The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 23, 2013

Travelers intrigued by pioneer cemetery

In the weeks following the dedication of the renovated pioneer cemetery at the Salt Kettle Rest Area west of Danville, I spent several hours on a number of days visiting with the people who visited the historic site. Edward M. Wilson, who once owned the lad where the rest area and cemetery are located, was laid to rest in the cemetery in September 1840.

The visitors came from a number of states and one group was from Japan. Their interest varied from Abraham Lincoln to the type of wild flowers and plants that grew along the trail leading to the cemetery. One trucker from Iowa noted he came because he was Irish, and felt a kinship to Edward M. Wilson, who came to America from Ireland at age 17.

A woman from Pennsylvania was accompanied by her two teenage children and a curious poodle. She admitted they walked to the cemetery “just to get a little exercise,” but noted she was glad they did when she saw the woodland burial plot. “It kind of captures the spirit of America,” she said, after reading the information sign at the site.

Her son and daughter were continuously occupied with their cell phones, but did take time to look at the grave markers. The poodle exhibited some interest in a mole mound on the trail, but did not extend any energy excavating. “He’s getting old,” she told me as she pulled him away from the mound and they made their way back to the rest area.

The Japanese tourists were visiting Lincoln sites and were on their way to Springfield, one of the men told me. He was accompanied by another man and two women. He said they had decided to walk to the cemetery after viewing the exhibit at the rest area. They took several pictures and the man who did the talking wrote down information from the sign. Then they were off, on their way to the next site.

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