I have again turned to my good friend, the somewhat elderly, long retired, but wise priest, Father Barton. He and Minnesota’s Father Wilmer guide me on all things of spirit and goodness. Father Barton tells me that an abiding faith is the foundation of church cemeteries. Although we commit the body to the earth, death is not the final word, believing the soul is in the immediate presence of God. Today we look at the more than 40 cemeteries in the Chicago area where just the physical bodies of generations of Lutherans rest.
It is surprising that there are over 90 Catholic and Lutheran cemeteries in the Chicago area, more than any other type or group of cemeteries. Again surprisingly, the number of those cemeteries are split somewhat evenly between Catholic and Lutheran.
In this blog we will concentrate on just the Lutheran cemeteries, but a future blog will also celebrate the Catholic cemeteries as well.
Continue reading “Celebrate Lutheran Cemeteries”
Yes, you could buy just about anything from Sears, Roebuck & Co, the largest mail order business in the country and that included a grave marker for your Uncle Louie.
We erect monuments to be seen, striving for some sense of immortality. We mark the grave in a desire to perpetuate the person buried there, publicly recording a life and death through the use of words and symbols.
They began with the 1902 “Sears, Roebuck & Co. Tombstones and Monuments catalog” where prices for a tombstone started at only $4.88.
Continue reading “Tombstones by Mail Order”
I have this good friend Father Barton, who tells me that every day is a gift, a good and suitable time to take stock of life and ask ourselves how are we are doing with what we’ve been given. We were taught by example, from a special group of people who have gone before us and now rest in our cemeteries.
Take this moment to reflect on those, the thousands of priests, rabbis, pastors, teachers, police officers and firefighters buried in almost every one of the 273 Chicago area cemeteries. They devoted their entire lives to prepare us, teach us, guide us, lead us and keep us from harm. I am willing to bet that we all can fondly remember one or more of these dedicated people who were a positive influence in our lives. Continue reading “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant”
Two great families buried in the Jewish Waldheim Cemetery at Forest Park changed Chicago entertainment forever.
Israel Balaban (1862-1931) a Jewish immigrant arrived in Chicago in 1882 from Odessa Russia along with his wife Augusta “Goldie” Manderbursky (1868-1936). They opened a grocery store and fish shop on Chicago’s famous Maxwell Street. They and their five sons and daughter lived in the back of the store.
By 1910 the family had moved to the west side where two of their five sons, Barney Balaban (1887-1971) the oldest son, and A. J. Balaban (1889-1962) along with partners Sam Katz (1892-1961) and Sam’s father Morris Katz (1869 -1939) became the genius behind the Balaban and Katz chain of palatial “movie palaces “. These wonderful theatres shaped how almost every one of us and our parents sought entertainment and viewed the Hollywood movies. Continue reading “The Golden Era of Chicago Movie Theatres”
Of all the Chicago area cemeteries that I have researched in the last twenty-five years, Jewish Waldheim in Forest Park, a suburb west of Chicago, has proven to be the most fascinating and complex. Whether or not you are Jewish, I promise that this will be a fascinating topic.
The people buried here, for the most part, represent the amazing and touching stories of Jewish emigrants who discovered the old Maxwell Street neighborhood as a gateway to a new world of freedom and unlimited opportunity. Chicago once had the third largest Jewish population of any city in the world. By 1930 there were 300,000 Jews representing 9% of the population. They came primarily from Germany, Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe to seek a better life.
Jewish Waldheim became one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, a patchwork of over 260 separate cemeteries within one large complex with different owners, rules, regulations, prices and appearance. There are now over 175,000 burials, possibly approaching 200,000. Continue reading “Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery”
It is a cold but sunny January day in 1885.
I take you to Wells and Kinzie streets on the north side of the Chicago River, We are at the massive Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad depot, later known as the Chicago and Northwestern depot. (It was since replaced by the Merchandise Mart and a new station built at Madison and Clinton). We board train Number Thirty-One, just one of fifty-five daily Northwestern trains. What makes this train very different and special is that it is the daily Northwestern funeral train leaving Chicago every day at 12:30 PM sharp including Sundays bound for two cemeteries. This route dates back to 1857.
Continue reading “New Years 1885 at 12:30 PM”
Chicago area cemeteries are a bit more quiet during the special Christmas season. This is in part because the holidays are centered on activities for the living. Families gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, shop for gifts and a tree, attend church services and family gatherings. Hanukkah too is also a special family time although under Jewish custom it is not appropriate to mourn on days of celebration and happiness. The holidays are traditionally when all the family gets together, so when we are sitting down for Christmas dinner, we understandably feel the empty space left by the missing person. The cemetery and that departed family member buried there are less visited than other times of the year.
Continue reading “Christmas in the Cemetery”