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Mapping the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois Exhibit

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Trail of Tears in Union County - Camp Ground Church

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Camp Ground Church Cemetery

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View of vacant area within Camp Ground Church Cemetery reported as location of unmarked Cherokee graves and under investigation by SIUC geophysicist Harvey Henson.

Camp Ground Church Cemetery

This site is located 8 km (4.8 miles) east of Anna, Illinois and is being investigated with remote sensing techniques to determine if unmarked graves related to the Trail of Tears episode exist there. The cemetery was initially established by local settlers during the 1830's as a small family cemetery adjacent to a major trail across southern Illinois. This knoll offered easy access to five nearby springs and was an excellent spot to camp and rest.

In 1834, George Hileman secured a patent on the land upon which he lived with his young family. His tract of land included the area where the church and cemetery would eventually be established. Within a couple years, Mr. Hileman and his wife had buried two of their young children in the field out from the house.

During the winter of 1838-39, one route utilized for the Trail of Tears was this east/west trail passing by the campground. The National Park Service estimates as many as 6,000 may have camped at the Camp Ground site. They slept and cooked just east of the present cemetery by the creek, and cut the brush and trees on the campground knoll for cooking and heat. When Cherokee died while camping at this site, Mr. Hileman allowed them to bury the deceased near his children in the field out from the house.

Mr. & Mrs. Hileman deeded land for the Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1850, and then deeded an adjacent tract, where his children and the Cherokee were buried, to the church for a cemetery in 1854.

Contributed by Sandra Boaz, Anna, IL

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