Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

At the top of the hill in the grove of old oak trees lining Abby Wood Dr. in Hoffman Estates, you’ll find the Greve cemetery, the final resting place of the first pioneers who settled this area.

In 1842 Gerhardt Greve purchased 80 acres of farmland for $1.25 an acre and set aside land for the cemetery. When the first families arrived here, the area was known as Wildcat Grove, located near Higgins and Huntington Blvd. near Barrington Square. Higgins was then known as the Chicago to Dundee Rd.

The headstones name many of those early settlers who traveled from the Hanover area of Germany arriving in New York in 1838.  The Greve, Ottman, and Schierding families “traveled by Erie Canal to the Great Lakes, then to Chicago and then by ox cart to Salt Creek Precinct, this area, later in 1850 named Schaumburg Township.” J. D. Meyer, Gerhardt Greve and J. Sunderlage had come earlier in 1832 and returned later in 1838 with their families.

In 1899 Gerhardt Greve sold the cemetery to Cook County for $1.  An 1853 law allowed community cemeteries of less than 5 acres to be removed from the tax rolls, Gerhardt no longer had to pay taxes on the cemetery land.

Never asking for help in maintaining the cemetery, the families continued to care for the graves and Cook County soon forgot that it was there.   It wasn’t until the 1960s & 70s, when the land was sold for development and plans were made to build townhomes, that the cemetery was rediscovered.  K & B builders of Barrington Square, were asked to set aside the cemetery land and in 1988, due to efforts of village trustee Bruce Lind, the land was deeded to the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The Greve Cemetery is fenced and gated and maintained by the Village of Hoffman Estates.  Visits can be arranged by contacting the village hall.  Nancy Lyons, a member of the Historic Sites Commission, conducts a cemetery walk each spring and fall.  The next opportunity to visit and learn about the early settlers who are buried
there is to plan on attending the fall Greve Cemetery tours on October 20th and 21st.

Thank you to Nancy Lyons for sharing her knowledge and history of the Greve Cemetery with me.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

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