WPA - Calvary Cemetery, Mt Olive Township,Macoupin County IL

A Transcription of the WPA Record in Macoupin County Archives, Carlinville, Illinois
by Mary McKenzie, 2010

The Macoupin County Archives has in its files, indexes/listings of many veterans buried in numerous Macoupin County cemeteries.  WPA workers compiled the indexes during the Depression Era (about 1939-1940).  The cemeteries below were checked for veterans and although not all of these cemeteries had veterans listed, there was a wealth of other information that a genealogist might find useful.   I generally didn’t copy the legal descriptions of the property as they were much too long and drawn out.  If you
want that information contact the archives.

I have listed veterans’ information from both typed sheets and work sheets; The information from the typed sheets appears in regular type and the data from the work sheets is in bold type.  The work sheets with soldier information stated to check these sources: burial plot, cemetery record, death certificate or burial permit, patriotic organization (name), official U. S. records or other.  These sources would probably be good sources to check still, today, as we have no way of knowing how thorough the WPA workers were.

1/3 Mile North of West Main St.

The Calvary Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery and is under the direction of the Ascension Catholic Church of Mount Olive.  This cemetery was laid out in 1918 although some of the markers date further back because the deceased were brought from an old cemetery.

About 27 or 30 years ago the members of the Ascension Church decided that they wanted a Catholic cemetery in which to bury the members of their parish.  Mr. John Cotter granted the Ascension Church some of his land which was located about 2 miles south of Mount Olive on Section 14.  This land was in an inconvenient place, being along a railroad track and the land was so low water would not drain off.  Some of the relatives of the deed felt uneasy about their dead being buried in such wet grounds and expressed their wish to buy new land for a cemetery.  Arrangements were made to buy land near the other cemeteries on Section 2.

In 1918, the purchase of the land was made for the present cite of the Calvary Cemetery.  The deed conveying the title to the land over to the Diocese reads as follows:  THE GRANTORS:  William Niemann and Anna B. Niemann, his wife, of the town of Walshville in the County of Montgomery and State of Illinois for and in consideration of $300.00 in hand paid CONVEY and WARRANT to James Ryan, Bishop of Alton, and his successors in office of the city of Alton, County of Madison and State of Illinois, the following described real-estate:  (Here is listed a long legal property description which you can read the contents of at the Macoupin Co. Archives in Carlinville).  This deed is dated April 22, 1918 and was recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County, Illinois on April 24, 1918 in Volume 289 of Miscellaneous Records at page 591.) 

After the above described land was purchased all of the bodies of dead were removed from the Old Calvary Cemetery on Section 14 and buried in this new cemetery.  The fence (which was a rail fence) and the large iron gate was also brought to the new burial grounds and set up.  A tool shed was built on the south side of the grounds. 
On May 9, 1918, the Calvary Cemetery was surveyed and platted by the County Surveyor.  The certification of survey reads as follows:  (Here is listed another long legal property description which you can read the contents of at the Macoupin Co. Archives in Carlinville, IL).

In the meantime the Miners Union bought land adjoining the Calvary Cemetery on the north and east.  This land was in the shape of an “L”.  It seemed very inconvenient to have land in back (east) of the Calvary Cemetery without a driveway.  It was then decided that an exchange be made between the two parties whereby the Calvary Cemetery Trustees exchanged part of their land on the north for the land on the east, thus making both cemeteries extend the same distance to the east.

In January, 1939 a new deed was made conveying a part of the Calvary Cemetery to the Miners Union and the land to the east given to Calvary Cemetery.  The deed reads as follows:  THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH THAT THE GRANTORS:  The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, in Illinois and the Calvary Cemetery of the Church of the Ascension, its pastor and trustees, of the city of Mount Olive, County of Macoupin and State of Illinois, for and in consideration of $1.00 in hand paid and other good and valuable consideration, CONVEY and QUIT CLAIM to Local #35 of the Progressive Mine Workers of America of the City of Mount Olive, County of Macoupin and State of Illinois, the following described real-estate, to-wit: (another long legal description which you can view at the Macoupin Co. Archives).  This deed is dated January 11, 1939 and was recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County, Illinois on February 7, 1939 in Volume 390 of Miscellaneous Records at page 30 and 31.

