Certain things seem to us like they’ve been there forever. But, of course, the fact is, everything had to start sometime. Even cemeteries.
Take Lincoln Memorial Park for instance. It’s Kendall County’s largest cemetery, and unlike most of our cemeteries, didn’t start as a family or municipal burying ground. Rather, it was designed from the get-go as a cemetery. And oddly enough, it was touted by its developers as an investment machine as well as a place where a person’s mortal remains would rest for eternity.
The Lincoln Highway Cemetery, as it was first named, was situated along a brand new stretch of the coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway, U.S. Route 30. That stretch of road had been previously known as the Joliet Road south of Aurora. But in 1923, Kendall County purchased right of way to allow the course of the highway to curve to the left immediately east of the future cemetery, leaving what is now named Harvey Road behind and curving towards and paralleling the EJ&E right-of-way. As it was, the county board only had to buy about two miles of right-of-way, since the Lincoln Highway’s new route to Plainfield just clipped the corner of Oswego Township. As the Kendall County Record explained on Feb. 14, 1923:
The new right-of-way in Kendall county for the Lincoln highway is necessitated by a relocating of the route to shorten the distance between Plainfield and Aurora.
Interestingly enough, $1,000 of the purchase price of the right-of-way was donated by the Aurora Good Roads Council, the members of which were anxious to have their city connected to the paved coast-to-coast highway. On May 9, the Record reported that, with the right-of-way in hand, the state had awarded the low bid to build the slightly more than 5 mile section of highway from Plainfield to Aurora to the Chicago Heights Coal Company for $222,000. That was to pay for paving the road only, and did not include any work at the modern intersection of U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 34. Thanks to the Great Depression, it would be more than a decade before that interchange was designed and completed.
The backers of the Lincoln Highway promoted and encouraged businesses along its route to name themselves after the road. Lincoln Way in DeKalb (Route 38), for instance, is a leftover from that era, as is Lincoln Way in North Aurora–now Ill. Route 31. So naming the cemetery after the famed highway, newly paved along much of its route by 1929, was a good business decision.
The 93-acre cemetery was located on a portion of the old Gast farm, formerly the Albee farm, and the historic Albee House on the property was used as the cemetery offices. The brick Albee House was built about 1858, and was one of the Gast farmhouses until it was sold to the cemetery company. The cemetery officially opened in January 1929, but development work was not apparently completed until the autumn of that year. It wasn’t until October that advertisements for it appeared in the Kendall County Record.
Here’s how a half-page advertisement in the Oct. 2, 1929 Kendall County Record promoted the brand new Lincoln Highway Cemetery:
ABOUT LINCOLN HIGHWAY
Located on the permanent Highway Route 22, Kendall County’s newest park and lawn cemetery.
LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY was established January 1929. A charter was obtained from the state of Illinois in the same month. Active developments were started in May.
LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY is within 2 miles of the city limits of Aurora and is easily and quickly accessible to Chicago and suburban towns, yet it is removed from the encroachments of a rapidly growing city.
The founders had the wise forethought and prudent management to provide for future requirements in the inception and creation of a perpetual care fund to prevent the cemetery becoming a financial burden upon posterity..
LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY has earned the reputation of providing the best in cemetery location, environment, service, and perpetual care.
By next year, LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY will have a Ladies’ Flower Association, the membership of which will be composed of one or more women from the majority of families represented in the cemetery. The association will afford substantial cooperation and encouragement to the management. Flower day will be celebrated in June each year and will be sponsored by this association. It will be LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY’S annual memorial to those who sleep within its bounds.
A flood light 90 feet high will illuminate the cemetery at night. LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY will have its own privately owned and operated water system, furnishing an abundant volume of pure, clean water under high pressure from its own artesian well and reservoir to all parts of the cemetery. Hydrants will be so located as to be readily accessible for watering flowers for any grave.
The purchase of a lot in LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY is the very best investment in real property. It is an assurance against loss if held for ultimate use or a source of profit if bought and sold.
Investigate and you will learn that cemetery values in and near large centers of population have increased ten-fold during the past 20 years and cemetery properties are tax-free.
While it is the intention of the management as far as possible to call on every resident of Kendall County and explain more in detail the outstanding features of LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY, we would in all sincerity invite you to visit this cemetery and sense the beauty of its appeal to the fitness of your final needs and invest under conditions with your means and add immeasurably to your present peace of mind and your sense of security.
For information, Telephone Oswego 121 or address
LINCOLN HIGHWAY CEMETERY CO., INC.
Today, the cemetery remains one of the largest in Kendall County. But it was new once, just like everything else.