David & Margaret Woldridge and Nancy Batterton Stones
found - TODAY - 22 April 2007

Where the cemetery is believed to be have been
originally located...now a cultivated field.

A long search for the Woldridge cemetery (7 miles west of Petersburg on a blacktop road 3/4 miles west of Tuttington Creek ) had a major breakthrough on Sunday, April 22nd when Stan Lowe found the grave stones of David & Margaret Woldridge, who owned the property back in the 1800’s and of Nancy Batterton, wife of D. Batterton. This cemetery had been bulldozed decades ago, one account says back in the late 1960’s but others say it was gone before then.

The search for all Menard County cemeteries started in 2000. In an attempt to find more information on Woldridge cemetery, Stan & Jeanie visited with James Toal in 2002, who had located and read all the Menard county cemeteries, that he could find, back in the 1980’s and he said that he talked to an elderly man who pointed out the location of the Woldridge cemetery, but who said that there was nothing left as it had been bulldozed off into a ravine.


Ravine nearby

From his directions we were unclear which ravine was used to bulldoze the stones. No one seemed to know anything about the old cemetery even though it was marked on the old Menard county Atlas maps of 1874, 1899 and 1920.

However, in 2006 there was a breakthrough. A friend of Stan and Jeanie’s happened to mention that he hunted on that property and that one day - about 20 years ago - he had sat down on a pile of dirt to rest and noticed his foot at the edge of what he realized was an old grave stone. His neighbor’s son was in college and was interested in genealogy so he told him of the find and the young man took rubbings of three full big stones. Only one of them had a corner missing but all were readable. Our friend said that he would take us to the location and show us where he found them. In October of 2006 we went with our friend and he showed us the location. They searched and searched but could not find the stones.

Stan Lowe and Don Little (left to right)

Stan and Jeanie returned on 22 April 2007. After walking a great distance of the woods, Stan found a stone (in perfect condition) of Margaret Woldridge. The stone gave the death date as Oct. 20, 1857. He then found the broken stone of Nancy Batterton, wife of D. Batterton. The stone was broken off above the death date.


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Nancy Batterton

Duane and Betty Albert arrived while Stan was removing the dirt from the stones so we could get pictures. More searching and probing went on for hours but no more stones were found. Later that day, Stan and Jeanie returned to the site and Stan found the stone for David Woldridge. The death date on his stone was Aug. 7, 1857. It too was broken with part of the top where the name is located was missing, and the entire bottom missing. It had been buried right next to his wife’s stone. Stan removed the dirt and pictures were also taken of that stone.


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David Woldridge




Margaret Woldridge

The find of the David Woldridge stone is of particular interest as David Woldridge was the first client of Abe Lincoln when he began his law practice.

David Woldridge was born in 1801 in Kentucky. He married Margaret Hawthorn in 1830 in Green County, Ky. and they came to Illinois where their first son William R. Woldridge was born in September of 1831. They had a total of seven children that we know of.

"Taken from the book - The Prairie Years by Carl Sandburg,
referring to Abe Lincoln - "His first case was one he had helped work on during the previous year, defending David Woldridge, in a suit brought by James P. Hawthorn. Hawthorn claimed Woldridge was to furnish him two yoke of oxen to break up twenty acres of prairie sod-ground; also he claimed Woldridge was to allow him to raise a crop of corn or wheat on a certain piece of ground; and Woldridge had failed him in both cases. Furthermore, Hawthorn claimed damages because Woldridge struck, beat, bruised, and knocked him (Hawthorn) down; plucked, pulled, and tore large quantities of hair from his head. Also because of with a stick and his fists he struck Hawthorn many violent blows and strokes on or about the face, head, breast, back, shoulders, hips, legs, and divers other parts of the body, and because he had with violence forced, pushed, thrust, and gouged his fingers into Hawthorn's eyes. Such were the allegations on assumpsit and trespass vi et armls, including also replevin actions demanding return of a black and white yoke of steers, one black cow and calf, and one prairie plow. Lincoln's first move was to bring up a board bill for eight months which Hawthorn owed Woldridge, amounting to $1.50 a week to $45.75. Also, for the same eight months, he had used a wagon and team for which he should pay $90.00 besides a cash loan of $100.00. The case never came to trial. Peacemakers settled it out of court. The plaintiff and defendant divided the court costs. In the record Lincoln spelled wagon "waggon" and prairie "prairy."


