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Milton Cemetery, Alton Township

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Milton Cemetery is located in Alton Township, at Milton Road and East Broadway. According to the Madison County Historical Society, the town of Milton was located in this area around 1809, formerly called Wallace Mills for the first mill located there on the Wood River. This town was in existence only until circa 1849. The Society states there are no stones or records of any early burials, and that the cemetery can only be traced back to 1897, but according to the Alton Evening Telegraph, June 7, 1915, a man named John Milton was buried in the cemetery in 1812, and a small tombstone was still standing there with his name on it. The cemetery was owned as a private burying ground by Z. B. Job Sr. for many years, and about 1890 he deeded it to the village of East Alton, who turned the cemetery over to a board of five trustees.  Below are interesting newspaper articles regarding the cemetery:




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 15, 1881

A first class ghost sensation is now exciting the people, it being currently reported that one of the mysterious fraternity has lately been seen in an adjoining graveyard. His ghostship only appears to single individuals, seeming to be troubled with a diffidence that impels him to avoid a crowd. A party of three or four went on a ghost hunting expedition a few nights since, but owing to the bad weather or some other hindrance, there was no supernatural appearance. Some individuals, however, have been "scared out of a year's growth," and state that the spook is no humbug. A party of eight Altonians visited the Milton cemetery last night, saw the ghost, but did not venture to interview it.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 16, 1881

We gave an account yesterday of the supernatural visitor that is said to haunt the Milton cemetery, and has been terrifying the citizens of Alton Junction lately, and also of the trip of eight Altonians to interview the mysterious apparition. The Altonians, with unheard of valor, went within sight of the haunted spot, and at about 10 o'clock, were rewarded with a view of the mysterious being. It appeared to them as a man clothed in a black mantle, with long, flowing hair, the height of the ghost ranging from six to nine feet, according to the magnifying power of the "bulging" eyes that stared at it, the company being speechless through amazement. It is reported that they had the temerity to stand within a hundred yards of the vision for 15 minutes, and then withdrew without disturbing the ghost in the least, it walking back and forth a distance of 40 or 50 feet with a military and preoccupied air that was quite startling. Whether material or supernatural, the apparition was enough to demoralize the Altonians and send them back to town in disorder. One of the railroad employees at the Junction visited the haunted spot a few nights ago, saw the apparition and bravely approaching it thrust his arm directly through its body. This completely unnerved him, and he retreated to the Junction pale as the traditional ghost, and firmly convinced of the supernatural character of the visitant. The old residents assert that the apparition is that of a man buried on the knoll in 1839. How they know that is a matter not yet explained. Meanwhile, Alton Junction has a sensation and is happy, though trembling.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 19, 1881

The nightly pilgrimages to the Mecca of wonder lovers, Milton Cemetery, still continue, but with but little success for the past two nights, although some peculiarly gifted individuals still claim to see the mysterious nocturnal visitor. The Upper Alton students say that no one sees the ghost now, for the simple reason that one of their crowd shot it a few nights ago, and in proof of this assertion, they have an ungainly form suspended to a wire in Pie Town, in such a position that all desiring to do so can communicate with the "remnants" by telephone. One man who visited the ghost's walk last night states that the only "appearance" that he saw was a paper image hung to a tree, although a spirituous influence was quite manifest on the crowd he went with. This man is now the "guest" of the city, and can be interviewed by any curious inquirer. It is said that the grave reputed to be the apparition's resting place is somewhat stirred up near the head, at the place where the spirit would naturally make its exit and entrance, looking something like a mole had been at work.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 19, 1881

A party of men in a wagon went to Milton cemetery last night in search of the celebrated ghost. They had a supply of liquid refreshments along, and although they failed to see the spook, some of the number were so overcome by the influence of the "spirit" of the kind that appears from a bottle, that they became excited and unruly, and finally created such a disturbance at a house in "Glass Avenue," on their return, firing pistols and kicking at the door, that Policeman Schielle arrested one of the rear guard and locked him up. He was fined $10 and costs this morning, by Justice Noonan.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 21, 1881

