Airplanes and Cemeteries don’t mix!

They just don’t play well together.  On two separate occasions both an airplane and a helicopter  crashed into Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park .  Another airplane went down into St. Casimir’s cemetery.

Over the years, there have been numerous airplane vs. cemetery crashes in other areas as well.

Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada
Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada

In 1927 in Lincoln Nebraska, two died in a cemetery crash.  In 1928, an airplane crashed into a cemetery between Burbank and North Hollywood California. Another in 1950 in Mt. Olive Il.  In 1955 a plane crashed into Forest Cemetery near Circleville Ohio. Two died in a cemetery near St. Louis in 1968. Eastlawn Cemetery near Bloomington Illinois had a plane crash into a graveyard in 1972. In 1999 a plane crashed into Mt. Ararat Cemetery in Farmingdale New York. 2006 Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada, Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte Montana, a jet plane in 2009. And many more.

schoppe Long before O’Hare Airport, the Orchard Place was the site of three cemeteries, which later were simply deemed “in the way” for airplanes. Only one still remains on airport property. The other two were removed in the name of progress.

With early aviation in Chicago, we had landing fields, airdromes,  flying fields,  aerodromes, Airmail stations, and aviation fields. The pilots were a daring bunch of daredevils with airplane races,  some even known to have been rum running between Detroit and Chicago. Many pilots, however, died in crashes, some into cemeteries. Continue reading “Airplanes and Cemeteries don’t mix!”

Famous: Then Died and Buried Alone!

Thomas Hamilton McCrayOn this day October 19, in 1891, among the poor and forgotten in Cook County Cemetery at Dunning, a famous American inventor, a businessman and most notably a Confederate States Army officer during the American Civil War was buried.

How did he end up in the cemetery among paupers?

Thomas McCray (1828 – Oct. 19, 1891 was born near Jonesborough, Tennessee, to Henry and Martha (Moore) McCray. He farmed in Tennessee and moved to Arkansas, where he operated a mill. Around 1856 he moved to Texas and operated a mill near Tellico. Just before the Civil War, he returned to Arkansas, settling in Wittsburg, Cross County.

In June 1861 he joined the 5th Arkansas Infantry Regiment. He was commissioned a lieutenant and adjutant of that unit. In late 1861 he was detached from his regiment and returned to Arkansas to raise troops. He was elected major, then colonel, of the newly raised 31st Arkansas Infantry. He led a brigade of Texas and Arkansas infantry in the 1862 Kentucky Campaign. As part of Churchill’s division, his brigade distinguishing itself at the August 30, 1862 Battle of Richmond, Kentucky. General Thomas J. Churchill singled out McCray for his “gallantry and coolness” in that action.

Continue reading “Famous: Then Died and Buried Alone!”

Halloween and cemetery images

I have good friend who calls me ‘Grimmy” or “Grim” for short, partly for my passion for all things cemetery and dead like.

 clark-dexterIn honor of the Halloween season Grim offers you a few creepy photos. The first is the famous statue in Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N Clark Street. It has been featured on many websites over the years, but seems very appropriate for this annual Halloween post. It is entitled “Eternal Silence”, well oxidized,  ten feet tall, somewhat creepy even eerie, somber, and standing on black granite.

 It was designed by American sculptor Lorado Taft in 1909 and was one of the artist’s most important works.  The statue was cast in bronze by American Art Bronze Foundry and the proprietor Jules Bercham. He is also credited with casting the two massive lions sitting in front of the Art Institute.

 Taft designed many, one of which was the “Fountain of Time” which has a figure called “Father Time”  similar in design to Eternal Silence. Both have a resemblance to the Grim Reaper.

 Dexter Graves was born about 1789 tor 1793, the oldest son of  Charles Graves and Lucy Brown of Conway Massachucetts. He was a seventh generation descendant of Thomas Graves who settled in Hartford, CT in 1645.  Dexter  was one of the earliest settlers in Chicago arriving July 15 1831 on the schooner Telegraph. He built a hotel downtown Chicago, “The Mansion House”. He died April 29 1844 and was first buried in City Cemetery, now Lincoln Park. He and other members of his family were later moved to Graceland.

rose1.jpg And now my final departing message this Halloween, I invite you to have a nightmare tonight,  thinking about Georges Rodenbach 1855-1898  climbing out of the grave and handing you a rose. The tombstone is in Cimetière du Père Lachaise , 8 boulevard de Ménilmontant  Paris, France. I credit and thank Tim Baldy for this picture.

rose2 Georges Rodenbach was a Belgian novelist and poet, born on 16 July 1855. He belonged to the artistic symbolist movement. Besides writing poetry, Georges worked as a lawyer and a journalist. He spent most of his life in Belgium and moved to Paris 10 years before his death in 1898. His most famous piece is the novel Bruges-la-Morte.

