Volunteers to Restore Historic Gallatin County Cemetery

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By Matthew Searcy

GALLATIN COUNTY -- A historic Gallatin County cemetery is set to be restored.

Hickory Hill cemetery is located just east of Equality. It's one of the county's oldest burial sites, but after nearly 200 years, the grounds need a number of repairs.  
 
"These are unregistered cemeteries with the state of Illinois which means there is not a cemetery board or a township to actually take care of it," said cemetery preservationist Angie Johnson.  
 
She has restored many gravesites around Illinois, Hickory Hill is next on her list. She and a group of volunteers plan to restore the site next month, by repairing broken headstones. 
 
"You can only fix what you see here, I cannot put anything new," said Johnson. "We will come in and level things and get the tops of the graves put back on and do some cleaning."
 
"About 10 years ago there was a storm that came through here and knocked down a lot of trees which knocked down many of the larger monuments," said local historian Jon Musgrave.  
     
The cemetery hasn't had a burial for nearly a century but hundreds of people in Southern Illinois are believed to be descendants of the deceased.  The names, "Lawler" and "Crenshaw" mark many of the graves. Both families have strong ties to the Hickory Hill plantation, also known as the Old Slave House, the last station on the Reverse Underground Railroad still standing in the U.S.
 
"We are Illinois and the land of Lincoln, we aren't supposed to be a slave state, but we did have slavery," explained Musgrave. "It's important to remember how it happened."
 
The restoration will start next month. It's expected to take several weeks.  
 
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