The McDonough County Voice


Oakwood Friends seek landmark status


Posted Sep 29, 2016 at 11:48 AM

By Patrick Stout- Voice Correspondent

MACOMB — The city's historic preservation commission held the first of two scheduled public hearings Tuesday on a application from Friends of Oakwood Cemetery for the burial ground to be designated as a local landmark. City Attorney Kristen Petrie told commissioners that many cemeteries in the state have been designated as landmarks.


Petrie said a city ordinance would have to be approved to make such a designation.


"A cemetery is a single property," she said. "You don't count each plot separately."


Kathy Nichols of the friends group spoke of the historical significance of many of the persons buried at Oakwood. Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Nemec said he would also like to know more about historic structures within the cemetery and the layout of its original entrance.


Deputy Community Development Coordinator Mitch Flynn said he would like to see such historic detail included in the application. "I love the project," Commission Chairman Dennis Danowski said of the Oakwood Friends' effort.


Petrie cautioned that the commission has no jurisdiction over the appearance of individual gravesites. "The design is a family choice and nothing can be dictated by the commission," she said.


Commissioners voted to resume discussion of the Friends of Oakwood Cemetery application at their Oct. 25 meeting.


In other business, Nemec reported that he and Danowski are scheduled to discuss plans for a Macomb Historic Homes recognition program with city aldermen on Oct. 10. Petrie said the program would later be formally submitted to the city council for adoption by resolution.


Commissioner Sue Scott reported that the remains of two pillars that sat in front of the historic Randolph House hotel downtown would be returned to their original location in front of the building. They had been removed during store renovations within the building.


Two weeks ago, Scott said she had been informed that construction workers were told that they could throw the pillar remains away. She and another local historian met with project workers and told them the pillars could not be removed without city permission.


Macomb's downtown square is a designated historic district, and all external structures are under the jurisdiction of state and city historic preservation authorities.



Reach Patrick Stout by email at

from the McDonough County Voice newspaper, July 1, 2014

  • Decoration Day


    honors the fallen

 By Nick Draper

Staff Reporter 

  • Posted Jul. 1, 2014 @ 1:20 pm 

    MACOMB —
    The gloomy sky looming over Oakwood Cemetery set the stage for “The Memory Shall Be Our” Decoration Day re-enactment on Saturday.
    A drummer and two piccolo players set the pace for the Union soldiers, recreated by Springfield’s 114th Regiment Civil War Re-enactors, who took their seats for the opening tune, “Star Spangled Banner.”
    “The flowers we bring today and place on graves convey the undying bond between our beloved comrades and us,” said re-enactor and speaker Richard Schachtsiek. “Our hearts join with great poet Longfellow in saying, ‘Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest on this field of silent arms where your foes no more molest, nor sentry’s shot alarms.’”
    The event created from locally used ceremony materials and historical information by author John Hallwas, featured music by the Macomb Municipal Band directed by Mike Fansler.
    According to information handed out before the event, Decoration Day was one of the most popular events in Illinois, drawing more than 3,000 people to Oakwood Cemetery by the late 19th Century.
    Though the re-enactment focused largely on the musical components, each of which were given historical context by speaker Patrick Stout, the event did feature several speakers.
    Among the 14 musical selections for the event, several well-known songs from the era were played such as “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Dixie” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
    “(This song was) passed down to the Civil War soldiers from those who fought in the war for Texan independence,” Stout said as he introduced “Yellow Rose of Texas.” “The song is said to be based on the life of Emily D. West, also known as Emily Morgan, a woman captured by the Mexican forces of Santa Anna. Morgan was bi-racial and had a complexion that was commonly known at the time as ‘high yellow.’”
    The re-enactment celebrated local soldiers who fought in the Civil War, with graves decorated by the re-enactors following the speakers.
    “At the first half of the drum, many of our brave fellows in McDonough County rushed to the rescue of their country,” said speaker Don Ferricks. “Under the southern sun by the cotton fields, through the woods and near the swamps, our local soldiers marched … and many of them died.”
    Following the placement of the flowers, branches were placed for those local soldiers who fell and were never returned for burial.
    The event was sponsored by the Friends of Oakwood Cemetery, tied in with several other historical events that composed the Heritage Days theme “A Tribute to our Military.”


