Tombstone Tuesday: St. Johannes Cemetery, Chicago
Today’s update is a particularly sad one. The destruction of St. Johannes Cemetery has been ordered, though the owners fought valiantly for years to save it.
Monday, a DuPage County Judge ordered that title of the land be transferred to the City of Chicago so that O’Hare Airport – which is just beyond the fence at the rear of this photo – can have additional runways built. Within weeks, city workers will begin the obscene task of dismantling this cemetery. Bodies will be relocated to other cemeteries chosen by surviving family members.
With the entire corrupt Illinois political machine against them, St. John’s United Church of Christ faced a difficult struggle to save the cemetery. The state legislature even changed the law to favour the city (frightfully reminiscent of a bill of attainder). To base a ruling on laws passed after the trials began, specifically for the benefit of one of the parties and the detriment of the other, is not justice – it’s the sort of thing one expects in a third-world dictatorship.
Today’s featured stone is the H.F. Volberding monument at St. Johannes. The style is known as a “pedestal tomb”. Atop a concrete base (on which the Volberding name can still be clearly read), a tall block of marble stands. The front is inscribed with an intricate floral design surrounding the name and biographical details – in a fancy German script – of the persons buried here. The soft marble has weathered to such an extent that only the surname, in large lettering, is still readable; the other details have been lost.
What will happen to this monument, and the hundreds of others here, when the city completes its foul task? Will it be thrown onto a pile of rubble? If they attempt a proper removal and reconstruction at a new location, will this monument survive? Or will it crumble under the rough hands of city thugs who care nothing for the history they destroy?