graveyards.com, originally called Graveyards of Chicago, launched in August, 1996.
The site is maintained by Matt Hucke, a UNIX programmer and sysadmin living in the Logan Square neighbourhood on the north side of Chicago.
I originally came from Millstadt, Illinois, a small town near St. Louis, which had three small graveyards (that I knew of). On the north side of town was Mount Evergreen, a 20th-century cemetery, mostly with newer monuments. I found the old "village cemetery" on the south side to be much more interesting - old stones going back to the 1830s, an ivy-covered fence, one angel, and plenty of inscriptions in German. And several miles north there was St. James Catholic Cemetery, situated on a hillside overlooking the highway to St. Louis. I came here occasionally for funerals, but never did find the time to explore it and enjoy the somber atmosphere.
I didn't think much about cemeteries at all over the next few years. When I moved to Chicago in 1993, I bought several books about the city. One, Sweet Home Chicago, listed "The other top ten sights", among which was Graceland Cemetery. I went there based on that recommendation, and loved it immediately. It reminded me of Calvary in St. Louis, where my grandparents are buried - a place I had always wanted to explore, but never had the opportunity.
It wasn't until early '96 that I became more deeply interested in graveyards. I had become interested in ghosts, and I was determined to investigate Bachelor's Grove, one of the most haunted places in Chicago. I took a borrowed camera with me, so that I wouldn't be caught unpreprared on the off chance that a ghost would materialize. Nothing happened.
I happened to pass Rosehill a few weeks later and decided that would be a pleasant place to walk around a few hours. I was amazed to find that it was every bit as wonderful as Graceland - filled with statuary, mausoleums, huge obelisks. This experience prompted me to return to Graceland, with a camera this time. Next came Calvary (not far from my house), Waldheim (near the office), and a trip to the southwest for Resurrection. By this time I was making this a weekly event.
Graveyards of Chicago opened on August 20, 1996, with Graceland, Rosehill, Calvary, Forest Home/Waldheim, and Oak Ridge. Resurrection was added only a few days later, due to popular interest in the "Resurrection Mary" story.
In August 1997 the book Chicago Haunts by Ursula Bielski was published, featuring several of my pictures - including the cover photo of Inez Clarke.
Shortly thereafter, publisher Sharon Woodhouse invited me to write and supply photographs for a Graveyards of Chicago book. Ursula Bielski supplied the text, I supplied a few hundred photos, and Graveyards of Illinois was published in 1999.