Oak Woods Cemetery
Chapel and grounds at Oak Woods Cemetery
|Established||February 12, 1853|
|Website||Oak Woods Cemetery|
Oak Woods Cemetery is a cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Located at 1035 E. 67th Street, in the Greater Grand Crossing area of Chicago's South Side, it was established 164 years ago on February 12, 1853, and covers 183 acres (74 ha).
It is the setting for a mass grave and memorial for Confederate prisoners of war. Oak Woods is also the final resting place of several famous Americans including Harold Washington, Ida B Wells and Enrico Fermi.
The first burials took place in 1860. After the Civil War (1861–1865), several thousand Confederate soldiers, prisoners who died at Camp Douglas, were reburied here. A monument and marker, which former Kentucky Lieutenant Governor John C. Underwood helped construct, probably inflates the number of soldiers buried as 6,000, but lists the names of more than 4,000. Another, smaller memorial commemorates the Union soldiers who died at the Camp Douglas, often from contagious diseases. These bodies had originally been buried at City Cemetery, which was closed and removed during expansion of Lincoln Park during the urban renewal following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. They were exhumed and reinterred together in a mass grave, which came to be known as Confederate Mound, reputedly the largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere.
The cemetery now contains the graves of many prominent African Americans, including Chicago's first African American mayor Harold Washington. Journalist and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, Olympic sports hero Jesse Owens, and gospel music pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey are buried in the cemetery.
Famous nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi has his final resting place here. The cemetery also has a section for U.S. veterans of several wars, and a separately-maintained Jewish section.
- Cap Anson (1852–1922), Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
- Faith Bacon (1910–1956), Burlesque dancer and actress
- Frank Bacon (1864–1922), actor and playwright
- Adolphus C. Bartlett (1844-1922), businessman, philanthropist
- Gary Becker (1930-2014), economist, Nobel prize winner
- Arthur M. Brazier (1921-2010), activist, pastor
- Frank Butler (1872–1899), Pitcher and outfielder in pre-Negro Leagues baseball
- Otis Clay (1942–2016), Blues and soul singer
- James "Big Jim" Colosimo (1878–1920), boss of the Chicago Outfit
- William Craig (1855–1902), first Secret Service agent to die on duty
- Charles S. Deneen (1863–1940), politician
- Thomas A. Dorsey (1899–1993), composer, the "father of Gospel music"
- Walter Eckersall (1886–1930), All-American quarterback and sportswriter
- Mircea Eliade (1907–1986), Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago
- Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), physicist, creator of the first nuclear reactor
- Nancy Green (1834-1923), storyteller, cook, activist, and the first woman to portray Aunt Jemima
- Jake Guzik (1886–1956), gangster and bookkeeper for Al Capone; aka "Greasy Thumb"
- John Marshall Hamilton (1847–1905), 18th Governor of Illinois
- William Draper Harkins (1873–1951), nuclear chemist
- Monroe Heath (1827–1894), mayor of Chicago
- John Christen Johansen (1876–1964), portraitist and landscape painter
- Charles Johnson (1909–2006), pitcher and outfielder for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro League
- Eunice W. Johnson (1916–2010), business magnate and spouse of John H. Johnson
- John H. Johnson (1918–2005), founder and publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, spouse of Eunice W. Johnson
- Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866–1944), Hall of Fame, First Commissioner of Baseball
- Richard Loeb (1905–1936), crime figure – cremated here, ashes returned to family
- Little Brother Montgomery (1906–1985), blues piano player and singer
- Jesse Owens (1913–1980), Olympic track and field champion
- Eugene Sawyer (1934–2008), second African-American Mayor of Chicago (1987–1989)
- J. Young Scammon (1812–1890), attorney, banker, newspaper publisher
- Maud Slye (1879–1954), University of Chicago pathologist
- Roebuck "Pops" Staples (1915–2000), Gospel singer
- Willie Stokes (1937–1986), Chicago mobster
- William Hale Thompson (1869-1944), Mayor of Chicago
- June Travis (1914–2008), film actress
- Herbert J. Tweedie (1864–1906), golf course architect
- Bill Veeck (1914–1986), Major League Baseball owner – cremated here, ashes returned to family
- Albertina Walker (1929–2010), singer, songwriter, "Queen of Gospel"
- Harold Washington (1922–1987), lawyer, politician, first African American Mayor of Chicago
- Ida B. Wells (1862–1931), social reformer, civil rights activist
- Junior Wells (1934–1998), Blues musician
- Ben Wilson (1967–1984), Chicago Simeon H.S., 1984–85 #1 Ranked high school basketball player in America
- James Hutchinson Woodworth (1804–1869), Mayor of Chicago
- Otto Young (1844–1907), "Merchant Millionaire" of Chicago and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Roland Burris tomb
Roland Burris, the U.S. Senator appointed by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, constructed a family tomb at in the Oak Woods Cemetery, in preparation for his and his wife's eventual interment. The tomb received considerable publicity (generally negative) after Burris' appointment by the since-convicted governor. The rear portion of the large stone structure resembles a triptych, forward of which are two burial vaults; the left one is engraved with Burris' name and birth date and the right vault with the name of Burris' wife. The central segment of the triptych includes a large inscription of the words "TRAIL BLAZER" along the top. The segments of the triptych also include accomplishments of Burris and his wife, both of whom are still living. These note that Burris was the first African American to be Attorney General of Illinois, the first African-American exchange student from Southern Illinois University to the University of Hamburg, Germany, and the first non-CPA to be on the board of the Illinois CPA Society.
- "Oak Woods Cemetery". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "History". Oak Woods Cemetery. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- Minutes of the 9th Annual Meeting of the Confederate Veterans. New Orleans: Hopkins Printing Office. 1900. pp. 109, 172–175.
- Wagner, Margaret E.; Gallagher, Gary W & Finkelman Paul, eds. (2009). The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, Inc. pp. 605–06, 609. ISBN 978-1-4391-4884-6. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
Although the memorial, erected in the late 1880s, claims 6,000 dead, this is unlikely to be true as significantly fewer (4,454) Confederate prisoners were known to have died at Camp Douglas.
- Kogan, Rick. "Camp Douglas effort stirs ghosts of the Civil War". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- O'Connor, Patrick (2008-12-30). "Roland Burris's Monument to Me". Politico. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
-  Archived April 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Roland Burris' Monument to Himself". The Weekly Standard. December 31, 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- Reynolds, Dean (November 5, 2010). "Bill Brady Concedes to Pat Quinn Illinois Governor's Race". CBS News. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
- Official Oakwoods Cemetery corporate website
- Graveyards.com: Oak Woods Cemetery
- Department of Veterans Affairs page on the Confederate mound
- Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) No. IL-2-A, "Oak Woods Cemetery, Confederate Mound, 1035 East 67th Street, Chicago, Cook County, IL", 12 photos, 2 photo caption pages
- Oak Woods Cemetery: Famous names at Find a Grave