From the reports received from the haunted Milton cemetery a few days ago, we labored under the pleasing illusion that the ghost was laid and its "manes" pacified, but it seems that this was a flagrant error. The trouble heretofore has been that the investigators have been of timid and "retiring" dispositions, fearful of offending the apparition, and hence have not displayed the proper courage. Monday night, however, a valiant little party, men who did not know what fear was, the "bravest of the brave" went to the place, resolved to do or die. As an evidence of their valor, not to say rashness, they sat down cooly, lighted their pipes, and patiently awaited the mysterious appearance. Luckily they did not have long to tarry. About 10 o'clock one of the number looked over the ground and beheld a sight that caused each individual bristle to stand erect on his head, like the "quills of a frightened forkentine." About twenty paces off stood a form, eight feet high, with a long, white beard and tremendous eyes, big as a couple of holes burned in a blanket. It glared upon the intruders with optics having no speculation in them. The discoverer of this horrid sight exclaimed in an awe struck whisper, "Boys, there it is," and immediately there was a stir; the "veterans" rose to their feet, a few ineffectual shots from revolvers were fired, and as the apparition glided toward them, its footsteps silent as the grave, the "bravest of the brave" took to flight. They hurried slightly, in fact it would be no exaggeration to say that they ran so wildly and aimlessly that they missed the entryway and lit into a hedge, tearing their garments and scratching themselves terribly. But they escaped the ghost, and say that they have had enough of the search after the supernatural.




Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 9, 1890 and the Alton Telegraph, December 11, 1890

Editor Telegraph:  One ghost story is nearly always productive of another. There is something peculiarly mysterious about ghost stories, although no one yet has been found who has felt that he could say positively that the apparition he saw was someone, who had at some time inhabited a tenement of flesh and blood and walked among men. A number of years ago, the writer was sitting in the office of - at that time - a well known physician. The subject of apparitions happening to come up by the report that a ghost had been seen in the eastern end of the city, the Doctor said: "If you have no objection, I will tell you my experience with ghosts."  The Doctor was a good storyteller, and could always have an audience when professional duties permitted. Settling myself in a chair comfortably, I said to the Doctor: "go ahead; I am fixed for ghosts tonight."  After pondering a second or two, and casting a glance around him as if looking for someone, he began:


