My expectations of “Graveyards of Chicago” were drastically changed when I read the introduction sections written by authors, Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski. I expected the book to contain a list of cemeteries and graveyards around the Chicago area that described the locations, the dead residents, and other mundane information. Since I had not read Hucke’s first edition of “Graveyards of Chicago” published in 1999, I was in for a big surprise.
The authors delve quite deeply into documenting factual information about each of the graveyards that Hucke visited from 1995 to the date of this second edition. A reader of “Graveyards of Chicago” might use the term “painstakingly visited,” but that would be too harsh a term for Hucke. He would call the over 1,100 cemeteries, graveyards, and mausoleums visits as visits filled with love and peace.
Broken down into sections of the city (city North, city South, city West), each graveyard lists historical facts as well as information about prominent Chicagoans who are buried in these graveyards. Pictures are included on nearly every page. Twenty-five pages are devoted entirely to Graceland Cemetery. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago Proper in the town of Lake View, its 119 acres are a historian’s delight. Walking through its 1860 original entrance past the tombs of William Kimball and Potter Palmer, the monument of George Pullman, and the grave of Daniel Burnham, the past is solidified with the present. Here sectarianism comes together as everyone is equal in death. Celebrating graveyards, cemeteries, and mausoleums is what the authors hoped to do in this edition.
At the end of the book a small section is devoted to burials outside of cemeteries, notably Charlie Grimm, beloved manager of the Cubs, whose portion of cremated remains were scattered at Wrigley Field while folks sang “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request.” Another section is devoted to burials in outlying sites, specifically in Oak Ridge Cemetery North of Springfield, the capital of Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln is buried beneath the floor of a six-foot-long granite sarcophagus.
“Graveyards of Chicago” by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski would make a wonderful guide while visiting the places that permanently house the notable and not so notable dead citizens of the Chicago-land area. Because the authors meticulously researched the information for this edition, I would also recommend this book to lovers of Chicago’s history. Little known facts are hidden in the pages amongst the pictures that make reading it a delight. Enjoy.