Cook County Cemetery at Dunning, Chicago, Illinois.
The most unique story of all Chicago area cemeteries. With over 38,000 burials spanning some seventy years, It began as a cemetery for the Cook County institutions at Dunning. These consisted of the County Poor house and farm opened 1854, the Insane Asylum opened 1869, the infirmary opened 1882, and the Consumptive hospital (TB), opened 1899 .
The cemetery rapidly grew in size and soon evolved as the official county Potters Field for the unclaimed and unwanted dead of Chicago and Cook County. The cemetery received bodies from the Cook County Hospital, the city morgue, many Chicago area hospitals, foundling homes, and many other city social institutions. It was the official cemetery serving the poor and indigent of the Cook County, Illinois from 1854 to well into the 1920’s.
And then it was forgotten. Hidden behind the fences surrounding the Dunning institution, the cemetery, without markers or stones was out of sight and out of mind until March of 1989 when builders attempted to recycle the land into houses and condos.
In May of 1989, Harold Henderson wrote “Grave Mistake” an excellent full length feature article about the beginning months of the struggle to rediscover, understand and fight for this huge forgotten burial place.
Here in Mr. Henderson’s words is the entire text of this well researched and now timeless article, published in the Chicago Reader on September 22 1989, just as the rediscovery of the cemetery was in it’s first early months. The story would go on for years after this article, and those souls who are buried there will never again be forgotten.
At the very end of this article I will post a series of pictures and maps that will help add some visual understanding to the article.
How did the old county cemetery get in the way of Ridgemoor Estates?
By Harold Henderson Continue reading “Grave Mistake-the Story of Cook County Cemetery at Dunning”