Update, June 2022: Exciting news!!! The first of the three Illinois State Historical Society markers has officially arrived! This one honors the veterans that rest still at the site of the former Moffatt Cemetery near the corner of Griswold and Adams.
Also, the other two markers are almost completely funded and will be cast relatively soon. Those will honor the others who remain at the site, including Nance Legins-Costley, the first enslaved person Abraham Lincoln helped free when he successfully argued her case before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841, and the roughly 2,600 of our fellow Peoria citizens whose final resting place goes unmarked.
Freedom & Remembrance Memorial volunteers drove hours to and from the foundry, transported it home, and this week got their first look at the result. This stunning design will be duplicated for the other two markers.
Plans are underway to make the marker available for public viewing. We’ll have updates later on that. Until then, please join us as we celebrate this milestone! Onward!
Update, April 2022: We are proud to announce that the manufacturing of the first markers for the Freedom & Remembrance Park has begun! Phase One of this project will feature three Illinois State Historical Society markers – one dedicated to all those that rest still at the former Moffatt Cemetery, one for Nance Legins-Costley and Abraham Lincoln, and one specifically for the veterans that also remain at the site. Also, fundraising is getting close, but more is needed. Find out more to help, and make sure to watch our video below with the full and startling history of this long-forgotten Peoria treasure.
Update 2, April 2022: The Illinois State History Society kindly published an article by one of our volunteers about the project in its latest edition of Illinois Heritage. You can find the article here (PDF) and a message from ISHS president Dan Monroe. Many thanks to the ISHS!
Work is underway to create a new memorial park in Peoria, Illinois, dedicated to the prominent citizens, honored veterans, and everyday Peorians that rest on the site of the former Moffatt Cemetery near the corner of SW Adams and Griswold on Peoria’s south side.
We have a video explaining the compelling history of Moffatt and the project. Please enjoy and share!
Almost 70 years ago, Moffatt was cleared to make way for commercial development, but more that 2,600 of our fellow citizens remain there to this day with nothing permanent to mark their time in and contributions to our community. That includes:
• Nance Legins-Costley, formerly of Pekin, who fought a series of court cases to win freedom from slavery in Illinois. Abraham Lincoln would help her finally prevail before the Illinois Supreme Court.
• Union soldiers and other veterans who have nothing permanent to mark their service to our country and to the cause of freedom, including Nathan Ashby – a friend of Legins-Costley’s son – who was among the soldiers on hand in Texas for the events that are commemorated on Juneteenth.
• Everyday Peorians – women, children, and men – who were left with no stones to remember their lives in our region. They were likely of lesser means, while others were moved to Springdale Cemetery before the bulldozers came.
A committed group of volunteers is working to gather community support to build a set of memorials near the site of old Moffatt Cemetery at the corner of Adams and Griswold. This will take active volunteer efforts, donated professional services, and private fundraising.
If you are interested in finding out more, please reach out to us. Many hands make light work, and such an endeavor takes a community commitment – by organizations, public entities, and individuals. Your help will make all the difference. Help us ensure that these fellow Peorians will be, in the words of one of our volunteers:
“Forgotten no more.”
Also remember to follow our page on Facebook, where we will post about news and events related to the project and tell the history of this long-forgotten treasure of our community’s history.
The Freedom & Remembrance Memorial Park project team