The following second article appeared in the Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society “Quarterly” publication. Volume 40, No. 2. October – December, 2019. pages 52-62. Mary Ann Erbach, Editor

The first article written: Fort Hill Cemetery Preservation (Click to Read)
Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society “Quarterly” publication article published in the January – March, 2019 issue, written by Vernon B. Paddock on the Fort Hill Cemetery Preservation.

FORT HILL CEMETERY PRESERVATION UPDATE
by Vernon B. Paddock

In the January-March, 2019 Quarterly issue of the Lake County, Illinois, Genealogical Society (Volume 39, No. 3) I wrote the piece titled, “Fort Hill Cemetery Preservation”. The article described my research of the Fort Hill Settlement and the preservation project of the Fort Hill Cemetery that culminated from the research of my Paddock family that settled in Wauconda Township in 1855.

Since August, 2017, I began my quest to research the history of Fort Hill, to document the genealogy of all those buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, to restore the cemetery grounds, and to preserve the gravestones that had been neglected for many years.

The following are the events leading up to the current status of the Fort Hill Cemetery preservation.

HOPE GROVE CEMETERY

Attending the Wauconda Township Historical Society’s “Annual Ice Cream & Pie Social” in August, 2018, I discussed my Fort Hill Cemetery preservation plans with Glenn L. Swanson, Wauconda Township Supervisor. He stated that their township was restoring and preserving the Hope Grove Cemetery, also known as the Shaw Family Cemetery (circa late 1840’s to early 1860’s), located on land southwest of Route 120 and Wilson Road, east of Volo. Coincidentally, the Hope Grove Cemetery is located 1.25 miles southwest of the Fort Hill Cemetery.

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Hope Grove Cemetery surrounded by the Kettle Grove Forest Preserve
(photo from the Natural Atlas website: https://naturalatlas.com/)

Mick Zawislak of the Daily Herald newspaper wrote an interesting article about the Hope Grove Cemetery that appeared in the January 4, 2018 edition of the newspaper. The link is:

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20180104/wauconda-township-plans-upgrades-for-old-cemetery

The Lake County Forest Preserve District purchased 243 acres in 2008 to form the Kettle Grove Forest Preserve. According to the Chicago Tribune (Chicago IL) Friday, January 11, 2008, Section 2, page 7:

“The 243-acre property is between Illinois Highway 120 and 60 and bordered on the east by Wilson Road.
   The land has notable natural and human history, the district says. It’s materials described the site as having glacial kettle wetlands, an oak and hickory savanna and scenic vistas.
   Early owners include English immigrant George Vasey and Vermont native Robert Paddock.”

The Chicago Tribune article was incorrect about the “early owners”. According to the 1873 plat map for Wauconda Township the majority of the property was owned by A. V. Smith and a smaller parcel along Route 60 was owned by Francis Vasey. The 1907 plat map indicates the majority of the property was owned by C. D. Smith and the smaller portion by George Vasey. The Smith and Vasey properties bordered the Ray Paddock property which was to the west. Ray was my great grand uncle and son of William Robert Paddock, my second great grandfather. Just bordering the C.D. Smith property to the north in Grant Township was property owned by my great grandfather, Albert Paddock. Albert’s property was located on three corners of Route 120 and Wilson Road consisting of Grant and Fremont townships.

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1907 Plat Map of C. D. Smith and George Vasey property
(photo from Historic Map Works website: http://www.historicmapworks.com/
Originally published by Geo. A. Ogle & Co. 1907)

During my research of the Hope Grove Cemetery I located information on the Wauconda Township website of Wauconda cemeteries. In 1962, Mrs. Blanche Bell originally documented the inscriptions of the Hope Grove Cemetery of which there were nine gravestones recorded. In 1981, Jerie Tallman, at the time a member of the Lake County, Illinois, Genealogical Society (LCIGS) and the Wauconda Historical Society, completed a second reading of the cemetery and discovered only three gravestones were readable and the cemetery had been “heavily vandalized”. After the formation of the LCIGS in 1978 the organization put out a call to its members to help list the burials and inscriptions of Lake County cemeteries. The LCIGS published “A Guide to Cemetery Names and Locations in Lake County, IL”, of which the Hope Grove Cemetery is listed.

