Monday, September 08, 2014

(Photos) Palos Oak Hill Cemetery, founded 1839

Cook County is dotted with dozens of small cemeteries that date back to when the first Europeans settled the area. One of them is Palos Oak Hill Cemetery in Palos Park, not too far from where I grew up. According to signage outside the graveyard, the cemetery opened in 1839. As a time reference, Chicago, the seat of Cook County, was incorporated as a village in 1833.

I visited Palos Oak Hill on August 31, 2014.

The cemetery is located on 131st Street just east of Southwest Highway (Illinois Route 7).

Parts of Palos Oak Hill look pleasant.

Just as with human life, nature wins out in the end.

This gravestone stands alone. The nearest other marker is about twenty yards away. As with the tombstones in the above picture, the elements have mostly worn away the engravings.

This toppled grave is surrounded by scrubby trees, probably mulberries.

Several graves are beneath this fallen tree. The absence of bark tells me these markers have been covered for a while. Bodies are still interred here, which leads me to ask, who oversees or owns Palos Oak Hill? The Office of the Illinois Comptroller regulates cemeteries that are licensed by the state. If this graveyard is abandoned, the Comptroller's office offers some tips on what to do.

Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican, is the current state Comptroller.

Richard Hutchings (1826-1902) and his wife Elizabeth are buried here. Despite the tree trunk gravestone, I don't believe that his is a Woodmen of the World marker, as the fraternal organization's logo is missing.

Here's a grave with a great story. The tombstone reads, "The body of this unknown soldier was mistakenly shipped from Tennessee and buried here as the body of William Mahaffay, Co. F 100th Ill. V. William died February 9, 1863 and is buried in Mufreesboro, Tennessee. May these Civil War soldiers both rest in peace."

Mahaffay's mother suspected that the wrong body was shipped, but it was not until 1941 when the actual resting place of William was found.

Company F of the 100th Illinois Volunteers was comprised mostly of men from Palos, Lemont,and Orland townships in southwestern Cook County.

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