|In Chicago, even city sexton (cemetery manager) got in on the act of digging up bodies to sell, and people were always getting caught with wagons, barrels, and sacks full of corpses. This seems to have happened in most of the local cemeteries, but for this podcast, we’ll be talking about the big City Cemetery that was the city’s main burial ground from the 1840s until the late 1860s. All but a handful of grave markers were removed over a century ago when the space was converted to Lincoln Park – but it’s well known that plenty of the bodies were never moved. You know that little parking lot near the south end of the park that you use during Green City Market (when it isn’t full)? When they dug out for the lot in the 1990s, they found dozens of bodies.
Next week (starting April 4th) is Grave Robbing Week here at Chicago Unbelievable – we’ll be telling tales of grave robbing from Chicago history all week long! We advise you not to check the blog too close to meal time for
For more about City Cemetery, see Pamela Bannos’ Hidden Truths Website.
Above: the Couch tomb in Lincoln Park – the oldest surviving
structure in the “fire zone.” But who’s inside?
a part of the
The old City Cemetery (now Lincoln Park) is a regular stop on our tours, and there will be a big section on it in the book.
Pamela Bannos at Northwestern has put together a terrific webpage that compiles historical documents, contemporary articles, and other neat stuff about – including some really groundbreaking research!
Check it out at http://hiddentruths.northwestern.edu/.
One thing we don’t mind doing here at Chicago Unbelievable is admitting we were wrong. For some time, when we passed the Couch Tomb, we’d tell people that Couch himself apparently wasn’t in it – a story that’s gone around quite a bit. We’re not sure where that story came from; our research for the book indicated (as does Bannos) that Couch is certainly in there – the mystery is who’s in there WITH him! The last time they tried to bury someone in there was when James Couch, Ira’s brother died. The door was rusted shut by then, and they decided to bury him in Rose Hill rather than trying to blast their way in with dynamite.
Thanks to Bea for the tip!