Our volunteer team is happy to announce that, as of July 2022, full funding for the first phase of the Peoria Freedom & Remembrance project has been secured!
Three Illinois State Historical Society markers will be cast and set near the location of the old Moffatt Cemetery at the corner of SW Adams and Griswold. In fact, one has already arrived in Peoria!
This marker honors the 52 veterans who still rest on the site of the old Moffatt Cemetery. That includes veterans of the Civil War and the War of 1812.
The second marker will honor the more than 2,600 Peorians who also remain at the site. While it was thought that many had been moved before the site was redeveloped in the 1950s, that was later proven not to be true. It’s time that these everyday citizens from every walk of life and from many nations be remembered.
The third marker will honor Nance Legins-Costley and Abraham Lincoln. Legins-Costley was born a slave in the Illinois territory, but from a young age fought for her freedom through a series of lawsuits. As a young lawyer, Lincoln took up her case and cause, which was an unpopular position to take at the time. He successfully argued for her freedom before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841. Legins-Costley and her children became the first slaves Lincoln helped free, a full twenty years before the start of the Civil War.
In total, we’ve raised $16,800. About one third of that came from individual donations, while the rest came from groups and grants. Fully 40% of the funding came from sources right here in the Peoria area, while the balance came from national granting organizations.
Among the organizations that are making Phase 1 possible are:
• The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War
• The Sons of the American Revolution
• The William G. Pomeroy Foundation
• The Abraham Lincoln Association
We also want to thank again the following organizations, who are providing essential and invaluable support and services:
• Roofers Union Local 69 in Peoria – donating the property on which the memorial will be installed
• The City of Peoria and its staff, Mayor Rita Ali, Councilwoman Denise Jackson, and Director of Public Works Rick Powers – taking ownership of the property and providing necessary legal work
• The Peoria Park District and its staff and board, including Pres. Robert Johnson, Sr., PPD Executive Director Emily Cahill, and Director of Parks Matt Freeman – installing the markers when the time comes
We also want to thank Peoria Historical Society for providing some local fundraising services. There are many, many others to thank, too – more than we can list here right now. We will celebrate everyone in time, but for now, thank you, too!
Just to preview the future of the Freedom & Remembrance Memorial project, we plan to have the markers in the ground yet this year. Things look good, but you never know. Concurrently, we’re going to begin work on what we call Phase 1b and Phase 2. We hope Phase 1b will be a flag with lighting and perhaps some concrete paths. Phase 2 is a grander vision, and we’ll be organizing to make that a reality. If you’d like to help in any way, please reach out.