Local history worth preserving

Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield is an important historic site because it’s the home of the Lincoln Tomb, the final resting place for arguably the most famous person in history. A cemetery in Vandalia is also deserving of attention, because it is the final resting place for many important figures in our state’s infancy years. Dorothy Donley is seeing to it that the history in that burial ground is recorded, while at the same time reviving some of that history. Donley started out with the project of cleaning old tombstones in the cemetery, after hearing her grandaughter make a comment about not being able to read the history that was on those grave markers. From there, she progressed to recording the names and information about those buried in the Old State Burial Ground. Now, she is in the midst of honoring all of the veterans buried there with granite markers in a veterans area near the Looking for Lincoln storyboard in the cemetery. Donley has also worked to improve the signage of the Old State Burial Ground and enhance it with a flower garden at the entrance sign. She has also recruited a crew of volunteers to assist her in her efforts, high school student Eric Barenfanger and Vandalia native Betsy Brannon Mills, who now lives in Massachusetts, being among those. And, of course, she always welcomes those who want to join that crew. The recent celebration of our town’s 200th birthday should help us to realize and acknowledge the history that we have in Vandalia. Many of the local efforts to remember, revive and promote our town’s history are due to the efforts of volunteers, people like Donley who give of their time to keep that history alive. For many decades, the Old State Burial Ground was just a forgotten piece of land. Donley has changed that thinking, and we applaud her – and her team of volunteers – for that. rb

Leave a Comment