Thomas Lincoln Cemetery
History of the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery (previously known as Gordon Graveyard and Shiloh Cemetery)
The Thomas Lincoln Cemetery is located approximately 1 ½ miles west of the original Thomas Lincoln family home, and approximately 8 miles south of Charleston, Illinois. John Jake Gordon, one of the first settlers in Pleasant Grove Township, set aside one and a half acres of his privately owned land for a cemetery sometime in the late 1830s. In 1852, Isaac W. Rodgers bought the land containing the cemetery (included in an 80 acre tract), and in 1866 he and his wife, Mary, donated one acre and sold another half acre to the trustees of the Gordon Graveyard. Thomas Lincoln was buried in the Gordon Graveyard in 1851 and his wife, Sarah Bush Lincoln, was buried next to him in 1869.
The Shiloh Presbyterian Church was built on land next to the Gordon Graveyard in 1881. In 1898, John W. and Susan D. Baker deeded four acres of land north of the church (and adjacent to the Gordon Graveyard) to the Shiloh Cemetery Association for purposes of creating a cemetery. The original wood structure of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church was enclosed in brick in 1921; the structure still stands today, although it is no longer used for regular worship service.
In 1934, the Gordon Graveyard land was deeded to the Shiloh Cemetery Association from the Gordon Trustees for one dollar, finally joining the cemetery to the north of the church and the cemetery west of the church under one trusteeship; the cemetery was then known as the Shiloh Cemetery. A historical marker was placed at the corner of the cemetery describing Abraham Lincoln’s trip to the cemetery in 1861 to visit his father’s grave.
The Shiloh Cemetery Association gave way to the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery Association in 1935, when the name of the cemetery was officially changed to the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery because of the historical significance of the burial site of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and step-mother of Abraham Lincoln. Although the official name of the cemetery has been the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery for more than seventy years, many still call it the old Gordon Graveyard or the Shiloh Cemetery. If you plan to research this cemetery, be sure to search documents and records for all three names.
Website created by Historical Administration Graduate Student Emily D. Smith
Last updated 12/12/2006