Rosehill Cemetery began in 1859, taking its
name from a nearby tavern keeper named Roe, and the place becoming "Roes Hill".
In time, the name was slightly altered and became "Rosehill". The cemetery is
the oldest and the largest and in Chicago and serves as the final resting place of more
than 1500 notable Chicagoans, including a number of Civil War generals, mayors, former
millionaires, local celebrities and early founders of the city..... there are also a
number of deceased Chicagoans who are not some peacefully at rest and they serve to
provide the cemetery with its legends of ghosts and strange happenings.
Perhaps the most famous ghostly site is the mausoleum that belongs to Charles Hopkinson, a real estate tycoon from the middle 1800's. In his will, he left plans for his mausoleum to serve as a shrine to the memory of he and his family. When he died in 1885, a miniature cathedral was designed to serve as the tomb. Construction was started and then halted when the property owners behind the Hopkinson site took the family to court. The claimed that the cathedral tomb would block the view of their site. The case proceeded all of the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled that the other family had no say over what sort of monument the Hopkinson family built and they they should have expected that something could block the view of their site. Shortly after, construction on the site continued.
Despite the fact that the courts ruled in the favor of Hopkinson, it is said that on the anniversary of the real estate investor's death, a horrible moaning sound can be heard coming from the tomb, followed by what appears to be sound of rattling chains.
Ghost lore is fill of tales of the deceased returning from the grave to protest the way they were laid to rest.... and Rosehill Cemetery is no exception to this sort of legend. In October of 1995, one of the grounds keepers at the cemetery reported that he had seen a woman on the grounds of the cemetery. She had been standing next to a tree near the wall that shielded the cemetery from Peterson Avenue. The man said that he got out of his truck and approached the woman. The cemetery was closed at the time and he was going to tell her that she had to leave. When he got close to her, he realized that the woman, who was dressed in some sort of flowing garment, seemed to be floating off of the ground. Then, she became a mist and slowly disappeared. The grounds keeper rushed to the cemetery office to report the incident.
Strangely, the next day, a woman from Des Plaines called the cemetery office and requested that a marker be placed on the grave of her aunt. The grave had previously been an unmarked one but the aunt had appeared to her in a dream the night before and told her that she wanted her grave marked, so that she could be remembered. The grave was located in an old family plot and staff members went out to the site to verify the location and to see what type of marker was needed.
They were amazed to find that the site was the exact spot where the apparition had been seen the night before!
The stone was ordered and the apparition was never seen again.
The Rosehill Cemetery Mausoleum was proposed in 1912 and the cemetery appealed to the elite businessmen of the city for the funds to begin construction. These men were impressed with the idea and enjoyed the thought of entire family rooms in the mausoleum that could be dedicated to their families alone and could be decorated to their style and taste.
One of the subscribers was John G. Shedd, the president of Marshall Field from 1909 to 1926 and the man who donated the wonderful Shedd Aquarium to Chicago. Shedd's family room is one of the most beautiful portions of the building. The chapel outside the room features chairs that are carved in images depicting shells and sea horses and the window inside bathes the room with a blue haze that makes the place appear to be under water. For this window, Shedd commissioned the artisan Louis Comfort Tiffany and made him sign a contract that said he would never create another window like it.
There have been no ghost stories associated with John Shedd, but there are others entombed in the structure who may not have found the peace that Shedd found. Two of them men also laid to rest in the building are Aaron Montgomery Ward and his bitter business rival, Richard Warren Sears. One has to wonder if wither of these men could rest in peace with the other man in the same structure.... but it is the ghost of Sears who has been seen walking through the mausoleum at night.
The business pioneer has been spotted, wearing a top hat and tails, leaving the Sears family room and walking the hallways from his tomb to that of Ward's.
Perhaps the rivalry that plagued his life continues on after death.....
The last ghostly tale associated with Rosehill is perhaps my favorite..... possibly because of the tragic and romantic aspects of the story. This tale involves a monument which was moved from the Old City Cemetery to Rosehill. It is the grave monument of Frances Pearce. It is sort of lost amongst all of the other monuments at Rosehill, but if you can find it, it is well worth the search. The monument depicts the life-sized images of Frances and her infant daughter, reclining on top of the stone. The figures are encased in one of the glass boxes that are often seen in Chicago, which are designed to protect the easily damaged marble from the elements.
Frances was married to a man named Horatio Stone in the middle 1800's. They were apparently very much in love and lived a happy life together until suddenly, France died at the age of only 20 in 1854. Four months later, her infant daughter followed her to the grave. Horatio was nearly destroyed by these events and he commissioned a memorial statue of Frances and their daughter to be placed at their mutual grave site in Lincoln Park. Later, the graves and the monument were moved to Rosehill.
According to legend, on the anniversary of their deaths, a white haze fills the glass box that has been placed over the monument as the mother and daughter reach out from the other side to the husband and father who was left behind.
Rosehill Cemetery occupies a 350 acre section of downtown Chicago and is located at 5800 North Ravenswood Avenue.
COPYRIGHT 2000 BY TROY TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.