"Some ten or twelve years ago, I had a very large practice in the American Bottom east of Alton. I would frequently be called out at night in that neighborhood, and spend a large portion of it in making calls and in returning to my home. On these occasions I always took my driver along. He was a tall, muscular Irishman, strong as an ox, and apparently without fear. We both had weapons with us in case of need, although we never had occasion to use them. The night in question I was called to attend a family living about six or eight miles below the city, on the St. Louis road. It was one of the handsomest nights I ever saw. The moon was full and cast such a glorious light that the trees and houses seemed illumined. The air was keen and crusty with frost - a typical December night. We reached the homestead of the family where the call came from about 9:30, and found two cases of diphtheria - in almost the last stages. I stayed with the family for a couple of hours, affording such relief as I could. Between eleven and twelve we started on our return. I felt somewhat blue over the prospects for the recovery of my two patients, and with foreboding fears that more of the family might be taken down with the dread disease. I said nothing to my driver, meditating upon how little a physician could do, with all his much vaunted skill, when death put in a claim. We had reached, shortly after 12 o'clock, that part of the road lying near the old cemetery at Milton. As is well known, Milton cemetery is on the top of the hill, overlooking the road. Noticing the hill, my thoughts ran to the many ghost stories that had been told of that famous spot. My attention was suddenly called by an exclamation from Patrick, my driver: "By all the saints, Doctor, what's that ahead of us?"  Quickly glancing in the direction, I saw a figure, some two hundred yards in advance of us, standing in the middle of the road and apparently facing us. It seemed to be of the height of an ordinary person, and appeared to be covered with a sheet. I thought it was someone trying to frighten us. I told Patrick so, and we drove on until the horse caught sight of the object and would go no farther. Fearing that the animal might break the vehicle, I said to Patrick to hold the horse and I would go and investigate the apparition. I took the buggy whip in one hand and my pistol in the other, prepared, as I supposed for the would-be ghost. As I drew near it, I saw that holes appeared to be cut in the sheet about where the eyes and nose ought to be, but there was no movement in any part of it. It was as cold and as stiff looking as a marble monument.  A little closer I observed that feet, clad in white stockings, protruded beneath the sheet. I shouted, when within a rod, "who are you and why do you stand there trying to frighten my horse?"  There was no sound uttered, or movement made by the figure. I was astonished beyond measure. My heart thumped and beat so loudly that I was sure Patrick could hear it, and the ghost too if it had ears. At last, mustering up courage, I made a rush for the figure. I raised my whip and brought the heavy end down with all my strength on the figure's head. But imagine my surprise, instead of striking the creature, my whip cleaved through it and struck the place where its feet stood. The next instant the most unearthly, the most horrible yell that ever pierced the ears of any mortal, came from the spot where the blow from my whip was aimed. The shriek of a dozen catamounts [wild animal of the cat family] could not have equaled it. I was paralyzed for a few seconds. When I came to myself, there was nothing to be seen. The echo had died away. Turning towards my buggy, the horse was prancing and jumping. When I reached it the animal was covered with sweat, trembling like an aspen, and Patrick was speechless. After having spoken to him several times, he stammered, "What was it Doctor?"  I didn't tell him. I didn't say anything. We drove off in silence, and as we passed the spot where the figure stood, the horse shied and plunged, and a peculiar odor seemed to pervade the atmosphere. In the course of ten or fifteen minutes Patrick told me that just after the screech the figure seemed to flit through the air, its white stockinged feet protruding beneath the drapery, towards the cemetery on the hillside, and disappeared in the ground. That was all I ever saw. Patrick could not be hired to pass that way again. He soon after left my employ and went from the city. I did not speak of the apparition to anyone, because I must have a driver, and I was confident that it would be almost impossible to secure one that would pass along that road, if it was told. I made the same trip the next night, and many nights since, and never again saw the strange visitant. No one else, that I ever heard of, saw it afterwards. I have often thought of it and tried to reason it out. Had not Patrick and his horse seen and heard it I should have persuaded myself that it was an illusion. You are the first person to whom I have told it. Never speak of it until I am gone. Then you may publish it if you want to."


The old physician relapsed into silence. He never mentioned the story again. A few years afterward he passed away, having served his generation well.




Source: Alton Telegraph, October 14, 1897

A peculiar accident happened Friday night to Joseph Major, an Upper Alton glass blower, and by it he sustained injuries that might have proved fatal had he not promptly secured surgical aid. Mr. Major was out hunting yesterday, and on his way home he stopped at a spring near Milton cemetery to get a drink. He laid his gun down on the ground and he stopped over beside the spring to drink some of the water. In so doing, he accidentally touched the trigger of the shotgun, and one barrel of it was discharged, the load taking effect in his right leg near the thigh. Some of the muscles were torn off by the discharge of the gun, and Mr. Major was badly injured. Dr. H. R. Lemen was summoned, and he rendered surgical aid to the sufferer, who was taken to his home in Upper Alton. Dr. Lemen thinks that the injured man will not be crippled for life, but he will be a long time in recovering from the effects of his fearful experience.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 14, 1901

East Alton has again got the wonders, and the village is guessing what sort of a man wore on his shoulders the skull found yesterday afternoon on Job's ranch just east of the town. Mr. Job had a force of men engaged in leveling down a hill near the old ranch house, and one of the scrapers brought out with its load of dirt the skull of a man. Investigation unearthed the rest of the skeleton, but it speedily crumbled into dust. The skull, however, was made of sterner stuff and is still intact. The jawbones are massive, and the teeth are formidable looking masticators, and if the rest of the owner was formed in proportion, he must have been a giant in stature. Mr. Job has owned that place for 50 years or more, and he does not know of any man having been buried there. In fact, he gave the Milton cemetery to the public for burial purposes, and in earlier days, Milton was the place where all deceased persons were laid to rest. Mr. Job inclines to the belief that an Indian wore the skull and appurtenances [apparatus], and this appears reasonable. He brought the skull to Alton and says he will give it to Dr. W. Fisher to put in his cabinet. Charles Henry, the East Alton barber who is an archaeological crank, a prehistoric Pundit, and an amtedeluvian  [antediluvian: very old, prehistoric]

