Contributing Factors in Moving the Cemetery: Oak Woods Cemetery

Oak Woods Cemetery was established in 1853, but apparently, the first interments did not occur within these grounds until the 1860s. In addition to Oakwoods' role as the recipient of the remains of the Confederate prisoners who were removed from the City Cemetery potter's field, this rural cemetery also received family lots from the City Cemetery. See images of the Oak Woods' Confederate Mound memorial, here.

Courtesy of the Illinois Regional Archives Depository.

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In 1866, during the Milliman Tract removals, Oak Woods Cemetery provided 76,000 square feet of land for the reinterment of remains from City Cemetery plots of which the owners could not be located. The photograph, above, taken in March, 2008, shows the land within Oak Woods Cemetery, where the Milliman Tract bodies were reinterred.
(My sincere thanks to Albert Walavich, of Graceland Cemetery, for helping me find this location.)

The transcribed document on the left:
To the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Chicago, in Common Council assembled.
Your Committee on the “Milliman Tract” beg leave to report progress.

By the energetic efforts of Joseph Ernst, the Superintendent, appointed by your Committee there have been found parties owning all but one hundred and eighty-two lots, containing twenty six thousand and fifty two sq. feet, exclusive of walks. We advise the purchase of a tract of land in Oak Woods Cemetery containing about 76,000 sq.ft. for the exchange of lots, the owners of which cannot be found, and for future use, and ask for passage of the annexed Ordinance authorizing us to make the purchase.

The location selected by the Committee, is one of the best in this Cemetery, and would, in our opinion, be entirely satisfactory to every reasonable lot owner. It will be observed that the ground selected is somewhat larger than our present demand, but we think that the City will need it all, and that, now is a favorable opportunity to make the purchase. We would call the attention of all lot owners in the “Milliman Tract” to the importance to themselves, and the City, of making an exchange of lots, immediately, thereby securing the most eligible locations, in the several Cemeteries. It is for the interest of all parties, that all removals of bodies should be made during the next month.

Respectfully submitted,
W. Woodard, Charles G. Wicker, Iver Lawson, Walter Kimball
Chicago, Sept 24th / 66

These are two orders to remove bodies from the City Cemetery to Oakwoods.

E.S. Taylor, the Lincoln Park Commissioners secretary, had, by this time, replaced Joseph Ernst, the superintendent of the City Cemetery, in submitting orders of disinterments.

These documents, which are from 1876, show that the south end of Lincoln Park still contained headstones and at least another vault besides the Couch Tomb. The Couch structure was allowed to remain in the park when the grounds were completely cleared, the following year.
Pamela Bannos © 2021