Cemetery Walk 2009

On Sunday, May 31, 2009  the Crystal Lake Historical Society hosted its annual Cemetery Walk at the Union Cemetery in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Costumed interpreters presented first-person stories about the life and times of former Crystal Lake residents.

Each of the following sub-headings includes text and a link to a YouTube video of the portrayal.  Our thanks to our tour guides and actors who helped make this event a great success.

Introduction - About the Cemetery

The City of Crystal Lake traces its origins to two separate communities which were established in the 1800’s. Those communities were generally known as Nunda and Crystal Lake.

The two often-feuding villages found much to disagree upon. However, in a rare effort of cooperation, the two towns recognized the need to work together in order to purchase and provide a public burial ground for its citizens. The older Crystal Lake Cemetery (now known as Lake Avenue Cemetery) was filling up.

In June, 1888, each village board selected a committee to buy land for a cemetery. The cemetery committee met with property owner Elihu Hubbard, and purchased ten acres of land for $1,500. Each village contributed $750 toward the purchase. The central location of the property was ideal, as it was within the corporate boundaries of Crystal Lake, but in Nunda Township.

Shortly after the new cemetery was created, plans were underway to create a Civil War memorial statue which would hold a commanding position in the center of the main driveway.
The monument features a Union Soldier, standing in reverence to those who have put their lives on the line for this country. A plaque on the face of the monument reads “Erected by grateful citizens in honor of the brave defenders of our country, September 1889.”

Each side of the monument names four major Civil War battles: Gettysburg, Stone River, Vicksburg, and Shiloh. The names of all soldiers from Crystal Lake and Nunda are displayed, along with their military unit. Another tablet names those who died in the line of service, and those who died at the much-feared Andersonville prison.

"The Sacrifice of War"

Each of this year's featured "residents" of Union Cemetery are associated with one of six different wars.  You will hear about their lives, their families and their experiences.

William Jackman (1795 - 1871)

War of 1812

William Jackman was the great, great grandson of James Jackman, from Exeter, England, who settled in Newburyport, Mass. in 1635.  William was born in Vermont and enlisted in the militia August 1814 at the age of 19.  His term of service expired in September 1814.  During his four weeks of service, he was paid $8.00 and served in Capt. Elisha Kellog's Company of the New York State Militia.

After returning from his short stint in the militia, William married Julia Ellis on January 6, 1820 in Alexander, New York.  William and Julia had seven children.  Rodney was born in 1821, Polly in 1823 (probably stillborn), Lucinda in 1825, Tryphena in 1826, William in 1828, James in 1839 and Susan in 1841.  Rodney, William and Susan are buried in Lake Avenue Cemetery.

Rodney moved alone to Crystal Lake in 1843 where he owned a dairy farm of 168 acres.  William and Julia followed their son Rodney to Crystal Lake in 1845 where William was in the mercantile business and was the Postmaster for many years.  William was known as a generous man.  James worked as a clerk in William's store for many years, then also took up dairy farming.

William died prior to the development of Union Cemetery in 1888, so it is assumed that his body was moved here at some point.  His stone is newer and was perhaps a replacement.

Some of the descendants of William Jackman are well recognized in Crystal Lake.  Flora Jackman, granddaughter of William, married Bert Colby.  Their son Raymond Colby developed the Colby Subdivision.  Many of the streets are named for the children of Raymond Colby.

Click here to view video

Albert Dilley (1848 - 1938)

Civil War

Albert Holcomb Dilley was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  He was one of 11 children of Huston Dilley and Lois Griffith.  After Lois's death, Huston remarried and had three more children with his wife, Amanda Wait.  They moved to McHenry County in 1852 and were farmers.  They purchased 60 acres of land near Terra Cotta.

Albert enlisted on February 3, 1865 at age 16 and was honorably discharged on June 20, 1866.  He was in the 147th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  Most of his military activities were in Georgia.  Albert told the Crystal Lake Herald, "No, I was never wounded nor heard the sound of a musket.  Fact of the matter is I used to do extra duty for not keeping my gun clean."  His brother Louis had been a prisoner of war in the famous Andersonville prison.