 Mahatma, says the find is the face of an age, but he does not explain how the Simian got there or how he buried himself that far down in the ground.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 14, 1902
The following death notice is from New York Tribune, of March 3rd: "Gilman-On Sunday, March 2, 1902, at the house of her son-in-law, Commander Richard Graham Davenport, U. S. N., Washington, D. C., in the 85th year of her age, Abia Swift, widow of Winthrop Sargent Gilman of New York. Funeral service at the Brick Presbyterian church, Fifth avenue and Thirty-seventh street, at 10:30 a.m. of Wednesday, the 5th instant." Mrs. Gilman was the widow of Winthrop S. Gilman, a member of the firm of Godfrey & Gilman, merchants of Alton in the early days. It was in the the warehouse of this firm that Lovejoy's last press was stored, and where its defenders took refuge from the mob that slew Mr. Lovejoy on the night of November 7, 1837. Mrs. Gilman was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Lippincott, a Presbyterian minister of the early day, and whom many of our older citizens still remember. Mr. Lippincott, with his wife, came from the East to Illinois in 1816, and settled at what was known as Milton, a few miles east of Alton on Wood river. Mrs. Gilman was the first child born at Milton. In the summer of 1817, after Mrs. Gilman was born, an epidemic of fever occurred at Milton, caused, as supposed, by the damming of Wood river in order to get water to run the saw mills located there. Mrs. Gilman's mother was one of the victims of the fever, leaving Mr. Lippincott with the infant child. So severe was the epidemic, that those of the inhabitants of Milton who did not died with the fever, abandoned the settlement and left the houses vacant. The dead were buried in what has long been known as Milton cemetery on a hilltop nearby. The Rev. J. M. Sturtevant had been called to the Presidency of Illinois College at Jacksonville, and in driving from St. Louis to Jacksonville noticed the deserted houses, and asked the driver "where are the inhabitants?" The driver laconically replied, pointing with his finger to the hilltop, "up there," and Dr. Sturtevant saw the numerous graves. Rev. Thomas Lippincott afterwards assisted in laying out Alton for Colonel Easton, the founder of the town and owner of the land on which it was laid. His daughter, upon reaching mature years, married Winthrop S. Gilman, a prominent resident of Alton, and whose name will always be associated with the struggle against human slavery which culminated in this city in the death of Elijah P. Lovejoy, to whose memory a beautiful monument is erected in Alton cemetery. Mr. Gilman, a few years after these events, removed to New York, where he became a leader in business and religious circles.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 6, 1902

The property at Milton hill was deeded last week to the Village of East Alton for a cemetery. All persons having relatives buried there and are interested in fixing up the cemetery are requested to meet there on Wednesday, June 11, for the purpose of doing necessary work to improve the grounds. Everybody bring axes and scythes. The trustees are S. M. Hawkins, C. White, L. Starkey, Ellis Dent, F. D. Walling.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 11, 1902

A call has been issued for all persons who have relations or friends buried in the old Milton cemetery to meet at the cemetery today for the purpose of ridding the place of weeds, fixing fences and beautifying the place generally. For many years past, the cemetery grounds belonged to Z. B. Job Sr., and he allowed anyone to bury their dead therein. Many of the early settlers of Madison county are also buried there. Mr. Job has now deeded the ground for cemetery purposes to Milton Cemetery Association, and steps are to be taken at once to care for the place in the future. Quite a large crowd of people with scythes, axes, hatchets and other implements of improvement are gathered at the cemetery this afternoon and are beautifying the place where so many are sleeping quietly that last, long sleep. Flowers will be planted and the cemetery which now belongs to East Alton will be carefully tended in future. "Milton Cemetery" was named after the little town of Milton, which was laid out and built near where Milton bridge crosses Wood river, about the year 1818. Quite a collection of houses and a sawmill were built at this point, and the little village bade fair to be the metropolis of all this section. Wood river had been dammed to afford sufficient water to run the sawmill. The water became stagnant, and breeded [sic] an epidemic of fever (at least so the inhabitants thought), which either sent the inhabitants to their graves or drove them to other places of residence. The eminence which has been known as "Milton Cemetery" was taken for a burying ground, and all the victims of the fever were buried there. That was almost or quite seventy-five years ago. The houses formerly occupied by the inhabitants of the busy little town of Milton were deserted. There was no one left in the town. The hum of the sawmill was no longer heard; the loud command of the driver of oxen resounded not through the woods; the merry laughter of the children echoed not through the silent houses. It was a deserted village. Rev. J. M. Sturtevant had just been called to the presidency of Illinois college at Jacksonville. In going from St. Louis to Jacksonville, by way of Milton, Dr. Sturtevant asked the driver of his carriage where the people were who occupied the houses.  The driver, pointing with his finger to Milton hill, laconically said, "Up there."




