If you ever strolled through a cemetery, you may have noticed that occasionally the older tombstones can get into a rundown condition - some even broken, overrun with weeds or nearly illegible. Since this year is the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I, there has been a recent surge of attention paid to locating and cleaning up the graves of McLean County soldiers who died during that war. The list includes five who rest here in Lexington area cemeteries - the first four in Pleasant Hill and one in the Clarksville cemetery. The following Information is taken from notices in the Daily Pantagraph:
Elmo F. Hill - "The body of Elmo F. Hill, a Lexington soldier who died in France, left New York yesterday for Lexington. The funeral will be held tomorrow at the home of his foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Claggett. After surviving several months in France, young Hill fell a victim to pneumonia and died in a French hospital September 23, 1918 . He was the first soldier out of Lexington to lose his life in the war." Our local American Legion post now carries his name. Young Elmo was buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery.
Earl Brown - "Earl was the son of Robert and Anetta Brown and was born in Lexington January 22, 1892. He made his home with his sister, Mrs. Harlan Meely, in Lexington. He joined the army on June 18, 1918. Early in September, he embarked for overseas and landed at Glasgow, Scotland. He was soon sent to England, and while crossing the English Channel, he was stricken with cerrebo spinal fever." He died on October 11, 1918 in a hospital in La Harve, France.
William S. Goliday - "Another gold star has been added to Lexington's service flag by the death of Private William Goliday which occurred in a hospital in Brunswick, New Jersey on September 30, 1918. Death was caused by pneumonia induced by Spanish Influenza. The body was brought to Lexington on the noon train for burial. It was given a military escort from New Jersey."
Earl T. Smith - He entered training camp at Camp Taylor, Louisville, Kentucky and "was there only six weeks when he was a victim of influenza, followed by pneumonia, from which he died on October 15, 1918. He was born at Cooksville, and his sister was with him when he died."
Clarence Weakley - "Clarence Weakley from Lexington expired from pneumonia in New York. Word was received Sunday, January 19, 1919, by Thomas Weakley of Lexington of the death of his son Clarence, who was born in Clarksville, near Lexington and spent most of his life in this vicinity. He was member of the U. B. Church and a young man of sterling qualities." He was buried in Clarksville Cemetery.
A number of individuals and groups are 'adopting' the graves of the WWI soldiers all around McLean County in an effort to locate and clean up the sites. Recently, we were pleased to learn that Cub Scout Pack 51 in Lexington is planning to 'adopt' the Lexington-area grave sites.
Those adoption efforts can make a world of difference, as can be seen on the stone of a soldier in Bloomington's Evergreen Cemetery, before and after its clean-up. We want to give the local scouts an 'atta boy' for their efforts to keep these markers from disappearing over time.