The Peoria Freedom & Remembrance Memorial is a reality!
On June 14, 2023, the City of Peoria officially recognized the Peoria Freedom & Remembrance Memorial, concluding eight years of effort to ensure that those who rest still at the Old Moffatt Cemetery are “forgotten no more”.
To experience the event, please see our dedicated page. There you will find photos, audio, and transcripts of the remarks.
We have so many to thank for coming together in this community-wide effort!
• The City of Peoria – for taking ownership of the park and the memorial
• Peoria United Union of Roofers Local #69 – for donating the land for the park and the memorial
• Peoria Park District – for installing the historical markers and maintenance of the site
• Peoria Historical Society – for providing support throughout and being our local “banker”
• Peoria Riverfront Museum – for displaying the veterans memorial marker at the PRM and ongoing support
• Peoria County Genealogical Society – for transcribing old records that document everyone that remains still on the site of the old Moffatt Cemetery
• Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society – for support and important discoveries in the old records in Pekin
• Illinois State Historical Society – for its historical markers program and ongoing support
• Abraham Lincoln Association – for financial support of the historical markers
• William G. Pomeroy Foundation – for financial support of the historical markers
• Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War – for financial support of the historical markers and the flagpole
• Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War – for financial support of the flagpole
• Peoria Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution – for financial support of the flagpole
• Capt. Zeally Moss Chapter, National Society, Sons of the American Revolution – for financial support of the flagpole
• Peoria American Legion Post 2 – for financial support of the flagpole and for providing a color guard at the ceremony
• Peoria Housing Authority – for providing the nearby site for the ceremony
And last, but not the least bit least, thank you to the many individual donors and volunteers who have worked for so long to bring these efforts to a reality, in particular the core volunteer team, who can be found here.
Thank you all!
To see some wonderful pictures from the day the memorial park was officially named, please see this Facebook album from the City of Peoria.
The Moffat story, the veterans, and Nance Legins-Costley
In the 1950s, the old Moffatt Cemetery near the corner of Griswold and Adams on Peoria’s south side was commercially redeveloped. It was thought that the graves had been moved, but recent research found that not to be true. Indeed, about 2,600 Peoria citizens remain on the site. That includes average Peorians, 52 veterans, and Nance Legins-Costley – the first enslaved person that Abraham Lincoln helped free when he won her case before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841.
Now three Illinois State Historical Society markers and a lighted flagpole grace a green space near the old Moffatt Cemetery. At last these everyday and extraordinary Peoria-area citizens have a fitting and lasting tribute.
For anyone interested in a more in-depth presentation of the Moffatt Cemetery story, see the PDF below. It was assembled by memorial volunteer Bob Hoffer as part of what was presented to the Peoria City Council in advance of the council approving the project. Enjoy!
Please see the other sections of our site for more information:
• Find news coverage and updates
• Find out more about Nance Legins-Costley, her fight for freedom, and her connection to Abraham Lincoln
• Find out more about the markers that will be installed and the people and organizations that have made them possible
• To find out more about our volunteer team and to reach us, please see the contact page
Also, enjoy this video, which also tells the story of Moffatt Cemetery and the efforts to honor those who rest there still.
Looking forward, the hope is that a grander vision will eventually be realized – a true gateway to the city of Peoria, building on our history, looking forward to the future, and rooted in freedom.
Thank you again for your interest and support!