Jersey County Cemeteries
Over the years, several projects have been undertaken to record the cemeteries of Jersey County. In 1972, a woman named Elaine Witt from Springfield, Illinois, located many of the county’s abandoned cemeteries and recorded the headstones she found. In the 1980s, abandoned and active cemeteries were revisited, and burial records were expanded and updated. Former resident John Loy and his wife, Diane, spent many summers working again to locate both the abandoned and active cemeteries of Jersey County to compile burial lists, photograph headstones, and gather GPS coordinates. Dennis and Beth McGlasson of Jerseyville began helping the Loys in the efforts to record all the Jersey County cemeteries. Our resulting burial lists have been supplemented by information from newspapers, historical narratives, funeral home records, and family Bibles and records.
The vast majority of these burial lists — as well as all photos of headstones and, in some cases, family information — have been added to Find a Grave. (There are no fees associated with this site, so please visit it.) Burial lists, GPS coordinates, and driving directions to Jersey County cemeteries are available at the Historical Society’s Genealogy Research Center.
Jersey County Cemetery Statistics
- Jersey County contains more than 120 cemeteries spread throughout its 11 townships.
- About 20 of the original cemeteries have been destroyed.
- English township has the largest number of cemeteries with 20 known cemeteries. Elsah township contains the fewest with three identified cemeteries and one single grave.
- Hundreds of veterans are buried in Jersey County, including seven men who fought in the Revolutionary War. To view a list of these burials, visit our Roll of Honor.
- There are a handful of marked single gravesites in existence in the county today.
Illinois state law does not grant individuals, even direct descendants, the right to visit cemeteries located on private property. If you wish to visit such a cemetery, contact the landowner to request permission. The Jersey County Plat Book can be helpful in finding names, or the Jersey County Assessor’s Office should be able to help you find the landowner’s name.
State laws enacted in 1989 protect Illinois cemeteries from destruction, even from landowners who wish to use that ground for other purposes. Offenders may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how many graves are destroyed.
Reading Old Headstones
Please remember that headstones are fragile, and laws govern their cleaning, restoration, movement, etc.
If you wish to photograph a tombstone that is difficult to read, lightly spray it with water. The water on the flat surface of the stone should evaporate more quickly than the water in the engraving, making it more legible. A sheet of aluminum foil used to reflect more light onto the stone will emphasize the shadows of the engraving, also making it easier to read.
Please never use shaving cream, toothpaste, chalk, or flour on stones. All can cause permanent damage to stones, as will such household cleaning as bleach and TSP.
Illinois provides some excellent info regarding this subject in its cemetery preservation handbook.