When the war was over Albert returned home to work his father's farm and married Mary Isadora Lovelace in 1872.  For several years, the Dilley's lived in Lombard where Albert worked at a cheese factory.  They returned to the area after several years and Albert became a night operator at the Ridgefield coal station for the Chicago and North Western Railway.  He was paid twelve and a half cents an hour for this work.

The Dilley's moved to Crystal Lake in 1890 and he became a contractor.  He constructed a large number of buildings, including the Witte Building, which later became the post office.  He did the masonry work on the old city hall and on a large number of other buildings that were north of the railroad tracks.

"I can remember well when there were but two stores north of the tracks," Dilley stated.  "I was always told that they lost the depot location because the price for right of way the Gates, Crows, and others asked was too much.  They were very much surprised when they moved a building here for the depot up at its present location which was then little more than prairie land."

Albert and Mary had one daughter.  Margaret was born in 1873, married Walter Davis in 1892 and died in 1967.  She is also buried at Union Cemetery.

Mary Dilley was a pioneer rural school teacher for more than 30 years.  She was born in Barbourville, N.Y. and lived in Chicago until the great fire when she moved to Crystal Lake.  She died in 1935 at age 87 shortly after the couple's 63rd wedding anniversary.

At the time of his death in 1938 at age 89, Albert Dilley was the last surviving member of the Crystal Lake Post of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and one of the most highly respected residents of the community.

Click here to view video

Alice Fitzgerald Palmer (1865 - 1948) - sister of

William Fitzgerald (1867 - 1900)

Spanish-American War

Alice Fitzgerald was the oldest sister of William and was born on June 7, 1865 in Ireland.  She married Frank Palmer, grandson of Colonel Gustavus A. Palmer, in September 1900, the month her brother died in battle.  Frank and Alice lived on Railroad Street and later on Minnie Street.  Frank was an engineer on the steam railroad and died in 1944.  Alice died in Milwaukee in 1948.

William and Alice's brother Michael Fitzgerald was the very popular Superintendent of the Crystal Lake Park District for many years prior to his death.  Michael was a featured cemetery resident in the 2004 Cemetery Walk.

William served in Company L, 15th Regiment in the U.S. Army Infantry.  He was a Sergeant at the time of his death.  He enlisted on August 10, 1885 in Chicago and was assigned to Troop D of the U.S. Calvary.  On August 9, 1890, at Fort Custer (name later changed to Fort Yellowstone) in Montana, he was discharged because his term of enlistment had expired.  Six days later, he re-enlisted at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and was assigned to Company C, 15th U.S. Infantry.  On August 14, 1895, at Fort Sheridan, IL, he was again discharged by "expiration of service".  This time he was a Private.

He re-enlisted the next day at Fort Sheridan, in the same company.  William was discharged again in August of 1898 while stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory.  He re-enlisted, again, at Ft. Huachuca, in Company L, 15th U.S. Infantry.  April 21, 1899 finds William in Ciego de Avila, Cuba, where he was discharged.  This time he was discharged "...upon his own application at close of the Spanish War." The next day he re-enlisted in the same Company he had just left.  He was killed about eighteen months later in Mavitac, Luzon, Phillipines.

Click here to view video

William Chandler Peterson (1894 - 1918)

World War I

William Chandler Peterson was born in Crystal Lake on December 24, 1894, the son of Frederick and Emma Peterson.  He received his education in the public schools of Crystal Lake, graduating from high school with the class of 1912.  He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1916 with a degree in Architecture.

After graduation, Chandler (as he was known by his friends and family) went to work for the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company in Chicago.  Later he was employed as an architect for Leonard Construction Company of Chicago.

On August 27, 1917, Chandler Peterson entered the Second Officers Training camp at Fort Sheridan.  Upon receiving his commission, he was ordered to France, sailing on January 19, 1918.  On June 6, 1918, at the Battle of Chateau Thierry, he lost his life while leading his platoon in a morning attack.  Lt. Peterson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for Valor.

The Local American Legion Post No. 171 was chartered in 1919, and named in honor of Lt. William Chandler Peterson.

After the war, Lt. Peterson's body was brought back from France and laid to rest at Union Cemetery.