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 11, 1903

The old historic Milton burying ground, which contains the ashes of the pioneers of Madison county and the victims of Indian massacres, epidemics, and in fact almost the entire population of the original village of Milton, will be laid out as a cemetery, fenced in and divided into lots. Heretofore, no one has taken interest in the old burying ground, and it has been used principally as a burying ground for paupers. It fell into disuse, and from neglect it became a wild place where people did not care to lay away their dead. Since 1819 the place was used as a burying ground, being devoted to that purpose when Milton was established nearby, the year before. The settlers buried their dead in Milton, and subsequently when a fatal epidemic swept the village and almost depopulated it, most of the dead were placed there for their last sleep. Milton lost its identity as a village after the epidemic, but the cemetery remained. Engineer T. M. Long was engaged Tuesday, running lines for the cemetery. It is planned to cut it up into family lots, using all space not now occupied as graves of persons who have been buried there. Mr. Z. B. Job Sr. has deeded the property to the village of East Alton as a gift, and three trustees, S. M. Hawkins, Frank Worthington, and Willis Jackson, have been appointed to have charge of the cemetery. The brush and part of the trees will be cut off, the fence will be rebuilt, and the old place will assume the dignity of a public cemetery.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1904

The directors of the Milton cemetery have had that historic burial ground cleared of all underbrush and debris; have completed the platting of lots and grading of the grounds; and have planted evergreen trees and other shrubbery throughout the place where so many of Madison county's pioneers are at rest. The directors are Messrs. Frank Worthington, John T. Paddock, Con White, Fred Walling, and S. M. Hawkins of East Alton.



Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1904

There are very few Illinoisians now living who remember the booms enjoyed by certain points in this vicinity 75 years ago and longer. To look at those sites now no one would suspect that they had been the scenes of striving humanity to suddenly become rich. But such is the fact. Go to the former site of the little town of Milton, a few miles east of Alton, and no one could imagine that spot the place where the busy hum of industry, manufacturing and merchandising had its home. An epidemic of fever put an end to the prospects of that town and the hopes of its projectors to be a great city. The inhabitants, or most of them, were laid away on the top of the hill now known as the Milton cemetery, and the balance fled to other places, and Milton with its deserted houses became a memory only.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 7, 1902

Two young men hired a horse and sleigh from C. Seibold last night, and started off towards East Alton. When near Milton cemetery the horse started to run away and upset the sleigh. The young men were thrown out, but not much damaged. The sleigh was badly used up and the horse becoming detached from it was caught by Bill Henry at East Alton. The horse dragged Mr. Henry about forty feet before he was stopped.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 10, 1907

Coroner C. N. Streeper this afternoon buried two bodies of men killed by electric cars near the Wood River refinery. The first was the body of Thomas Kilroy of Bloomington, who was killed June 22 and has been kept in perfect condition in the Streeper undertaking parlors ever since. The other is the unidentified body of a man killed one month ago. Both bodies were buried at Milton cemetery.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 3, 1908

