The Path to Bachelors Grove

Brothers John and William Rick both married woman named Mary. Both Mary Ricks are buried in Bachelors Grove Cemetery, in two lots (#73 & #77) along with their husbands. Pictured below are the Rick brothers with their wives sometime after March 1909 as the woman pictured here is William’s second wife Theresa. Three of the four pictured persons are buried in Bachelors Grove.


One of the more difficult parts of genealogical research once you go back past a certain point in time is that there were many people with the same name. Having Two woman with the same name buried in a place that is known as having a very sketchy documentation history became a challenge. Little was known about the Rick family a few years ago. Their story, which we have been intrigued by for some time now, has slowly been coming together thanks to a couple of pretty amazing connections made.

For those of you who don’t know, Bachelors Grove Cemetery has a very broken historical trail. It has been one of our top goals since the development of The Path to Bachelors Grove to try to bring together as much FACTUAL, CONFIRMED information and or documentation. I say this with emphasis because another major challenge is the MIS INFORMATION circulating out there.

 How the cemetery started and its very early history is unknown as it is one of the oldest cemeteries in the area. We believe it started as a farmer’s cemetery. Before contemporary burial rituals reached the frontier, people buried the dead in the vicinity of where they lived, basically their back yard.  (Stay tuned for a firsthand account of burial procedures in early Blue Island Area tomorrow  here on the path page) We assume that either a family member could have died at some point was buried on what was their home at the time, and later down the road someone decided to continue burying locals in what would become the cemetery. There are many theories but only minimal documentation to support any of them.

The burial information for early years is just as broken. Misspellings, lack of information and families repeatedly naming their offspring after their predecessors come together in a frustrating trifecta of confusion!    So you can start to get an idea of how maddening it can become sometimes when we start researching a family that we know very little about to begin with. Sometimes that frustration turns to elation when all the hours of searching and comparing are rewarded with a major find!!

 
The Rick family story is one of those triumphs!! We have been able to piece together very slowly their stories. It began in the fall of 2013 when we measured Bachelors Grove lots inside the cemetery to determine what lot the infamous “Madonna” stone physically sits on. Our day’s efforts showed that it was lot #73 belonging to William and Mary Rick.  Mary’s death certificate was one of the first documents we located in the early days of our research. Her story always intrigued us as the death certificate shows her heartbreaking cause of death as being “Sepsis due to Childbirth”.  For some time now we never knew, but always wondered, what happened to the child. Did he die with the mother?

We located the 1910 census some time ago that showed William still living in Bremen with his new wife Theresa but no child listed. We could never locate a birth/death certificate for a child. We have always leaned towards the theory that the child had passed.  Connecting Mary’s story to the quilted stone that sits on Mary’s final resting place lead to the development of the theory that Mary Cague Rick could very well be the somber woman caught in 1991 sitting on the remains of a long ago vandalized and now unidentifiable family monument.

 Last year while putting together and researching burial information for the book Haunted Bachelors Grove by Ursula Bielski, a black and White photo was located of a headstone bearing the Rick family name and the first names John and Mary. We did not think that the headstone was from Bachelors Grove at first because the dates on the Death Certificate we had for Mary Rick and the dates on the headstone pictured did not match. Ursula was able to contact the woman who had the photo and learned that she had taken it in the 1960’s while on a Girl Scout clean up of Bachelors Grove. Subsequently, death records were found to show that there were, indeed two Mary Ricks buried in Bachelors Grove Cemetery, one of which is pictured here in the back row of the car.

This information leads to a little better understanding of who was buried in the lots in BG. But who were they and how were they related?? The photo here was located at Tinley Park Historical Society by Charles Williams last month and given to us by him last week (Thank You CW!!!).   The writing on the photo is what connected William and John as brothers.

This information lead us to finally find Mary’s son. For some reason the 1900 census popped up with William living alone with his one year old son William Cague Rick. After finding this we located his death certificate in 1973 listing Mary and William as his parents. It is strange that he was not on the census with his father and step mother in 1910. Did they send him to live with a relative?? Or is this just another mistake?  The next document we have on William Cague is the 1920 census, where he is listed as being twenty years old, single, working as a lumber handler and is living with an elderly woman to whom he is listed as a companion in the relation to head of household section. Clearly not a relative. In a time where young men generally lived with their families until they married and sometimes even for a short bit after. Why did this young man ,who was not listed as living in the his father’s household at 10 years of age in 1910 and in 1920 living with a non relative even though his father and step mother lived in the same town? There are probably many reasons this may have happened but it does seem a bit odd. It also points to a possible family distress as so many other Bachelors Grove family histories are known for as well. Could an overwhelming sense of injustice towards her son motivate Mary to return to her final resting place?

Add to this that within 100 ft of the “Madonna” stone and Mary Rick’s lot are buried 4 more infants and another mother who lost four of her six very small children within a two year period and  passing shortly after losing the last one.

The two lots bordering Mary Rick’s lot on the west side are listed as being owned by the Gray family. Last year we located death records and obituaries for two infants under 2 months, both with the last name gray. The relationship between the two infants is to date unknown as we have located little to no information about their parents.

A bit further west lays Hattie Strutzenberg Adams in the very South West corner of Bachelors Grove Cemetery in lot #82. Buried with her is a still born infant with the same name, Hattie Strutzenberg. The relationship between the two Hattie’s is to date unknown. We do know through family accounts that the adult Hattie’s family did not get along with her husband. When she passed the husband was so distraught after losing four children and then his wife that he left the burial arrangements up to her father, who buried her in Bachelors Grove.

As you can see we have located a lot of pieces of info over the last year to piece together a story. We have shared part fact and part theory with you here and will leave you to ponder for yourself the many different possible explanations for the strange goings on in Bachelors Grove.


Rick

Family Photos and Stories

Foreground: William Rick Sr and his Wife Theresa (second wife) William is buried in  *Lot #73 with his first wife Mary.

Background: Williams brother John and his wife Mary Ellen   *Lot #77