WBEZ | cemetery http://www.wbez.org/tags/cemetery Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The secret history of Lincoln Park’s cemetery http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/secret-history-lincoln-park%E2%80%99s-cemetery-103777 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F66801330&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s toniest green space, Lincoln Park, was once the final resting place for more than 35,000 Chicagoans. And it may still serve as the graveyard for as many as 12,000 people buried during the mid-1800s.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pamela%20Bannos%20map.jpg" style="float: left; height: 287px; width: 300px;" title="A map of the cemetery overlaid on top of Lincoln Park. (Courtesy of Pamela Bannos)" />The City Cemetery predates the city itself,&nbsp;according to Chicago artist Pamela Bannos, whose&nbsp;<a href="http://hiddentruths.northwestern.edu/home.html">Hidden Truth project</a>&nbsp;tries to uncover the real story behind that first cemetery, how it became Lincoln Park and why so many bodies were left behind in the process.</p><p>She&#39;s&nbsp;done extensive research that she&#39;s&nbsp;catalogued and made available on&nbsp;<a href="http://hiddentruths.northwestern.edu/home.html">her website</a>.</p><p>In 1842, when Chicago was a mere town of 7,000 people, the cemetery was carved from 100 acres of undeveloped land beyond North Avenue (then Chicago&rsquo;s northernmost point), and set aside.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just land at this point,&rdquo; Bannos said. &ldquo;Section Two [of the article of sale] says [that the land]: &lsquo;Shall forever remain a public burial ground and shall never be used for any other purpose.&rsquo; But if you think about what I&rsquo;m saying, it still is &ndash; it still is a burial ground if you believe that there are still bodies buried there.&rdquo;</p><p>Almost immediately there were problems with the cemetery: Burying bodies in loose, sandy soil so close to the lake meant that some corpses didn&rsquo;t stay buried for long. And getting permission to bury a loved one was an arduous, complicated process.</p><p>&ldquo;If you wanted a grave, you had to buy the lot, and it&rsquo;s a real estate transaction. You owned the deed to that ground,&rdquo; Bannos explained. &ldquo;So you had to go through the proper protocol to acquire that deed and it was kind of a baroque system. People circumvented the system and, like, went with their own shovel.&rdquo;</p><p>Dozens if not hundreds of people were buried there illegally every year in unmarked graves. When official grave diggers went to bury people with the proper documents, often times they&rsquo;d find a body already there.</p><p>And, shockingly (or not) corruption was rampant: The city had to pass a regulation stipulating that you could only buy plots from the city sexton. Bannos said that implied &ldquo;someone [else] was selling lots!&rdquo; All of this resulted in a wildly disorganized system in which thousands of bodies went unaccounted for or were buried in unmarked graves.</p><p>Many factors contributed to the demise of the land as a proper cemetery, according to Bannos, starting with those sanitary concerns, which led to an ordinance banning the burial of bodies close to water.&nbsp;Then Chicago&rsquo;s major private cemeteries &ndash; Rosehill, Graceland and Oakhill &ndash; came online in the early 1860s, providing a more attractive and better-run option for the city&rsquo;s elite.&nbsp;</p><p>Ultimately, the unused portion of land originally designated for the cemetery was rolled into what&rsquo;s now the park. (Bannos also tells a very complicated story that involves the city being sued by four orphans. That case led to the removal of 1,600 bodies from a 12-acre tract of land and hastened the cemetery&rsquo;s demise.) Damage caused to grave markers by the Great Chicago Fire sealed the deal. Wooden markers burned, marble ones crumbled and the cemetery grounds were trampled by people fleeing the Loop.</p><p>The city tried passing a regulation saying individual families, not the city, were responsible for moving the bodies of their loved ones.</p><p>&quot;The city didn&rsquo;t have the money,&quot; Bannos said. &quot;[The land] was owned by the Lincoln Park Commissioners at this point &ndash; it was not yet the Chicago Park District &ndash; they didn&rsquo;t have the funds.&rdquo;</p><p>That helps explain why so many graves, even the marked ones, didn&rsquo;t get moved: Families didn&rsquo;t have the money either, or they&#39;d already left town or had buried loved ones illegally in the first place.</p><p>Even now, Bannos estimates that as many as 12,000 bodies may still be buried underneath Lincoln Park. Many have been already been unearthed.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time they dig in the park, they find bones,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Every time I found an article saying where they found bones,&nbsp;<a href="http://hiddentruths.northwestern.edu/evidence/findings_map/unexpected_findings.htm">I put a dot on my map</a>. The next thing I knew, my map had polka dots all over it. They left bodies everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>In the audio above, Bannos shares her favorite of these discovery stories. It&#39;s set right at the foot of the Chicago History Museum, where she delivered a recent lecture. The story involves an archeologist, a parking lot and a very creepy iron coffin. (See the video she refers to in her audio <a href="http://hiddentruths.northwestern.edu/evidence/excavation.html">here</a>.)</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Pamela Bannos spoke at an event presented by the Chicago History Museum earlier this month. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/garden-dead-history-lincoln-park%E2%80%99s-elusive-graves-103620">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/secret-history-lincoln-park%E2%80%99s-cemetery-103777 Catholics call on state to take over cemetery http://www.wbez.org/culture/religion/catholics-call-state-take-over-cemetery-98265 <p><p>Some Catholic leaders in Chicago are calling on state officials to take over a suburban cemetery where police investigators discovered 11 unburied bodies.</p><p>The Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest issued a statement Sunday blasting Homewood Memorial Gardens Cemetery.</p><p>Bishop James Alan Wilkowski says the cemetery has shown great disregard.</p><p>The bodies were inside caskets found stacked in a storage room behind a chapel at the cemetery in Thornton.