At a meeting of the East Alton village council last evening, the transfer of old Milton cemetery was formally made by the remaining four of six trustees appointed by the citizens of East Alton five years ago, to the village of East Alton. The property will be deeded over to the village within a few days. The transfer of Milton cemetery, the burial ground of the pioneer village of Milton, marks the changing of hands of one of the oldest cemeteries in Madison county. As far back as 1819, the grounds were used as a cemetery, the year after Illinois was made a state. The proof of this is that monument still stands in the cemetery with the epitaph "Rev. Miller, died in 1819." How far back from that date the place was used as a cemetery, no records exist to tell.  Z. B. Job, before his death, half way claimed the land for over thirty years, and as no other owner appeared, he had the title vested in his name. He was philanthropic enough, however, to permit any one who pleased to bury in the grounds without charging a cent, until five years ago when advantage began to be taken of Mr. Job's generous offer and the grounds began to be so filled up with graves and given only half the necessary burial attention, he decided to donate the land to the citizens of East Alton if they would care for it. The ground at the time had begun to be filled with trees and was overgrown with shrubbery so that in places it was almost inaccessible.  A committee was appointed by the citizens at the instigation of Mr. Job, and the committee consisted of Ellis Dent, S. M. Hawkins, Frank Worthington, Fred Walling, Conrad White and Louis Starkey. They have been taking care of the cemetery for the past five years, and spending what money they collected by charging $1 a lot in keeping the place in repair. It proved hardly sustaining, and on several occasions during that time public subscriptions were taken up to defray expenses. The six directors built a new fence around the cemetery, cut out the shrubbery, arranged the lots and made numerous small improvements in the cemetery. The reason for their turning the property over to the village was that by a provision in the Job will, the property should go to the village of East Alton after five years if the six directors did not wish to care for the grounds any longer. The five years expired last night, and as one member of the former committee, Louis Starkey, is dead, and two moved away, Con. White to California and Ellis Dent to Woodburn, the remaining four petitioned the council to take over the property.   Mayor Douglas and his council then appointed a new committee of five. The new committee is S. M. Hawkins, L. G. Patterson, John Jones, Frank Worthington and Fred Walling, three of the committee being members of the old one. Mr. Hawkins stated today that the cemetery would be run on the same plan as formerly, and the fact that it is owned by the village instead of by the entire citizen body under the committee of six, as formerly, will make no change in the management of the cemetery.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1909

A special meeting of the village council was held last night at which arrangements were made for a mass meeting of the citizens of East Alton to be held Monday evening in the village hall for the purpose of organizing a cemetery board to take care of Milton cemetery. Several years ago, Z. B. Job deeded Milton cemetery to a committee of five trustees, S. M. Hawkins, Con White, Ellis Dent, Fred Walling and Louis Starkey. Starkey is dead, and Messrs. Dent and White are now non-residents of East Alton. About two years ago Messrs. Hawkins and Walling, not caring to bear the burden of caring for the cemetery alone, turned it over to the council, which took it then somewhat reluctantly and since have manifested a desire to leave the cemetery alone as much as possible. Recent discussion concerning the affairs of the cemetery and questions being asked as to who really was in charge of the cemetery set Mayor R. W. Harper to investigating. At the advice of the village attorney, the special meeting was called at which it was learned that the council has authority to act in the matter and accordingly arranged to call the mass meeting. The organization selected next Monday will hereafter, according to the terms of the grant of the cemetery by Mr. Job, have power to conduct the historic old cemetery in any way it sees fit. Milton cemetery for years has been the burial place of poor people who had nothing to pay for a funeral. The place was long neglected and even since efforts were made to do something toward reclaiming it, the cemetery has failed to receive the care that the grantor intended it should receive. It was the old burying ground of the village of Milton that passed out of existence many years ago, and in it were laid the great majority of people who lived there at one time.




