Sunday, August 2, 2009

Midewin's Pioneer Cemeteries offer glimpse of farming past

Klingler Pioneer Cemetery, on the grounds of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, offers a glimpse of Will County's farming past.  Klingler Cemetery is one of six pioneer cemeteries maintained by the National Forest Service.  Midewin's website also offers pictures, maps, and an index of everyone buried within the pioneer cemeteries.

The Klingler Pioneer Cemetery is located on the east side of Midewin, just off the Wauponsee Glacial Bike Trail, which lies on the old Wabash Railroad, viewable on the map below.

Midewin consists of land that was the Joliet Arsenal Ammunition Plant.  The federal government bought approximately 450 small family farms, consisting of about 40,000 acres  in order to create the Joliet Arsenal.

Below is the newspaper record of the sale of the Klingler land to the USA.

The Midewin trail to the cemetery is lined with hedge trees, which were planted by pioneer farmers in order to have lumber, and some considered the hedge a living fence.

The cemeteries stand as a reminder of the people who had created communities on the prairie.  As seen in this 1909 plat book, several schools and residences existed on the land that would become the Joliet Arsenal.