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Sale of abandoned cemetery could raise the dead
By Larissa Chinwah | Daily Herald Staff

Old trees line the western edge of a cemetery on Route 72 in Dundee Township purchased by a developer. Some residents don't want the parcel developed because local founders are buried there.


Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/17/2008 12:05 AM

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The recent sale of a forgotten cemetery along Route 72 in Dundee Township has prompted some local historians to dig for answers in search of what lies beneath the earth near Dundee Middle School.

What is known from century-old land documents and deeds is that the one-acre parcel at the point where Galvin Road meets Route 72 was a burial site.

What is unclear, however, is whether anyone is still buried there.

There are no gates identifying a cemetery. Headstones and other grave markers have long been removed or buried under the soil. Oak trees and overgrown grass have replaced the open spaces.

Last month, Elgin historians Linda Eder and Jane Smith began compiling stacks of documents related to the property known as the Schroeder Cemetery after a Carpentersville attorney and developer purchased the lot.

"A man called in August and asked if I knew anything about the abandoned cemetery in Dundee Township because a developer was interested in developing it and wants to dig up the bodies," Eder said.

Eder and Smith have found that some of the original owners of the property are Dundee area pioneers whose names are familiar to the area to this day.

A land deed from 1845 lists brothers Marshall and Stanley Sherman, John and William Rankin, William Wanzer and Albro Gilbert as part owners of the burial ground.

Last month, James Kiss, president of Cardunal Investment Group, bought the parcel for $25,500 from Hazel Massey, according to real estate documents. Massey is a descendant of one of the previous owners. Kiss said he has not decided on what to do with the site but would ensure the proper procedures are followed before developing the land.

"If there is one body I would certainly move it to a cemetery where it will be taken care of instead of in the overgrown area that is in now," Kiss said this week. "If there are 50 bodies, we would move them to a proper cemetery. When we have determined if anyone is there, then we will decide what to do."

While some original owners are resting in other local graveyards, including the Dundee Township cemeteries, Eder said others are unaccounted for. Gilbert, the man the Village of Gilberts is named after, is believed to be buried in the Schroeder Cemetery.

"Albro Gilbert lived two farms away from the cemetery," Eder said. "I can't believe they would take him somewhere else when he lived that close."

Some members of the Thompson family who owned three plots in the cemetery as well as the land that Dundee Middle School was built on, are also unaccounted for, Eder said.

"These people were the early Kane County pioneers. These people opened up this area," Eder said. "They struggled to start this area and I think it is disrespectful to dig them up. There should be some recognition that they worked hard to start the area."