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff's Department officials say investigators were tipped off by a person who had tried visiting a loved one they were told had been buried only to discover the body was in storage.</p><p>The manager told investigators the bodies weren't buried because a backhoe driver was recently fired.</p><p>A message left at the cemetery Sunday wasn't immediately returned.</p></p> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 09:21:30 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/culture/religion/catholics-call-state-take-over-cemetery-98265 Proposed state law: three caskets to one grave http://www.wbez.org/story/cemetery/proposed-state-law-three-caskets-one-grave <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP11021718140.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois lawmaker is pushing a bill that would allow cemeteries to bury some people three to a grave. State Rep. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, is proposing a bill that would limit cemeteries to burying indigent or unidentified bodies to three caskets in one grave.<br /><br />&quot;We just thought that three was sort of reasonable,&quot;&nbsp;Cunningham said. &quot;That was probably expecting too much financially and space-wise to say just one.&quot;</p><p>Cunningham said burying one casket in one grave would be ideal, but it's expensive. The measure is currently in the Rules Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives.</p><p>Cunningham is the former chief of staff for Cook&nbsp;County Sheriff Tom Dart. Dart said he's disturbed by the conditions at Homewood Memorial Gardens, a cemetery in Chicago's south suburbs.</p><p>But Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin says he thinks Dart may have exaggerated about the conditions at Homewood Memorial Gardens to drum up support for legislation in Springfield.</p><p>&quot;The sheriff was maybe a little more dramatic than maybe he needed to be to gain support for this bill. We're all in favor of the bill,&quot;&nbsp;Suffredin said.</p><p>Dart said Thursday the workers the cemetery have buried bodies as much as eight caskets high, one on top of another. He also said that up to 26 babies were buried together in the same box earlier this month and there are some instances in which babies were buried in the same box as animal parts or with arms and legs of other humans.</p> <p>&quot;Money is not the issue here,&quot;&nbsp;Dart told reporters. &quot;What it is, is that we collectively treat these people as if they are refuse, and we can't do that.&quot;</p> <p>Dart said there are virtually no records of where specific bodies are buried at the cemetery.</p><p>&quot;It is not anything that our county or society should ever sit there and say is acceptable,&quot; Dart said.</p><p>He said Homewood Memorial Gardens is the only cemetery to have a contract with Cook County to bury indigent people.</p> <p>Dart said he doesn't think he can bring criminal charges against anyone with the cemetery, but the county board should re-examine its contract with the cemetery. His office estimates 8,000 bodies have been buried at the cemetery.</p><p>Meanwhile, Homewood Memorial Gardens President Tom Flynn said the cemetery has a system for tracking bodies. He said he favors the state legislation that would limit the number of indigent bodies buried in one grave space to three caskets. Flynn said the cemetery does stack caskets, sometimes six at a time, but that's what the county pays for.</p><p>&quot;We think that we're doing the best we can under the restrictions that we have,&quot;&nbsp;Flynn said.</p><p>Flynn said Homewood Memorial Gardens has been the only cemetery to bid for a contract with Cook County to bury indigent residents for the past several years. He said the cemetery has had the contract for 26 of the past 30 years.</p><p>Flynn said he has seen instances of multiple infants being buried in the same casket, but that was done before the caskets arrive at the cemetery. He said it would have to happen at the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.</p><p>In a written statement, Cook County's Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones said the cemetery is in violation of its contract. She said her office treats fetuses and stillborns with respect and does not put multiple bodies in the same coffin.</p><p>&quot;<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]-->It is our responsibility to make sure that these remains are interned,&quot;&nbsp;the statement said. &quot;They are handled respectfully and placed in an adult-sized burial shell, which is sealed and placed in the grounds of the cemetery. There are no other types of remains present in the burial shell. In every other situation, remains are interned in individual burial shells.&rdquo;</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Friday the sheriff's office and the medical examiner's office will be holding a meeting soon.<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></p><p>&quot;I think that remains to be determined whether there are errors on the part of the medical examiner or whether this is something that is simply under the purview of the cemetery itself,&quot;&nbsp;Preckwinkle said.</p> <p>Preckwinkle said she has been more focused on finalizing the county's budget more than the conditions at the cemetery. She said she found the accounts at the cemetery disturbing.</p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">Dart&rsquo;s investigation of Homewood Memorial Gardens comes less than two years after his office uncovered alleged mismanagement at Burr Oak Cemetery in south suburban Alsip. In 2009, Dart said his investigators found some corpses thrown in a pile at the back of the cemetery, while others were stacked into existing graves. He also said Burr Oak Cemetery employees were allegedly reselling grave sites to bury new caskets.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">Dart also said one worker embezzled money intended for a museum in honor of civil rights-era lynching victim Emmet Till.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">Four employees of Burr Oak Cemetery were charged with desecrating human bodies at the graveyard. They pleaded not guilty.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="">The company that manages Burr Oak Cemetery has been trying to sell the facility, but it&rsquo;s going through bankruptcy court proceedings.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style=""><em>Alex Keefe contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cemetery/proposed-state-law-three-caskets-one-grave