Northbrook improves historic cemetery
Northfield Union Cemetery has been going through some improvements in it's appearance since it now is maintained by the Village. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:08AM
NORTHBROOK — Northfield Union Cemetery, a resting place for Northbrook’s founding families, still has available space.
The cemetery, which is more than a century and a half old, is a 2.2 acreage on the south side of Dundee Road just west of Anthony Trail.
It is one of two old burial places managed by the village. The other is the North Northfield Cemetery on the north side of Dundee Road between Huehl Road and Charlemagne Drive. However, the North Northfield Cemetery plots are almost completely sold out, while Northfield Union Cemetery has about 1,700 available.
“Both cemeteries are rectangles and about the same size, but North Northfield is perpendicular to Dundee Road, which makes it more secluded,” said Paul Risinger, general operations superintendent of Northbrook’s Public Works Department. “Northfield Union Cemetery is parallel to Dundee Road, which makes it seem wide open. Most people seem to prefer the more secluded spots.”
The village is trying to make it look a little more appealing. Last week, a public works crew constructed a rustic wooden fence separating the cemetery from the busy road. During the summer, workers rebuilt a gravel drive in the cemetery.
“The gravel drive that was there before had been completely overtaken by grass, so we stripped off the top layer and put a new layer of gravel down,” Risinger said. “We’re also planning to add landscaping in the spring to make the cemetery look more attractive.”
However, the names on the headstones of pioneers who settled the area already make Northfield Union notable. There are Landwehrs and Huehls, after whom local roads were named, and Schermers, who inspired “Schermerville” – Northbrook’s original name.
Judy Hughes, president of the Northbrook Historical Society, said the cemetery dates back to 1845 when Lorenz Koebelin donated the acreage for the German Evangelical Calvanistic Reformed United Lutheran Church.
The congregation consisted of Lutheran and Reformed groups of people living in what is now Northbook, Deerfield and Wheeling, she added. A small church was built on the west side of the property and a parsonage on the east, both now long gone, with the cemetery remaining in the middle.
Some families left in 1863 to join the new St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church nearer to the township’s center.
About a year after that, other members began drifting away to churches closer to home in Deerfield and Wheeling. However, families continued to bury their dead in the cemetery. The Kolssak Funeral Home took over the cemetery for a short time, but turned to the village to continue managing it, Hughes said.
“The ashes of four people were buried there in 2011 and there was one full body burial in 2010, and that is not very many,” Risinger said. “I don’t think people realize this cemetery is still open.”
The village sells plots in the cemetery for $1,200 each and uses a contractor for interments, which costs about $800 each.
Headstone foundations cost about $200 for a two-by-one foot double, and more for larger headstones. The money goes into a fund for the upkeep of the cemetery, Risinger said.
For more information call Risinger at (847) 272-4711.