Anshai Emeth Cemetery
This excerpt is part of a W. P. A. project that compiled information on various Peoria county cemeteries.
Transcribed by Claire Crandell.
A Jewish Cemetery, known as Anshai Emeth, which was organized in 1852, consisting of a small plat of ground located on the spur of the bluff near the South Adams Street viaduct, lies between Illinois Central and the C. B. and Q. Railroad.
This cemetery was deeded in trust to Leopold Rosenfeld, Hart P. Ancker, and Abraham Frank. It was abandoned in 1873, and during the removal of bodies, 1898, according to E. T. Van Norman, living at 1415 Howett Street, there were at least 150 bodies removed. At one time during this process a large pile of human bones were left lying in a heap for several days before being carted away to other burial places.
One grave in particular was of unusual interest. Our informant's father, W. J. Van Norman, had recalled during the early '70s the accidental death of a C. B. and Q. conductor who was buried in a metallic coffin inlaid inside of an ordinary wooden casket. When this coffin was dug up twenty-four years later the outer covering was entirely rotted away. The inner metallic coffin, shaped like an Egyptian mummy case, had the upper part of the top covered by glass in a frame, held in place by thumb screws. When the grime and dirt was removed from the glass the face could be plainly seen and the body was entirely immersed in alcohol. A long mustache protruded from both sides of the face and the hair was very black. The inquisitive workers decided to remove the frame that held the glass. After unscrewing the thumb screws, while trying to pry the frame loose the glass was broken, which fell in. The instant the air entered the casket, the body that had been floating in the alcohol, collapsed and sank to the bottom of the casket. Our informant did not know where the unusual casket was reburied.
After this old burial ground was cleared of bodies it was purchased December 1, 1899, by the P. and P. U. Railroad Company for the sum of $2250. It was later graded down some twenty-five feet and is being used for railroad purposes.
A map in the County Atlas of 1896 located in the County Clerk's office, Page 14, shows this cemetery located between the Burlington Railroad and the Illinois Central Railroad just above the viaduct on South Adams Street.
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