Often times as genealogists, we utilize tombstones as sources of data for the birth and death information on our ancestors. Being able to see a gravestone (or a picture) can open up doors for discovery that we, as genealogists, often dream about. Perhaps it might be the foreign place of birth, military history, or groups to which our ancestor belonged. However, in my case, it was a small piece of history immortalized for all time.
Several years ago, I was contacted by a kind fellow genealogist, who located me via an on-line family tree. During a recent trip to a local cemetery, this genealogist had stumbled about the gravestone for my great-great-great grandfather, Andrew Daubenheyer, in Hancock County, Illinois. This kind lady was contacting me because of the uniqueness of the information contained on the stone. Following Andrew’s vital information was the phrase, “Killed by the Mormans in Sept. 1845”. Intrigued, I immediately contacted the Hancock County Historical Society for information from county history books to discover the rest of the story. Meanwhile, my new genealogist friend contacted a reporter for the nearby Fort Madison Daily Democrat. Soon after I received an e-mail copy of the newspaper article, Some Tombstones Show Sentiment of the Times, by Jerry Sloat
During the mid-1840s, Hancock County, Illinois, and the city of Nauvoo, became an area of settlement for the Latter Day Saints, as they were driven farther and farther westward. Andrew Daubenheyer, one of the local settlers in the area, like many of his friends and neighbors, was displeased with the settlement of the Mormans. This lead to a tumultuous time in Hancock County history.
The History of Hancock County tells of Andrew Daubenheyer’s demise. “On the 18th of September he started to Carthage with a two-horse wagon. On the evening of the 20th he started for his home on horseback, which he never reached, but on the morning of the 21st his horse came home without him. On his road home was encamped a body of Mormons…and the belief was that he had been waylaid and killed by them. Search being made his body was afterward found, buried near the place of the encampment.”1
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Tull Cemetery in Hancock County, where Andrew and his wife, Jerusha, are buried. High on a hill, overlooking the Mississippi River, stands a wonderful tombstone that hints at a history of its own.
Gregg, History of Hancock County (1880), p. 344.