Contributing Factors in Moving the Cemetery: Rosehill Cemetery

  • Rosehill's Opening
  • Frances M. Pearce and the City Cemetery
  • The Rural Cemetery

The opening of Rosehill Cemetery received Tribune press coverage that filled nearly the entire first page of that friday's paper. Spanning almost seven entire columns, left, the newspaper reported on the Dedication and included transcriptions of speeches and hymns and poems that were presented. The article also addressed the history of the grounds, and mentioned that the City Cemetery was no longer selling burial lots. Presented below, are transcribed excerpts from the extensive article:

Chicago Press Tribune, July 29, 1859

Yesterday was an occasion long to be remembered in the annals of our city, as happily inaugurating a new, noble, and long-needed enterprise. The question that has long been agitated and discussed seems answered, and finally. The voice of our city having united as the voice of one man in remonstrance against further interments within the fast springing residences that are filling our northern suburbs, and the evil, the positive danger of continuing to bury our dead thus among the homes of the living, the events of yesterday place on record how well the appeal has been met.

We believe a few years will constitute Rose Hill one of the most attractive and beautiful of Cemeteries, and see springing among its oak groves the monuments of taste and remembrance of the departed, who are year by year to bind that city to this by ties and associations continually gaining in power and strength.

Rose Hill is in the town of Chittenden, six miles and a half north of this city, on the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, the present station being directly opposite the Cemetery, the enclosure of which lies to the westward of the track. It is reached, also, by two good roads – one along the lake shore, the other the prairie road following up the North Branch to the west ward of the ridge.

The prairie on which our city stands lies smooth and level as a threshing floor for miles about us, and to the northward the first change of soil and surface is where, within the palings of Rose Hill, the rich black loam of level meadow or wet prairie, changes a gravel ridge, which in its greatest altitude is from seventeen to twenty feet above the adjacent prairie on the south and east. Thus it is especially fitted for the purpose to which it is now consecrated. This ridge is crowned by a fine grove of oaks. It extends northward and westward giving a total capacity of area of some four hundred acres or more should it ever be desired to extend the Cemetery to such limits.

The cessation of the sale of burial lots in the City Cemetery caused the pressure of demand for burial privileges to become very great. Every effort has accordingly been made to push forward the work. As large a force has been employed as could work with advantage, and it is but justice to say that the men employed by the company have faithfully endeavored to second the efforts of the Board to prepare for the consecration of the ground.

A large number of lots in the most desirable portions of the grounds have been staked out and are ready for sale. Some of the principal drives are nearly in order, though from the extreme drought which has prevailed for some time past, it has been impossible to make them or the pathways as firm as could be desired.

The late period at which we first broke ground absolutely forbids the possibility of removing and planting trees or shrubbery. The place as you now see it is in a state of nature, merely shorn of certain exuberances, but without ornamentation. During the autumn and spring following, judicious and tasteful planting of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs will greatly improve the already pleasant aspect of the enclosure, while every day will add to its beauties in the restoration of the sod to places which have been worn bare by the passage of teams, and unsightly from the obliteration of the streets of the former town plat. Time as well as taste, is necessary to remedy these deficiencies.

No more lots are to be sold in our City Cemetery. Gradually, too, the present attractions, monumental and otherwise of the present cemetery, will be removed to the new grounds at Rose Hill. The Company are now as has been stated, building their chapel; a reception tomb is nearly in readiness. The cemetery will be easy of access from this city, both by the railroad and also in carriages, the roadway for the latter being immediately to be put in the best order by macadamizing. The distance is a little over six miles and a half.

Businessman Horatio O. Stone was one of the first City Cemetery lot holders to move his deceased family members to the new Rosehill Cemetery. As this newspaper item attests, the Frances M. Pearce memorial was an exceptional tribute in its own day.

Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1861

Nineteen year old Frances M. Pearce, and her ten month old baby Frances, died in 1854, within months of each other.

H.O. Stone commissioned this marble sculpture by Charles B. Ives, in his wife's and daughter's likenesses. The carving was completed in 1856, in Rome, Italy, and then shipped to Chicago, where it was place upon the inscribed monument.

When this C.B. Ives sculpture was catalogued with an on-site description for the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture database, the date of the sculpture was inaccurately transcribed as 1866. Since that wrong date was recorded, Web Sites and other publications have repeated that incorrect information as fact. (See the Smithsonian record of this sculpture, here.)

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Among the many e-mailed responses I have received from people who have visited this Web Site, the most thrilling has been from photography collector John Graf, who sent me this image of a rare 1860s photograph from his collection.
It is presented here with his kind permission.

This titlepage to the 1908 booklet, Rosehill The Beautiful, shows how it identified as a rural cemetery.

This 1907 Chicago Daily News photograph, reproduced courtesy of the Chicago History Museum, shows the entrance to Rosehill Cemetery, as accessed by train.


Pamela Bannos © 2015