The Calvary Cemetery does not have a State Charter at the present time.
The trustees of the Ascension Church are also the trustees of the Calvary Cemetery.  Five persons are selected from the parish by the pastor who submits them to the Bishop of the Diocese, from which five he selects two.  These trustees serve two years or more.  Those serving at the present time are:  Gorge Simburger Sr. & Ollie Martin.

There is a fund, which is derived from the sale of lots with which the cemetery grounds are kept in repair.

The Calvary Cemetery is in good condition.  The land slopes a little to the South giving it good drainage.  There is a good cinder-surfaced driveway leading to the center of the cemetery.  There was a rail fence all around the cemetery but it has been torn down and now only the back and a part of the south side has a fence.  There is a large iron gate, painted black and white with the name CALVARY on it, at the entrance.  The grass is kept cut by the individual lot owners and by members of the Ascension Parish who willingly donate their service.  Any outside work that is needed is paid for from the cemetery fund.  In the center of the cemetery, upon a mound stands a large wooden cross, a symbol of Catholicism.

To reach the Calvary Cemetery one must travel due north from the City Park (which is on West Main St.) about ½ mile.  This road is paved up to the State Highway Route 66.  After crossing the Highway the road leading to the entrance of the cemetery is oiled and can be traveled at all times.  The Calvary Cemetery is the first cemetery on the right hand side.
There are 5 veterans buried in the Calvary Cemetery.

Name:  Hawkins, William T., World War; Corp., Co. Bat. F, 327 F. A. 84 Div.; Died 4/22/1921; Grave 1 Lot 80
Name:  Hawkins, Wm. T.
Field Check:  Grave No. 4 Lot No. 80; Upright marker
Information on Marker:  Corp. Wm. T. Hawkins, 1895 – 1921; Reg. 327th  F    . A.  Batt, (?) U. S. A. 
Death Certificate Data:  Born – 1895; Died – 4/22/1921, 1921

Name:  Hendron, Thomas, World War, Pvt. Canadian Forces; Died:  5/1/1933; Grave 1 Lot 83 No Marker
Name:  Hendron, Thos,
Field Check:  Grave No. 1; Lot 83 No marker
Cemetery Record Check:  Grave No. 1  Lot No. 83
Death Certificate Data:  Died – 5/1/1933
Service Record:  Canadian Forces
Notes:  No marker of any kind

Name: Reilly, Wm. L, World War Pvt. Co. B St. Louis Stc; Died – 7/27/1930; Grave 3 Lot 104
Name:  Reilly, Wm.L.
Field Check:  Grave No. 3 Lot No. 104; Upright marker
Information on Marker:  Wm. L. Reilly, Born 1898 – Died 1930 Tombstone
Death Certificate Data:  Born 1898 – Died 1930
Service Record:  St. Louis Stc.
Notes:  No. Govt Marker

Name:  *Stiechak, Frank, World War, Pvt. Co. 360th, 15 Reg. US. Marines; Died 6/22/1922; Grave 2 Lot 82
Name:    Stiechak, Frank
Field Check:  Grave No. 2 Lot No. 82; Upright marker
Information on Marker:  Frank Stiechak, Illinois pvt. 15 Regt. U. S. Marines June 22, 1922
Death Certificate Data:  Died – 6/22/1922
Notes:  Has Govt. Marker

Name:  *Yourkovich, Sam, World War, Pvt., Co. K  9th Infantry; Died 10/6/1918  Grave 1  Lot 10
Name:  Yourkovich, Sam
Field Check:  Grave No. 1 Lot No. 10; Upright marker
Information on Marker:  Pvt. Sam Yourkovich, Co. K 9th Inf.; June 5, 1895 – Oct. 6, 1918
Death Certificate Data:  Born:  June 5, 1895 – Died – Oct. 6, 1918; Cause of Death – Killed in Action - France
Next of Kin Name:  Mr. & Mrs. M. Yourkovich (mother & father)
Notes:  Has Govt. Marker   

* = Have government markers

The grave of Thomas Hendron does not have any marker.

