Oak Woods Cemetery

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Oak Woods Cemetery
Confederate Mound
Confederate Mound in 2006
Oak Woods Cemetery is located in the US
Oak Woods Cemetery
Oak Woods Cemetery is located in Illinois
Oak Woods Cemetery
Oak Woods Cemetery is located in Chicago
Oak Woods Cemetery
Established February 12, 1853 (1853-02-12)
Location Chicago, Illinois
Country United States
Coordinates 41°46′N 87°36′W / 41.77°N 87.6°W / 41.77; -87.6[1]Coordinates: 41°46′N 87°36′W / 41.77°N 87.6°W / 41.77; -87.6[1]
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).[2]


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, which former Kentucky Lieutenant Governor John C. Underwood helped construct, says that 6,000 soldiers were buried here and lists names of more than 4,000.[3][4] Another, smaller memorial commemorates the Union guards who died at that facility of contagious diseases. These bodies had originally been buried at City Cemetery, which was abandoned during expansion of Grant 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.[5]

The cemetery now contains the graves of many prominent African Americans, including Chicago's first African American mayor Harold Washington. It also has section for U.S. veterans of several wars, and a separately maintained Jewish section.

Notable burials[edit]

Roland Burris tomb[edit]

Roland Burris tomb in 2008

Roland Burris, the U.S. Senator appointed by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, constructed a family tomb at 41°46′16″N 87°36′08″W / 41.77122°N 87.60215°W / 41.77122; -87.60215 in the Oak Woods cemetery, in preparation for his and his wife's eventual interment. The tomb received considerable publicity (generally negative) since Burris' appointment by the since-convicted governor.[6][7][8] 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.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Oak Woods Cemetery". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "History". Oak Woods Cemetery. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  3. ^ minutes of the 9th Annual meeting of the Confederate Veterans pp. 173 et seq. available at https://books.google.com/books?id=n1krAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA173&lpg
  4. ^ Although the memorial, erected in the late 1880s, claims 6000 dead, this is unlikely to be true as significantly fewer (4,454) Confederate prisoners were known to have died at Camp Douglas. Wagner, Margaret E., Gallagher, Gary W. & Finkelman, Paul, eds., The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, Inc., New York, NY, pp. 605–06, 609. 2009 edition. ISBN 978-1-4391-4884-6.
  5. ^ Kogan, Rick. "Camp Douglas effort stirs ghosts of the Civil War". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  6. ^ O'Connor, Patrick (2008-12-30). "Roland Burris's Monument to Me - POLITICO Live". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  7. ^ [1] Archived April 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Roland Burris' Monument to Himself". The Weekly Standard. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  9. ^ "Roland Burris Mausoleum Lists Illinois CPA Society". Webcpa.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 

External links[edit]