From Pittsfield travel north on Highway 107 approximately 9 miles to the town of Griggsville, Illinois. Once in Griggsville you will be driving on South Wall Street. At the first stop sign continue straight on North Wall Street. The cemetery will be at the end of North Wall Street. The main entrance is on your left.
Griggsville Cemetery is located at the northwest corner of the town of Griggsville. The first tract of land for the cemetery was purchased from Peleg Gardner in 1848. More land was purchased in 1851, 1865, 1896, 1906, 1915, and 1920. In 1908 the Griggsville Cemetery Association was chartered as a corporation.
Before the first land was purchased for the cemetery, bodies were buried in private family plots with no general burying ground. When the cemetery was opened many bodies were moved from their resting places and placed in the new cemetery.
After the cemetery was opened, the ladies of the Congregational church decided that the town needed a hearse. Through their influence a new black hearse with black curtains was obtained. Jesse G. Crawford, the coffin maker, drove the hearse pulled by one black horse. Jesse wore a black cape and broad black “Quaker” hat while performing the undertaker’s duties.
Reuben Benton Hatch (May 16, 1819 – July 28, 1871)
R. B. Hatch was the son of Dr. Reuben Hatch Jr and Lucy Andrews. He was born in Hillsboro, New Hampshire on May 16, 1819. As a young man of seventeen R. B. accompanied his father west to Griggsville, Pike County, Illinois arriving there in late 1835.
On December 4, 1846 R. B. Hatch and Ellen Dewitt Bush were married in Pike County, Illinois. Ellen was the daughter of Daniel Brown Bush and Maria Merrick. She was a sister to Civil War hero Colonel Daniel Brown Bush of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry and longtime newspaper editor Joseph Merrick Bush.
In 1847 R. B. Hatch and his brother Ozias opened a mercantile store in the town of Meredosia, Morgan County, Illinois which was located northeast of Griggsville on the eastside of the Illinois River. The store operated under the name R. B. Hatch & Co.
Opening a business in 1847 was poor timing since the United States was still in the middle of a depression. Eventually the Meredosia store was closed but somehow R. B., Ozias and Isaac Hatch managed to open a store in their hometown of Griggsville.
Throughout the years leading up to the American Civil War business seemed to be good but the hard times and the generosity of credit caused problems for the Hatch brothers. At the Pike County courthouse located in the county seat of Pittsfield one may view several cases were R. B. Hatch & Co. sued various customers over non-payment of promissory notes.
In 1857 Ozias was elected as Secretary of the State serving two back to back terms. R. B. and Isaac would continue operating the store until April of 1861 at which time R. B volunteered and was promoted to the rank of 1st lieutenant of the 8th Illinois Infantry. His service in the 8th Illinois was for only 3 months. By September he was promoted to Assistant Quarter Master and stationed at Cairo, Illinois.
As Assistant Quarter Master Hatch dealt with obtaining the material the military needed to wage war, such as tack and feed for horses and mules, as well as clothing, accouterments, housing and transportation for the soldiers. By late October complaints of corruption began to circulate about Hatch and the Quarter Master Department in Cairo.
In late 1861 an editorial appeared in the Chicago newspapers accusing Hatch of a corrupt deal with lumber brokers. Hatch was accused of buying the lumber at one price then having the lumber suppliers falsify invoices for a higher price. When the government paid the bill Hatch would skim the difference. It was said that he even offered kick back payments to the suppliers for their part in the fraud. These charges were investigated and Hatch was arrested. Worried about how this was going to turn out Hatch placed all his ledger books into a sack and threw them into the Ohio River. His efforts to cover his crimes did not work. The sack floated to shore where it was found by some Union soldiers.
Hatch knew he was in trouble and it was time to ask for help. Enter his brother Ozias M. Hatch current Secretary of the State and longtime family friend Abraham Lincoln. Hatch was also represented by fellow Pike Countian Jackson Grimshaw. Even though there was more than enough evidence against Hatch the charges were dropped. The same thing would happen when Grant ordered him arrested once again in the spring of 1862. Hatch was brought before a military commission where he was questioned in detail but once again no wrong was found.
