WPA - Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery, Chesterfield Township,Macoupin County IL

A Transcription of the WPA Record in Macoupin County Archives, Carlinville, Illinois
by Mary McKenzie, 2009

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) and among these cemetery records we found the Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery information.

Go to Ramey Cemetery (in the WPA files at the archives) to find this cemetery attached to it.

The following list of veterans is made up of two sources the typed sheets and the original work sheets that the workers filled out.  The instructions stated to check these sources:  burial plot, cemetery record, death certificate or burial permit, patriotic organization (name), official U. S. Records or other.  This information will give you an idea of where to begin.  The history and deed information has been edited to save space, but I tried to keep spellings and grammar as they were originally written, although some parts are confusing and some difficult to read.  You may also notice some discrepancies between the different sources.

Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery
One Mile South, One Mile West of Chesterfield
WPA Veterans Cemetery Project

Oldest Grave:        Mary, daughter of J. & E. Thornton, died Sept. 10, 1839

Number of lots:                 222

Number of graves:             340 Appr.

Number of graves to be filled:           217

Number of graves to be leveled:          113

Number of Veterans graves that need stones:      1

Number of stones in cemetery that need resetting:  50 %

Number of stones that need recutting:     102

Rods of fence around cemetery:                   74.78

Condition of fence:            Poor

Rods of fence to be repaired:        503 feet

Rods of fence to be replaced:        731 feet

Number of people interviewed:          

Inquire to find if any veterans grave in cemetery has no marker:   Mr. Winson

    S. L. Berryman needs government marker, private one at grave is hardly adequate.


John Gelder, the original owner of the land on which the Chesterfield Gelder cemetery is located was born in Yorkshire England on December 19, 1878.  [This date is “as is” on the original notes.  It is an obvious error since according to this he died before he was born].  He was married to Miss Elizabeth Shearburn and to this union five children were born.  Mr. Gelder was engaged in farming in England.  In 1831, accompanied by his wife and three of his five children, he emigrated to America and settled in Chesterfield Township.  His son Thomas preceded him to this country.  John Gelder proceeded at once to build a home and his log cabin was at the time of its construction was the largest log building in the county with the exception of the County Court House.  He was a Whig in politics and a man of many excellent traits of character.  He assisted in organizing the first Episcopal Church of Chesterfield of which he was a Warden from the time of its organization to the date of his death.  John Gelder    died on December 23, 1851. 
Captain Thomas S. Gelder, the donor of the land which is now the Gelder Cemetery was born in Yorkshire England; a son of John Gelder.  He secured his education in the common parish schools and also a boarding school at Whiston, near Rotheram.  After leaving school he assisted his father on the farm.  He emigrated to America and landed at Baltimore on July 16, 1830.  He traveled through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and then came to Illinois where he settled at Carrollton, in Greene County.  In 1831, he enlisted for the Black Hawk war and took part in the various campaigns against the Indians.  He received a dollar a day for his services and had to find his
own horse and supply his own military equipment.  In the fall, after his return from the war, his father reached Carrollton with the family and Captain Gelder settled with them in Macoupin County.  Shortly afterwards Captain Gelder was naturalized and was the first person of foreign birth to make application for citizenship after the organization of the country.

