Showing posts with label Chicago cemeteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago cemeteries. Show all posts

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Tombstone Tourist Making a Difference in Chicago

Photo by Mike Gustafson
For Tombstone Tourists residing, or planning a visit to Chicago, there’s a new cemetery web site created by Barry Fleig that offers historical and contemporary graveyard resources for the Windy City. Plus a lot more!

 Fleig began the  Chicago and Cook County Cemeteries Cemetery Guide in August last year. His site has a listing of more than 800 Chicago area graveyards, plus numerous Native American burial grounds. The web site contains thumbnail sketches on 273 cemeteries, and more than 250 cemeteries have been cross-referenced for easier research. More than 300 Jewish cemeteries can be found in the Chicago containing more than 175,000 burials. According to Fleig, these small cemeteries make up a patchwork of burial grounds located mainly in Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, a suburb west of Chicago.

Tracks leading into Rosehill Cemetery
Besides burial site information, Fleig has also written numerous blog posts detailing some of Chicago’s lesser known cemetery wonders including facts about daily funeral trains that ran through Chicago in the 19th century, information on three cemeteries located at O’Hare Airport, a cemetery that has a elevator, and a cemetery that held a liquor license. The Windy City has its share of history, and forgotten cemeteries abound under some of its most famous buildings and tourist sites.

Barry Fleig
Fleig, a cemetery historian, focuses on finding cemeteries that have disappeared. He was instrumental in the rediscovery of the Cook County Cemetery, the site of more than 38,000 burials on property that once belonged to the Chicago State Hospital on the city’s northwest side. To date, nine acres have been preserved under the Human Grave Protection Act.

Whether you’re planning a cemetery outing in Chicago, or just want to learn more, visit Chicago and Cook County
~   Joy

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cemeteries Worth the Visit - Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, Chicago

Map of Cemeteries
Waldheim Jewish Cemetery

Waldheim Jewish Cemetery began in 1870 in Forest Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.  The cemetery is actually made up of over 250 different cemeteries representing various synagogues, associations, and landsmanshafts. 

Photo on Stone

Establishing a cemetery is one of the first priorities of a new Jewish community. The first burial in Waldheim was held in 1873.  Jewish faith dictates for burial to be held within the first 24 hours of death.  Funerals are prohibited on the Sabbath (Saturday) and Jewish holidays.  Tradition calls for a wooden casket without metal parts to allow the natural processes of nature.

Waldheim Cemetery
Photos on Stones
Waldheim Cemetery is the largest Jewish burying ground in Chicago, comprised of over 200 acres. Over 175,000 are interred in these densely designed, but beautiful grounds.  At one time, gates and fences divided each cemetery from its neighbor, and each of the 250 cemeteries had its own rules, regulations, and caretakers. 

A Walkway through the Cemetery
Stones Among the Trees
By the 1970’s, the few remaining founding organizations and caretakers were consolidated into the Waldheim Cemetery Company.  The various cemeteries were renovated and returned to a dignified traditional Jewish cemetery. Waldheim is one of the oldest and largest, still active Jewish cemeteries in the country.

Hebrew and English
Deer in the Cemetery
Today, over 100 gates still stand.  Narrow walks may divide the cemeteries, but few fences remain.  Tombstones usually have an inscription in Hebrew and English, or Hebrew and German. Wild life can be found near the forest preserve and the Des Plaines River.

Stones with Photos
Covered Photo
Hundreds of cemetery stones bear photos of a past age, immigrants new to the country, but very traditional in their dress and customs. Many photos are protected with a bronze hinged covering.  The cover may be lifted to view the photo. 

Detailed Tree Stone
Catalog Tree Stone
Tree stones abound in Waldheim.  Many are hand carved with exquisite details.  Some are catalog-ordered in granite or limestone.  All are beautiful and intriguing.

Glasser Mausoleum
Schwenk Mausoleum
There are also many mausoleums.  According to Jewish law, you must be buried in the earth. In order to comply when burial is in a mausoleum, the deceased may be buried in the ground and the mausoleum built above, or earth may be placed in the wooden coffin.  Many times, cemeteries require concrete vaults.  For this, earth is put in the liner and then the casket is placed on it.

Balaban-Katz Mausoleum
Stained Glass Window
This mausoleum is the largest private crypt in the cemetery.  Built with an Egyptian-influence, it is dedicated to the memory of Ida Balaban-Katz.  The stained glass mausoleum windows throughout the cemetery are gorgeous.

Peller's Grave
Clara Peller
A couple of well-known people are buried in Waldheim.  Clara Peller, who became famous for her line “Where’s the beef?” in commercials for Wendy’s fast-food restaurants is interred here.  Peller was 81 when she did the ads.  She died August 11, 1987, one week after her 85th birthday.

Mike Todd & Elizabeth Taylor
Todd's Grave
Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen, who took the name Michael Todd, was a theatre and film producer known for his motion picture, Around the World in Eighty Days.  He also co-developed a wide-screen film format called Todd-AO (with American Optical) that was used for Oklahoma, Around the World in Eighty Days, South Pacific and many other films shot during the 1960’s.  Todd was married to Elizabeth Taylor on February 2, 1957.  He died in a plane crash on March 22, 1958 and was buried here.

A Stained Glass Window
Waldheim Cemetery
Waldheim Jewish Cemetery is located at 1400 Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park.  The cemetery is open Monday through Friday, and Sunday from 8:30 A.M. to 4 P.M. The cemetery is closed on Saturday for Shabbat and also on all major Jewish holidays.  The phone number is (800) 222-4541.  Visit their web site at for directions and genealogical information.

Photo and Hebrew on Stone
Many Different Stones
If you are a cemetery buff, this is one you will not want to miss!  Plan at least half a day, if not more. Once you begin wandering among the stones, gazing at photos and carvings, you’ll forget the busy city outside the gates…lost in time and nature.

~ Joy