According to the Forest Preserve District of Will County, Illinois used to have 22 million acres of prairie land, but that number has dwindled down to roughly 2,000.
About one acre of prairie land can be found at Vermont Cemetery.
“This preserve is a very unique,” said Jennifer Guest, a program coordinator at the Forest Preserve District of Will County. “We’re standing in tall grass prairie. This is an original prairie remnant, and the reason why it’s still here is because the cemetery is here. So this land was never plowed, grazed, or farm on because of the gravestones that are here at the gravesite.”
Vermont Cemetery Preserve is 37 acres, but the actual cemetery is off limits to the public and is a state nature preserve.
Most of the 25 known gravestones at the cemetery have been eroded, aren’t visible because of the prairie, or have been stolen by grave robbers.
Families like the Books, who have a road named after them in Naperville, who could afford more expensive gravestones stand the test of time.
“John and Margaret [Book] came here and brought John’s oldest son Jacob with them, he’s also buried the cemetery,” said Guest. “They had a huge farm. They were farmers, they employed a lot of people in this area.”
There are other gravestones that now are a part of the grounds, and one that has a tree growing out of it.
Vermont Cemetery was built in the 1840’s with the last person being buried there in 1911. Like any other cemetery, this one too has a ghost story associated with it.
The Ghost Story of Vermont Cemetery
“[There’s] a story about a local area resident whose great grandparents lived in the area. And they were coming down Normantown Road on their horse and buggy at dusk and they saw someone walking down the road,” said Guest. “As they got closer they thought it was their neighbor. And when they got really close they realized it was their neighbor but it was their deceased neighbor. And so they were a little puzzled by that because that neighbor had been buried here at Vermont Cemetery. And so they just took their horse and buggy in the dusk right along like nothing was happening. When they looked back the neighbor walked back into the cemetery and disappeared.”
The Forest Preserve District of Will County will have a Facebook live-streamed event talking more about the cemetery on October 29 at 12 p.m.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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