Lieutenant Conrad Berg, close childhood friend of Chandler Peterson, offered these remarks at his comrade's memorial service: "Through Lieutenant Peterson's death Crystal Lake has lost one of its noblest sons, America one of its true heroes, and the Peterson family a jewel that can never be replaced."

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Alvina Peters (1887 - 1969) - mother of

Elmer (1910 - 1944) and Robert (1923 - 1944)

World War II

From the Crystal Lake Herald, February 1, 1945: "It would seem sacrifice enough to spare sons for the battle lines, to wonder and worry and long for them every hour they are away.  To replace a blue star on the service flag with a gold star marks an almost unbearable increase in the sacrifice, but when two sons give their lives for the country's help and honor the mother's gift surpasses expression.  No Crystal Lake mother made such a sacrifice in World War I, but Mrs. William H. Peters has lost two fine sons in World War II."

Brothers Sgt. Elmer Peters and Cpl. Robert Peters were both born on April 17, thirteen years apart.  Both attended the Immanuel German Lutheran School.  Both were war casualties in November of 1944.

Robert was reported missing in action in Germany on November 2, but later was listed as killed on that date.  Elmer was wounded on November 29 by shell fragments while advancing on enemy strong points in a forest in Germany.  He was serving as a rifleman in a platoon which was caught in heavy mortar and artillery barrage.  He died the following day.

The bodies of both men were interred in the Henri-Chapelle temporary military cemetery in Belgium until they were returned to Crystal Lake and re-buried with military rites in 1947.

Their mother, Alvina Peters said, "People have been so kind to me that it has made my burden much less difficult to bear."

Alvina Schroeder was born on March 22, 1887 in Crystal Lake and married William Peters.  William was born in Germany in 1884 and brought to the United States when he was two years old.  William was employed for many years by the American Terra Cotta Company.  The couple had five sons and a daughter.  Alvina was a member of the Ladies Aid of the Immanuel Lutheran Church and Women's Auxiliary of the American Legion.  William Peters died October 26, 1943, the day after Elmer was inducted.  Alvina died in December of 1969 at the age of 82.  She is remembered as always having a smile on her face, despite her tragic losses.

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Victoria Booth Short - daughter of

Herbert W. Booth, Jr. (1930 - 1962)

Vietnam War

Herbert Willoughby Booth, Jr. was the son of Herbert Willoughby Booth, a World War II veteran, and Frances Graham.  Herbert (the father) grew up in a historic home located at 370 Woodstock Street.  His father, Ernest, sold the home to Alvah Roebuck, a co-founder of Sears and Roebuck, in 1916.

Herbert Jr., called "Bill" by friends, married Nancy Penrose on August 21, 1955 and had two children, Herbert Willoughby Booth III and Victoria Booth.  Victoria was born just days before her father left for Vietnam and is still living.  She resides in Florida.

Bill was proud of his father's service in the Army Air Corps in World War II.  In high school, he made up his mind to be a pilot in the Air Force and applied to West Point.  While waiting for his congressional appointment, he spent two years at Virginia Military Institute.  He was on the wrestling team and sang in the Glee Club.

Bill volunteered as a Forward Air Control Pilot.  The U-10 aircraft was designed for football field take off and landing and close-in fire direction.  He knew it was high risk but he was determined to be on the cutting edge.

On October 1, 1962, Bill piloted his plane into harm's way with an Army captain and  sergeant as observers.  They took heavy ground fire and went down.  An eyewitness recalled, I looked up and saw the aircraft going straight up with fire coming from the nose area.  It looped over and started spiraling down into the jungle."  All occupants of the plane died instantly.  Bill died in the Darlac Province of South Vietnam.  His body was recovered and his ashes were scattered over the Gulf of Mexico.

Herbert Jr.'s parents, Herbert and Grace had a marker installed at Union Cemetery to remember their son.

"We toast our hearty comrades, now fallen from the sky,

Were gently caught by God's own hand to reign with him on high.

To dwell among the soaring clouds they knew so well before,

From Victory Roll to Tailchase at heaven's very door.

Now, as we fly among them there, we sadly hear their plea,

Take care, my friend, Watch your Six...

And do one more roll for me."

Commander Gerald L. "Jerry" Coffee

Click here to view video