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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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The Spirit(s) of Hope Cemetery: A Spooktober column

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In celebration of what many students have affectionately nicknamed “spooky month”, The Knox Student will be highlighting specific aspects and members of the Hope Cemetery throughout the month. First established in 1836 – a year before the actual town and our very own Knox College were founded – Hope Cemetery is the final home of many founding town members. 

Our interest is to keep this column lighthearted and include the eerie ambiance of this month while still being respectful to both the dead and their living family members. Thus we will explore these historical figures and their significance in a meaningful and polite manner while connecting them to the mysterious energy people associate with Halloween. We will also avoid discussing more recently passed inhabitants of Hope Cemetery.

For our first spooky cemetery story for the month of October, we will regale you with both the history of this cemetery and teach about Reverend George Washington Gale, the founder of both Galesburg and Knox College itself. 

Due to the age of this area, as well as the time passed since almost all of the inhabitants’ lives ended, the cemetery fell into disrepair. For many years it remained in poor condition.

When the nonprofit organization, The Friends of Hope Cemetery, was founded in 2017, they began improving the area. They cleared out dead foliage and hosted cleaning events for residents to help preserve this historic site. 

There are many significant figures and events memorialized within Galesburg, and especially our cemetery.

During times of colonization and Western expansion, it was often the case that a cemetery would be instituted before an actual town. The journey west was extremely perilous, and many fell ill before reaching their destination. This fact doesn’t take away from the distinct morbidity that the first establishment in our town was a home for the dead. 

The first person buried in Hope Cemetery was Isaac Mills. He was a member of the founding party, and died shortly after arriving in Galesburg. 

Another very important founding member was George Washington Gale. He was decidedly abolitionist, and founded the town with the intention of eliminating the institution of slavery. He was indicted in 1843 for sheltering runaway slaves.

Gale founded the Knox Manual Labor College – what would later become our very own institution – in the interest of upholding more religious values within higher education. He died in 1861. 

One of the most bizzare fact about this historically influential figure is his connection with the Inventor of the Ferris wheel — George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.. Silvanus Ferris – the grandfather of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr – was good friends with George Washington Gale, and named his son for him, then his son, George Washington Gale Sr, named his son for him too. This is where the name for Ferris Lounge comes from.

This cemetery is an important part of Galesburg history, and in the spirit of Fall and Halloween, we urge any who visit to be very respectful. 

And leave a penny, or another offering after you leave… just in case.

Updated: 10/28

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About the Contributor
Selah Dow
Selah Dow, Copy Editor
Selah Dow '25 (any pronouns) is a history major and a double minor in education and spanish. is the copy editor for TKS. They are from Boulder Colorado, and have had 5 cats throughout their life, all of which are orange tabbies.

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