St. Johannes and Rest Haven


St. Johannes and Rest Haven Cemeteries were surrounded by orchards when they were begun in 1837 and 1840, respectively. St. Johannes (alternately, St. John's) was once a churchyard; the church was removed years ago.

After the turn of the century, Orchard Place Airfield was established nearby. Orchard Place would eventually become the nation's businest airport and would be renamed O'Hare, in honor of local WWII hero Edward "Butch" O'Hare. The cemeteries remained.

Irving Park road runs along the southern perimiter of the airport. A rough access road, the entrance barely noticeable, allows you to drive north into the airport grounds. Just past a trailer and parking area for sanitation vehicles, Rest Haven comes into view. A rather small cemetery, Rest Haven has only a handful of monuments. A sign in one corner informs us that it was dedicated in 1840, rededicated in 1986.

Proceeding north past Rest Haven, the visitor will cross railroad tracks, follow a few curves in the tree-lined road, and then enter a large open area. The road widens, and is surrounded by 12' chain link fences with coils of barbed wire atop. Signs posted on the fence read "Restricted Area". To the right, only a few hundred feet away, is the end of a runway, where planes take off or land every few minutes. To the left, within the fenced-in area, is St. Johannes Cemetery.

These cemeteries are now endangered. Governor Ryan and Mayor Daley wish to expand O'Hare airport, placing a new runway where St. Johannes now stands.

St. Johannes is owned by St. John's United Church of Christ, Bensenville. The St. John's Church Council and St. Johannes Cemetery Alliance are working hard to save these sacred grounds from destruction in the name of progress. Information about this campaign, and newsletters, can be found at Saving Graves:

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