Tolman & Yale Family
Franklin Grove Cemetery
Lee County IL

Photo and Information from Jared Olar

A child of A.W. and Charlotte Tolman - perhaps Francis Edgar Tolman born and died in 1853
Damaged stones in row behind Silas Tolman

Charles A. son of A.W. and Charlotte Tolman

Lucy Tolman Cook // Lucy Tolman and unknown graves

The third and last cemetery that I visited on Wednesday, 13 July 2011, was Franklin Grove Cemetery, where I thought Silas P. Tolman and his wife Experience "Spede" Shaw were probably buried.

It took a good deal of cemetery walking (no sexton or groundskeeper was there to help me find the graves), but finally I was able to find the graves of Silas P. Tolman and his family.

I was disheartened, however, that the Tolman gravestones are all in very bad shape. Time, erosion, and vandalism have taken a great toll -- they range from "difficult to read" to "completely illegible" or "broken off at the base and completely missing."

The first stone that I discovered was the newest, and consequently the easiest to read: LUCY TOLMAN COOK, who was the only surviving daughter of Adrastus W. Tolman and Charlotte Yale. Lucy is the one who supplied the reminiscences about her grandfathers Silas Tolman and Nathaniel Yale in the 1893 "Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County."

To the right of Lucy's gravestone is an old and worn stone -- in fact, it had been shattered at some point in the past and had been pieced back together with cement. As a result, I was unable to read any of the inscription. I don't know if that is a member of the Tolman family or not.

After I found Lucy's gravestone, I hoped that meant other members of the Tolman or Yale families were close by, and I was right -- not far to the left was the gravestone of Lucy's grandfather Nathaniel Yale. His stone is hard to read due to erosion, but is not in as bad a shape as most of the other stones in the Tolman and Yale plots: at least you can make out Nathaniel's name, sort of.

Further down that row I finally found Silas P. Tolman's gravestone, which, again, is hard to read due to erosion, but not as bad as most of the other stones. I'm not certain of this transcription, but I believe his stone's inscription is:

May 14, 1863
Aged 72 yrs.

However, I'm not entirely sure of the date -- it could be May 11, or Mar 11, or Mar 14. Anyway, he appears in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses. Also, he and his wife "Clarinda" (also called "Malinda") together joined the Franklin Grove Presbyterian Church on 1 Jan. 1861. Silas is not in the 1870 Census, which is what we'd expect given the gravestone inscription. "Clarinda Tolman," his widow, appears in the 1870 U.S. Census in the household of Adrastus Tolman, son of Silas.

Just to the right of Silas Tolman's gravestone are two small gravemarkers. They are mostly blank, and hardly any letters can be read with the naked eye, but using my sense of touch, I was able to discern that the little marker right next to Silas' stone has these letters on the back (that is, on the side opposite that which faces you if you want to read Silas' stone):

M. T.

I assume that stands for "Malinda Tolman," who appears in the 1860 U.S. Census as the wife of Silas Tolman. Lee County records says Silas married "Clarinda Brewer" in 1857, so Malinda and Clarinda were obviously the same woman. Apparently her name was Clarinda Malinda Brewer Tolman, or Malinda Clarinda Brewer Tolman.

Right next to that "M. T." stone is the second small gravemarker. I'm not sure, but I think this stone's inscription (which is on the front, the same side that faces you if you want to read Silas' stone) is:

A S T (or perhaps E S T)

Since "M. T." is probably Silas' second wife Malinda, "A S T" is probably Silas' first wife Experience. I think the inscription is actually "E S T," for "Experience Shaw Tolman." If I had the cemetery records, I would be able to solve this mystery, but for now, this is the best we can do.

Just to the right of "A S T" (or "E S T") is another stone about the same size as Silas Tolman's stone. At some point the top half had been broken off, but the stone was repaired and braced with cement. Again, the inscription is difficult to read, but this is what I was able to make out:


[wife?] of

T. L. [something]

dau. of S. P.



[illegible date]

21 ys. 4 mo [??] days

This was Maria Experience Tolman Minor (1830-1851), daughter of Silas Tolman and Experience Shaw. According to Find-A-Grave, Maria Experience Tolman Minor died 21 March 1851. Her husband was Timothy Lockwood Minor (1814-1870), and they had only one child, a daughter named Theresa A. Minor/Miner (1850-1910), wife of Henry McNeal. Theresa and Henry left Illinois and settled in Nebraska -- they are buried together in Fairmont Cemetery, Fillmore County, Nebraska.

Sadly, the gravestone next to Maria E.'s is missing -- only the broken base remains. Further down the row, we come to Nathaniel Yale's gravestone, and to the left of his stone we again find only the broken base of a missing gravestone. I suspect that one of those missing tombstones was that of Adrastus W. Tolman and his wife Charlotte Yale.

Additional Tolman gravestones are found in the row behind these stones that I have been discussing. One of them is a "TOLMAN" pillar that has two names on it. I couldn't read the top name, but thought the bottom name is "LEAH N." I was not sure, but I thought these two Tolmans named on this pillar were children of Silas, or perhaps children of Adrastus, son of Silas. The Tolman Family website, however, does not mention any Leah among the children of Adrastus. It does mention that a LEAH N. HAWBECKER was the wife of RICHARD YALE TOLMAN, son of Adrastus and Charlotte. Comparing the photograph of the pillar's inscription with the Tolman Family website information, I was able to determine that the top name is "RICHARD Y," so this pillar is the gravemakrer of Richard Yale Tolman and his wife Leah N. Hawbecker Tolman.

To the left of the pillar is a gravestone that I couldn't read, except that I think it says it is a child of A.W. and Charlotte Tolman. But comparing this stone's inscription to the list of children of Adrastus at the Tolman Family website, I saw that this is the stone of BENNIE M., son of Adrastus Tolman and Charlotte Yale. The Tolman Family website says Bennie Milo was born 1 June 1862 and died 25 Jan. 1866.

Then, to the left of Bennie's grave is the gravestone of "CHARLES A. son of A.W. & Charlotte TOLMAN." According to the Tolman Family website, Charles Ambrose Tolman, son of Adrastus, was born 31 Oct. 1854 and died 7 Sept. 1855.

Finally, to the left of Charles A. Tolman's stone is a damaged gravestone. The top half was broken off and was embedded face-down in the dirt, so I picked it up, turned it over and brushed it off. Even so, I couldn't make out the name. However, I could see that the bottom half of the stone includes the names "A.W. & Charlotte" -- so this is another child of Adrastus Tolman and Charlotte Yale. My guess is that this is the stone of FRANCIS EDGAR TOLMAN, eldest son of Adrastus, who was born 21 Jan. 1853 and died 24 Sept. 1853. Francis and Charles were the first two children of Adrastus and Charlotte, and both died young, so it would make sense that Francis would be just to the right of Charles.

I took several photographs (below) of the Tolman and Yale burials, including a few that show all of the stones in relation to each other, as well as closeups of inscriptions. If you have any better luck reading the inscriptions, please let me know.

For reference, here is the entry on Adrastus W. Tolman and his family at the Tolman Family website:

Notes dated - Wednesday, 13 July 2011, updated 9 June 2012

Tolman Family

Full view - Tolman section

1 - Bennie M., son of A.W. and Charlotte Tolman, born 1 June 1862, died 25 Jan. 1866
2 - Maria E. Tolman
3 - Nathaniel Yale - grandfather of Lucy Tolman Cook

Silas Tolman // Richard Y. and Leah N. Tolman

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