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Chesterville Cemetery in Chesterville, Illinois

Read about this location and more in Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection

Read about this location and more in Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection

Legends & Lore of Illinois CD-ROMChesterville is a small Amish and Mennonite community that consists of no more than a few dozen houses located a couple of miles away from Rockome Gardens. If you are traveling from the direction of Arcola, you will have to cross the Kaskaskia River twice to get to Chesterville cemetery, once on Route 133 and once over an old one-lane bridge just north of town.

Within the neatly trimmed grounds of Chesterville Cemetery, an old oak tree stands at the edge of the woods that separates the graveyard from the river. The peculiar thing about this tree is the iron fence that surrounds it, and the old stone marker that no longer bears a name.

According to Troy Taylor, our Central Illinois ghost expert, this is the grave of a woman who turned up dead after being accused of witchcraft in the early 1900s after she challenged the conservative views of the local Amish church elders. The town planted a tree over her grave to trap her spirit inside and prevent her from taking revenge (picture something like the opening scene of Ernest Scared Stupid… “and here ye shall be buried…”). Her ghost can still be seen from time to time hanging around the area.

However, an alternative theory exists that the grave’s occupant was a young woman who lived during the mid-1800s and was reputed to possess healing powers, as well as the ability to control humans and animals. When she died of natural causes, her father planted a tree near her grave to preserve her spirit. This is not an unlikely story, as there are a few other examples of the graves of girls around Illinois who allegedly possessed healing powers, such as the grave of Mary Alice Quinn in Holy Sepulture Cemetery in Worth, Illinois.

Planting an oak tree over the grave of a loved one has Biblical roots, and would have been reserved for someone who was especially cherished by the community. In Genesis 35:8 Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under an oak tree. The deeply religious Amish would certainly have been familiar with this practice.

As Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk pointed out in their book The Illinois Road Guide to Haunted Locations (2007), how-ever, Chesterville Cemetery is not an Amish cemetery. They also have their own take on the version of the story involving the girl with healing powers. In that version, the girl was shunned for her abilities.

Like the “witch’s grave” in St. Omer Cemetery outside of Ashmore, and the “warlock’s grave” in Ramsey Cemetery, Effingham, the grave in Chesterville Cemetery is probably the victim of a few active imaginations. It seems that every particularly unique gravesite has a story about it, and accusations of witchcraft have just enough ambiguity to keep the tale alive. After all, it would be very difficult to prove the person buried there was not accused of witchcraft.

On the other hand, Troy Taylor alleged to possess convincing testimony from people in the community who not only corroborated his version of events, but who also claimed to have seen the ghost of the woman! Until more people come forward, we may never know for sure.

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Legends and Lore of Illinois Vol. 1 Digital Edition

Order all 12 issues of the Legends and Lore of Illinois from 2007 in a special digital edition for your favorite e-readers. Places covered in Vol. 1: Bachelor’s Grove, Greenwood Cemetery, Devil’s Gate, Chesterville Cemetery, Dug Hill Road, Resurrection Cemetery, “Cemetery X,” Shoe Factory Road, Ridge Cemetery, Cuba Road, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, and St. James-Sag! Plus, read bonus “personal experiences” and put your knowledge of these locations to the test with challenging trivia questions. Don’t miss these classic issues from the archives of the Legends and Lore of Illinois.

Order it today for Kindle.
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Order it today for Kobo.

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  1. […] the four companions climbed out of their car, Chesterville Cemetery unfolded in front of them. It was a typical rural cemetery; rectangular and park-like, with the […]

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