Source: Alton Telegraph, September 21, 1911

Part of the lot owners of Milton cemetery met last night in the village hall to see about taking care of the cemetery as required under the provisions by which the cemetery was deeded by Z. B. Job to five trustees, all of which are moved away or dead, except S. M. Hawkins. They were incited to this action by the request of the Job heirs, that they be allowed to take back the neglected cemetery and claim it as their own and preserve it. The property owners want to avoid this. B. F. Sikes was elected temporary chairman, and W. B. Terpening secretary. The matter of caring for the cemetery was discussed, and a meeting was called for October 8 to get more lot owners to attend. The trustees who had charge of the cemetery turned it over to the village of East Alton, but the village refused it because it was out of the village limits. Since then the cemetery has been uncared for and is going to ruin.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 22, 1911

Old Burial Place Was Not Taken Over by Village According to Terms of Grantor, and Ownership Is Questioned

A curious status of affairs has come to light in regard to the ownership of Milton cemetery near East Alton. The village surrendered it to the five trustees to whom it was deeded five years ago by the Job heirs. As there is only one of the trustees in East Alton, S. M. Hawkins, the others either being dead or have moved away, as told by the Telegraph at different times, there is no one to claim any right to the management of the affairs of the cemetery but one. It is a puzzle what the legal ownership of the cemetery would be, although it is believed that anyone of the five trustees might claim it if he saw fit, as the instrument deeding it to them is the only one that was ever filed of the cemetery. In this deed is the condition that the village should take it after five years, and since they have refused it, the ownership doubtlessly falls back on the trustees. Mr. Hawkins says he has nothing to do with the property now, and believes that the owners of graves there should get together, look up the legal status of the case and arrange to keep up the cemetery themselves.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 23, 1911

The Telegraph's article last evening about the ownerless condition of the old, historic Milton cemetery may result in something being done to reclaim it. H. J. Bowman said to the Telegraph today that he intends to investigate the deed given by Z. B. Job to the trustees, and if there is any possibility of his doing so under the deed, he will reassert the title of the Job estate in the cemetery and will then make an effort to have the old burying ground reclaimed and kept in good condition. On account of lack of interest in the cemetery, it has come to be in a very bad condition, which Mr. Bowman deplores. He has no interest in the cemetery, except such as he might hold for philanthropic reasons, and his sentiments would cause him to do something that would result in a permanent reclamation of the place.  The early settlers of the city of Alton were buried at Milton, and the place has great historic interest on account of it being one of the oldest burial grounds in the state of Illinois. Mr. Bowman aided in reclaiming the Confedferate cemetery, and he has even better reasons for wanting to do something for Milton.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 11, 1912

B. F. Sikes of Alton was out today to order that the burning of grass and trash in the Milton cemetery be stopped. He said that it was destroying the trees and would blacken the monuments. Inasmuch as most of the ground had been burned over his orders were of little effect. The ownership of the cemetery is somewhat in dispute, since the village of East Alton refused to take it over because it was out of the village limits, and Mr. Sikes has been taking charge of it under the lot owners' organization. When Mr. Sikes reached the cemetery he discovered that the fire had been accidentally started by Mr. Paddock of East Alton, an aged man, who was unable to put out the fire which he had started in a small pile of brush. He called in several passersby, but all efforts to stop the fire were fruitless and it swept through the entire cemetery. Fifteen cedar trees were entirely destroyed. The fence, which was pretty well rotted, was burned up and several tombstones, among which was the tombstone of the Rev. John Miller, buried in 1819, was blackened by the flames. Mr. Sikes said that since it was explained as an accident, no one would be held responsible.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 7, 1915

Who wants to acquire the title to a cemetery? The Milton cemetery of East Alton has been advertised in the annual delinquent tax list to be sold for delinquent taxes at Edwardsville, June 18. The sum of twenty-three cents, which is the tax for the third year, is due and payable. The installments for the first two years have been paid. The discovery of the fact that there was a tax assessed against the cemetery was not made until Sunday, when some of the trustees who met at the Memorial Day exercises began asking about the matter. Someone had seen a notice of the sale of taxes. The trustees could hardly believe that grounds used for public purposes were assessable, but on investigation learned today that public property is assessable for special taxes. The taxes in this case are for the East Alton Drainage and Levee District. An explanation of the reason for the absence of any notices that the taxes were due for the first two years was sought, and it was further learned that J. W. Carey, former drainage treasurer, had paid the small sums himself for two years, knowing that the cemetery was in a depleted condition financially, and not caring to 'turn in' such a small amount as unpaid. When J. R. Clow Sr. took charge of the drainage books this year, he is supposed not to have thought of paying the taxes himself, and naturally turned in the account as delinquent. In case the taxes are sold, whoever buys them would acquire a tax title to the cemetery, but it could be quickly redeemed with a payment of the advertising fees and penalties and the whole amount would probably run up to sixty cents, John Jones, one of the members of the board of five trustees, said that while there was no money in the treasury at present for the payment of any kind of bills, there was no doubt but that the few cents required to pay the taxes would be raised before the sale takes place.


