Moraine Township

Daggitt - Winter Issue 2010

Township Cemeteries: Daggitt & Mooney
Do You Have a Plot Deed We Should Know About?

Moraine Township operates two historic cemeteries, Daggitt and Mooney. You may be surprised to learn that these were relatively recent acquisitions, and are not filled with paupers’ graves. In fact, they each have an interesting history associated with our earliest settlers.

Daggitt Cemetery (also called Grace, sometimes Braeside, or spelled Daggett), located on Lake Cook Road near the Braeside train station, was essentially abandoned until taken over by the Township in 1996. Mooney’s Cemetery, on Ridge near Deerfield Road, adjacent to St. Mary’s Cemetery, was acquired from the family in 1960. To our knowledge, no plots remain in Daggitt.

(end of excerpt)

Daggitt - Summer Issue 2010

Daggitt History
As promised (in the last issue), we now turn our attention to the history of Daggitt/Daggett/Grace/Braeside Cemetery. Accounts in sources cited in our last issue of Talk of the Township, like Marvyn Wittelle’s Pioneer to Commuter: The Story of Highland Park (1958, Rotary) and local newspaper stories by the late Elaine Snyderman (1974) and Evelyn Lauter (in the Highland Park News August 25, 1949; available on microfilm at Highland Park Public Library), by Christine Verstraete (March 1987 and May 1987), and other undated articles and oral histories, form the basis of this report.

The cemetery is located on Lake Cook (County Line) Road [aerial view PDF] near the Braeside Metra station. Like many pioneer cemeteries, it began as a portion of a family homestead where possibly of necessity, family members came to be buried. Whereas Mooney’s story concerns Irish Catholics, Daggitt’s is about pioneering Protestants – Methodist English and Lutheran German settlers. The likely earliest one, Robert Daggitt (originally Daggett), sadly found that his carpentry skills were employed in building coffins for three of his own nine children after emigrating from England and arriving in this area in 1837 (possibly1839*). Two daughters, Ann, 13, and Rachel, 21, died of “quick consumption” (tuberculosis), in 1845 and 1847, followed in 1848 by a son, James, 18, injured by a falling tree. Daggitt allowed neighbors to use this half-acre of his property as well, eventually purchasing a state charter for the burial ground, and charging $1 per grave. (Daggitt’s holdings grew to variously reported 1150-3000 acres, from near the lake westward; his sheep were said to graze on what is now Ravinia Park, and his land included the present day Chicago Botanic Gardens.) Wittelle’s account says that he was aware of impoverished neighbors burying small infant caskets unseen at night, into unmarked graves; Synderman relates that during a cholera epidemic of the 1850s, Daggitt donated gravesites for his neighbors’ use. Many of those neighbors were from Germany and had founded a Lutheran church along County Line Road (whose boundaries were fluid for a time, between Highland Park and Glencoe, Lake and Cook counties).

In 1862, Robert and Elizabeth Daggitt legally transferred the family burial ground to a group of specifically enumerated local residents “and such persons as may hereafter become associated with them,” with John Fehd and “Robert Daggitt, Jr.” named initial co-trustees. We surmise that the latter is most likely the same Robert, since no “junior” appears again, and lists his father as Robert as well. The tract was to be known as Grace Cemetery (misspelled in the historic documents as “Semetteray”). Transaction records are on file at the Township office, and in PDF format on our website, along with other documentation for this article. The transaction of 1862 was recorded in 1871 (page 3 of the PDF). It also lists specific lot numbers reserved as “family burying ground” that you can see marked on the 1887 plat.

Robert died in 1871. "Grace Cemetery" was platted and registered in 1887, with Robert’s son Joseph Daggett [sic], and John Fehd named as co-trustees. The last cemetery legal transactions on record occur in 1910, as researched by the City of Highland Park around 1985, when the property was in disrepair and responsibility for its maintenance was sought.

Oral histories don’t completely agree about the details, and record-keeping seems to have been conducted within the individual families on behalf of the extended Daggitts and their German ancestry neighbors. A great many markers are in German, in fact. We have very little information about the other pioneer families buried at Daggitt, but many well-known names prominent in Glencoe and Highland Park histories can be found there.

Over the years, local preservationists and various genealogists have attempted to create order or track down the cemetery’s history; inventories from 1959 and 1986 are in Township files; a USGenWeb online “reading” is from 2002. Julia Johnas of the Highland Park Public Library was again very helpful in researching records, as were personnel from the Lake County Recorder’s Office, who provided scanned archival information. The Internet has been a boon to our research.

English heritage family descendants[family chart of those buried at Daggitt] like Joseph Daggitt’s great-niece, Rose Dennis Booth [oral history] of Glencoe, [unattributed pre-1941 news article]attempted to maintain the property, but could not keep up with the vandalism. Interviewed at age 79 in 1974, she told Snyderman that Charles Dennis, her father, had deeded the grounds to the City of Highland Park in 1941, to remain permanently a cemetery or revert to a public park. No such records were found, according to March, 1987 news reporting by Verstraete. In a 1978 letter to her, Township Supervisor Robert Moroney inquired about “Braeside Cemetery,” as it was also popularly known, but the files do not contain her reply. Mrs. Booth died in 1984 and was, as far as we know, the last person buried at Daggitt. No marker with her name on it has been found, and the funeral home managing the burial had no specific information.

In 1996, through cooperative legal and clean-up efforts by the City and Park District of Highland Park, Daggitt Cemetery became the responsibility of Deerfield/now Moraine Township. Unfortunately, the bronze dedication plaque gives an inaccurate date (1843) for when the grounds became a family burial site; as noted, the year was 1845, upon the death of young Ann Daggitt.

Decades of neglect and vandalism, Halloween nights of fun and mayhem, theft of marble markers for baking use and nature’s destruction of inscriptions on soft stone make tracing many of the family histories difficult or impossible, but what remains is worth a visit.

(end of edited "Talk of the Township" article)

* Daggitt family tradition claimed 1837, a year they also said Robert and family arrived on the Benjamin Franklin but that ship's passenger inventory on lists a family group that seems to be our Daggitts on a voyage in 1839. However, because of transcription errors, the 9 could have been a 7, just as the names and ages have been jumbled (entered as the family of "Richard Dogets", with names and ages of the children very close to known Daggitt family and thought to be one and the same). Thomas's obituary, for example, says he was 14 upon arrival, and that it was in 1837, which is consistent with d/o/b for Robert identified as being 44 on passage. We invite research.

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