Nearly a half-century ago, the smoldering embers of a rural church gave birth to a legend—a legend that has since been passed down among the residents of Mason County. The church’s former preacher, it is said, was buried in the nearby cemetery under a tree, where he could forever tend his flock. Anyone brave enough to walk to the back of the cemetery and knock on the tree would be treated to the sound of the preacher’s voice calling out from the grave.
Mason County was carved out of Tazewell County and established on January 20, 1841. According to Pioneers of Menard and Mason County (1902) by T.G. Onstott, the land around Bishop-Zion Cemetery wasn’t settled until 1840, when a man named A. Winthrow built a cabin there. Peter Himmel, A. File, Henry Bishop, and Stephen Hedge followed. There are at least two dozen descendants of Peter Himmel buried in Bishop-Zion Cemetery. Ultimately, however, the cemetery and nearby village came to be named after the Bishop family.
Henry Bishop, we are told by the Portrait & Biographical Record of Tazewell & mason Counties, Illinois (1894), was brought by his parents from Hanover, Germany to St. Louis, before ultimately settling on pristine land in the heart of Mason County…
Legends and Lore of Illinois Vol. 4 Digital Edition
Or, order all 11 issues of the Legends and Lore of Illinois from 2010 in a special digital edition for your favorite e-readers. Places covered in Vol. 4 include Western Illinois University’s Simpkins Hall, the Seventh Avenue Dead End, Willow Creek Farm, Vishnu Springs, the Cambridge Death Curve, Crybaby Bridge, Archer Avenue, Rockford College, and more. Plus, read letters from our readers, the latest adventures of The Fallen, skeptic’s corner, and put your knowledge of these locations to the test with challenging trivia questions. Don’t miss these classic issues from the archives of the Legends and Lore of Illinois.
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