Petersburg, IL -- Brianna Boggs, a 10 year old from PORTA Central Elementary School, spent time this summer a little differently than her fellow classmates. She joined the efforts of the Morgan Area Genealogy Association (MAGA) and helped in the reading and documenting of Menard County cemeteries.

Her efforts resulted in a completely new reading of the Schoneweise Cemetery located about 10 miles north of Petersburg in the Sandridge area. Brianna is a descendent of Christian Schoneweise, who died in 1915 and Frederick C. Schoneweise who died in 1881. Both are buried there. According to the D.A.R. records in the Illinois State Historical Library, the cemetery was named after this family. The cemetery is also called the German or Sandridge Cemetery.

Along with reading the names and dates on the stones, Brianna took pictures of individual stones in the cemetery and then donated them to be put online at the MAGA web site so that other descendents, who might not be able to travel here, can see the stones of their ancestors. She donated a printed copy of the cemetery book to the Petersburg Library, Athens Public Library and the Illinois Historic Library.

A reading was done of this cemetery in the 1980's by James Toal and additional names were added from obituaries that Eileen Gochanour donated. The 1980's reading was very beneficial to researchers. However, new names were added when Brianna found stones that had been covered with grass and dirt and not recorded earlier.

Brianna said that she has learned a lot this summer about her German heritage and that she is happy to volunteer her time and contribute the pictures for others to see where their ancestors are buried. She has also learned a great deal about the history of Menard County.

Brianna was assisted in her cemetery work by her friend Emily Abbott, her brothers Cameron and Nick Boggs and her cousin Kelsey Wehrheim who is also a Schoneweise descendent. The adults involved in the MAGA group include Stan & Jeanie Lowe and Duane & Betty Albert. They are in the process of reading all Menard County cemeteries.

Those interested in seeing the cemetery readings and pictures online may visit the MAGA web site at The MAGA web site covers local counties including Menard county and is designed to aid researchers with free information. There is no cost involved and the volunteers receive no reimbursement or compensation for their efforts.

Pictured above is Brianna Boggs presenting Schoneweise Cemetery book to Petersburg Librarian Mary Kleinschmidt. Second picture is Brianna Boggs at grave stone of her great great great great grandfather Frederick C. Schoneweise.

Copyright 2007 Jeanie Lowe & contributors
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Illinois Ancestors