Thanksgiving is our special time to give thanks for all we have and enjoy turkey dinner with friends and family. But today I connect that popular blue and yellow box of mac and cheese to the story of a Chicago area cemetery. Continue reading “Mac & Cheese and a Farm Cemetery”
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.
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.
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!”
I invite you to appreciate the awesome art of cemetery entrance gates. These are not just the simple wrought iron gates, but ornate massive structures with towers, belfrys, rooms and more.
They are much more than keeping people out of the cemetery after closing. During daylight hours they welcome the visitor and establish the character of the cemetery grounds. They create a sense of arrival for the funeral procession, a proper sendoff for the deceased if you will.
I think they speak to us. A massive cemetery gate seems to be a metaphor, a powerful symbol illustrating our journey from our earthly life into the hereafter, and even into the presence of God. Theology aside, the architects certainly had a broad canvas to create a strong and powerful focal point at the entrance to the cemetery. The imposing beauty welcomed the mourner or visitor alike. Many are no longer with us so let’s look at these amazing works of art.
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”.
On the main road at section “O” of German Waldheim /Forest Home Cemetery sits a huge but unoccupied mausoleum. It was even wired for electricity, supposedly for interior lighting and even future outdoor lighting. Go figure!
The Chicago Tribune of August 8, 1897 describes “Indian Braves under the pavements of LaSalle Street and neighboring thoroughfares.”
So, we were not the first here in Chicago to live and die. The Potawatomi’s were here long before us, living in villages along Lake Michigan, and Chicago’s rivers. They buried their dead close to or adjacent to their villages, along the branches of the Chicago River and along the Des Plaines River banks. The Potawatomi were forced out of the area under the 1833 treaty. Therefore, we might assume that most all Native American burials in the Chicago area occurred before 1833. There is not a complete record of these burials, but I will share here what I have found in records. We start in the downtown area.