Illinois Ancestors: Securing a final resting place for forgotten heroes

Illinois Ancestors: Securing a final resting place for forgotten heroes

The Missing in America Project was launched in 2007 to "locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans (and) ... to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes." So far, MIAP has found the ashes of more than 2,000 veterans — including six from the Civil War — and provided memorial services at their interment.

Two of those Civil War veterans served in Indiana units and died within four years of each other; they were Zuinglius and Lycurgus McCormack. The story of their interment at Arlington National Cemetery was noteworthy because "the joint committal service of the McCormacks and four other service members ... marked the opening of the cemetery's ninth and largest columbarton court, an outdoor concrete garden plaza for the committal of ashes."

The researchers who obtained the cremains of the McCormack brothers described their search in the funeral home's crypt where they found "hundreds of urns next to each other, on top of each other, behind each other" until they found Zuinglius, "the very last one, in the far back recesses." Read more of this event at

MIAP has an interesting blog at, which also provides a link to the organization's newsletter; both report on veterans' burials nationwide. The most recent issue of SAR magazine tells of that organization's (Sons of the American Revolution) participation in a MIAP memorial service in Phoenix for 27 veterans, whose ashes had been unclaimed in an Arizona mortuary.

To learn more of the Missing in America Project, contact the Illinois State Coordinator for MIAP, Roland Boguszenski. He can be reached at Volunteers are sought to assist with this project.

Unclaimed Persons

Another noteworthy project pertaining to deceased persons is devoted to finding next of kin of "unclaimed persons" whose remains are in funeral homes around the country. Unclaimed Persons was founded by Megan Smolenyak, noted genealogist and author.

A video telling of her efforts can be viewed at

Smolenyak tells how her genealogy expertise has helped her find many "missing" families. Also, Smolenyak's article in Ancestry magazine (January-February 2009) can be read at Other volunteers are also sought for this project.

Quincy cemetery

In 1875, the German Evangelical Salem Church in Quincy established the Green Mound Cemetery as a private cemetery for members of Salem Church and other area Lutheran churches. A new section was opened in 1897 and named New Greenmount Cemetery and opened to the general public. Around 1909, Greenmount Cemetery was the name used.

It is estimated that more than 30,000 individuals have been buried there. A search for an individual name can be made from the cemetery's homepage at http://www.greenmountqcy/website.

Information provided may include first, middle and last name; AKA (also known as), maiden name, date of birth and date of death; date of interment, age, stone information and a link to burial location information (lot, section and grave number). Some interment records also include cause of death, place of death if other than Adams County and name of funeral home which handled the services.

The cemetery office has interment records since April 1906 with a few records before that time. Records of purchases of cemetery lots are as early as 1875. A link to the storm of 1902 describes some of the damage to the cemetery grounds.

Mattoon cemetery

The Dodge Grove Cemetery at Mattoon was opened in 1863 and is the final resting place of three generals of the Civil War along with about 280 Civil War soldiers. From, one can click on Dodge Grove Cemetery Burial Records A to Z and be taken to the list of 595 pages of records.

The information on each individual includes first and last name, age, death date, grave location, lot owner and funeral home.

Cemetery records can often provide vital information sought by researchers.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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