Saturday, August 9, 2008

Niccum Cemetery

In 1892, great-great grandparents Anderson and Elizabeth Dunivan officially deeded the land where, in 1853, the Niccum Cemetery had been established in McKendree Township, Illinois, near the Union Corner Church. Niccum Cemetery had originally been intended to be larger, with additional land to have been donated by the Niccum family in return for having it named in their honor. For some reason the additional land was never donated and the cemetery that bears the Niccum name consists of only the land that was donated by the Dunivans.

Niccum Cemetery is one of my favorite cemeteries and I wrote about my visit there over on Woolgathering about two years ago. I hear the cemetery has been closed for future burials now. When we were there I snapped about 500 pictures of tombstones over two visits in an attempt to photo-document the marked burials. Almost everyone buried in Niccum Cemetery is a descendant of Anderson and Elizabeth Dunivan, or is a member of a family that married into the Dunivan family and I did not want to miss getting a photo of the stone of any relative on what might be the only time I had the opportunity to visit the cemetery.

Road to Niccum Cemetery (graves can be seen in the distance)

It is said Niccum Cemetery is haunted and it recently got a little bit of national exposure when a team from Psychic Kids visited for a show they were doing about a local psychic teenager who claims to be in communication with a hostile spirit there.

The entrance to Niccum Cemetery

Most everybody that knows me well knows that I have had a few psychic experiences myself in cemeteries, so when we visited we were half-hoping, half-apprehensive that something might happen. What we found was a most peaceful country cemetery in the middle of a vast corn field and we never felt anything in the least bit unusual or uncomfortable while we went about the business of ensuring we did not miss getting photos of every stone.

A Dunavan cousin who lives in the area told me that many people have reported having unusual things happen in the cemetery, including the feeling that something or somebody was trying to get in their car or of having their hair pulled. Maybe we did not arouse any spirit's mischievious or hostile behavior due to my being a member of the family. Or perhaps because we were there on a respectful mission. In any event, I found myself feeling very peaceful and welcome there.

Looking upward from the bottom of the cemetery.

During a recent phone conversation with another Dunavan cousin who lives in the area, he pointed out that I am related to just about every person buried in that cemetery, with the exception of the Zinn family. The Zinns, it seems, were the original owners of the land and when they sold it, they were granted the right to be buried there. It's a funny coincidence that one of the first contacts I had after loading all the graves into FindaGrave was a descendant of the Zinns. Some of the stones for the Zinn family had been missing at the time of our visit and I had assumed they had been lost over time. It turned out that they were being restored and were reinstated at the cemetery shortly after our visit.

A gnarled tree stands guard over Niccum Cemetery.

I always enjoy visits to the final resting places of my ancestors, but some cemeteries are special. Niccum Cemetery is one of those special places, as is the Old Red Rock Cemetery in Bastrop County, Texas, and Blackfoot Cemetery in Pike County, Indiana. When I visit a cemetery where considerable family is buried, I always feel a special sense of welcome. I'm convinced the ancestors know I'm there and appreciate that I've made the trip to pay my respects.



Rob Hardin said...

I love this cemetery! My grandmother is buried there. Last time I visited it was littered with beerbottles that my children, wife and I picked up while we were there. Hopefully that will keep us from being messed with by the spirits. :)

Anonymous said...

Have several ancestors resting here. In fact the supposed hostile spirit is my half great uncle. I have never felt anything unusual there except a close connection to the Billings and Niccum family. My great grandfather was raised by AJ Niccum.