PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Two large blue and gold historical markers were presented at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Tuesday to pay tribute to 2,600 Peorians buried in a forgotten South Peoria cemetery.
The Freedom and Remembrance Memorial is a trio of Illinois State Historical markers commemorating the stories of the Moffatt Cemetery; 52 veterans, mostly from the Civil War, buried at the cemetery; and Nancy Legin-Costley, the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln in 1841.
Nearly 70 years ago, the Moffatt Cemetery was commercially developed with thousands of Peorians still buried underneath, including dozens of Civil War veterans.
“It has been forgotten for a long time and we consider this to be one of the forgotten mysteries of Peoria history. How could 2,600 people be forgotten for so long? We always have a slogan of the group that’s working together: they shall be forgotten no more,” said Bob Hoffer, team lead of the Freedom and Remembrance Memorial.
The historical marker commemorating the 52 veterans was presented in July and is on display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The two historical markers of Moffatt Cemetery and Nancy Legin-Costley unveiled Tuesday will be added to the exhibit.
Moffatt said they hope to install the historical markers next spring at the corner of SW Adams and Griswold Streets, near the site of the Moffatt Cemetery.
“I would hope they recognize the history of Peoria. This is a very amazing place when you think about the 300-plus years of history is here,” said Moffatt.
Moffatt said each historical marker cost between $4,000 to $5,000. They were funded by grants from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln Association, William G. Pomeroy Foundation, and Sons of American Revolution.