Catholic Cemetery – Chicago 1842


   (Also known as: First Calvary, Old Catholic, North Ave Burying Ground)

An  Irish Catholic cemetery bounded by North, Schiller, Wolcott (now State), and Lake Michigan (Then approx. Astor Street )

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois     North Township

Section:   3 Township 39  Range: 14

Originally 10 acres, later about 30 acres   Open: 1842  – circa 1900


In 1842, Father de Saint Palais purchased 10 acres of an area bounded by North Avenue (1600 north), Schiller Street (1400 north), Wolcott (now State  St), and Lake Michigan   (The Lake Michigan shoreline of 1842 was farther inland than it’s present location, back then approximately Astor Street)

A plat map by Asa Bradley drawn in 1845 includes names of some lot owners, one of the earliest records of Chicago’s Catholic community. A photocopy of this map can be found in the Chicago History Musueum library. Calvary is also shown on the 1858 Gemmell map as being east of State and North of Schiller. It also appears on several other city maps.ChicagoCemetery

By 1847, all Catholics were moved from the Northside and Southside cemeteries to this new location. A gravesite in 1866 sold for five dollars plus an additional two dollars to open the grave.

As this burying ground filled, and public sentiment against burials within the city limits increased, the cemetery began a process of closure.  Most bodies were moved to the new Calvary Cemetery in Evanston beginning in 1859. After a transition period this site finally closed about 1900, but not surprising, human remains have been often found during construction and renovation in the area. . A Chicago Tribune, artivle of Dec 31 1970 reports workers discovering three skulls while digging for a water main in the 1400 block of North State.

The bishop’s residence, now is on part of this land, but was not built until 1885.residence3

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