Oakwood Cemetery was known as the Pittsfield South Cemetery until it was reorganized in 1912 becoming Oakwood. Known as just South Cemetery to the locals, in contains some of the oldest burials in the county.
Here one may find the graves of many early pioneers of Pike and Pittsfield. These were men and women who knew Abraham Lincoln personally through friendship, politics or legal dealings.
It is the final resting place of many of Pike County’s men who in their youth answered Lincoln’s call for troops during the American Civil War.
The cemetery may be reached by traveling from the downtown courthouse area west on Washington Street until you reach the intersection of Memorial Street and Washington. Make a left on Memorial travel one block to Fayette Street and make a right. Travel one and half blocks to Clarksville Road and make a left. Stay on Clarksville Road the cemetery will be on your left just as you leave Pittsfield.
Please be respectful. Oakwood is still an active cemetery. Thank you.
Joseph Heck was born in Germany on July 6, 1822. His parents were Johannes and Emma Haltz Heck. He immigrated to the United States, settling in Quincy, Illinois, where he married Rahina Mueller. Joseph and Rahina moved to Pittsfield in 1855.
The Heck’s opened a bakery in the frame building on the north side of the Pittsfield square, which had been the first courthouse in Pittsfield. It was later replaced by the Heck’s brick store. Heck’s Store was famous for their gingerbread.
They also had the first lunchroom and candy counter. Ice cream was first made and sold in Pittsfield by the Heck’s.
Joseph was instrumental in helping friends from Europe find jobs and homes in Pittsfield and Pike County.
Joseph and Rahina Heck developed a relationship with young John G. Nicolay. Rahina often fried meat for him when she was doing her own cooking and did his washing along with the family wash when Nicolay slept in the half-story garret over the Free Press newspaper office at night.
John G. Nicolay brought Abraham Lincoln to the Heck’s Store where he was given a large square of their gingerbread, which Lincoln said was “mighty good” Lincoln noticed two of the Heck’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, playing about the store. He took them up in his arms and said that he though both names were very pretty for the two pretty girls, but Mary was his favorite name.
Joseph often preached at the German Methodist Church. He died on September 15, 1895. Rahina Heck died on March 8, 1900.
Jacob Hodgen was born January 3, 1793 in Hardin County, Kentucky. He was the son of Robert Hodgen and Sarah Larue. Hodgenville, Kentucky which is located near the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln is named after the Hodgen family.
Jacob married Frances Park Brown, known as Fannie, on November 29, 1818, in Kentucky. They settled in Pittsfield, Illinois, in 1832. Jacob was a wagon marker, farmer and merchant, owning a store on the west side of the Pittsfield Square. He was also a minister of the Christian Church, which began meeting in the Hodgen home at 231 West Adams Street in 1836. Abraham Lincoln visited here in the 1840s and is said to have told Fannie that one of her sons “will make a mark someday.”
That son, Dr. John Hodgen, inspired by local physician Thomas Worthington went on to attend Bethany College in West Virginia then medical school. After graduating he became the assistant resident physician at St Louis City Hospital. He was the demonstrator of anatomy at the University of Missouri. During the Civil War he worked as an army surgeon including the Surgeon General of Missouri. He is credited with inventing a variety of surgical aids, traction devices, splints, double action syringe, stomach pump and his famous Hodgen brace used in setting the large femur bone of the thigh. His father Jacob Hodgen died on April 16, 1858 and is buried here in Oakwood Cemetery.
Daniel H. Gilmer was born on September 10, 1814 in Christian County, Kentucky. He was the son of Dr. John Thornton and Martha Gaines Harvie Gilmer.
He eventually came to Pike County, Illinois settling in Pittsfield where he practiced law with Milton Hay. In 1845 he married Louisa M. Quinby of Pittsfield. In 1869 Louisa was appointed postmaster of the City of Pittsfield. She performed her duties of this job until her death when she was succeeded by her daughter Elizabeth (Lizzie) Gilmer.
Daniel Gilmer was a friend to Abraham Lincoln and Lizzie would recall Mr. Lincoln visiting their home when she was young. On one visit Lizzie recalled the time she was swinging on the front gate as Lincoln approached. According to Lizzie, Lincoln picked her up kissed her then placed her back on the fence.
Lizzie told of another visit by Lincoln that caused her to get a scolding from her father when she attempted to charge Lincoln a toll to enter through the front gate just like she had seen on the toll road between Pittsfield and Florence, Illinois. Lincoln played along with young Lizzie paying her a picayune (6.38 cents).
In the election of November 2, 1852, Daniel Gilmer was elected state’s attorney of Pike County. He was very active in Republican politics and in 1860 Gilmer was one of the county delegates selected to go to the Chicago convention.
After Lincoln’s nomination and election Daniel Gilmer was invited to ride the Inaugural Train from Springfield to Washington D.C. When the train left Springfield at 8:30 am on February 11, 1861, Henry Villard, a reporter was at the scene and reported that Daniel Gilmer of Pittsfield was in the party accompanying Lincoln.
