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.
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.
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.
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.
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.