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Wunders Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

A collection of cemetery records from Wunders Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.


Wunders Cemetery was originally known as First German Lutheran or Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery. In 1912, it was incorporated as the German Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery Association. On 19 October 1919 it was renamed Wunders Cemetery Association after Heinrich Wunder, pastor for over fifty years of First St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church. They operated Wunders Cemetery jointly with First Immanuel Lutheran Church, until recently when the former became the sole trustee.

In the autumn of 1858, a petition was circulated to end burials in the Chicago Cemetery (formerly located in what is now Lincoln Park) because of public concern for the residential expansion into adjacent areas. This led to the limitation and finally the cessation of the sale of lots in May 1859, followed by the closing and removal of bodies to cemeteries outside the city, after 1866. This necessitated the establishment of new cemeteries outside the boundaries of the City of Chicago including Wunders, Graceland, Hebrew Benevolent, Rosehill, Calvary, and Oakwoods. The first four cemeteries were located in Lake View, which was a separate town until its annexation by Chicago in 1889. Lake View Township was named for the inn located on the northwest corner of Byron and Sheridan Roads that provided refreshments for mourners prior to their return to Chicago.

Wunders Cemetery is located on nineteen acres bounded by Irving Park Road (formerly Albert and Graceland Roads) on the north, Clark Street (formerly Green Bay Road) on the west, Stella Street (formerly Seminary Street) on the east and the Hebrew Benevolent Cemetery on the south. Wunders is located on land sold by Graceland Cemetery when Irving Park Road was extended through its property. Wunders, Graceland, and Hebrew Benevolent Cemeteries are located on a sandy beach ridge that provided good drainage and easy excavation. Both Green Bay Road and the old Lake Shore Plank Road (now Broadway Avenue) provided convenient transportation from Chicago, especially after 1870 when the street car ran up Broadway and across Irving Park Road to the entrances of Graceland and Wunders Cemeteries.

The earliest surviving minutes book of the Board of Trustees of Wunders Cemetery dates from 16 October 1859. The earliest date recorded for a burial is May 1864, but there are a couple of pages of undated burials prior to this date. The earliest death date that we transcribed is 1850 for five-year-old Anna Maria Redell. She is named on a large monument with other family members. The earliest death date that we transcribed for an adult is 1853 for Engel M. J. Francke. Even though these dates predate the founding of Wunders Cemetery, they are probably correct because Wunders probably received some of the bodies disinterred from the Chicago Cemetery when it was closed. The earliest birthdate that we transcribed is 1787 for Daniel Millemann.

Extended Description

Wunders Cemetery is the first cemetery to be transcribed by the Chicago Genealogical Society. This project was initiated thru its German Interest Group. It took approximately 180 man-hours during the summer and fall of 1984, to read all the headstones. A number of graves did not have markers and many stones were worn with age, but an attempt was made to decipher them. Sometimes deciphering the inscriptions were impossible and therefore, it was necessary to record the information with a question mark (?) or "illegible." Sometimes an entry is marked "not given." This means the transcriber didn't specify whether the stone was blank or just illegible. While a map of the cemetery shows thirteen sections, these are not clearly marked on the grounds and therefore section numbers have been excluded. Where possible, words and phrases have been translated into English i.e. tochter = daughter.

The cemetery data is laid out in six categories: Name, OSSW, Kin, Birth, Death, and Miscellaneous.

  • The information is arranged alphabetically by surNAME, rather than "as read." This may displace some relationships but every attempt was made to indicate when more than one name appeared on the same stone or monument as indicated by the abbreviation OSSW ("on the same stone with").

  • KIN shows relationship. The codes used are the same as those used in the Soundex with the addition of H=Husband: A=Aunt, B=Brother, D=Daughter, F=Father, GF= Grandfather, GGF= Great Grandfather, GGM=Great Grandmother, GM=Grandmother, GS=Grandson, M=Mother, S=Son, Si=Sister, U=Uncle, W=Wife.

  • BIRTH and DEATH are self-explanatory.

  • MISCELLANEOUS is the last "catch-all" category. It shows military inscriptions copied verbatim, except the state has been abbreviated using the two-letter postal code i.e. IL for Illinois. For example, "MN 2nd Lt 41 MG Bn 14 Div WW1" could mean "Minnesota 2nd Lieutenant 41st Machine Gun Battalion 14th Division World War I." This category also includes: other miscellaneous stone inscriptions, such as whether there was a masonic or other similar emblem, person's age, a woman's maiden name, where someone was born, was the stone illegible, etc.

At the end of the alphabetical section, there is a cross-reference index of those names which appear in the Miscellaneous and OSSW columns. If only a surname is given in the "Refer to" column, then be sure to look for more than one entry under that surname.

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