When the Civil War began Gilmer enlisted as captain of Company H, 10th Illinois Infantry on April 24, 1861 in Springfield, Illinois. On August 15, 1861 he was mustered in as major in the 38th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and later Colonel of the regiment.
On September 20, 1863 Gilmer was leading his regiment at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. The 38th was being held back of the main line as a reserve unit. Orders were given for Gilmer to move up and reinforce the flank of the 21st Illinois Infantry. It was during this movement that Gilmer was struck in the abdomen near the kidney area. Eyewitnesses stated that the wound would not have been survivable. Gilmer’s remains fell into the hands of the Confederate forces. In March of 1864 a surgeon from the 21st Illinois Infantry was walking the battlefield where the regiment had fought in September. During this walk he located the remains of Gilmer. The Colonel’s remains were boxed and shipped north to Pittsfield and buried here in Oakwood Cemetery.
The birthplace of John January Mudd varies within the records. Some list Maryland while others state Missouri. He was the son of Stanislaus and Eliza Marshall January Mudd. When John was twelve his father died of Asiatic cholera. Within a few months Eliza moved her family to Pittsfield, Pike County, Illinois.
In 1850 John traveled over land to California returning by sea. The following year he made a second trip. Along the way many of the emigrants within the group ran low on supplies. Without hesitation John generously shared his supplies until they were exhausted.
On November 4, 1852 John married Celestia Rockwell Dunham. By 1854 John had moved to St Louis, Missouri where he became a successful merchant. In 1859 he moved his family and business north to Chicago.
When the Civil War began John Mudd enlisted in the 2nd Illinois Cavalry accepting a commission as Major. After the surrender of Fort Donelson on the Kentucky – Tennessee border Mudd was informed that a man had just left the fort with important papers. Mudd pursued hoping to overtake the man. In doing so he went beyond the Federal lines. Going only a short distance Major Mudd encountered a citizen asking for protection. Mudd granted the man’s request. As Mudd and the man moved forward they crossed paths with two more men asking for protection. While Mudd was engaging them in conversation the first man moved to Mudd’s rear pulled a revolver and fired. The ball struck Mudd in the back near his spine but was not fatal. Major Mudd spurred his horse and fled. While returning to camp Mudd captured a Confederate officer. Learning from his past experience he made sure the officer rode ahead of him.
Once Mudd had returned to the fort he attempted with much difficulty to find a surgeon to treat his wound. After examining the wound it was decided to leave the bullet probably because of its close proximity to Mudd’s spine.
In December of 1862 Mudd was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry. Shortly after his promotion he was advanced to the position of Colonel caused by the resignation of Silas Noble
The following year during the Vicksburg Campaign Mudd was assigned the duty of patrolling between Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi in order to keep Confederate General Joseph Johnston in check. While scouting the Black River Swamp Mudd was shot twice by Confederate snipers. The first bullet struck below the left eye traveled around his skull and lodged near his left ear. The second bullet struck him on the collar bone and nearly passed out the back of his shoulder. Once treated he was furloughed home where he could rest and heal from his wounds.
After Mudd returned he was acting as Brigadier General commanding a brigade of cavalry during the Bayou Teche Campaign. Mudd’s brigade bore the brunt of the fighting resulting in the health of Mudd becoming impaired to the point that he was ordered back to New Orleans. Shortly later he was ordered to begin refilling the ranks of his regiment. He traveled north where he opened a recruiting office in Springfield, Illinois. After the ranks were full he moved his new recruits south to New Orleans. When he arrived he received orders promoting him to Chief of Staff to General McClernand at Alexandria, Louisiana.
On May 1, 1864 Mudd boarded the steamer City Belle to proceed upriver to Alexandria. Three days later at Dunne’s Bayou on the Red River a band of Confederate guerrillas opened on the City Belle with two hidden artillery pieces. The second shot fired broke the pilot wheel and killed the pilot. Another round hit one of the boilers causing it to explode.
Within minutes the senior officer on board the City Belle was killed. Command then fell to John January Mudd. Mudd ordered the boat to be ran ashore efforts failed. He then attempted to get a life preserver on a man in an attempt to get a rope line tied off on shore. At this time the enemy started to rake the deck with grape and cannister shot. As Colonel Mudd stood on the deck directing orders he was struck in the forehead and killed instantly.
After the action the Confederate guerrillas burned the boat and stripped and robbed the living and dead with the exception of one. Strangely the enemy buried John Mudd in his uniform with his personal effects in his pockets including his commission as Acting Brigadier General. Later Mudd’s grave was discovered as the Union Army retreated out the area. His remains were exhumed and transported to New Orleans and placed in the care of Lieutenant J. S. McHenry of Company A, 2nd Illinois Cavalry. McHenry had the body embalmed and taken to Pittsfield, Illinois for burial in Oakwood Cemetery.