5th Annual Greenwood Cemetery tour

June 9, 2001 (Saturday)

Noon- 3 p.m.
Adults $3, children $1

Wreath laying at Scovill tomb, 1953.

Greenwood Cemetery has been in use at least since 1838, and is the oldest cemetery in Decatur in continuous use. By 1858, it had deteriorated sharply due to neglect; but leading Decatur citizens came to its rescue by forming the Decatur Greenwood Cemetery Company. In the 1930's the cemetery again began deteriorating, with rescue coming in 1958 when Decatur Township took over as manager and operator. There are more than 30,000 burials in the cemetery by now.

The Heritage Network of Decatur - Macon County was founded in 1988 to foster community pride by offering support and guidance to individuals and groups who are collecting, preserving, and interpreting the heritage of the area. 

Lee Slider is again the principal organizer of the tour. Tour guides and interpreters are volunteers from the Heritage Network and other Decatur history contexts. The brochure and web site were researched by Jason Butterick, Archival Associate at Millikin University's Staley Library, and were created by Karin Borei, Director of Staley Library, using materials in that library's archival collections.

In conjunction with its Centennial Celebration, Millikin University is the co-sponsor of this year's tour; and all of the tour sites have some connection with the University's history. 

The numbers on the above diagram correspond to the numbered profiles below as well as to the sequence of the tour.

Joseph M. Brownback, 1853-1935

A graduate of Normal State University at Normal, IL, Mr. Brownback worked as a manager of a dry goods store, as a traveling salesman for a publishing house, and as a bookkeeper in a hotel in Pana, IL. In 1873 he opened a successful business dealing in grains. He began work with the Millikin National Bank in July 1896 on invitation of James Millikin. Mr. Brownback was one of the original trustees of the James Millikin estate, and was active in the affairs of the James Millikin University during the early years of its existence. For one thing, he sponsored a Brownback Short-Story contest each year. Mr. Brownback married Mary Jane Vandeveer of Taylorville, Illinois on April 11, 1882. Mrs. Brownback died September 15, 1898 in Decatur. Mr. Bownback died on Oct. 23, 1935.

Dayton W. Dunham, 1884-1904.

Dayton W. Dunham was born near Paterson, IA, on Nov. 4, 1884. His family moved by wagon to Decatur, the family home of Daytonís father, in 1897. Dayton graduated from Decatur High School in 1903.

Mr. Dunham enrolled at the Decatur College and Industrial School of the James Millikin University on Jan. 1, 1904. On Jan. 11 he became ill, his illness developed rapidly into pneumonia, and he died on Jan. 31, 1904. The funeral was held at the home of his uncle, directly across the street from the University, on Feb. 3, 1904. The whole freshman class attended the funeral, and students served as pallbearers. Mr. Dunham's appears to have been the first student death at the University. Subsequntly, his family petitioned for Dayton's brother to finish out Dayton's semester at the University; but the petition was denied.

Mr. Dunham's uncle's property included land that was given to the university around 1907, land on which the School of Music building and the Scovill Science Hall are sitting today.

James Millikin, 1827-1909, and 
Anna (Aston) Millikin, 1830's -1913

James Millikin, the founder of Millikin University, was born in 1827 in Ten Mile, PA and attended Washington (now Washington & Jefferson) College in the 1840s. Mr. Millikin also took coursework at Wabash College, IN, while buying livestock in the eastern states and herding them to sell in Indiana and Danville, IL. In 1856 he settled in Decatur.

Anna Bernice Aston of Mt. Zion, IL was born in the 1830s, and took college coursework at Washington Female Seminary (near Pittsburgh, PA). James and Anna were married on New Year's Day of 1857 in Decatur where they eventually built their home. In 1860 Mr. Millikin opened a bank which later became the Millikin National Bank, one of the then-largest banks in Illinois outside of Chicago.

In May 1900, Mr. Millikin announced his intention to found an institution "where the scientific, the practical shall have a place of equal importance, side by side, with the literary and classical." On Sept. 15, 1903, the first day of classes was held at the Decatur College and Industrial School of the James Millikin University (the original name of Millikin University).

On March 2, 1909, Mr. Millikin died unexpectedly in Florida. The city of Decatur closed for several days for the funeral. Mrs. Millikin died in her Decatur home on July 29, 1913.

More about the Millikins
"Mrs. Millikin remembered" (1913)

Florence Lyon, 1878-1918.

Florence L. Lyon, whose family owned the Lyon Lumber Company of Decatur, graduated from the University of Chicago with an associate's degree in 1902. She then earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree at the Decatur College and Industrial School of the James Millikin University in 1904, as a graduate of the new university's first class. She served as a teacher in various schools in North & South Dakota before teaching in Oregon. She died in September 1918 in Portland, OR.

More about Florence Lyon

Enoch A. Gastman, d.1907.
Enoch Gastman was the first student at Illinois State University (then Illinois Normal University), and graduated from there in 1860. He came to Decatur that same year to teach third grade. He subsequently served as superintendent of the Decatur City Schools and on the State Board of Education, including as its president, for over forty years.  He was appointed to the Board of Managers of the Decatur College and Industrial School of the James Millikin University in June 1904. He died of bronchitis in Boston, MA, on Aug. 3, 1907, while on vacation with his second wife Belle (Hobbs).

