Watkins Cemetery is located in Section 29 of Elmwood Township.
Drive to the town of Elmwood. At the intersection of Routes 8 & 78 (Illinois Routes) turn right 1 block to Wiley Road. Turn left (gas station on one corner & Elmwood Town Hall opposite). Continue on Wiley Road 2 miles to Taggert Road. This road is gravel & goes back to the commercial property, the INWOOD DAIRY. Vast improvement have been done to this remote cemetery over the past year and a half. A white fence now surrounds the cemetery and 5 graves are marked, versus 3 from 1-1/2 years ago. 2 Civil War stones & 1 Blackhawk Indian War stone.
On 11-18-2004, I revisited this remote Elmwood Twp. cemetery located on the INWOOD DAIRY grounds.
In October 2002, I made my initial visit and found the owner of the Dairy living in Florida while he entrusted the operation of the Dairy to a manager. They had been having problems with local genealogists trespassing trying to visit the cemetery. While cemeteries should be places where visits occur, the small family & small community cemeteries often find themselves on private property.
In most cases, Illinois law allows a 10 foot easement from the nearest road to the entrance of a cemetery. It is still the responsibility of the visitor to secure permission before proceeding to the grave yard. No one should take permission for granted!
When I stopped by to photograph & document this 1800's cemetery, the Dairy Manager reported people trespassing and claiming to be relatives of the Watkins. He asked what he should do. I advised him to call the Peoria County Sheriff. Anyone on private commercial property is without permission guilty of illegal trespass. After some discussion, the manager not only drove me to the cemetery but gave me a tour of the facility.
This cemetery was discovered to be very close to 2 skimming ponds - ponds used to dispose of and treat raw sewage of cattle. Only if Pond #1 were to rupture or overflow would this grave yard be in danger. We discussed various methods of preserving the integrity of the graves and through conversations with the owner, it was agreed that they would build a fence around the graves & do some landscaping to make it a place for historians and genealogists to visit.
A year and a half later, I returned to find that they did enclose the graves with a white fence. In 2002, only 3 stones were in evidence with no grass close. In 2004, grass is plentiful and I found the 3 initial stones (2 Civil War & 1 Blackhawk War) PLUS 2 paved bases with, what looks to be a footstone, standing upright on one base. Thus, 5 graves instead of 3.
INWOOD DAIRY is now under new ownership. I spoke with the wife of the owner who is also a Dairy manager & sec'try. They will preserve the cemetery and will try to further enhance it so they, and others, would be proud to visit.
The only negative I could identify is the odor of a dairy production and the presence of the sewage ponds. The odor, though in evidence, was not overpowering. Anyone who has grown up in the country or on a farm would say the odor wasn't at all bad.
WATKINS CEMETERY has gone from Endangered to PROTECTED. I, personally, feel it advisable to recheck on conditions in 2005 & each year until 2010. It would be a shame to loose these valuable stones. History abounds in Peoria County & should be protected whenever possible.
Size: 7 photos