Northside Cemetery – Chicago 1835

(Also known as: Chicago Avenue Cemetery)

“nothing but sand and sand”

Chicago Ave to five blocks north, Rush St, and Sand (Now St Clair)

    Chicago, Cook County, Illinois 60611

    North Township      Section: 3 Township 39  Range: 14

Original Acres:    10 acres   Open: 1835 –circa 1843

                 North Side Cemetery, was reportedly located at Chicago Avenue (800 north), east of Clark. It extending five blocks north between Rush Street, and Sand Street (Now Saint Clair – about 190 east).

The Chicago Tribune of August 8, 1897 described the location as   “… at the foot of Chicago Avenue, where the waterworks now stand.

Ten acres of land were purchased by the city for use as a cemetery. The north half was planned for Protestants and the south half for Catholics. In 1835,  John Kinzie was removed from the Fort Cemetery and buried here. Soon thereafter, the cemetery was earmarked for only Protestant burials and a new cemetery was surveyed for the Catholics.

The cemetery received terrible reviews. It was described as nothing but sand and sand. For this reason the cemetery was not destined to last. The Chicago Tribune reported: “by 1843, bodies were removed to City Cemetery. A large number of bodies were never taken out, and to this day, human remains are only too frequently discovered where excavations are made at or near the waterworks.”

Another article in the Chicago Tribune dated October 7, 1900 states: “…Another oldtimer is J.C. Hambleton. “I remember as recently as 1880  when I built a cottage on Chestnut Street”, said Mr. Hambleton that the workmen struck coffins in their work of excavating for a foundation. Several coffins were unearthed, and finally it was found necessary to dig some twenty feet lower than had been anticipated owing to the number of coffins that had been encountered. 

Today the Water Tower, Pumping Station, and the John Hancock building stand on or near the site. Human remains are occasionally found during construction projects, many not well reported. A newspaper account for September 24, 1970 does tell of a construction crew working at 115 East Pearson who discovered a thigh bone and two skulls. In 1991, additional remains were discovered in the area.

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