The Run Down

Cemeteries aren’t all headstones and hauntings… okay, so there are a lot of headstones. But many of them are incredible works of art. So today, you'll be taking a stroll through Rosehill Cemetery. You'll be entering the cemetery through the Ravenswood gate at Rosehill Drive and Ravenswood Avenue, then making three main stops within the cemetery itself.

1. The Civil War Memorial

2. The Grave of Frances M. Pearce

3. The Rosehill Mausoleum

1. The Civil War Memorial

Rosehill was founded in 1859, just two years before the Civil War broke out. As a result, more than a dozen Union generals and hundreds of soldiers—even a few Confederates— are buried here at Rosehill. Fortunately for us, most of the cemetery’s Civil War monuments and markers are just inside the Ravenswood gate, making this a very convenient first stop.

Below you’ll see the main Civil War monument, officer markers, and a monument to the Battery A Chicago Light Artillery. If you’d like even more information on the soldiers buried here and the contributions of Chicagoans to Civil War history, there’s an exhibit in the administration building.

2. The Grave of Frances M. Pearce

If you follow the road to the left from the Civil War Memorial, you’ll reach the next stop in about 30 yards. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to spot. This is the final resting place of Frances Pearce and her infant daughter.

Frances was a young mother when she died on March 12, 1854–– and though her exact age seems to be debated, most sources put her at no older than twenty when she died. Sadly, her daughter died only two months later at just ten months old. In his grief, Frances’ husband, Horatio Stone, commissioned the beautiful statue you see here. The sculpture was carved in Rome by C.B. Ives in 1856 and then shipped to Chicago for Stone. A few years later, the glass encasement was added to protect the sculpture from Chicago’s notoriously brutal weather.

Naturally, with a headstone so ornate and a story so sad, it’s no surprise that some haunting rumors have surfaced about Frances and her daughter. The most popular of those tales is that the glass case fills with a strange mist each year on the anniversary of her death. Maybe we’ll come back on March 12 and see for ourselves. In the meantime, we’ll just appreciate the beauty of the memory and monument left behind to honor Frances and her daughter.

3. The Rosehill Mausoleum

Considering Rosehill is Chicago’s largest cemetery, it’s only fitting that its mausoleum is also the city’s largest. It can be found on the opposite, westernmost side of the cemetery from where we find Frances Pearce. We definitely encourage wandering in that general direction and taking time to appreciate the headstones and sculptures that pepper the cemetery grounds as you walk.

Don’t worry about missing the main mausoleum. It’s huge. You seriously can’t miss it. We promise. Finding it is much easier than getting in, as the large doors on the east end tend to be locked. This means you’ll walk all the way around to the opposite side of the building to enter.

Once inside, you could honestly spend hours exploring. But we’re looking for a few folks in particular. Luckily, all of them are in the same general vicinity.

Making your way to the back/east end of the building (the end with the locked doors), you’ll first visit John G Shedd, the millionaire, and philanthropist best known for Chicago’s aquarium that bears his name. You’ll know you’ve made it when you reach this room.

This is the John G. Shedd Chapel. Note the aquatic theme and Tiffany stained glass window that was made to look as though the scene was underwater. Another interesting feature is the skylight. You’ll notice one of its panels has been rotated to intentionally create a flaw, an acknowledgment that only God can create perfection.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this hallway leads to a bathroom. Oddly enough, it actually leads to the resting place of Richard W. Sears of Sears department stores. There are stories that his ghost can be seen wandering the mausoleum at night, upset that he rests so close to his bitter rival in life, Montgomery Ward.

Ward is our third visit in the mausoleum, and he is right on the other side of the wall from Sears. If you head back to the Shedd Chapel and make an immediate right, an ornate bronze doorway marks Ward’s resting place.

Though we’ve hit every mark on our tour today, don’t feel the need to rush home. There’s so much still to see that we didn’t have the time or space to cover here… plenty of ornate stained glass windows, intricate headstones and sculptures, the stunning Horatio N. May Chapel, and even “celebrity” resting places.

Some of what we didn’t map out here is pictured below, and even more (including the grave of lunchmeat mogul Oscar Meyer) is not.