Cook County, Illinois Poor Farm and Cemetery to be Preserved

The following excerpt is from a December 25, 2012 AP story published in the Chicago Tribune.

Imagine strolling through a wooded acreage once called home by early 20th century occupants of a poor farm and patients of a tuberculosis infirmary.

… just 25 miles from Chicago.

That’s the plan for the Oak Forest Heritage Preserve, more than 170 acres of rolling forest and wetlands in Chicago’s south suburbs….

The site served as working farm, an infirmary and, from 1910 until 1971, the burial ground for Cook County’s indigents. Planners envision an interpretive museum, trails through fields of native plants and a community garden where the county poor farm once operated.

In the first $1 million phase of the Cook County Forest Preserve project, a 1.5-mile loop trail will guide visitors through the preserve’s main sites, with signs recounting land’s long-forgotten stories.

Someday, if funding can be secured, visitors interested in genealogy may be able to search through records of the more than 90,000 people who were buried in the cemetery, perhaps finding traces of an ancestor’s story. Handwritten volumes still exist that recorded the deceased’s name, country of origin, cause of death and occupation. Those records eventually could be used to create a searchable database at a visitors’ center.

Read the full and extensive AP article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

1 thought on “Cook County, Illinois Poor Farm and Cemetery to be Preserved”

  1. I would be most interested when data are available from this poor farm and TB infirmary or the Dunning Poor farm. My father was born to Catherine Ross or Catherine Ross Doyle. June 18, 1911 she had a son whom she named Joseph Ross Doyle, born in Chicago, Ill. In 1912 she took the baby to the Chicago Foundling Home (he was featured as the baby of the month in their magazine). At that time she said that her husband (Doyle) had died in an accident and that she had TB and was dying. He was adopted by George W. Applegate and Sara Anna Harding Applegate of Hanna, Indiana and was renamed George Harding Applegate. The adoption was finalized in LaPorte, Indiana – I think in 1913. He died in 2005 in Warsaw, IN. I have searched for information about his birth mother for several years with no luck. I have contacted the Cook County Dept of Health without success. I believe she died in Chicago, but she may have gone to a poor farm or TB infirmary once she secured the safety of her son. How can I learn when data will be available? Thanks you. Margaret Applegate. P.S. I don’t know what a Captcha is

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