On April 7, 1862, a resolution was adopted by the Mattoon City Council to purchase ground for a city cemetery. In December of that year it was given the name Dodge Grove. It formally opened in the spring of 1863.
According to William LeBaron, Jr. in The History of Coles County, Illinois, Dodge Grove received its name as a result of a horse race in Springfield, Illinois. The Whitley family, owners of the “Dodge Filly,” had staked their mare in a race and lost. Not wanting to lose the horse, they returned home and turned the horse loose in a grove of trees. The new owner and officers of the law could not find the mare in the grove and “thus the filly dodged capture and the grove captured the name of Dodge.”
Francis Ada Robertson, who died at the age of three years and 11 months, was the first person buried in the cemetery on March 20, 1863. Three American Generals of the Civil War are buried at Dodge Grove, along with approximately 260 Civil War soldiers, including one unknown Confederate soldier.