In August 1863 R. B. Hatch resigned from the service. In July he had purchased a home on 4th and Jersey street in Quincy, Illinois. By March of 1864 R. B. decided that he wanted back into the army. Probably because the store in Griggsville had burned and he had no income. Upon being reinstated in the Volunteer Army General John McClernand gave Hatch the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In the summer of 1864 he developed a very painful medical condition called fistula-in-ano. This is caused by an abscess within the anal canal that will form a tunnel to the outer surface of the skin in order to drain. His condition may have been bad enough to force him to resign the second time in September of 1864.
But as before, Hatch decided in early 1865 that he wanted back in the army. However standards had changed, which resulted in R. B. being ordered to New Orleans, Louisiana to be examined for the position of Quartermaster. The examining board found that only 1 or 2 men were more deficient than Hatch in the basic knowledge of the Quartermaster Department. Regardless of the findings Hatch found himself in the regular army as a Captain by February of 1865.
In April of 1865, R. B. Hatch was stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi handling the duties of chief quartermaster. A few miles east of Vicksburg at Camp Fisk, several thousand Union soldiers waited to be counted and allowed to go home. These men had spent the last months of their time in service as a prisoner of war in Confederate prison camps at Andersonville, Georgia and Cahaba, Alabama.
Late evening on Monday April 17, 1865 the steamboat Sultana nosed up to the docks at Vicksburg. She had left Cairo, Illinois days before moving down the river stopping at each major port delivering the news of Lincolns assassination.
The Sultana was built to carry southern cotton up and down the rivers. She was 260 feet long, 39 feet wide at the base, 42 feet wide at the beam and 7 feet deep. When built she was registered to carry 376 people. At the time she docked at Vicksburg she was captained by J. Cass Mason.
While docked at Vicksburg Captain R. B. Hatch paid a visit to Mason on board the Sultana. History does not tell us if the two may have known each other from Hatch’s days at Cairo, Illinois or if there was a mutual knowledge that Mason was needing money and Hatch being corrupt was always looking for a way to make money.
The war department had a set rate that they would pay the steamboat lines for transporting soldiers north. The rate was based on rank. Captain Mason knew of the soldiers being held at Camp Fisk and wanted in on the opportunity of obtaining as many soldiers as possible for his boat. It is believed that before Hatch left the Sultana on the evening of the 17th he had made a deal with Mason guaranteeing that when he returned to Vicksburg from New Orleans in a few days Mason would have his load of soldiers.
A few days later at New Orleans the Sultana took on cargo and several paying civilian’s that had booked passage north on the vessel. As the Sultana was in route back to Vicksburg she lost speed due to a damaged plate on one of the boilers causing the boiler to lose pressure. Once Mason arrived back at Vicksburg, he immediately sent people into the city looking for a boiler mechanic.
As the boiler was being repaired Union soldiers were being loaded onto the Sultana. By April 24, 1865 the boilers were fixed and 2,000 soldiers had been packed so tight onto the vessel that it was standing room only. In some areas the decks had to be shored up with extra timbers to support the additional weigh. When the Sultana finally pushed away from the dock it was carrying 2,500 people plus cargo.
Over the next three days the trip up the river was progressing normally until around 2:00 am on April 27, when about 7 miles above Memphis one of the boilers of the Sultana exploded. The Sultana explosion and aftermath would become the largest maritime disaster in America. Modern estimates now list around 1,700 injured and a total of 1,200 killed.
The investigation of the Sultana explosion and overcrowding soon began to expose Captain R. B. Hatch’s involvement. On June 3, 1865 Hatch was officially dismissed from his duties as Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the Mississippi on the grounds that he was not qualified to do his job.
On July 28, 1865 Captain R. B. Hatch resigned from the army and returned to civilian life where his military scandals still haunted him. His health issue continued to plague him which may have turned him to alcohol use. In 1870 he was working as a contractor for the railroad. Local oral history tells a story that he was involved in the construction of a building in Pittsfield that collapsed due to Hatch cutting corners. No documentation to prove this story has been found to date.
On July 28, 1871 R. B. Hatch passed away in Pittsfield, Illinois. He was laid to rest in the Griggsville Cemetery located in Griggsville, Illinois.
Note: As of 2019 no image of R. B. Hatch has been found.
