Hunt Family Cemetery


This cemetery was located Sterling and Heading Avenues in 1923. Here are highly interesting newspaper articles
concerning this cemetery, graciously contributed by Melvin Slane and Mary Knight.


Body in Iron Casket, a Pioneer of Prominence Who Met Tragic Death

     That Andrew M. Hunt, gentleman, whose body encased in an elaborate solid iron casket, was unceremoniously unearthed in a gravel pit at Heading and Sterling avenues Sunday afternoon, where it reposed for 70 years in the peace and solitude of death, was not rolling in wealth when he died in August, 1853, but was actually what is known as "land poor," was shown by records of the probate clerk's office, brought to light today.
     His land holdings were most extensive, it is shown by records on file in the court house, but despite this, his personal property was insufficient to meet his outstanding debts at the time and it was necessary to dispose of some of this realty in order to do this. It also developed today that he had numerous surviving relatives in Peoria and the immediate vicinity. They have taken charge of the body and will decide on its reinterment today or tomorrow.

Great Granddaughter

     Miss Daisy Doll, 302 Barker avenue is a great grand daughter of Mr. Hunt. Her mother was Miss Sophie Jones, daughter of Edward J. Jones and Mary Ann Jones, the latter a daughter of Mr. Hunt. Another great granddaughter is Mrs. A. T. Pfeiffer, 302 Barker while Sherman A. Hunt of this city is a great nephew. Mrs. A. C. Doll and Mrs. B. C. Doll of Glasford are grandchildren. Andrew Jones, 33 years old, of North Chillicothe, is also a grandson. He arrived in Peoria today to make arrangements for the reinterment of the body.
     It was developed through the relatives that Mr. Hunt was killed in St. Louis, August 12, 1853. He had a land grant in Texas of 1000 acres, and had started out to visit the property. He stopped at St. Louis and as the night was exceptionally hot, he, with several other guests, sought the roof of the hotel to sleep, thinking it would lessen the heat. There was some repairs being made on the hotel and Mr. Hunt, being a somnambulist, unknown to the others, began walking around the roof in his sleep. He walked through one of the openings and plunging to the ground was instantly killed. Relatives say that the casket in which he was buried was the first metallic case that had ever been brought into Illinois. They were of the opinion the widow paid $500 for it but the funeral bill indicated it was only $75.

Funeral Bill

His body was conveyed to this city by steamer, according to the funeral bills discovered in the files of the probate clerk's office yesterday. Here is a facsimile of the bill:

St. Louis, Aug. 13, 1853.

The Estate of A. M. Hunt, Dec. To John P. Mulford and James B. Records, Dr.
To one large metallic burial case: $75.00
To one large fine shroud: 5.00
Shirt and drawers: 4.00
Socks and Gloves: 1.00
Shaving and dressing corpse: 5.00
Ice and ice box: 5.00
Conveying corpse to river: 3.00
Ice for corpse on steamboat: 2.50
Total: $105.50

     That would hardly be a starter on an undertaking bill of the present day. Another paper found in the clerk's office shows that the artistic engraving on the silver plate which adorned the casket and which made possible the identity of the man, was done by I. T. Shoff, and he charged the munificent sum of $2 for it.
     The paper under date of August 17, 1853, reads: "Received of Mr. Reuben Crowell for engraving coffin plate for A. M. Hunt, $2. Signed I. T. Shoff." Mr. Crowell was apparently a brother-in-law, for a marriage record shows that December 24, 1843. Andrew M. Hunt and Miss Jane Crowell were united in marriage of Richard Haney, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church of this city.

Left No Will

     That Mr. Hunt died intestate is evidenced by the fact that Judge Thomas Bryant of the county court of that day appointed Edward J. Jones as administrator of the estate, which was represented by Johnson & Blakely, attorneys. The appointment shows that he died August 12, 1853. The administrator later filed the heirs-at-law as Mrs. Jane Hunt, widow, Mrs. Mary Ann Jones, Mrs. Sophie Larkin, Abijah Hunt and Andrew Hunt, children.

Petitions Sale

     Records show that under date of September 15, 1853, the administrator filed an inventory which showed the personal property was not sufficient to pay outstanding debts of the deceased, aggregating $2,000, and a petition was added asking permission of the court to sell his real estate holdings to satisfy outstanding claims.
     The record shows that Mr. Hunt was apparently a large property owner. He owned one parcel ??? 91 feet on Adams Street. And another large parcel was at Adams and Harrison streets. He also owned 17 town lots in Kickapoo, while numerous tracts containing 30 and 40 acres each were scattered over this entire section. He also owned Hamilton avenue front Adams to Jefferson where the jail is now located.
     The records also show that November 10, 1832, Andrew M. Hunt was named as judge of the Peoria county court by Governor John Reynolds, to fill out the unexpired term of Norman Hyde, deceased. It is also shown that in that year he purchased four tracts of land on Adams street for $75 each. One of these tracts is today occupied by the Illinois restaurant and the Triebel & Sons monument company, while the other is occupied by the Boland Mortuary and the DeKroft drug store. That amount of money would hardly buy the doormats for the places today.

