Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Skokie cemetery where Baby Face Nelson's body was dumped

Last week the Johnny Depp film Public Enemies was released, I saw it at a theater in Skokie, Illinois on Saturday.

Which is quite ironic, because unlike the movie version of the death of gangster George "Baby Face" Nelson, the real story is that the man born as Lester Gillis was wounded in what has become known as The Battle of Barrington several months after John Dillinger was gunned down after seeing Manhattan Melodrama at Chicago's Biograph Theater. Nelson later died of his wounds in a Winnetka, Illinois safehouse, and his body was dumped on the north end of St. Paul's Lutheran Church Cemetery in Niles Center, Illinois, which is pictured above.

Niles Center later changed its name to Skokie.

Most internet sources place Nelson's corpse in a ditch adjacent to St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery, which is in downtown Skokie.

But the better sources, including this one, this one, and this one convinces me that Nelson's body was dumped at St. Paul's on Harms Road, which is about three blocks from where I live.

It's a tiny cemetery, really a country cemetery that was swallowed by suburbia. Most of the gravestones have German names, some of the inscriptions are in German.

Related post:

St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery


Unknown said...

I grew up in Skokie in a house on Harms road. As kids we were told the exact spot where Nelson's body was dumped...right down the road from our house. It definitely wasn't by St. Peter's Cemetery. Any Skokie kid knows that... :)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes information is passed down incorrectly and its held onto as fact.

Tim said...

I'm a "Skokie kid" myself, and grew up in St. Paul church and school - and had been told the same thing. What I don't know (and am curious to learn) is the exact spot he was dumped. Was it in the cemetery proper, or just on the side of Harms Road? And, where?