Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery is a 122-acre cemetery encompassing rolling hills, a valley, fields, and natural woodland. It offers sections for the general public, infants, county burials, military, and a mausoleum.

Cemetery Sexton
Kyle Jansen
Kyle served as an Illinois Cemetery Oversight Board member from 2016-2021.

Records and Burial Transactions
Contact the Cemetery Sexton, Kyle Jansen

620 S. Main Street
Phone: (309) 647-1428
*Mailing address is the City of Canton’s address

Monument Cleaning & Restoration Services

Greenwood Cemetery offers monument cleaning and restoration services. They are also able to correct leaning or sunken monuments.

Please contact the Cemetery Office to receive an estimate. Contact info. listed to the left.

Cemetery Clean Up Schedule & Decoration Regulations

In an effort to help protect and preserve the beauty of Greenwood Cemetery, the City of Canton has adopted ordinances related to rules and regulations for the Cemetery. These rules and regulations are below.

A minimum of three times a year, the cemetery staff shall clean up decorations according to the following dates and guidelines. Anyone wishing to retain any decorations should retrieve them prior to these clean up dates.

  • April 1 – April 7: All decorations will be removed from grave sites. This includes flowers in vases and saddles, as well as shepherd’s hooks removal.
  • July 15 – July 21: Ground level decorations will be removed.

Please direct inquires to the Greenwood Cemetery office at 309-647-1428.

Cemetery History

Canton’s first burying ground was started on September 10, 1831 and contained 24 lots.  It was located at East and South of S.E. 27. 7N. 4E and West by the East line of S.W. 27 7N. 4E.  This ground was located at the intersection of Union Street and First Street.  After 1891, Union Street was renamed West Chestnut Street and First Street was renamed North Avenue B.  This ground was later developed. No record has been found of a transfer of burial remains to any other burial ground.

The city’s next burial ground was the start of the current Greenwood Cemetery.  It was located at Northwest quarter 34, 7N. 4E.  Land records show that on March 8th, 1839, Nathan Jones and his wife Matilda sold for the sum of seventy dollars a plat of land that measures 16 rods square (1.6 acres) to a group of individuals.  This land was to be designated by the Fulton County Commissioner as a public burying ground.  This original plat contained 112 lots.

Greenwood Cemetery as it exists today was started by a group of men who called themselves the “Canton Cemetery Company.”  Isaiah Stillman surveyed it on November 2, 1847 and gave the cemetery location as: South West corner of a North East one/quarter of Section 34 of Township 7 North, Range 4 East of the 4th.  It contained 7.94 acres.

The Canton Cemetery Company was started as a profit-making venture.  Cemetery lots were sold for $5.00 each.  The business began with the original 7.94 acres.  As more burial space was needed, the company purchased more small strips of land.  The group approaced Mr. Patric Rafferty about acquiring his land for the cemetery.  He refused to sell unless the group would agree to use a portion of the land for a Catholic Cemetery.  The group agreed to this provision.  St. Mary’s Cemetery was dedicated on October 6, 1872 and served as the Catholic burial ground until St. Joseph’s Cemetery was started in 1926.  In 1881, all properties were deeded over to the City of Canton. An ordinance was passed on February 9, 1882 that stated the burial ground shall be called, “Greenwood Cemetery.”

A stroll through Greenwood Cemetery is a stroll through the history of the community.  The people of Canton erected a memorial to Issac Swan, soldier, pioneed, and founder of the city, who died on June 18, 1835.  Although he died before Greenwood Cemetery was established, his monument was erected on August 23, 1925.  This monument is located on lot 12 in the original burying ground.  It is here that Swan’s widow and her second husband, George W. Gould, are buried. 

  -adapted from text provided by past board member Gary Watson

Fulton County Poor Farm

The Fulton County Historical & Genealogical Society held a Fulton County Poor Farm Monument Dedication at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday, July 28, 2018.

In September, 2015, Fulton County Historical and Genealogical Society (FCH&GS) President, Cathy Parsons received a call from the Fulton County Clerk’s Office saying that Sandra Weaver from Idaho was searching for her great grandparents – Aaron and Rebecca Bryant.

Through research, we found that Aaron died in 1872.  Rebecca resided at the Fulton County Poor Farm in Buckheart Township where she passed and was buried in 1889.  Sandra requested photographs of the cemetery and her great grandmother’s grave marker.  This started the journey to locate and remember these ancestors.

The Fulton County Board discontinued the Poor Farm in 1953 and the remains were moved to Canton’s Greenwood Cemetery.  Later, the farm was sold to the United Electric Coal Company.  Unfortunately, no signs or markers were erected to signify the new burial site.  Through interviews and research, that location and names of many of the deceased were found, including Rebecca Bryant.

The FCH&GS Board-continuing the mission to remember and honor the forgotten- undertook a project to erect a monument in tribute to those who had been laid to rest at the Poor Farm.  The cost of this marker was $6,000.  Public donations to fund the marker were welcomed and appreciated.