Same Churchyard – Two Counties!

gate colorGrandpa and Grandma can be buried in the same exact cemetery plot and in the same cemetery and yet be in two different Illinois counties.


Impossible you say. Ask any ten people in the area where the St Mary’s Catholic Church (Buffalo Grove) cemetery is located and they will tell you “The church and cemetery is in Lake County of course, north of Lake-Cook Road on Buffalo Grove Road in Lake County” And they will boldly emphasize “Lake-Cook Road” as their proof positive.   Well,  they are only half right. The Cook County-Lake county boundary line actually (and rudely) cuts right through the cemetery, east to west. Half the cemetery is in Vernon Township-Lake County and the other half of the cemetery is in Wheeling Township-Cook County. How can this be you ask,  when the cemetery  is clearly NORTH of Lake-Cook Road,  named after the dividing line between the two counties.s7


The answer is the simple fact that roads do not determine township or county lines, despite their name or perception. In the case of Lake-Cook Road, it s nicely follows the county line for miles except right near the cemetery where it takes a curve southward into Cook County for a piece before going back to the county line,  The invisible but legal county line however, remains perfectly straight and cuts right through St. Mary’s Catholic cemetery without so much of an apology. And to be politically and geographically correct, the county line was there well before the cemetery.

In the case of St Mary’s back in 1852 when the church began, They didn’t pay no nevermind to invisible lines unless it affected the boundary or purchase of their farm. The farmers didn’t much care and neither did the cows. Roads followed irregular trails and often ignored survey protocol. Such is the case with Old Buffalo Grove Road which listens to no survey and meandered at its own angle and whim. So when the church was built it was aligned at right angles to the non conforming Buffalo Grove Road.  The four acre cemetery out back of the church followed suit and innocently strayed over that invisible but unmovable county line.

So there we have it. Grave plots in both counties and possibly even a grave or two partially in both counties.  The location today is (the west side of the road) 10 N Buffalo Grove Rd. Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

The Cook County portion of the cemetery is legally defined as the

NW 1/4  of the NW 1/4  of section 4 Township 42  Range: 11


Longitude: -87.9625641

Wheeling Township- Cook County.

The Lake County portion is in Vernon Township


A church fire on Feb 19 1855  destroyed the building, but the church was quickly rebuilt in 1856. The cemetery of 4 acres is one of the last parish cemeteries that remains self supporting. Burial records are at the church and over 2000 burials have been posted to Findagrave along with several pictures. .


If you are still interested in how all this works, read on. Otherwise happily go to my next blog. May Grandpa and Grandma continue to rest in peace.

Townships are determined by the Illinois State Geological Survey Public Land Survey System.   Survey township, sometimes called Congressional township, as used by the United States Public Land Survey System, refers to a square unit of land, that is nominally six (U.S. Survey) miles (~9.7 km) on a side. Each 36-square-mile (~93 km²) township is divided into 36 one-square-mile (~2.6 km²) sections, that can be further subdivided for sale, and each section covers exactly 640 acres (2.6 km²).

The townships are referenced by a numbering system that locates the township in relation to a principal meridian (north-south) and a base line (east-west). For example, Township 2 North, Range 4 East is the 4th township east of the principal meridian and the 2nd township north of the base line. Township (exterior) lines were originally surveyed and platted by the US General Land Office using contracted private survey crews. Later survey crews subdivided the townships into sections (interior) lines. Virtually all lands covered by this system were sold according to these boundaries.

More stuff!

About three miles south of Centralia Illinois is stone marking Cardinal Point established by a Federal surveyor on February 1, 1815 based on the Land Ordinance of 1785.    The ordinance stated that “The surveyors as they are respectively qualified, shall proceed to divide the said territory into townships of six miles square, by lines running due north and south, and others crossing these at right angles, as near as may be.” Most all land in Illinois is measured from and identified from this point, including the Lake and Cook County line.







And there you have the story of one cemetery in two counties








And there you have the story of one cemetery in two counties

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