Adolph Mueller, 1866-1944.

Adolph Mueller was born in Decatur in 1866. His German immigrant father, Hiernoymus Mueller, in 1857 had opened a gun repair shop on Decatur's West Main Street, a venture that grew into a national company that still makes fire hydrants and related equipment. Adolph Mueller studied engineering and business administration at the University of Illinois.

Mr. Mueller served as president of the Mueller Company from 1902 to 1938, and remained chairman of its board until his death in 1944. A civic and industrial leader, Mr. Mueller also served as a member of the Millikin National Bank board and on Millikinís Board of Managers. He hired the firm of Frank Lloyd Wright to create his home on Decatur's Millikin Place; and  Marion Mahoney, the first woman in the world to be licensed to practise as an architect, worked on the design. This house is now the home of Millikin University's president.

In 1941 Mr. Mueller gave $20,000 to the University in support of industrial studies. Mueller Hall today houses a ceramics/sculpture studio and provides classrooms, faculty offices, a small theatre and a dance studio for the University's Department of Theatre and Dance.

More about the Hieronymus Mueller family.

Orville B. Gorin, 1849-1935.

Orville Gorin was born Jan. 25, 1849 in Taylorville, IL where his father operated a general store before moving the family to Decatur in 1854.

Mr. Gorin's relationship with James Millikin began at the age of 11, when he began serving the Millikin National Bank as a barefoot messenger boy. He attended Knox College, returning to the Millikin bank as a full-time employee and eventual partner. In 1898 Mr. Gorin was named Vice-President of the bank; and following Mr. Millikinís death in 1909, Mr. Gorin served as bank president until his own death on June 19, 1935.

Mr. Gorin also served as one of the original members of the Board of Trustees of the James Millikin Estate. Gorin Hall, built in 1931 to house the Millikin University library, is the only structure on campus named for a Millikin Estate trustee.

About Gorin Hall

Comfort Hopkins, 1803-1860.
Comfort Hopkins' niece Lida (Hester Eliza) Hopkins attended the Mt. Zion Male and Female Academy where Anna Aston taught before her marriage to James Millikin. The Mt. Zion Male and Female Academy was one of the schools that along with Lincoln University (founded 1865) was subsumed into the Decatur College and Industrial School of the James Millikin University. Comfort's daughter Jane likely was a student in one of Anna Millikin's community art classes at the Homestead. Comfort was married to William Hopkins who outlived her by 19 years.

Issac R. Mills, 1853 - 1904.

Issac R. Mills was born near Magnolia, IL on Sept. 5, 1853. He studied at Lincoln University (now known as Lincoln College), graduating in 1876. He studied law in Chicago, and was admitted to the bar in 1878. He moved to Decatur in 1879 and soon attained a prominence among the members of the bar in central Illinois. He served as city attorney, as state ís attorney for Macon County, and as collector of internal revenue for this district.

Mr. Mills was active in the campaign to raise Decaturís portion of the challenge given by James Millikin to establish a college in Decatur. He served as the first president of the Board of Managers of the new Decatur College and Industrial School. It was Mr. Mills who welcomed the first students to the first day of school on Sept. 15, 1903.

Issac Mills was killed in a railway wreck at Litchfield, IL on July 3, 1904.

Also buried in Greenwood Cemetery:
Guy (d. 1950) & Rose Scovill (d.1955)

Guy Scovill ran the Scovill Furniture store from 1915 until his retirement in 1928. Guy married Rose Warnecke of Decatur. The Scovillís philanthropy included many organizations within the Decatur area, among them the Decatur Park District, St. Maryís Hospital, Decatur Memorial (the former Decatur & Macon County Hospital), St. Johnís Episcopal Church, and St. Paulís Lutheran. In 1944, Guy Scovill created a real estate trust for capital projects at Millikin University. The Scovill Science Hall today provides classrooms, faculty offices and laboratories for the departments of biology, chemistry, and physics.

William C. Stevenson, 1865-1909.

Mr. Stevenson arrived at Millikin University in 1907 to be the first chair of the Commercial Department (now the Tabor School of Business). He came from the Kansas State Normal School in Emporia, KS where in 1891 he had developed the first regular commercial department (business school) in higher education. At Millikin he organized a student battalion, drawing on his experience in the Spanish-American War. He also advocated and developed the "natural" slant for penmanship. Bad health forced his resignation from Millikin in December 1908, and he died Sept. 19, 1909.

About last year's tour:

Who was Leonidas H. Tupper, and why does he have the tallest monument in the Civil War section of Decatur's Greenwood Cemetery? Read Herald-Review's article about the Heritage Network's Fourth Annual Greenwood Cemetery Tour, June 10, 2000. Over 100 visitors enjoyed this event on a warm and occasionally drizzly Saturday afternoon. The story in the Transfer Register Online notes some of the other personalities featured on the tour.

Bob Fallstrom, H&R Community News Editor, writes about this year's tour in the Herald & Review (June 6, 2001).
On a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon, 90 people came on this tour, in 15 groups over the three hours.

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Most recent update: June 11, 2001