 The book was published in 1892 and it tells the story of a widower who could not get over the death of his wife and lives in the past. He rarely leaves the house and spends his time among his wife’s possessions: her clothes, shoes, letters, even a piece of her hair. Bruges-la-Morte was an inspiration to many poets and composers, as it was so tragic and romantic.

  

Happy Halloween and may you have a pleasant nightmare..

Win a $5000 Savings Bond!

To a kid, it was Chicago’s own“Field of dreams”.

 It was a miniature version of a big league ballpark just like Comiskey or Wrigley Field. It was complete with lights for night games, a public address system, grandstands seating over 2400 northside fans, concessions, an electric outfield scoreboard, an announcer’s booth and more.

It was Thillen’s Stadium at 6404 North Kedzie Avenue, the generous gift of Mel G. Thillens I1914-1993) and his company, the Thillens Armored Car Check Cashing Company.truck

facility-stadiumdevonkedzie It was a place where some 17,000 kids could play Little League baseball every year at no cost.

 

And the deal was, if you could hit the sign of armored truck on top of the outfield scoreboard, you would win the $5000 savings bond. Three talented little leaguers did just that, hitting a baseball 300 feet. The place made kids feel that they were big league players at Wrigley or Comiskey. Continue reading “Win a $5000 Savings Bond!”

Oct. 9-12, 1871: 117 Unclaimed and Unknown in the morgue

On a very somber note, there were as many as 300 deaths between October 7-10 as a result of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.city-cem-fire

In addition, on October 8, 1871 a massive forest fire began in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It was the deadliest wildfire in American history, with estimated deaths of around 1,500 people, possibly as many as 2,500.

Shortly after the Chicago Fire:

:“The dead bodies were gathered up as soon as possible by the coroner and given interment at the county burying-ground”

Reference: book -” Chicago and the great Conflagration”

I would like to focus on these 117 souls who died in Chicago and were determined at the time to be either unknown or unclaimed,  taken to a temporary morgue on Milwaukee Avenue.

Days later, the Cook County Coroner then brought them out to the County ground, later known as the old grounds section of Cook County Cemetery at Dunning for burial. On today’s map the old grounds of the cemetery where the Chicago Fire victims rest, is located just northwest of the intersection of Irving Park Road (4000 north) and Narragansett Avenue (6400 west).
septamtrak 079

The Read Zone Memorial Park marks only a portion of the “old grounds”. fire_victims_450vA bronze plaque remembers those 117 victims.  The “new grounds” of 5.7 acres, opened in 1890 and is located on and near Oak Park avenue, just west of Irving Park. See www.cookcountycemetery.com and a free searchable database of some 8,000 of the 38,000 buried there.

 

“The loss of life in the fire was estimated as not less than three hundred, and the bodies of the dead, as far as they could be found, were put in the county burial ground”

Reference: J. Seymour Currer Volume two, 1912

Continue reading “Oct. 9-12, 1871: 117 Unclaimed and Unknown in the morgue”

October 8, 1871: The Cow was Framed!

It was a dark tinder-dry Sunday night in Chicago,  having  seen no rain for many weeks. A brisk southwest wind was blowing.

olearys_cowThere was this cow in the barn at 137 DeKoven (later renumbered to 558 DeKoven). She was blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire.

 

 

 

Continue reading “October 8, 1871: The Cow was Framed!”

The Beast in the Basement

Anyone who is really old like me and/or lived in the Chicago area might well remember going to the Hub Roller Rink on Harlem Avenue in Norridge. What made roller skating so very special there was the genius of Leon Berry playing the mighty pipe organ way up above our heads. imagesTM4I2BM4But even more interesting was that he built a full sized pipe organ in the basement of his house. Read on!

Leon Clay Berry was born  July 2 1914 in Burnsville, Dallas, Alabama to Paul Burns Berry and Anna Ida Kramer. He began playing the organ in church back in Selma, Alabama. In the Chicago area , after military service, he worked at Hammond Organ for a time,  he played in barrooms, The Trianon Ballroom on Cottage Grove at 62nd, the Arcadia Roller Rink at Broadway and Montrose, and most famously the Hub at 4510 N. Harlem. After his time at the Hub, he played at the Orbit Roller Rink in Palatine for a time. 2501125812_fa53ab79d8_zHe cut several great LP albums including my favorite “Beast in the Basement.  But wait there is the “Beast”!    Read on

Continue reading “The Beast in the Basement”