In 1836, Captain Thomas S. Gelder was married to Ann Quarton and nine children were born to this union, four of which died in infancy.  Mrs. Gelder died in 1855.  The second marriage of Thomas Gelder occurred in 1857, at which time he was married to Ruth Louisa Chapin.  She was a member of the first class which graduated from the Monticello Female Seminary and was a lady of more than ordinary culture and refinement.
    Captain Gelder became one of the most successful farmers of the county.  He was a Whig in his early days and upon the dissolution of that organization he became a Republican.  He had the honor of voting twice for Abraham Lincoln with whom he was a personal acquaintance and with whom he served in the Black Hawk War.  During the Civil War, Macoupin County did not have a more patriotic citizen.  He contributed liberally of his possessions so that the wives and children of the soldiers could be comfortably clad and fed.  He was appointed agent to assist in sending provisions to the soldiers, and aided largely in collecting the supplies which were sent south through the department at Springfield.  He came to this county with scanty means but his ability, honesty and integrity soon placed him on the sure road to success and independent circumstances.  He extended a liberal and generous hospitality to his friends and in the earlier days of the county had entertained many prominent men among whom were: Stephen A. Douglas, Governor John Reynolds, Governor Thomas Carlin and Richard Yates.  He was a member of the Episcopal Church of Chesterfield of which he had been appointed Senior Warden upon the death of his father.  Captain Thomas Gelder died in 1881.
John Gelder, son of Captain Thomas S. Gelder, was one of the most successful farmers in Macoupin County.  He was a large land owner, bank director and was very active in civic and religious affairs.  He lived in the city of Virden and became one of the most influential men in that part of the county.  He was one of the largest donors of the present Presbyterian Church of Virden which was erected in 1918.  John Gelder also subscribed to a fund for the preservation of the Gelder Cemetery in 1920 and his personal check, dated October 10, 1920 is still attached to the original petition.  This check was not cashed because the total amount wanted was not subscribed.

Through Mr. J. H. Parker, who is Secretary of the Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery we able to obtain some very interesting information and data concerning his wife’s’ father—Edson C. Hall—who was secretary to Major General John A. Logan during the close of the Civil War.  We have had photographed the original letter dictated by General Logan to Edson C. Hall, which was written by Edson C. Hall.  This letter was apparently issued to the men in the Army of the Tennessee on their being mustered out.  Rarely will one find anything of this kind so beautifully written, both as to the handwriting and composition.  This photographic copy of the letter is attached to this history.  [*Editors note:  Sadly, no such letter is attached].

Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery

The Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery was first laid out by Captain Thomas S. Gelder about the year 1840 and was a private burying ground until 1869.

In March, 1869 the Gelder burying grounds was deeded to the County of Macoupin for a public burying grounds and the deed reads as follows:  THIS INDENTURE, made this 10th day of March, 1869 between Thomas S. Gelder and Louisa, his wife, of the County of Macoupin and State of Illinois of the first part and the County Court of the Macoupin County and State of Illinois of the second part, WITNESSETH that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of $1.00 to them paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt where of is hereby acknowledge have granted, bargained, sold, released and conveyed and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, release and convey to the said party of the second part and their successors forever, all of a certain piece of parcel of land situate, lying and being in the county and state aforesaid and known and designated and described as follows, towit:  [Here begins a long legal description, which I am omitting at this time.  You can view the original document at the Macoupin Co. Archives].   

In 1906, the original plat of the Gelder Cemetery was surveyed and laid out I lots.  The plat and certification of survey is dated September 26, 1906 and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County on July 21, 1916 in Plat Book “D” at pate 61.

In 1909, an addition was made to the Gelder Cemetery by James T. Rigsbey and his wife Anna Rigsbey, both of the village of Chesterfield for the sum of  $50 which was paid to the cemetery trustees:  John J. Leach, Edward J. Carter, and James T. Rigsbey.  [Another legal description listed here].  This deed is dated March 12, 1909 and filed in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County on April 26, 1939 in Vol. 384 of Miscellaneous Records at page 471.  This deed also includes the part which is the original Gelder burial grounds first described.

In June, 1928 a meeting was held at the Chesterfield High School of the Gelder Cemetery Board.  The following trustees were nominated and elected:  John S. Hounsley, W. Rigsbey, and Frank Leach Trustees, and J. J. Leach and J. T. Rigsbey Honorary Members.

In October, 1932, a petition for incorporation was sent to the Sec. of State, Walter J. Stratton for cemetery association organization.  It was signed by:  F. B. Leach, J. S. Hounsley, L. E. Mathis, T. L. Dowland, R. M. Smith, Grover Doughty, T. A. Scott, J. T. Pitman, Marshall Sarginson, Orange Fenton, William Rigsbey, Ray Warner,  and Will Stigall.  It was dated October 10, 1932 and was recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin

County in Vol. 387 of Miscellaneous Records at pages 149 and 150 on February 7, 1938.  The charter was granted and dated October 10, 1832 and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County in Vol. 387 of Miscellaneous Records at page 149 on Feb. 7, 1938.

