Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Waldheim Cemetery
Waldheim Cemetery

Waldheim Cemetery

Haymarket Monument
Waldheim Cemetery, now known as Forest Home, is located approximately 10 miles west of downtown Chicago on both sides of the Des Plaines River.

The area was once a burial ground for Potawatomi Indians. In the 1830s, Leon Bourassa, a French trapper, purchased land from the government. Prussian Ferdinand Haase bought it and developed it as a farm, Haase Park picnic grove, and as a site for gravel mining.

In 1873, Haase established German Waldheim Cemetery on his land. The only German nondenominational cemetery in the Chicago area, Waldheim did not discriminate based on race or political affiliation. In 1876, Haase established a second nonsectarian cemetery, Forest Home (English for Waldheim ), for English-speaking citizens. The two cemeteries were merged in 1968 as Forest Home.

No cemetery better represents a cross section of society, with labor leaders, society leaders, gypsies, American Indians, African Americans, and rich and poor lying side by side for eternity. Near the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997, is “Dissenters Row” and the graves of over 60 labor activists, including Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Ben Reitman.

Others buried here are the parents of Ernest Hemingway, the Austin Family, dancer Doris Humphrey, several Prairie School architects, evangelist Billy Sunday, members of the Cigar Makers International Union #14, and Adolph Strasser, who cofounded the AFL with Samuel Gompers.