Memories of Tomorrow
© Pete Crapia - www.bachelorsgrove.net
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 19:53
Clarence Fulton once recalled how families would have picnics at the cemetery and go for a dip in the water nearby. Today, there are people still around that remember swimming in the old quarry pond, and those that would picnic there during the days when the sound of a passing car was much less frequent.
In 1951 Bill Woodier was only five years old and attending Orchard Hill Kindergarten while attending a field trip to Bachelors Grove cemetery. Back then his school bus drove down the old Midlothian Turnpike and parked within a dozen feet from the cemetery. He sat against an old wrought-iron style fence that was once part of the burial ground as he ate his lunch with the other children. On the west side was a four foot high farm-style fence that also acted as a property line for a settler whom lived in a tiny one-story house less than one-hundred and fifty feet from the pond just over the west bank of the creek.
Nearby on the old Turnpike south of the cemetery was the bridge that settlers used to cross Tinley Creek. Prior to the bridge native Indians once traveled the naked path before it was paved. In the 1950s nature was showing signs of reclaiming the area. The stone arched bridge covered over with dirt was now surrounded with vines. Bill even reflected upon a time during a Boy Scout bicycle ride where he and his friends later explored that old bridge.
The bridge has since fallen away and what remains is now used as a foot path to cross the trickling creek while exploring the foundations to homes that once stood in the 1800s. A pursuit for photographs of the bridge continues, as well as images of the original fence that once surrounded resting pioneers. If one is careful, pieces of the fence can be found among the fallen Oak tree leaves. Many of the original concrete posts are still in the ground among the more modern barbed wire prison.
Nature will continue to reclaim the area as large trees come crashing down during thunderstorms, only to mangle large sections of it. It once served as a way to keep the curious and destructive at bay after the old road was used as a Lovers Lane which also attracted locals to the burial ground. Even before construction of the new fence in 1976, a large gate once stood on the old Turnpike to keep vehicles out. Concrete blocks in the ground with metal posts can still be witnessed under the overwhelming Buck-thorn as visitors make their journey down the old path in search of the strange and unusual.
There was a time when nearly five-hundred pounds of it mysteriously disappeared in 1959, a story seemingly stranger than why most people visit the area today on foot. Vehicles are now for sure prohibited upon the remains of the pavement leading to what was once called Everdon's cemetery. When the Forest Preserve District purchased the land surrounding the one acre lot in November of 1924, it became an event that would help to preserve a part of history that many people around the world still enjoy exploring today.
Folks from as far as Australia travel to Bachelors Grove cemetery and even leave coins upon the Infant Daughter headstone in her honor. The majority of the headstones that once decorated the landscape have now been replaced with overgrowth of weeds and the occasional patches of flowers. Permission was once given to clean up the grounds, where many volunteers are still eager to lend a helping hand. Some repeatedly travel over fifty miles to make a difference as the rest of the surrounding area is maintained.
Support is now offered by the Forest Preserve District to help restore the beauty and wonder that is now public land. Numerous family members of those buried there still visit, some of whom show up as volunteers, but questions remain as to why the cemetery itself continues to be in such poor condition. Perhaps the ongoing efforts of restoring the location to its original beauty will help shape the area into the park-like setting that it once was.
Local schools continue to bring children on the occasional field trip, while scores of families visit throughout the year as parents reflect upon teenage memories. They bring their children to share in portions of their own childhood and yet as they seek relief from hiking the area their only option is to sit upon the base of a missing headstone.
The years continue and as more families visit the area less vandalism has occurred. Perhaps those creating mischief would rather not have anyone around. The area no longer litters newspapers with stories of desecration like it had during the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it is a much different story. Spooky tales and recreational activities have become the norm. In time the area can be restored, picnic benches can replace sitting on a headstone, and family members of those buried there can walk the main path without interference from invasive overgrowth.
A proper fence can be erected much like the original wrought-iron, all while helping to curtail future replacement to sections of a fragile one already in place that only serves to look like an abandon prison. Grass seed can replace weeds as a single memorial marker decorates the landscape to replace most of the missing headstones. Sections of the old road leading to the cemetery as well as foundations to the old homes would remain in place to serve as a reminder to the historical value of the area. These are just a few memories of tomorrow.