Born on the eastern Illinois prairie near tiny Hunt City in 1909,
world-renowned actor/folk singer Burl Ives wanted to “return upon my
death to the soil that nurtured me” and be buried next to his parents in
the remote United Methodist Mound Cemetery on the Jasper County
prairie. Ives often noted that his huge body (more than 300 pounds)
would provide plenty of nourishment for an oak tree.
In 1995, the Oscar-winner got his wish — except for the tree: The
cemetery board refused to let his widow, Dorothy, plant a tree, but it
could not refuse his towering 8-foot-tall India black granite headstone
with an excellent portrait of Ives etched by a local artist. Those
stopping to pay their respects to “The Wayfaring Stranger” cannot resist
rubbing the likeness.
Though hidden from view, the church/cemetery is located a mile
north of Illinois 33, two miles east of its Illinois 49 intersection.
Watch for the church’s road sign, turn north to the next road (one
mile), then go east to the site. Adequate parking exists for several