Retired archaeologist Mike McNerney was the guest speaker at a program hosted by the Union County Historical and Genealogy Society last Sunday afternoon, June 4, in Cobden.

Historical society hosts first event at new facility

The Union County Historical and Genealogy Society opened its new building in Cobden Sunday afternoon, June 4.

The historical society hosted a program which was presented by retired archaeologist Mike McNerney of Carbondale. 

The guest speaker talked about his new book, which is titled “A Shape in Time and Space: The Migration of the Necked Discoid Gravemarker.”

The historical society’s new facility is located in a  building which formerly housed the Cobden Medical Clinic. 

Extensive renovation work has been done in the new facility. The historical society is planning a wide range of uses for the building, including programs such as the talk on June 4.

After his talk, McNerney posed for a picture in front of the former medical clinic, along with a wooden gravemarker. 

The marker is in the collection of the Union County Museum in Cobden. The museum is operated by the historical society and is located not far from the former medical clinic.

McNerney’s book tells the story of a uniquely shaped pioneer grave marker, a naked discoid or flat and circular disk, brought by the first immigrants arriving in Southern Illinois in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The book explores the origins of the marker and tracks the migration of some of the families whose names are inscribed on the markers found throughout rural graveyards. 

The book also provides a cultural context for the folk gravemarker as the nation rapidly changed from a frontier society to a commercial/industrial society, beginning around 1845 and continuing into the 20th century.

The book explores the origins of the marker in America and Europe, offers a preliminary look at stylistic change and tracks the migration of some of the families whose names are inscribed on the markers.

McNerney shared stories about the research and travel he has done for more than two decades as he learned about the gravemarkers.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
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