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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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Tiffany stained glass artwork adorns mausoleum

By Barry Schrader.................................November 15, 2011

Steve Bigolin, who leads several cemetery walks each year, took two busloads of people on a “Barbed Wire Barons” tour earlier this month and the startled tourists were shown something few in the area have ever gotten to view—a 1912 stained glass window designed by Tiffany artisans in the Isaac Ellwood mausoleum at Fairview Cemetery in DeKalb. The marble edifice is kept securely locked at all times so getting a peek inside was a rare opportunity.
The four foot wide artwork depicts a woman in a garden but since all the principals involved in commissioning this priceless work of art are long gone there is no recorded history to explain its depiction. The interior contains 36 crypts, 20 of them occupied with 16 remaining for future descendants who may choose to be interred there.
Bigolin also took people to the Haish monument nearby and explained the damaged front step. It seems young vandals tipped the massive urn at the top of the monument which fell and smashed the step. The family got an estimate of $15,000 to repair the damage and decided to let it just weather and blend in with the rest of the monument over time. A plaque on the top of the urn explains more about that family.
Now I want to go back a month to another tour, this one in Sycamore at the Elmwood Cemetery. Two of the presenters there besides Bigolin included young docents from the Sycamore History Museum, freshman Camilla Deja and middle schooler Roan Findley. The most startling revelation to me on that tour came from Museum president Jim Lyon who told us that Elmwood contains 144 Civil War veterans’ graves, the most of any private cemetery in the state. Lyon was dressed in his Sons of the Union

This priceless stained glass artwork designed by Tiffany in 1912 hangs inside the Ellwood Mausoleum unavailable for viewing by the general public

Sycamore History Museum president Jim Lyon shares his historical knowledge of the Elmwood Cemetery as John Boies, at left, listens.

Veterans of the Civil War uniform and along with Tom Oestreicher has cofounded the Gen. E.F. Dutton Camp to protect and preserve the memory, markers and grave sites of all the soldiers who fought in that 1860s conflict between North and South. Lyon also shared highlights of the life of the late Juanita Doss (1922-2001) who organized the first cemetery walk in Sycamore and was instrumental in many historical firsts in the community. She also wrote the book “Gone But Not Forgotten.”
After last week’s column on the widely varying prices of burial plots I received a call from Averil Schreiber up in Mayfield township. She informed me there are even less expensive grave sites than I had reported. It seems the cemetery adjacent to the Mayfield Congregational Church south of Kingston has single plots for $100 near the church and even lower priced ones closer to Aldrich Road at $300 for four plots. I had to check out these bargains when I went to their popular “whole hog sausage” pancake breakfast this past weekend and found the plots to be very peaceful for an eternal resting place. Now I promise not to write any more about cemeteries for at least the rest of this year.
Cemetery Bingo: I heard about a fascinating game that can be played by all family members. You select a nearby cemetery where you have not visited before and search out markers with your first name or birthday. In general, the person finding the most that match during the allotted time wins. Now someone must know more rules of that game so please let me know.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115