To most of us, Chicago seems quite flat and for good reason. Most of the city was once a giant lake bottom, a product of glaciation.. Glacial Lake Chicago was at its maximum about 12,500 years ago when it covered what is now the entire city of Chicago.
As a result, early cemeteries in low lakefront sand fared poorly.. Back in the 1800’s we buried our relatives where they lived, along the then lakefront and Chicago River, with mixed results.
The Tribune of 1897 state “..that all along both sides and partly under its present bed, from Market Street to Dearborn or State, bodies of early Chicagoans are thickly laid.” The Daily Democrat reported “Two coffins seen floating down the river (were) supposed to have been from some burying ground on the North Branch of the Wabansia Division.”
We soon realized newer cemeteries would do much better on higher ground. As an example, the many cemeteries along Clark street took advantage of the fact that Clark follows along an ancient geological feature named the “Graceland Spit”. Likewise, Rosehill Cemetery (AKA Roe’s Hill) sits on the “Rosehill Spit”.