Above-mentioned pages from The Prairie Years by Carl Sandburg

Stan, who does Necrological Research as a hobby, did some grave dowsing in the field and believes he has found the location of the original cemetery. It is in the middle of the corn field and is planted every year.

The group hopes to return to the site and has already informed descendents of David and Margaret Woldridge of the find. Jeanie took a movie of the find including the area where the stones were bulldozed to, and the area which we believe the cemetery is still located.

It is also believed that Melissa (Wright) Vaughn also from Kentucky is buried there. Margaret Woldridge and Melissa Vaughn were neighbors and two of each of their children married into the others’ family. Those children were: Jackson Heath Woldridge and Mary Elizabeth Vaughn (b. 9 Oct 1842 Green County, KY) married in Menard County, IL on 13 Dec 1863. John Woldridge married Eliza C. “Lizzie” Vaughn (b. Green County, KY 1 Jan 1842) in Menard County, IL on 13 Dec 1860. The cemetery was the nearest cemetery to where Melissa Vaughn lived and there is no indication she is buried in any of the other family plots in the area.

SPECIAL THANKS: A special thanks to Vic Wooldridge who has been a big help in our efforts to piece together the puzzle of the Woldridge family. He is a direct descendent of David and Margaret Woldridge.

Also, we would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Don Little who found the stones about 20 years ago when he was hunting. Then Don graciously showed us where he remembered the old graveyard was before it was bulldozed and where he thought he'd found three stones.

A special thanks to Kristin Vaughn who has been an encouragement to us to find the Woldridge cemetery and to search for the stones. She is still waiting for the stone of Melissa Vaughn and we are committed to finding it. Through Kristin’s help with the Vaughn research we found that our new daughter-in-law is a descendent of Melissa Vaughn and our foster daughter is also a descendent of Melissa Vaughn. And, through those connections, we have found a great deal of people who are related and interested in finding Melissa Vaughn’s stone.

HOW THE MENARD COUNTY CEMETERY PROJECT BEGAN: In November of 2001, Stan & Jeanie Lowe along with their friends Duane and Betty Albert found Barclay Cemetery in Menard county, IL. It was in the middle of a corn field with toppled stones and shoulder high prairie grass. They read and recorded every stone in the cemetery, along with pictures of each and every stone, and put it online for the free use of researchers. This project began a county wide search to locate all the Menard county cemeteries and put them online with directions available to researchers. Betty Albert arranged permission for the group to get into old abandoned cemeteries that were located in farmer’s fields. Jeanie Lowe decided early on to take pictures of each and every stone they found and put those online as well. The group grew with the help of Stan and Jeanie’s granddaughter Kelsey and goddaughter’s Brianna, Brandy and Abby who have all won awards from the Illinois State Genealogical Society for their work in Menard county cemeteries. At times others have joined the group in their efforts, including an area boy scout troop and Betty’s parents who all helped in the work of Smoot Cemetery. It’s April of 2007 and the group is still at it. With the find of Woldridge Cemetery stones, it is a real encouragement.

Stan hard at work



Melissa Ann (Wright) Vaughn
More Stones Found 23 April 2007
Stan Lowe finds grave stone of his
next grandchild’s 5th great grandmother

On Monday evening, April 23, 2007, Stan Lowe and Duane Albert went back to the Woldridge Cemetery location where they had found the stones for David & Margaret Woldridge and Nancy Batterton the day before. They began probing and soon hit a piece of stone. It was what would later be determined to be one of four pieces of the stone of Melissa Vaughn.


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Duane Albert

Melissa Vaughn

It was thought that Melissa Vaughn was buried in the Woldridge cemetery, but what a surprise it was when Stan and Duane found her stone. How remarkable that Stan should find the stone of the woman who will be the 5th Great grandmother to his next grandchild. Yes, Stan and Jeanie Lowe’s only daughter-in-law is a direct descendent (the 4th great granddaughter) of Melissa (Wright) Vaughn. When their son and daughter-in-law have their first child that will be Stan and Jeanie’s grandchild and it will be the great grandchild of Melissa Vaughn.

Then, they found the top of the David Woldridge stone. What a great find!


Written and submitted by Jeanie Lowe


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Illinois Ancestors