History of the Allen Hunter Cemetery

The Allen Hunter Cemetery is on land previously owned by Emanuel Hunter from 1825 to 1852.  Elder Allen Hunter purchased the farm from his father Emanuel in 1852 after his mother Judith Lee Hunter’s death. Allen and his wife Elizabeth Lee lived there for many years. Emanuel set aside a plot as a burial place for three grandchildren, babies of Allen Hunter and his wife Elizabeth Lee. After purchasing the farm in 1852, Allen and Elizabeth Hunter expanded the plot for burials of their relatives and descendants.

The first burial was Tabitha Hunter in September 1849. Tabitha was the sixth child of Allen Hunter and Elizabeth Lee. She died the day of her birth. The second burial was the 7th child of Allen Hunter and Elizabeth Lee, Lazarus Hunter, who also died on the day of his birth September 18, 1850. A third infant (Allen and Elizabeth’s 9th), Mary Hunter, died on the day of her birth on June 19, 1851. The last of this set of family burials was Susan Sanders (daughter of Luke Rawls Sanders and Susan Elizabeth Ozbrook and wife of Joshua A. Sanders) in 1948. From 1948 until 1992 there were no burials at the Allen Hunter Cemetery. Many of these first burials had no stones as markers. Cedar trees marked several graves, but storms destroyed many over the years.

Between 1955 and 1965 coal was mined on the Allen Hunter property surrounding the cemetery. Heirs of Allen Hunter led by Belva Hunter Hall, donated royalties to fund repairs and support mowing and maintenance expenses. In 1973 Belva had a galvanized chain link fence installed around the cemetery. The cemetery was registered with the State of Illinois as a family burial ground on October 6, 1976. Six Allen Hunter descendants, led by Belva Hunter Hall included Clarence Allen Hunter, Dollie Hunter Moake, John T. Moake, Thomas Hunter Chamness, and Billy D. Hill. Belva, Clarence, and Dollie were grandchildren; John, Thomas, and Billy were great grandchildren of the Elder Allen Hunter. Belva and Dilla Hall, Billy D. Hill, and Florence and Charles Rodd took care of the cemetery until they were no longer able to maintain it.

In November 1992 Florence and Charles Rodd approached the Jacob Hunter Trust to ask that the Trust take over care and maintenance of the Allen Hunter Cemetery. To accomplish this, the two trusts were merged into one. The merger took place on October 18, 1993. By 1992 the chain link fence was in need of replacement due to trees damaging it, bent posts, and rust. Several tombstones needed repair and/or re-engraving and much work was required to trim trees and shrubs away from the fences surrounding the cemetery property.

In 1997 the Trust provided major renovations to the Allen Hunter Cemetery. All of the old monuments were cleaned and two monuments that were falling over were provided new concrete foundations. The Rev. Allen Hunter stone was re-engraved, cleaned, and resealed.  It is unknown why the word Reverend was referenced on Allen Hunter’s monument since he was a devout Primitive Baptist and they did not use the term Reverend for their pastors.  Primitive Baptists used the title “Elder” for their ministers.

In 2004 Charles Rodd and his daughters, Kathy Ockuly and Sharon Whitehead, made a significant donation to the Jacob Hunter Trust that allowed the purchase of a new decorative fence for the Allen Hunter Cemetery. Richard Hunter and Thomas Hunter removed and replaced the barbwire fence around the remainder of the property surrounding the cemetery.

On May 8, 2009 an inland hurricane struck southern Illinois leaving much damage to homes and trees. The Allen Hunter Cemetery received major damage from falling and broken trees. Three entire sections of the decorative fence had to be replaced and tree removal costs were extensive. A few tombstones were toppled and the barbwire fence around the property was damaged.  By the end of summer 2010, the Jacob Hunter Trust repaired the damages to the fences and the tombstones.

The Jacob Hunter Trust remains committed to maintaining this historic cemetery in a manner our forbearers deserve. To continue the preservation and maintenance of this cemetery, the Trust depends on financial support from descendants of the people buried here.