Old Acquaintances

     Of the thousands of Peorians who have viewed the body at the undertaker's home of F. W. Erxelben?, only one has been ??? who was acquainted with Mr. Hunt in his life time and is A. F. Gilbert, the magazine man. Mr. Gilbert was born in the city block 32 and the home of Gilbert in his boyhood faced Jefferson street, while the Hunt home faced Adams street, the rear gate being directly across the alley from each other.
     "I was only about 13 years old when Mr. Hunt died," said Mr. Gilbert this morning, "but I recall him quite well. He was a quiet sort of man and very peaceful. I did not know he was wealthy, as the house as I recall it, was rather squalid and dilapidated. I recall seeing his wife about the house, but I did not know her other than by sight."
     Mr. Gilbert did not recall any children about the house. He said he knew Mr. Hunt had considerable property around Harrison and Adams street. Almost 10,000 persons have viewed the body at Erxleben's since Sunday afternoon and Monday evening the throng became so dense it was necessary to station a traffic officer in front of the place. The body will not be buried until his near relatives can all reach the city. They are expected tonight or early tomorrow, some being here now.

Were Masons

     Sherman A. Hunt, great nephew of Mr. Hunt, who is also named or him, the A. standing for Andrew, said this morning that Andrew Mortimer Hunt, who was the great-uncle, together with his brother Joseph Hunt, grandfather of Sherman A. Hunt, were natives of New York and came to Peoria in 1827. Both were very staunch members of the Masonic order. At that period there were some trouble with the order, which resulted in fighting and rioting in New York and feeling became intense. The father of Joseph and Andrew Hunt informed them they would have to renounce Masonry or leave home. They consulted with each other, declined to renounce the craft and left, coming to Peoria.
     Joseph erected and operated a tannery in Trivoli township for many years. In 1849 he was seized with the gold fever and started west overland. He died on the prairie enroute to the gold fields. Sherman Hunt says that Andrew Hunt was always referred to by members of the family as Judge Hunt.
     He, like the other members of the family, failed to connect the body found in the gravel pit, with their ancestor until reading the story in the Peoria Star Monday afternoon. (Peoria Star, Wednesday, Dec. 1923)








Name Plate on Casket Shows He Was Buried Seventy Years Ago-Well-Preserved

     Hundreds of persons today wended their way to the undertaking rooms of F. W. Erxleben, 915 South Adams street, to view the body encased in the iron casket, which was unearthed Sunday afternoon in a gravel pit at Heading and Sterling avenues. Some were there through morbid curiosity, others came in an effort to link the death of yesteryear with the living of the present day, but none could make the connection.
     A silver name plate on the casket bears the inscription: "Andrew M. Hunt, Born Oct. 24, 1798. Died August 15, 1853." The casket itself is a cast iron affair and was a revelation to the hundreds that visited the mortuary yesterday, as not one, even among the oldest of them, had ever seen anything similar to it. Mr. Erxleben, who as man and boy has been connected with undertaking business since 1857, declared that he had never seen anything like it.
     The casket was made to conform to the body, narrow at the head, widening out for the shoulders and torso, then narrowing to the feet. Spaces were provided for the folded arms, the head and feet length, which gave the casket the appearance of a diving suit.

Features Visible

     Just over the face was an oval space some ten inches by six inches, through which the features were plainly discernable. There was a heavy cast iron plate that fastened over the glass, protecting it. About the center of the upper half of the casket was a flat space, somewhat similar to the places on caskets of present day, where name plates are affixed. On this was a seperate silver plate which bore the inscription. The plate was but little tarnished and the engraving was plain and legible.
     The inside of the casket was lined with what had apparently been white silk or satin. It was draped in folds similar to the lining of present day caskets but age had turned it to a golden yellow. Below the head a white shirt was visible. This was discolored in one or two places, apparently from excretions upon the body and from what could be seen was little the worse for its seventy years service. (Peoria Star, unknown date)



Body of Andrew Hunt Buried at Lancaster

Carrier of Death Message Rides on Horseback; Casket Taken to Cemetery by Auto.

     The iron casket containing the body of Andrew M. Hunt, buried at Peoria 70 years ago, and unearthed last week, was interred in Lancaster cemetery last Friday.
     Because a number of people have been anxious to buy the casket, it was buried in concrete, reinforced by steel bars, and it is not likely it will ever be bothered again.
     The casket was not found in a gravel pit, as reported in the Peoria papers, but in a private burial ground, one acre of ground being reserved for the purpose. The man now owns the farm on which the burial ground is located dug up the casket.
     The Gazette stated last week that Mrs. A. C. Doll was a great grandchild of Mr. Hunt, which was a mistake, as he was her grandfather. Mrs. B. C. Doll of Lancaster and A. R. Jones of Chillicothe are also grandchildren.
     John Doll, a great grandson of Mr. Hunt, had charge of his final burial. It is not very often that a man buries his great grandfather.
     When Mr. Hunt was killed in St. Louis by a fall from a hotel balcony, word of his death was brought to Peoria by a messenger on horseback. The body was brought up on the steamboat, packed in ice, as the art of embalming was then unknown.
     When the body was taken to its final resting place it was carried in an automobile. How times have changed.
     The body was in an excellent state of preservation. The hair was glossy and reached back from the forehead. The flesh while showing signs of mortification was not discolored, and through the glass appeared firm. The lips were drawn back from the mouth showing the teeth in good preservation. In life the man was apparently of bulky physique.
     While no one could be found to recall Mr. Hunt, the casket shown conclusively that he must have been a man of some wealth and consequence. The lower portion of the casket was rigged, like a basket while fancy scroll work covered the upper portion. The two were securely bolted together, machinery of some description having apparently been used in bringing the fastenings together.
     A name plate at the foot of the casket showed it was manufactured in New York by A. D. Flak, under patent granted November, 1848. The casket and its contents weighed approximately 500 pounds.
     Persons familiar with the neighborhood in which it was unearthed said that there was a family named Gardner who had a private burying ground near there some years ago. It is also adjacent to the old Jewish cemetery there. The body will be reinterred in a day or two if none of his posterity make claim to it. (unknown newspaper and date)

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Updated February 26, 2007