History of the Jacob Hunter Cemetery

The Jacob Hunter Cemetery lies on the farm Jacob Hunter (II) owned near the community of White Ash, IL. Several families who were early pioneers from middle Tennessee settled in this community. Jacob Hunter came to IL with his father Emanuel Hunter and several other families around 1818.

Jacob was a carpenter and ran a neighborhood supply store on his farm. He was one of only a few people who would bury individuals who died in the cholera epidemic that hit Williamson County in the mid to late 1800s. Jacob and his wife Mary Moore Duncan Hunter built a cabin across a creek from the cemetery where people with cholera would come and stay until they died. Jacob and Mary provided care for them and Jacob built caskets and buried them in his family cemetery. Cholera was a feared disease in the 1800s and those afflicted would carry their bedding outside their homes and go to places such as Jacob and Mary’s cabin to protect their family members from catching the horrid disease.

It was believed by some that if you buried a cholera victim at midnight, you would not catch the disease. Jacob contracted the disease from those he cared for and died on December 21, 1874. The beloved Mary Moore Duncan Hunter (known as “Aunt Pop”) lived until August 1896. They are both buried at the Jacob Hunter Cemetery.

During the cholera epidemic of the 1800s, an unknown number of people died from this dreaded disease. There are over 80 graves at the Jacob Hunter Cemetery and most of these graves are unmarked or marked only by a piece of sandstone.

Known burials at the cemetery range from 1852 to 1899. It is unclear when the cemetery was first established. It is believed to be around 1850, but it may have been earlier. The first two rows of graves are all either unmarked or only marked with a piece of sandstone. The Hunter family graves begin about the middle third of the burial ground.

There are at least two soldiers from the War of 1812 buried in the cemetery, Emanuel Hunter and his cousin Henry Hunter (son of Dempsey). Both fought with Andrew Jackson.  Emanuel fought the Red Sticks in what is now Alabama in 1814.  Henry fought against the British in the Battle of New Orleans. It is reported that Henry Hunter, a sharpshooter, shot British General Edward Michael Packenham on the order of General Jackson on January 8, 1815. Packenham’s body was returned to England in a cask of rum. Packenham reportedly had a surly temper and upon his return to England a relative stated, “The General has returned home in better spirits than he left.”

Emanuel Hunter and his son George Washington Hunter served in the Black Hawk War of 1832.

During the 1900s the cemetery fell into disrepair and was abandoned. Several subsequent landowners allowed cows and other livestock to roam through the cemetery damaging tomb stones. One occupant pushed grave markers over and used them as a base for beehives. By 1991 the cemetery was so overgrown it was difficult to even locate a grave marker. The condition of this historic cemetery was what motivated Richard H. Hunter and Lawrence Lee Hunter to form the Jacob Hunter Trust. The Jacob Hunter Trust has been maintaining this historic cemetery since 1991.