From 2014:

On June 28, at 2:00, as part of this year's Heritage Days event, focused on "Macomb's Military Heritage," there will be a re-enactment of a typical 19th-century Decoration Day ceremony in Oakwood Cemetery. Titled "The Memory Shall be Ours," the script was created by John Hallwas, based on 19th-century GAR manuals and local newspaper accounts of those Civil War remembrance ceremonies. The re-enactment will feature the Macomb Band, under the direction of Michael Fansler, which will play a variety of Civil War songs. Also, the 114th Regiment, reactivated, a noted Civil War soldier re-enactment group from Springfield, will be performing the roles once filled generations ago by local Civil War veterans: posting the flag, speaking about soldiers, and decorating selected soldier graves. In the 19th century, this was Macomb's largest participatory event, which often drew several thousand people to Oakwood Cemetery. The re-enactment will be filmed by WIU Television, with director Roger Kent in charge of the taping, editing, and creation of the film. It is planned to make this re-enactment available on local TV, especially during the Memorial Day holiday each spring. The re-enactment, which is largely a Civil War music concert, is free to the public on the Saturday of Heritage Days.


The Memory Shall Be Ours Program
The Memory Shall Be Ours Program 2014.pd
Adobe Acrobat Document 458.2 KB


  • Macomb's military

    heritage focus of

    cemetery tour

from the McDonough County Voice

By Nick Draper
Staff Reporter 

Posted May. 27, 2014 @ 10:18 am 

 Oakwood Cemetery houses the graves of men that fought in many of the nation’s wars, including hundreds that served in the Civil War.
The Macomb’s Military Heritage Tour at Oakwood, sponsored by the Friends of Oakwood Cemetery, provided some insight by author and historian John Hallwas into the stories of the cemetery’s residents.
Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was known during the Civil War, has always been a large part of Macomb as the city celebrated its veterans heavily throughout its history, Hallwas said.
“It wasn’t just civil war guys,” he explained. “(It was) earlier wars too and, of course, later wars. That started after the Civil War with the whole sea change that came in about the way we should honor and remember our soldiers.”
Macomb has seen its share of servicemen, with many of the large movers and shakers throughout its history having been in the military in some form. This includes C.V. Chandler, the richest man in the county and the one who personally paid for the statue in Chandler park.
This also includes W.H. Hainline who ran the Macomb Journal and former president of Western Illinois University Alfred Bayliss.
Illinois University Alfred Bayliss.
These veterans made sure that the dead were celebrated in a proper way each Decoration Day, Hallwas said.
“You had 2,500 people in the town in 1870, 1880, 1890,” Hallwas said. “We had 5,000 on Decoration Day, double the population of the town was out here on Decoration Day and it was because these guys made it happen.”
People would come in from all over the county, and from other counties, to Macomb and would have a war hero give a speech. People would line up as far as the eye could see, Hallwas said.
The headstones of veterans, each adorned with a flag, included those who had served in many different wars. One stone, the stone of Francis D. Lipe, is adorned with the odd “Cherokee War.”
The Cherokee War was actually the removal of Cherokees by Andrew Jackson, known as the famous Trail of Tears, where the Cherokee Indians were removed from their lands and driven into “Indian Territory,” now known as Oklahoma.
Another interesting stone was the stone of Colonel Carter Van Vlec, whom had fought in the battle of Chickamauga and was wounded.
“He should have really went home and stayed there,” Hallwas said. “His arm was in a sling. But as soon as he possibly could get back in the service, after a period of a couple months he did so.”

Read more:

Memorial Day 2014 - Oakwood Cemetery Veterans GravesitesTour

Friends of Oakwood Cemetery


Cemetery Walks


Memorial Day,

Monday, May 26, 2014

10:00a.m.  - 11:30 a.m

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m


The walks will be led by local historian John Hallwas and will highlight the gravesites of veterans


Proceeds will be used for the preservation and beautification of Oakwood Cemetery