy research.

Discussions about the cemetery are taking place to: have the broken gravestones repaired, cleaned and placed upright; locate burials that are missing a gravestone or marker; installing a flag pole and a historical plaque of the Fort Hill Cemetery. Another plan will be to have an annual Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day commemoration service to honor the veterans who have served our country.

The overall goal of the Fort Hill Cemetery project is to:

  • preserve the important legacy of the settlers buried in the cemetery and the history of the Fort Hill Settlement
  • establish a web-based genealogy of each individual buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery to provide a better understanding of each person
  • pay a well-deserved homage to all the veterans buried in this sacred ground


The Fort Hill Cemetery is being brought back to life by the research to preserve its 174-year history and the genealogy of those buried there. Each person deserves the respect of a decent final resting place. I felt compelled to preserve their heritage and genealogy for future generations. May they forever rest in peace.

References:

  • Bateman, LL.D, Newton, Selby, A.M., Paul and Partridge, Hon. Charles A. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Lake County. Chicago, Illinois: Munsell Publishing Company, 1902
  • Curfman, Robert Joseph. The Paddock Genealogy: Descendants of Robert Paddock of Plymouth Colony, Blacksmith and Constable 1646. Fort Collins, Colorado: 1977
  • Eastman, Charles R. Scoville Family Records, Part III, Harwinton (Conn.) Branch. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Privately Printed, 1911
  • Haines, Elijah M. Historical and Statistical Sketches, of Lake County, State of Illinois. Waukegan, Ill: E. G. Howe, 1852
  • Halsey, John J., LL.D. A History of Lake County, Illinois: Chicago, Illinois. Chicago, Illinois: Roy S. Bates, 1912
  • Inter-State Publishing Co. History of McHenry County, Illinois. Chicago, Illinois. 1885, p. 184.
  • Jacobus, Donald Lines. An American Family: Botsford-Marble Ancestral Lines. New Haven, Connecticut: 1933
  • Lake City Publishing Co. Portrait Biographical Album of Lake County, Illinois. Chicago: Lake City Publishing Co., 1891
  • Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society. Avon Township Cemetery Inscriptions: Lake County, Ill.: Libertyville, IL, 1986
  • Le Baron & Co., Wm. The Past and Present of Lake County, Illinois. Chicago, Illinois. Wm. Le Baron, 1877
  • https://cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdfk_publications/ipub15.pdf: 1836 – SIX NEW COUNTIES – MCHENRY. Jan. 16.

1918 map of Fort Hill School District No. 45
(from the Illinois Digital Archive, 1918 School Histories – Avon Township
Fort Hill School “History of Fort Hill S.D. No. 45, Lake Co., Ill.”
written by Raymond Lusk and Rhoda Baumann, Illustrated by Agnes Myer)

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