Glenn Swanson from Wauconda Township had contracted John C. Heider of R.I.P., Ltd. of Monticello, Illinois to preserve the gravestones. In September 2018, Glenn gave me the opportunity to view the cemetery after most of the trees and underbrush were cleared and John had preserved the gravestones. After seeing the results of the restoration and preservation of the Hope Grove Cemetery, I was convinced that John Heider would be the person to complete the project, especially considering he was the only person certified in the State of Illinois.

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Hope Grove Cemetery in September, 2018 after the grounds cleared and gravestones preserved
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock)

FORT HILL CEMETERY GRAVESTONE PRESERVATION

I immediately notified Terry Wilke, Avon Township Supervisor and recommended John Heider’s name to complete the gravestone preservation for the Fort Hill Cemetery. Terry notified Jeremiah Varco, Lake County Facilities Manager. The county made a financial commitment to the township that the county would be responsible in cleaning the overgrowth in the cemetery and preserving the gravestones. John was contacted and drove up from Monticello to visit the cemetery and assessed the scope of the gravestones that needed repair, reset and cleaning. He provided a bid to Mr. Varco and by early summer 2019 the county contracted John Heider to complete the project.

John Heider is owner of R.I.P., Ltd. and a cemetery preservation professional. The “R.I.P.” stands for “Restoration In Progress”. After 30 years of teaching, John began the preservation of gravestones in 1994. He attended workshops and did research to learn about cemetery restoration. John’s interest started with his ability to locate hidden graves and grew to his passion to teach gravestone preservation and cemetery conservation. Over the last 25 years he has literally preserved, repaired and reset thousands of gravestones in a handful of Midwest states. John has been certified by the State of Illinois and Indiana

Because of the large number of gravestones that needed attention at the Fort Hill Cemetery, he assembled a team to complete the project in one week. Representing R.I.P., Ltd was John Heider, Geni Heider, Mike Hammerschmidt and Monika Hammerschmidt. Representing Chris’s Cemetery Preservation, Inc. were Christine L. Hillmann, President and Ken Van Meter.

The crew arrived Tuesday, July 23, 2019 and worked each day through Sunday, July 28th. John stated this was one of the larger projects he had completed. Before work began on a gravestone a photo was taken and it would be identified as “B1” for “before”. When the gravestone was completed another photo would be taken and identified as “A1” for “after”. A total of ninety-eight gravestones were repaired, reset and cleaned.

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Nancy Grover gravestone before (2017) and after (2019) shrub overgrowth removed
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock and John C. Heider)

Each day I stopped to visit John and his crew to see the transformation of the Fort Hill Cemetery. It was amazing how hard they worked each day during the hot weather. I commend them for the expertise and professionalism in preserving our historic cemetery. John stated: “Fort Hill Cemetery and its grave markers are the last physical symbols of people who lived in Lake County. To walk among its many monuments, is a walk through Lake County’s past history. It is a place of respect and appreciation.”

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Nancy Grover gravestone during stump removal and after gravestone preservation
(photos by Christine L. Hillman and Vernon B. Paddock)

John stated: “Most of the very old gravestones (early 1800s) were of marble that may have originally quarried in Italy and shipped to the east coast, then traveled by boat or railroad to the Midwest. In addition to reading the exposed personal information on the gravestone’s face, it is always a special treat to discover a carver’s name at the bottom of a marble tablet.”

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Subrina Goodale broken gravestone before (2017) and during preservation (2019)
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock and John C. Heider)

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Subrina Goodale gravestone during and after preservation
(photos by John C. Heider and Vernon B. Paddock)

“Besides the obvious broken or fallen gravestone, repairs are determined by using the numbers on a clock; if the lean is before 11 A.M. or after 2 P.M., the grave marker needs attention. Tall heavy monuments that are loose or off center are a liability and become a repair or reset priority. Broken gravestones are repaired and cleaned according to Federal, State and professional standards. No power tools were used for cleaning”, according to John.