The oldest date on the markers in the Calvary Cemetery is that on the tombstone of Maurice Cotter who died in 1869.  However, he was not the first one buried in the cemetery as this cemetery was not laid out until 1918.  Mr. Cotter like many others was moved from the Old Calvary Cemetery to the new cemetery. 

In the year 1844 a slave holder in the state of Missouri manumitted his slaves and sent about 15 of them to Illinois.  They came to Alton on a boat but the citizens would not permit them to land.  They were taken up the river to the mouth of Piasa Creek and put ashore in the woods.  They made their way to the vicinity of the present village of Piasa and secured a right to some land in some manner and built several cabins, forming a community to themselves where they lived for many years.  They have all died or moved away except two families, with only one who came out of bondage, he being John Arbuckle, who is a patriarch among his people.

At the time of the first settlement on the Piasa there seems to have been no improvement in the methods of farming since the days of the Pharaohs of Egypt.  It is said that the ancient Greeks invented a machine to cut small grain, which was drawn by animals, but the knowledge of its structure was lost.  The farmers on the prairies as late as the fourth decade of the 19th century plowed their ground with a wooden plow, with an iron share made by a common blacksmith.  This plow was generally drawn by oxen.  The ground was harrowed with a wooden harrow, not a particle of iron about it.  The seed was sown by hand, then again harrowed.  The wheat and other small grain were cut with a scythe with a broad blade and a wooden frame attached to gather the grain as the implement was swung through the grain which was thrown in a swath by the cradler. 

These things may seem trivial but our existence depended upon a vigorous use of these rude implements.  the prairie was broken with a hevy (as is) plow, cutting a furrow 2 feet wide from 8 to 10 inches deep.  The beam of this plow was fastened at the front end to a pair of trucks made of sections sawed from the end of a log.  From 4 to 5 yoke of oxen were required to pull this plow through the strong sod.  The wheat stood up in a circle, which an open space in the center.  The horses were ridden upon the wheat by boys until the grain was threshed out, then the straw was raked off and the grain in the chaff was piled in the middle of the stamping ground.  In the evening of each day the wheat was fanned and put in shelter.

The Ascension Church of Mt. Olive first held its services in private houses, it being a mission established from the Staunton church by Reverant (as is) Father A. Zubonsen who had charge from 1891 until 1898.  In 1890 the congregation decided to build a church which was dedicated on New Years day of 1891 at the cost of $2,000.00.  Father Zubonsen was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Postner, who served from 1898 until 1905 when on the 1st day of January Rev. L. P. Hurkmans took charge of the parish, he being the first resident priest.  During his pastorate in 1906 a rectory was built, the entire value of the church property being $6,000.00.  On the first day of June, 1911, Rev. W. A. Toomen took charge.

In the history of Calvary Cemetery we wish to include the military funeral of Sam Yourkovich who was laid away with full military honors and the only soldier in Mount Olive who died in action on the battle field in France during the World War.

PRIVATE SAM YOURKOVICH was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Yourkovich of Mount Olive and at the time of his death was 23 years, 4 months and 25 days of age.   He was one of Mount Olives well known young men with a large circle of friends.  He was the first man from Mount Olive to answer the draft call and started out on the
trip to camp alone.  He was finally assigned to Co. K of the 9th Infantry and was in the fiercest fighting in the Argorme.  His officers gave him high praise for the splendid showing he made.  He died facing the enemy.  And no man can make a greater sacrifice than to give his life for his country.

Sam Yourkovich died and was laid to rest in France amongst his fellow comrades.

In November, 1931 the body arrived at _________ where it was escorted by a military guard to Mount Olive arriving on_________.  The guard accompanying the body turned the casket over to the family and returned to Washington.  The day was declared a holiday so that everyone could pay tribute to him.

