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May 11 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Local historian & family researcher Robert Hoffer will describe the plans for a Moffat Cemetery memorial that will be erected at the corner of Adams & Griswold in Peoria – just off the grounds of the former cemetery.
Bob’s quest started with a simple request – in 2016 his wife asked him to locate the grave of her father’s grandfather, Mans Nelson. Armed with the name and date of death, finding great-grandpa’s final resting place should have been an easy feat for Hoffer, but by summer he’d found only dead ends.
Finally, in the lower level of the Peoria Public Library, he happened upon a scrap of coroner abstracts, which noted that Nelson’s wife “had him buried at Moffatt,” a revelation that turned out to pose more questions than it provided answers.
Checking city directories, he found an entry for Moffatt Cemetery, located at 3900 SW Adams St – but when he drove to the corner of Adams and Griswold streets, he found a muffler shop and an electrician, with absolutely no sign of a graveyard!
After months of research, he pieced together a long history of a one-time prominent cemetery which culminated in the cemetery being abandoned, being rezoned industrial in the 1950’s, and being simply paved over.
Bob will discuss the history of the cemetery and the new memorial. The memorial will be a large concrete circle with a lighted flag pole and five large stone features. The memorial recognizes:
- Pioneer Aquilla Moffatt – who arrived in Peoria when there were only a few existing buildings and who donated the land for Moffat Cemetery
- Over twenty-six hundred Peoria residents buried here. (Fewer than 100 individuals were removed to decent and respectful burial places before the cemetery was paved over).
- The forty-eight Civil War Veterans still resting here
- Nance’ Legins-Costley, the ‘first slave freed by Lincoln,’ is buried here – while a very young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln took and pleaded her case for freedom from ownership before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841. This favorable court decision effectively ended slavery and indentured servitude in Illinois. The trial was documented by author, journalist, & Lincoln historian Carl Adams in his 2014 book NANCE: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln: A True Story of Nance Legins-Costley.
- The Unknowables – over 46 stone boxes of remains that were relocated from the Old City Cemetery during sewer construction projects in
Business meeting will follow.