Haunted or not, Graveyards of Chicago Well Worth Exploring

51gBdKAfR9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ A few years ago, I discovered the joys of wandering through a historically significant cemetery. On a tour led by a very good guide, Albert Walavich, I visited the Bohemian National Cemetery for the first time, even  though it is located three blocks down the street from the house where I grew up. This is a spot I’ve passed about a billion times, but as I wrote in these blogposts, I learned the Bohemian National Cemetery was full of fascinating history and stunning monuments.

Time always being in short supply in the blogging business, I haven’t made it to another cemetery tour, though Rosehill, Graceland and Montrose are high on my bucket list. But thanks to a comprehensive guidebook, Graveyards of Chicago, by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski, I’m becoming familiar with far more cemeteries than I imagined existed in the Chicago area and, believe me, this book is the next best thing to taking a cemetery tour.

It’s not something we Chicagoans frequently boast about, but a lot of notable people have been buried here. These well-written accounts of the final resting places of Chicago’s rich and famous as well as of its ordinary masses provide a surprising amount of historical fact and local legend. Whatever your interest in Chicago history, there’s someone here you should know: gangsters, geniuses, and victims of gruesome crimes; sports heroes and music legends; artists, architects and aviators.

St Johannes Cemetery

St. John’s / St. Johannes Cemetery. © Matt Hucke.

Both city and surburban cemeteries are included and the entries are grouped geographically. Each cemetery receives its own entry, complete with photographs and QR codes you scan with a smart phone for access to additional photographs and text that live on Hucke’s website, Graveyards.com. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can visit the website and look up the cemeteries by name and you’ll be directed to the appropriate pages. I found some links via the QR codes weren’t functioning properly; however, the publisher informed me the author is in the process of correcting links.

The columbarium at Bohemian National Cemetery. © Matt Hucke.

The columbarium at Bohemian National Cemetery. © Matt Hucke.

If you’re interested in haunted places, the authors share eerie tales of ghostly sightings at several–a number larger than I expected–graveyards. And for those in the know about supernatural matters, you’ll be interested in reading about Crestwood’s Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in particular.

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, known as one of the most haunted spots in Chicago. © Matt Hucke.

Since my tour of Bohemian National Cemetery, I’ve learned it is not so unusual to find cemeteries–at least the ones without ghosts–a pleasant place to visit. In Matt Hucke’s notes on Bachelor’s Grove posted on his website, he refers to someone who recalled “Families would picnic here, and fish or swim in the pond.” I wouldn’t go so far as to pack the cooler or join a society of ghosthunters, but I will check out more historic Chicago cemeteries, with this book in hand.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a review copy of this book in digital format. I would definitely buy it, though, as should anyone who enjoys reading Chicago history.

Available for purchase direct from publisher Lake Claremont Press or on Amazon.

ISBN: 978-1-893121-21-8
Publication Date: October 2013
Specifications: 5.5″x8.5″, 400+ pages, softcover
Extras: Revised, updated, and new text throughout; all new photography; 280 photos; QR codes for most cemeteries to additional photos and bonus material.

14 Responses to Haunted or not, Graveyards of Chicago Well Worth Exploring

  1. Dennis Briskin October 25, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    The late Shel Silverstein is buried next to his parents in Westlawn (Jewish) Cemetery out Montrose Avenue.

  2. Frances Archer October 25, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Hi, Dennis. Also buried at Westlawn are Gene Siskel, the Chicago film critic, Jack Ruby, Abe Saperstein (Harlem Globetrotters) and Albert “Wallpaper” Wolff aka Last of the Untouchables.

  3. Ralph October 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    The picture above of St. John’s / St. Johannes Cemetery. © Matt Hucke , that cemetery does not exist anymore. Chicago O’Hare Airport relocated the graves there. The property now is at the end of a runway. The QR code for this one works.


    An note from Chicago department of Aviation.


  4. Frances Archer October 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Thanks, Ralph. The book does mention that this cemetery was removed to make way for a runway, but the author took some photos prior to the reinterments.

  5. Matt Hucke October 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Frances, thanks for the review!

    St. John’s was destroyed in 2011-2012. The church made arrangements with Eden, another Lutheran cemetery on the west side, to receive many of the reburials, along with the marker and wooden cross that once stood on the site of the church.

    Some family members instead chose Mount Emblem. There, those graves were recreated in the cemetery’s far corner, out of site of the main part of the cemetery, which consists mostly of flat markers.

    When I visited both sites in May, the Eden graves were installed, but still muddy with almost no grass growing yet, and at Mount Emblem the monuments were up on skids in the work area behind the office.

    When I visited Mount Emblem again in September (too late to mention in the book, alas, the text was finalized by then), Mount Emblem had finished reinstalling the monuments – and they did a fantastic job of it, the St. Johannes section at Mount Emblem is beautiful.

  6. Frances Archer October 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Hi, Matt. Nice to meet you here. I really am enjoying your book–great reading!

  7. Harriet Miller October 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Bachelors Grove was profiled on an episode of Ghost Hunters on the Travel channel. I too passed Bohemian so many times. Always wondered about the place. I will check out some of the books you mentioned. Thank you for always keeping us informed about all things Chicago.

  8. Frances Archer October 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Harriet, thanks for stopping by. The tours at Bohemian are offered every year and they vary them so you can go more than once. Very beautiful place. Who knew?

  9. Harriet Miller October 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    My daughter corrected me. Its Ghost Adventures. She would love to go on one of the tours at Bohemian. Will definitely look into it.

  10. Neida October 26, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Hi Frances,

    I have always wondered about the house that looks like two bungalows connected by a center piece that looks original to the design of the house at Bohemian. Have you been inside? What does it look like? Who lives there? The curiosity has always been there, as I too grew up in the area and passed it a million times.


  11. Frances Archer October 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Hi, Neida. I don’t know but I’ll take a look next time I’m over there. I’ll check with Matt Hucke, the author of Graveyards of Chicago to see if he knows. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Frances Archer October 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Harriet, I’ll let you know when I hear of the next one. Probably in spring and I’ll try to join you.

  13. Lynne Aronov Hydinger January 9, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I lived in Chicago, Albany Park, all of my life and never knew that Graceland Cemetery was behind that brick wall. One time on a visit to my family, my sister and her friend, and I drove there from Deerfield, where my sister lives, and I was amazed at the beauty of this hidden cemetery.

  14. Frances Archer January 9, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Lynne, isn’t fun discovering new things about the city where we lived so long?

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