At a meeting of the Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery Association which was held on March 26, 1938, the following officers were duly elected:  J. S. Hounsley, President; C. H. Jones, Vice-President; Wm. Rigsbey, Treasurer; J. H. Parker, Secretary; C. H. Jones, Director; Grover Doughty, Director, T. L. Dowland, Director, J. S. Hounsley, Director, F. B. Leach, Director, Wm. Rigsbey, Director.

At this meeting the subject of raising an income fund to be used for the upkeep of the cemetery was discussed.  A petition for donations was started and a fund of not less than $1000.00 will be reached shortly.  This will provide for a permanent income for the maintenance  of the chesterfield Gelder Cemetery.

Mr. John S. Hounsley, President of the association, who is a prominent land owner and a promoter of civic affairs donated to the cemetery, one acre more or less of land running parallel and adjoining the original cemetery on the north.  This new addition will give the cemetery almost as much burial space as the original and will permit the association to place new driveways in and around the cemetery; also space for landscaping and beautifying the grounds.  The deed to this tract of land has not been recorded as yet; but a survey was made of the new addition and a plat made which reads as follows:  [Here listed is another legal land description].  It is dated April 20, 1839 and filed for record in the office of Recorder of Deeds for Macoupin County in Book “E” of the Land plats at page 50, on August 3, 1939.       

The Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery is well located and can be reached at all times.  The ground can very easily be drained as it has a gradual slope to the north and to the west.  There is a crushed rock “Farm to Market” road extending from State Route 111 to the entrance of the cemetery.  Many of the older raves are sunken and need refilling.  Some of the tombstones have fallen over and need resetting and the inscriptions need recutting.  The wire fence which encloses this cemetery needs resetting and replacing.

There are nine veterans buried in the Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery.  There are no work sheets in this file, however, there is a typed sheet as follows:

Berryman, S. L., Civil War, Pvt., Co. F, 133 Inf. Reg., Died 1908, Grave 3, Lot 112, Block A

Carter, Robert, Civil War, Pvt., Co. F, 133 Ill. Inf., Died 03-12-1908, Grave 3, Lot 39, Block B

Gelder, Thomas S., Civil & Blackhawk War, Capt., Died 11-25-1881, Grave 2, Lot 127, Block A

Hall, Edson C., Civil War, Pvt., Co. B & G, 25 & 4 Ia. Inf., Died 6-03-1884, Grave 5, Lot 106, Block A

Leach, Joan James, Civil War, Pvt., Co. D, 122 Ill. Inf., Died 3-30-1935, Block 1, Lot 52, Block B

Pitman, Willis G., World War 1, Pvt., Co. 32, Med. Corp., Died 1-31-1926, Grave 1, Lot 33, Block B

Thornton, James, Civil War, Pvt., Co. A, 122 Ill. Inf., Died 1-1-1863, Grave 5, Lot 126, Block A

Thornton, Richard, Civil War, Pvt., Co. A, 122 Ill. Inf., (no death date listed), Grave 2, Lot 83, Block A

Winson, William, Civil War, Pvt., Co. D, 122 Ill. Inf., Died 5-23-1893, Grave 3, Lot 113, Block A

The grave of William Winson is not marked.  This grave was pointed out to us by the trustees as that of William Winson and his name appears on the Roster of soldiers of the 122 Illinois Infantry, Company “D”.
In our attempt to find the oldest grave in the cemetery we found: Mary, daughter of J. & E. Thornton, died September 10, 1839 at the age of 9 years, 8 months and 21 days.  At this time the Thornton farm adjoined the Gelder farm and no doubt Mr. Gelder offered this space, now included in the Chesterfield Gelder Cemetery, as a burial place for this small child.

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