On September 15, 2002, the Crystal Lake Historical Society hosted its first annual Cemetery Walk at the Lake Avenue Cemetery in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Costumed interpreters presented first-person stories about the life and times of Crystal Lake’s earliest settlers.
Our thanks to our tour guides and actors who helped make this event a great success.
The following is a video of the entire 2002 Cemetery Walk:
Beman Crandall (1794 – 1884) and Polly Tuttle Crandall (1803 – 1864)
Beman and Polly Crandall are credited as being the first white settlers to come to Crystal Lake, arriving here in February 1836. He was the son of Simeon Crandall and Phoebe Chamberlain who lived in Cicero, New York when Beman was born. Mr. and Mrs. Crandall and six of their ten children came from New York State and traveled to Crystal Lake in a covered wagon. The family lived in the covered wagon for a time until a log cabin could be built. Polly Crandall worked side by side with her husband in getting the cabin built. Their original cabin was built in the vicinity of today’s intersection of Virginia Street and Van Buren Street. As other settlers started arriving, Mr. Crandall rapidly became a leader in the community, holding many of the important public offices. He was the first postmaster, one of the first school directors, one of the first election judges, and the first justice of peace.
Andrew Jackson Simons (1830 – 1892) and Charlotte Chittendon Simons (1838 – 1914)
Andrew Simons served as a Private in the 36th Illinois U.S. Infantry during the Civil War. His work as a stone mason and architect is well-known in the area. Andrew Simons is credited with building several cobblestone houses in Crystal Lake, including the Wallace House and the John Walkup House. Several other homes in Crystal Lake also boast Simons’ cobblestone foundation: Simons House, Colonel Palmer House, and S.S. Gates House (now known as Tarplay House). The stones for these houses were hauled by wagon from Lake Michigan to McHenry County. Before Andrew Simons left for the Civil War, he purchased bricks to build his own house. The bricks were stolen while he was gone. Although there is a small portion of cobblestone on the east side of the house, it seems ironic that this expert stone mason lived in a frame house!
Hannah Ribble Buck (1803-1868)
Hannah Ribble and Abner Buck were married on November 9, 1828 in Elmira, New York. Nine of their children were born in New York before the family came to Illinois in 1844. Two more children were born in McHenry County. Abner Buck was a farmer. His farm was located near the current intersection of Virginia Road and Rakow Road. The Buck farm had many animals such as turkeys, geese, chickens, Moreno sheep, cows, and horses. The family also raised crops. The animals and crops were needed to feed the large family and they were also sold for profit. The family were members of the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake. One of their daughters, Martha, married a minister from the church.
Colonel Gustavus A. Palmer (1805-1884) and Henrietta Gearhart Palmer (1812-1884)
Colonel Palmer and his wife Henrietta lived in the Crystal Lake area for over forty years until their deaths in 1884. They both died within days of each other from Typhoid Pneumonia. The Palmers had a house built on bounty land which Col. Palmer earned in the little known Patriots War of 1837-1838. His homestead came to be known as “Palmer’s Corners.” This Greek Revival house has been designated as a City of Crystal Lake Landmark, as well as it is the only building in Crystal Lake which is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. The Palmers had three children: Charlotte, John and Emma.
Seth H. Nash (1840-1910)
Seth Nash was born in Portage Township, Livingston County, New York, the son of Edgar J. and Esther Nash. In 1853, he came to Illinois, and in 1854 settled in Crystal Lake. He owned 83 acres of which 70 were cultivated. He also ran a small dairy comprised of Jersey graded cows. His farm was along what is now Route 14 near the intersection of Keith Avenue. On February 26, 1863, he married Mary Jane Simpson in Kane County, Illinois. They had two children: Clara and Charles. Mary Jane died in 1896 of consumption. Seth’s second wife was Sarah Ashton, daughter of Thomas Ashton, who was the owner of the Ashton House Hotel in Crystal Lake. Seth joined the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake in June of 1862. He was Church Clerk for three years and was on the first Board of Society Trustees. Seth met his death when the wheel of a hay wagon on which he was riding, hit a large rock and threw him from the wagon.
John H. Buehler (1851-1927)
John Buehler was born in Germany and came to the United States with his uncle when he was 14 years old. Both of the parents had died a year earlier. John operated a general merchandise store at the corner of McHenry and Virginia, an area which became known as “Buehler’s Corner”. Called “Judge” by his friends, John could often be found in shirtsleeves and suspenders, working evenings at his desk in the back of the store. In addition to operating the store, John Buehler was the city water bill collector, a real estate salesman, and an insurance salesman. The building for his store, which was in operation for over 50 years, was formerly the first German School. John Buehler was active in the German Lutheran Church, and established the first German Sunday School in Crystal Lake. In 1875, John married Christina Peters. Their marriage ceremony was performed by the new pastor of the German Lutheran Church, Henry Schmidt.