This is a new and exciting work in progress with new content added often


logofinalmixjpgDiscover great facts about all Chicago area cemeteries. Most are still visible but many have vanished or no longer outwardly resemble a place of burial.  The location of many of these vanished cemeteries will surprise you, some still containing thousands of bodies, You will be surprised to learn where the dead have been and still are, in and around Chicago.

Here you will find an amazing 803 listings.  Thumbnail information of 272 cemeteries plus 258 cross references will be found in the “list of all cemeteries” pages.  In addition there are over 300 Jewish cemeteries and sections within other cemeteries, primarily Jewish Waldheim

The blog posts contain additional information on selected cemeteries and most interesting related topics and features.


Famicity, based in France,  posted November 24 2017 written by Erin Harris.  https://blog.famicity.com/2017/11/preserving-cemeteries-in-chicago-illinois/?lang=en

DNAinfo was a great print and electronic media in Chicago. Check out their Oct 29 2017 Article  https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20171030/west-ridge/barry-fleig-cemetery-blog-sheiners-picnic-grove

A GOOD READ about Cook County Cemetery (Dunning): Grave Mistake by Harold Henderson Sept 1989 https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/grave-mistake/Content?oid=874451

And for the incredible story of how we lost that cemetery containing 38,000 souls, visit www.cookcountycemetery.com

Don’t miss some of the earlier blogs like a liquor license in a cemetery or an elevator. Check out the cemetery under the Bowmanville pickle farm. Check back often as I need to tell the stories of 273 cemeteries!



Continue reading “Welcome!”

Celebrate Lutheran Cemeteries

I have again turned to my good friend, the somewhat elderly, long retired, but wise priest,  Father Barton. He and  Minnesota’s Father Wilmer  guide me on all things of spirit and goodness. Father Barton tells me that an abiding faith is the foundation of church cemeteries. Although we commit the body to the earth, death is not the final word,  believing the soul is in the immediate presence of God. Today we look at the more than 40 cemeteries in the Chicago area where just the physical bodies of generations of Lutherans rest.st john rodenburg

It is surprising that there are over 90 Catholic and Lutheran cemeteries in the Chicago area, more than any other type or group of cemeteries. Again surprisingly,  the number of those cemeteries are split somewhat evenly between Catholic and Lutheran.

In this blog we will concentrate on just the Lutheran cemeteries, but a future blog will also celebrate the Catholic cemeteries as well.

Continue reading “Celebrate Lutheran Cemeteries”

Tombstones by Mail Order


Yes, you could buy just about anything from  Sears, Roebuck & Co, the largest mail order business in the country and that included  a grave marker for your Uncle Louie.

We erect monuments to be seen, striving for some sense of immortality. We mark the grave in a desire to perpetuate the person buried there, publicly recording a life and death through the use of words and symbols.

They began with the 1902 “Sears, Roebuck & Co. Tombstones and Monuments catalog” where prices for a tombstone started at only $4.88.

a4 Continue reading “Tombstones by Mail Order”

Well done, Good and Faithful Servant

391a smallI have this good friend Father Barton,  who tells me that every day is a gift, a good and suitable time to take stock of life and ask ourselves how are we are doing with what we’ve been given. We were taught by example, from a special group of people who have gone before us and now rest in our cemeteries.

Take this moment to reflect on those,  the thousands of priests, rabbis,  pastors, teachers, police officers and firefighters buried in almost every one of the 273 Chicago area cemeteries. They devoted their entire lives to prepare us, teach us, guide us, lead us and keep us from harm. I am willing to bet that we all can fondly remember one or more of these dedicated people who were a positive influence in our lives. Continue reading “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant”

The Golden Era of Chicago Movie Theatres

bk5Two great families buried in the Jewish Waldheim Cemetery at Forest Park changed Chicago entertainment forever.

maxwellIsrael Balaban (1862-1931) a Jewish immigrant arrived in Chicago in 1882 from Odessa Russia along with his wife Augusta “Goldie” Manderbursky (1868-1936). They opened a grocery store and fish shop on Chicago’s famous Maxwell Street. They and their five sons and  daughter lived in the back of the store.


By 1910 the family had moved to the west side where two of their five sons,  Barney Balaban (1887-1971) the oldest son,  and A. J. Balaban (1889-1962) along  with partners Sam Katz (1892-1961) and Sam’s father Morris Katz (1869 -1939)  became the genius behind the Balaban and Katz chain of palatial “movie palaces “.  These wonderful theatres shaped how almost every one of us and our parents sought entertainment and viewed the Hollywood movies. Continue reading “The Golden Era of Chicago Movie Theatres”

Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery

jewish waldheimfixed

Of all the Chicago area cemeteries that I have researched in the last twenty-five years, Jewish Waldheim in Forest Park, a suburb west of Chicago,  has proven to be the most fascinating and complex. Whether or not you  are Jewish,   I promise that this will be a fascinating topic.

The people buried here, for the most part, represent the amazing and touching stories of Jewish emigrants who discovered the old Maxwell Street neighborhood as a gateway to a new world of freedom and unlimited opportunity. Chicago once had the third largest Jewish population of any city in the world. By 1930 there were 300,000 Jews representing 9% of the  population. They came primarily from Germany, Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe to seek a better life.

Jewish Waldheim  became one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world,  a patchwork of over 260 separate cemeteries within one large complex with different owners, rules, regulations, prices and appearance. There are now over 175,000 burials, possibly approaching 200,000. Continue reading “Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery”

New Years 1885 at 12:30 PM


It is a cold but sunny January day in 1885.

I take you to Wells and Kinzie streets on the north side of the Chicago River, We are at the massive Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad depot,  later known as the Chicago and Northwestern depot.  (It was since replaced by the Merchandise Mart and a new station built at Madison and Clinton). We board train Number Thirty-One, just one of fifty-five daily Northwestern trains.  What makes this train very different and special is that it is the daily Northwestern funeral train leaving Chicago every day at 12:30 PM sharp including Sundays bound for two cemeteries. This route dates back to 1857.

Continue reading “New Years 1885 at 12:30 PM”

Christmas in the Cemetery

 christmas1Chicago area cemeteries are a bit more quiet during the special Christmas season. This is in part because the holidays are centered on activities for the living. Families gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, shop for gifts and a tree, attend church services and family gatherings. Hanukkah too is also a special family time although  under Jewish custom it is not appropriate to mourn on days of celebration and happiness. The holidays are traditionally when all the family gets together, so when we  are sitting down for Christmas dinner, we understandably feel the empty space left by the missing person. The cemetery and that departed family member buried there are less visited than other times of the year.

Continue reading “Christmas in the Cemetery”