The cemetery is over 100 years old. A man named John Milton was buried there in 1812, and a small tombstone is seen standing there with his name on it. The cemetery was owned as a private burying ground by Z. B. Job Sr. for many years, and about twenty-five years ago he deeded it to the village of East Alton, who turned it over to a board of five trustees, who are supposed to look after the cemetery without pay and without funds of any kind to work on.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 1, 1915

The directors of the Milton cemetery in East Alton [now Alton] are worrying over the appearance of a new made grave in the cemetery, which, as far as can be learned by investigation, has not been authorized by anyone. They scent a murder mystery or some horrible event which can only be unearthed by the digging up of the grave, and last night at a special meeting they decided to ask the sexton, J. E. Dent, to take up the body buried in the grave and turn it over to the coroner for further investigation. The grave is a small one, and is made on the lot owned by the heirs of William Cole. None of the members of the Cole family know anything about the burial, and all of the Alton undertakers who have been questioned disclaim any knowledge of the matter. It appears, therefore, that someone must have slipped into the cemetery at night and buried the body. The rest is a mystery. In order to prevent the repetition of such incidents, the directors gave a permit for the sexton, Mr. Dent, to erect a house for himself in the cemetery if he wishes to do so. He will start the erection of the house at once, and when he moves there, he will be able to watch the cemetery more closely than he can now during his residence in Niagara. Rules were drawn up at the meeting last night for the burial of bodies, so that there would not be too many bodies buried in one lot, especially when the lot was owned by someone else. Hereafter, the Secretary S. G. Cooper will have to be consulted by the undertaker before a body can be buried in the cemetery, and this rule will be strictly enforced. The cemetery is over a hundred years old and the oldest in this vicinity. Of late years, it has been somewhat neglected because of the death and removal of trustees, but the board now in charge is resolved to take strenuous action to get matters pertaining to the cemetery on a financial basis.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 3, 1915

The directors of the Milton Cemetery Association of East Alton will hold a meeting at the cemetery Sunday afternoon to confer with the sexton, J. E. Dent, regarding the removal of the new grave which was recently put in the cemetery without authorization. The sexton had been asked to take up the grave and turn whatever body it contains over to the coroner inasmuch as no undertaker can be found who is responsible for the burial of the supposed body, and it is thought that Sunday would be the most convenient time when all the directors could get together to look after the matter. There is a possibility that the grave hides some deeply clouded murder mystery, and on the other hand, the grave may be that of some animal which was buried there at night by someone who did not think of the consequences it might entail. The result will probably be made known after Sunday. In addition to this matter, the directors will go over a possible location for the sexton's residence for Mr. Dent, who has agreed to build a home on one of the lots in the cemetery and live there in order that he may keep closer watch for violators of the rules and regulations of the cemetery in the future.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 6, 1915

The mystery as to who buried a body supposed to be that of a child in Milton cemetery without authorization from the directors will probably never be known. The directors met yesterday at the cemetery and decided that owing to the length of time the grave had been dug there would be no use in taking up the body. S. G. Cooper, secretary of the association, said today that unless evidence of a conclusive nature was given showing that something wrong had been done, no effort would be made in the matter and that the grave would not be dug up as was at first announced by one of the other directors of the cemetery. The directors yesterday allowed J. E. Dent, the sexton, to pick out a site on the Milton road towards the northern end of the cemetery on which he is to build a sexton house. He was given the ground free. Dent will start building at once, and when he moves there he will have a better chance to watch for violations of the regulations of the cemetery.


Below are photos of some of the sites in Milton Cemetery. This cemetery is located on a steep hill, and the stones are scattered throughout the area. Many stones are unreadable and broken.  There are old burials along with new.






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