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Nancy Whitney broken gravestone found submerged in ground along the cemetery fencing
and after preservation, relocated to the original site next to her son, Lt. Arthur Whitney
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock)

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Thomas Crosby gravestone, veteran of the War of 1812
before (2017) and during preservation (2019) with Ken Van Meter, John Heider and Geni Heider
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock)

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Thomas Crosby gravestone, veteran of the War of 1812
during and after preservation with John Heider and Geni Heider
(photos by Vernon B. Paddock)

STATE OF ILLINOIS – CEMETERY PRESERVATION

Before any person plans to restore a cemetery or preserve gravestones, there are laws in the State of Illinois, i.e. (50 ILCS 610/) “Public Graveyards Act., and others. NOTE: Please do your research before beginning such a project. More details and information are available on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division website:

https://www2.illinois.gov/dnrhistoric/Preserve/Cemetery/Pages/default.aspx

FORT HILL CEMETERY WEBSITE

In the summer and fall months of 2018 I contemplated how I wanted to make my research available to the public, especially those that are interested in local history and genealogy. Prior to the advent of computers and the world wide web, books or manuals would have to be printed and distributed to local historical societies, libraries and other organizations. I realized that creating a website would be more far-reaching to the public and provide more flexibility to grow and expand my research. So in January 2019, with the expertise of my wife’s son, Ted Olson, we began building the “Fort Hill Cemetery” website: https://www.forthillcemetery.org/

The website is mainly divided into three categories: History; Genealogy; and Preservation:

HISTORY – The “History” section currently has a transcript of an 1844 newspaper clipping about the Fort Hill Settlement; information about the Thirty-Seventh and Ninety-Sixth Illinois Infantry Regiments in which three Civil War Veterans buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery were members; and several 1918 School History Notebooks transcripts for “Avon Township and Fort Hill School” and “Avon Township School District 47”.

GENEALOGY – The “Genealogy” section will include the genealogy information of every person buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery and a link to the Findagrave website. The research is the results found from census records, draft registration cards, obituaries, history books, genealogy books and the Findagrave website. The genealogy will include the information of the parents, spouse, children and siblings. If I’m fortunate to locate a photo of the individual, it will also be included. Each person named in a person’s genealogy (father, mother, children and siblings) that is also buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery will be linked and easily accessible by clicking on the name of the individual. Be aware, no or very little information have been discovered on some individuals. I anticipate the “Genealogy” section research for individuals will continue for at least another year.

PRESERVATION – The “Preservation” section includes articles and information about the preservation of the Fort Hill Cemetery. I am currently preparing to include “before” and “after” photos of the cemetery restoration and gravestone preservation.

GRAVESTONE CLEANING

The Fort Hill Cemetery preservation project has dramatically improved the look of the cemetery since the clearing of the underbrush and trees that were damaging the gravestones. And most recently with the preservation of the broken and leaning gravestones the look of cemetery has greatly improved.

Late last fall I began the painstaking process of cleaning the gravestones as approved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The cleaning will remove and kill the mold, moss, algae and mildew that have been accumulating for decades and in the case of some, for over 150 years.

I first take a “before” photo of the gravestone; pre-wet the surface with water before applying the authorized cleaning solution; allow the solution to soak in for about 5 minutes keeping the surface moist; gently scrub the surface and allow the solution to remain for another 5 to 10 minutes keeping the surface moist; reapply the cleaning solution and gently scrub the surface again; rinse thoroughly with clean water; finally take an “after” photo when the stone has dried.

The difference after the cleaning will be dramatic. Over at least the next 6 months the sun, wind and rain will continue to self-clean the surface turning the marble mostly to its natural color again. Now take an “after” photo again and compare it to the “before” photo and the difference will be more dramatic. It is recommended the stone be lightly cleaned every 5 to 10 years, if it is needed, to keep the gravestone clean.

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Fort Hill Cemetery before gravestone preservation
(photo by Vernon B. Paddock)

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Fort Hill Cemetery after ground restoration and gravestone preservation
(photo by Vernon B. Paddock)

References:

  • Fort Hill Cemetery website: https://www.forthillcemetery.org/
  • Lake County (IL) Genealogical Soceity. A Guide to Cemetery Names and Locations in Lake County, IL; Libertyville, IL 1980
  • Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society. Wauconda Township Cemetery Inscriptions: Lake County, Ill.; Libertyville, IL, 2015
  • R.I.P., Ltd, John Heider website: http://www.ripltd.com/
  • State of Illinois, Department of Natural Resources, Cemetery Preservation website: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnrhistoric/Preserve/Cemetery/Pages/default.aspx
  • Wauconda Township – Cemeteries, Hope Grove Cemetery (Shaw Family Cemetery) – Burial Listing. website: https://waucondatownship.com/wp-content/uploads/Hope-Grove-Burial-Listing.pdf
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