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Crystal Lake Historical Society

Union Cemetery

Local History

History of the Cemetery

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

The area known today as “Downtown Crystal Lake” was first called “Dearborn” and then “Nunda”.  The village of Dearborn came into existence in the mid-1850s after the railroads extended their lines through the area.  In 1868, Dearborn’s name was changed to “Nunda” after an area in New York from which many settlers had come.

At that time, the main business district for the village of Crystal Lake was located on Virginia Street, near today’s McCormick Park.  The railroad served to connect the people and industries of both Crystal Lake and Nunda to Chicago and the rest of the county.  Although the depot was located in Nunda, it was called the Crystal Lake station.

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 was filling up.

In June 1888, each village board selected representatives to a joint committee with the purpose 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.

The cemetery was laid out in large family-sized blocks surrounded on all sides by generous grassy aisles.  Beautiful old trees were left scattered throughout the grounds.  Emma Schoonhoven became the first burial in August, 1888.

A large statue of a Civil War veteran stands near the entrance of the cemetery.  Click HERE to read more about the statue and its restoration.


About the Pictorial Cemetery Database

The Society is working on a project to create a Pictorial Cemetery Database with transcription records of all burials at Union Cemetery.  An example of how this database will look can be found HERE (example shows Crystal Lake Cemetery).

The information in this database will be compiled from a variety of sources.  The intent is to document the burials known to be at Union Cemetery.  Sources include: Cemetery records, funeral home records, McHenry County Genealogical Society Index of 2000, newspaper articles and obituaries, county histories, and on-site inspection.  Updates will be made to the database on an ongoing basis. The Society is in need of volunteers to accurately input records and/or photograph headstones. If you wish to help, please email us at: