Melugin Grove Cemetary

My journey down the road of researching family geneology comes in fits and starts. It occurs when I have some free time (often a rare commodity) or when I see or hear something that sparks my interest.

At a family gathering a few weeks ago my uncle mentioned a small cemetery in Melugin Grove, hidden behind some trees. This piqued my interest and so, a few days later, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to see if I could find it.

Melugin Grove cemetery Sign

It was easier to find than I expected, aided in part by the fact that it's early spring, and the trees that would typically hide it were still bare.

As I suspect is true of all places, there are many small regions in the area that carry obscure, nearly forgotten place names that were probably more sensible and useful when travel was done on foot or via horse. When you are moving through the countryside at four to eight miles an hour it makes sense to give distinct names to locations that are a few miles apart. A trip from Shaws to Melugin Grove - about 9 miles - would have been a two-hour walk or ride, perhaps trimmed to an hour if your horse was willing.

We lose that now, when the same trip takes about 10 minutes. Rather than learning about the landscape and making note of it to tell where we are, it becomes a thing to move through, an obstacle to endure, or perhaps to enjoy briefly as scenery, but not much else.

Melugin's Grove (pronounced "Ma-lew-jin", according to my uncle, who I suspect is right, this being an area about which he knows a great deal, rather than a variation of "Mulligan", which is how I've always pronounced it) is of interest to the Homestead because it's the place name given to the area just outside the town and area of Compton, Illinois. And Joel Compton was my Great-Great-Great (or "3rd Great" in the parlance of Ancestry.Com) Grandfather on my mother's side.

So this meant the cemetery might yield some interesting things:

Joel Compton Grave

Joel Compton has always been sort of a minor mystical figure in my mind. The Village of Compton is, and always has been, a relatively tiny place - a little over 400 people at its peak in 1900, considerably fewer in current day. Regardless, it's a bit of something to have a place named after an ancestor and, for me, that abstract fact was the only real information I had on Joel Compton. A gravestone is, however, a solid, tangible thing, making his existence somehow more real.

Also present were grave sites of several of his family members, and others, including my Great-Great Grandparents on my mother's side, Benjamin F Johnson and Arilla (Compton) Johnson:

Benjamin F Johnson Gravestone

Arilla Compton Johnson Gravestone

It's a sign of the era that Benjamin's marker has his full name, and Arilla's says "Arilla His Wife"

There are lots of these cemetaries in the area - larger ones, like the ones you find on the outskirts of town, and smaller ones, little municipal cemetaries like Melugin Grove. There are also private cemetaries in local churchyards, and sometimes family plots, often with a dozen or two grave sites, or sometimes fewer, moldering away on small back roads. At Melugin Grove Cemetery I found these specific sites on my first pass through, and saw many other family names that are familiar - some because I know them from living in the region, but some because I believe I have seen them in the family tree. I'll be back here later on, when I've had a chance to look back through those records and see who else I can find.