Hope Cemetery in Galesburg recently got some new life, with new fencing along its east border on South Academy Street.
The project was initiated by Martin Reichel, Treasurer of the Galesburg Public Library Board, who personally funded the project materials, according to a city release Monday. Hope Cemetery’s new fencing is located off West Main Street across the street from the new Galesburg Public Library currently under construction.
Community volunteers organized by the city’s Special Projects Coordinator, Tom Simkins, removed and recycled the old chain-link and barbed wire fencing and installed nearly 500 feet of new black aluminum, industrial-grade fence. Many holes were hand-dug through tree roots and bricks to facilitate the setting of new posts in concrete.
The old posts, also set in concrete, were removed by the Galesburg Street Division.
“As a trustee on the Hope Cemetery Association Board of Trustees for over 40 years, I am well acquainted with the struggle to provide for annual maintenance of the grounds, let alone making capital improvements to this significant historical landmark,” Reichel said in the release.
“Erection of a suitable fence was a subject of discussion for years in the earliest days of the Village of Galesburg. With a beautiful new public library under construction across Academy Street, made possible by public-minded citizens devoting countless volunteer hours, I felt that, with the help once again of citizen volunteers, a fence in keeping with the new library and its grounds would be a contribution I could make to Hope Cemetery that would be attractive, durable, and reflective of Hope’s importance as a community landmark,” he said.
Hope Cemetery, originally known simply as “The Burying Ground,” was first established by the trustees of Galesburg’s First Church of Christ in 1836, a year before the founding of Galesburg and Knox College.
Most of the estimated 232 people who migrated from New York to the Illinois prairie with the intention of settling the village that would become Galesburg are buried in Hope. The city’s founder George Washington Gale; Silas Willard, one of the city’s first merchants; John Van Ness Standish, who helped establish Lombard College; and Hiram Kellogg, who was the first president of Knox College are all buried in Hope.
Local historian, Rex Cherrington, said that the cemetery also includes the graves of the investors who helped bring the railroad to Galesburg, notable inventors, manufacturers, publishers, and U.S. veterans from at least nine different wars, including the graves of at least 180 veterans of the Civil War.
Hope Cemetery is funded primarily by a trust managed by the non-profit Hope Cemetery Association and receives no public tax support.