Thanksgiving, Turkey Dressing, & Cemeteries

This week, some 397 years after the first Thanksgiving, we begin the busiest time of year.

cemmTake time for yourself by going on a long walk on a sunny day through your favorite or nearby cemetery. Ponder the memories that you hold close,  because many our family members are no longer with us. They sadly will not be at our thanksgiving table as in the past. This is a story about both my family and yours, where we remember Thanksgiving, that very important family celebration.
xlinda 030with ham

Continue reading “Thanksgiving, Turkey Dressing, & Cemeteries”

Mystery: The Suitcase in the Cemetery

This is the true and amazing story of an old, non-descript suitcase,  forgotten for many years in a dusty storage area of a cemetery. It was almost discarded. Inside was a treasure trove of family pictures, genealogy and precious memories . Who did it belong to? How was it forgotten in a cemetery of all places? How old is it? Could someone figure out who’s it was? Would a family member be thrilled to have it once again?

There was a high school diploma, letters, papers,  priceless photographs, and clues of a life well lived. There was even a handmade needlepoint! Continue reading “Mystery: The Suitcase in the Cemetery”

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..

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”