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,


  1. Eric Says:

    I’ve always wonders whe roots of that cemetery. Heres a vague leed to follow. I live on Georgetown Lane from about 1973 to 1977 (I was not quite 11 when we moved out west.) I do remember 2 students from a local college taking pencil etching and tin-foil impressions of the headstones. I’m 43 now and just cant remember what school they were from but might be worth an email to the history departments of some of the local schools to see if the material still exists. As I recall, in the mid 70’s most of the headstones were still there. there were 2 or 3 monument bases without headstones. they were in the left rear coener of the cemetery.

    • jrozek Says:

      I talked to a couple of people concerning Greve Cemetery. According to a member of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society, an inventory of the cemetery was done in 1971. Since that time, it has been noted that a few of the tombstones are now laying down and it is thought at least two of them are buried. Thank you for your interest!

  2. Mark MacLeod Says:

    I have lived in Barrington Square since about 1972. I remember when the entire area around the cemetery was all woods. When they expanded Barrington Square in that area, the trees for the most part were placed and later covered on the S/E corner of Lake George, all now covered with dirt. I remember as a kid MANY tombstones OUTSIDE the fence! Many! I remember Emma Meyer’s headstone. She was between her mom and dad and it would appear some idiot has stolen this small stone. She was two years old. I remember Jim Fabrinni of Fabrinni flowers living here too, as well as the Marquart Family. Good times!

    • jrozek Says:

      Mark, Thank you for the details regarding the many tombstones–especially the tidbit about Emma Meyer. She must have really stuck with you over the years.

  3. Erin Marie Says:

    We just found this today!!!! Kinda tricky to get to but we are trying to get some photos. We kinda wanna get photos of all of the area small resting places. We also found the one on Cedarcrest today!!!! Love the history!!! Thanks for all the great info!!!

  4. Angela Lokcinski Says:

    I remember that cemetery I lived off hancock dr and i remember playing in those woods as a kid that was twenty years ago. i truly think thats amazing you guys are sharing the history of the Greve Family may they rest in peace! i hope by now they rebuilt something to keep people out! i was always so scared to look in there!!! So cool!!

  5. Jen N Says:

    Hi there, a little late to the site…
    back in the early-mid 80’s my family lived in Hilldale on Manchester. My friends and I always played in the woods where the big apartment complex is now. I remember finding a piece of a headstone about 6×8 back there. I figured it belonged at the cemetery,so I took it over and stuck it in the fence where it was broken. i always
    why and how that piece got so far away. hope i did the right thing putting it back!

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