Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates!
Tucked away in the heart of the village, in a shady grove of oak trees, you’ll find the cemetery that is the resting place of the first settlers to our area. The Greve cemetery, named for the Greve family that set aside the land, has been preserved and is owned and maintained by the village of Hoffman Estates and the Historic Sites Commission.
The early settlers, the Greve, Sunderlage, Meyer & Ottmann families, traveled along a dirt road that on early maps was known as the Chicago – Dundee Rd. (now Higgins Rd.) The large groves of oaks known as Wildcat Grove was the place they choose to settle in. The oak forest offered logs for the Greve’s first home and wood for the other families. A creek (Poplar Creek) cut through the countryside and the area offered the families the ideal location for homesteading. Johann Greve purchased 200 acres of land between 1842 and 1846 where present day Hilldale golf course is located at Higgins and Huntington Blvd.
With the death of the Sunderlage’s baby son John in 1846, cemetery land was chosen on a small hill amongst the towering oaks. As the years went by, other children, parents and grandparents where buried in the small cemetery. Neighbors from the area also were buried there.
Ministers from the United Evangelical Congregation at Wickleffe (now the intersection of Algonquin Rd. and Roselle Rd.) presided over early burials. The small congregation was first established in 1846 and built its first church in 1850. Now known as St. John’s Church of Christ, the congregation recently celebrated its 163rd anniversary.
Over the years the families maintained the cemetery with frequent visits and family picnics that also served as reunions and a time to plant, weed and tidy the cemetery grounds. Old snapshots from the Meyer family, dating back to the 1940s, show the women visiting and cooking up some sausages for the picnic. With few family members left to care for the grounds, the peaceful cemetery has experienced vandalism to the headstones and grounds. Some headstones have been deliberately damaged or even stolen. The Greve cemetery is now fenced and the gates kept locked to protect the graves of the early settlers.
This spring the Historic Sites Commission will work with the Hoffman Estates Public Works Department in an effort to restore and repair the damaged headstones. The HSC is also planning several small tours of the historic cemetery. Plans are for a tour in April and another in October, 2010. If you’re interested in seeing the Greve cemetery, please contact the Hoffman Estates Village Hall for further information at 847-882-9100.
(Please remember to look through those old pictures you may have stored away in the closet. We’re always looking for new old pictures.)
Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Village Historian, firstname.lastname@example.org