On November____, 1921 the funeral was held.  The soldiers selected to act as pall bearers were three sets of brothers who were friends of Sam Yourkovich, namely:  Andrew Zarr, Mike Zarr, Henry Ozanic, Joe Ozanic, Lawrence Simburger, & Arthur Simburger. 

The body was born to the church and cemetery on a Cassion rode by George R. Clavin/Calvin  and Ducky Charlie Williams. 

The procession was headed by Bugler Marburger on horseback.

Two guards lead with the National Colors and legion flag.

Next came the Firing Squad consisting of 8 men.

Then came the Cassion.

The pall bearers walked on either side of the Cassion.

The legion, business men and all society’s marched and paid their last tribute to Sam Yourkovich.

At the church the legion stood at salute while the bair and flag passed by. (as is)

In the church the first three pews were reserved for the guards and honor guards who guarded the casket..

At the cemetery the final religious service was held.

Legion Service.

Lodge Service.

Taps sounded as the body was lowered to the final resting place.

Monument of Soldier erected to his memory.

Letter from the President.

Obituary for Private Sam Yourkovich

Unknown Newspaper – Article is typed out.  “To Honor the Hero Dead”

The body of Sam Yourkovich who fell facing the enemy in France arrived home Tueday.  The funeral services will be conducted Sunday morning at 10:30 at the home of his parents, Mr. and

Mrs. Matt Yourkovich and at 11 o’clock at the Church of Ascension.  It is a duty of every citizen to pay their last respect by accompanying the remains to the last resting place.

It will be a military funeral with the American Legion in charge.

“Buried With Military Honors”

The remains of Sam Yourkovich, Mt. Olive’s war hero were laid to their final rest with military honors in the Catholic Cemetery Sunday at noon.  Services were conducted at the home and at the church of the Ascension after which the funeral procession wended its way to the cemetery.  The Mt. Olive Bank and the boys in uniform headed the procession and the casket containing the remains was conveyed on a caisson, drawn by four horses, draped with the American flag, and surrounded by a military escort.  Two societies, of which he was a member, and the members of the Commercial Club, were in line, as were also a large number of friends paying the last tribute of respect to the boy who gave his life in defense of the principles of his country.  At the cemetery a short religious service was held after which the American Legion, in command of John Kalvin, took charge.  The firing squad was under the command of John Truetzschler and taps were sounded by Bugler Marburger.

Private Sam Yourkovich was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Yourkovich of this city, and at the time of his death was 23 years, 4 months and 25 days of age.  He was one of Mt. Olive’s well known young men, with a large circle of friends and was the first man from here to answer the draft call starting out on the trip to camp alone.  He was finally assigned to Co. K of the 9th Infantry and was in the fiercest fighting in the Argorme and his officers gave him high praise for the splendid showing he made.  He died facing the enemy and no man can make a greater sacrifice than to give his life for his country.  He is the only soldier of the World War who died in action. 

Note found in Calvary Cemetery file: 

J. C. Nieman to Rev. James Ryan,  Dated - 1889 Nov. 29   Recorded 1890 Feb. 12
                Book EK Page 142
    $180 Lots 6,7,8,9 & 10 Block 1 J. C. Nieman’s 6th add. Mt. Olive

Name of Cemetery:    Calvary
Location:        ½ Mile N. of Mt. Olive, Mt. Olive, Ill.
Oldest Grave:        Maurice Cotter 1869
Number of Lots:        144
Number of graves:    127
Number of Graves to be filled:    8
Number of graves to be leveled:    11
Number of veterans graves that need stones:    3
Number of stones that need resetting:    18
Number of stones that need recutting:    22
Rods of fence around cemetery:        38 ½
Condition of fence:            fair
Rods of fence to be repaired        38 ½
Rods of fence to be replaced:        None
Number of people interviewed:        3

There is only a fence on the south & east sides of the cemetery.  No fence to the north & west which is the front.

Has large iron gateway with the name Calvary at the top.  In the center is a large wooden cross signifying a Catholic cemetery.

Was a cemetery south of Mt. Olive, but had been moved to present location.  Graves were all removed and brought to this cemetery.

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