Abraham Scholl (December 15, 1765 – December 24, 1851)
Abraham Scholl was born December 15, 1765 in Rowan, North Carolina to William and Leah Morgan Scholl. In 1779 Daniel Boone led a pack train over the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and up Boone’s Trace to Boonesborough. This group included the families of William Scholl and Abraham Lincoln (the grandfather of President Lincoln). The Boones, Scholls, and Lincolns lived in the same area of Kentucky for several years. Abraham served in the Revolutionary War as an Indian fighter. On August 19, 1782, he fought with Daniel Boone at the Battle of Blue Licks.
Abraham married Rebecca Nellie Humble in 1788 and they had at least six children. After her death, he married Tabitha Noe on December 15, 1803, in Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky. They had at least twelve children.
In 1825, Abraham, Tabitha, and thirteen of their children moved to Illinois in a huge Kentucky covered wagon and settled in Section 10 of Griggsville township.
In his old age, Abraham Scholl was a great admirer of young Abe Lincoln. Abraham Scholl had known Abe Lincoln’s grandfather back in Kentucky. When Lincoln came to Pittsfield in the 1830s and 1840s to practice law, Scholl made a point to come to the county seat to visit with him. The two men were often seen sitting on the curb in front of a business on the north side of the square telling stories.
The Revolutionary War soldier, Abraham Scholl, died December 24, 1851. He is buried in the Griggsville Cemetery next to his wife Tabitha, daughter Elizabeth, son-in-law Charles F. Gibbs, and grandson James P. Gibbs. James was a veteran of the Civil War.
Aaron Tyler (June 8, 1786 – March 27, 1859)
Aaron Tyler was born in Mendon, Massachusetts on June 8, 1786, the son of Captain John Tyler and his wife, Urania Thayer Bates Tyler. He married Elizabeth Ober on February 29, 1808 in Beverly, Massachusetts. They moved to Bath, Maine where he was a lumber merchant. The family moved to Griggsville, where in 1837 he built a two story, eleven room house with lumber he had shipped to Griggsville by riverboat and wagon from Maine. This house still stands at 204 South Federal Street. Abraham Lincoln had dined with the Tyler family several times and local legend states that he slept there on at least one occasion. Lincoln became friends with two of Tyler’s sons who had transported him from Naples to Pittsfield where the future president was to speak. Tyler’s son Aaron Tyler Jr. became an attorney and was appointed a federal judge in Chicago by Lincoln. Aaron Tyler Sr. died March 27, 1859 and is buried in Griggsville Cemetery.
Charles Henry Philbrick ( April 9, 1837 – October 17, 1885)
Charles Henry Philbrick was the son of Jabez and Elizabeth Huntington Lyman Philbrick. Jabez and Elizabeth Philbrick lived in New Hampshire and Maine until 1836 when the family moved to the home of Elizabeth’s uncle, General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley, in East Feliciana, Louisiana where Charles Henry Philbrick was born on April 9, 1837. After General Ripley’s death in 1839, the family moved to Griggsville. Jabez was a merchant, businessman, and prominent member of the Congregational Church.
Charles attended school in Griggsville and the West District School in Jacksonville. At the age of 15 he entered Illinois College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with highest honors from the Classical Department in 1858. He was a leader in the literary fraternity, Phi Alpha, at Illinois College. He moved to Springfield where he became the Chief Clerk for Secretary of State, Ozias M. Hatch.
On September 14, 1864, through the efforts of Hay and Nicolay, Abraham Lincoln appointed Charles Philbrick to a clerkship in the Interior Department. Charles immediately went to Washington D.C. to become one of Lincoln’s secretaries. Being a private secretary to President was a very high honor. It was a position that required a carefully chosen person. It required someone who could be trusted in every way. Charles remained Lincoln’s secretary until April 1865 when he returned to Griggsville because his mother was not well. He was at the family home when Lincoln was shot. He was seen in the Congregational Church in Griggsville the next day crying like a child.
He never returned to the White House. Griggsville was his home for the rest of his life. Charles became an attorney and accountant. He wrote for the local newspaper. He served as City Clerk and as a Justice of the Peace. He was found dead in his bed on October 17, 1885 and is buried in Griggsville Cemetery. A reporter declared “a better hearted and more genial friend and companion never lived than Charley Philbrick, and his many virtues will long be cherished in memory by his friends.”
Note: As of 2019 no image of Charles Philbrick has been found.