Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest

Chicago and Chicagoland cemeteries where blues musicians are buried.

This is the external cover and description page for the lists, called "Virtual Cemeteries" in their vernacular, that I have prepared at FindAGrave.com of Chicago blues musicians who are buried in or near Chicagoland. These musicians, along with a few selected individuals who have been instrumental in supporting and promoting the Chicago blues. Most are not well known names, but have had some documented involvement in the Chicago blues over the decades - or maybe who I just wanted to add on a whim. Their names have generally been included in at least one authoritative, published source and they likely would have had at least one published recording. Warning: There will be mistakes here. Records were skimpy and these musicians were often nomadic, so tracking them down has been a challenge. In a number of cases, best guesses have been necessary. Corrections and additions enthusiastically welcomed.

Many musicians do not limit themselves to a single genre and lines are often especially blurry as regards the blues which are the bedrock of and co-exist with many of those associated generes such as gospel, jazz and boogie-woogie. Later there is Motown, Soul, Rhythm & Blues and even Rock and Roll. Many such cross-over artists will also be included here, usually based on having recorded or performed with more traditional blues musicians.

I expended the scope of the "Chicagoland" area somewhat to include cemeteries within about a half day drive from Chicago. These musicians would definitely be within the influence of the Chicago style and were part of that scene. The boundary is roughly from Milwaukee to the north, Champaign-Urbana to the south, the Illinois-Iowa border on the Mississippi (Rockford, Moline, Peoria) to the west and Indianapolis to the east. Most of these burials are, however, in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago and suburbs); Lake County, Indiana (Gary) and a few in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis). Outside those counties, the burials are scattered and few but still significant players.

Most of the burials of blues musicians around Chicago are concentrated in the historically black cemeteries in Cook County, Illinois, located in the South Side of the City of Chicago or the adjacent South Suburbs of Cook County. A few "West Siders" are at Oakridge-Glen Oaks Cemetery in Hillside. Following is a list of those cemeteries in Cook County, roughly listed by proximity to each other and very roughly, but not always, west to east. Possibly in the future, a clearer, more sophisticated, interactive map that will better show their relative locations and clusters.

Reports of burials from various sources (reference books, obituaries, death certificates, etc.) may use different jurisdiction (town/village/city, township or neighborhood) names for these, which will be confusing. The names may also loosely used in a not precisely correct manner.

All above cemeteries which include multiple blues burials are in Cook County. In suburban Cook County (outside the City of Chicago) there are 30 civil townships (as contrasted with survey townships). These are governmental units with paid bureaucrats and taxing authority. Death records may sometimes give the location of the cemetery as one of those civil townships, rather than the town. Within the city of Chicago, there are 77 community areas , a designation that is informal and well known, but has no official capacity. (See also Chicago neighborhoods .) These are different from Wards (which are redistricted every ten years) and Parishes. Death records may sometimes give the location of the cemetery as one of those community areas rather than the town or civil township.

The above is list is correct and is the generally accepted name for the name and town of the cemetery. The name of the cemetery is its generally accepted name and the one used as the primary name at findagrave.com. The highlighted link directs to its profile page at findagrave.com.

According to Wikipedia, the following cemeteries are located in Worth Township: Beverly Memorial Park, Burr Oak, Chapel Hills Gardens South, Ever Rest (historical), Evergreen, First Evangelical Lutheran, Hazel Green, Holy Sepulchre, Lincoln, Mount Greenwood, Mount Hope, Oak Hill, Restvale, Saint Benedict Catholic and Saint Marys. Note that Worth Township is a civil township, one of the 30 within suburban Cook County, Illinois. It is a unit of government with taxing authority and different and indepdnent of survey townships although boundaries of some civil townships may be overlaid upon and roughly correspond to boundaries of multiple survey townships.

Mount Glenwood: There are two "Mount Glenwood" cemeteries: South and West. They are no where near each other, about 15 miles apart. "South" is at the South Side of Chicago while "West" is in the southwest suburb of Willow Springs. Apparently "West" was originally known as Archer Woods, that name still appearing on its entrance posts, and was acquired at some point (ca. 1990's?) by the owners of "South." The office that maintains regular hours is located at the "South" cemetery; "West" opens by appointment only. Various documents such as death certificates refer to just "Mt. Glenwood." It is presumed that is more likely South, the concentration of the black population. Those documents seem to specifically include "West" in the name when that is the case. But even when "South" or "West" (especially "West") is stated, there may have been confusion on the part of the preparer. At this point, I have not confirmed burials at either. So we cannot assume here.

Special thanks needs to go to the authors of Blues A Regional Experience which is the source for many of the names, especially those lesser known as well as burial locations for many. This is an incredibly rich, detailed, thoroughly researched and accurate encyclopedia of blues musicians, past and present. It is especially significant in that it presents these musicians according to their geographic origin which has significant impact upon their style of blues. All blues is not created the same, that is why here I focus on the "Chicago blues." It is a must-have for any serious (or non-serious) researcher and well worth the price (which statement this old skin-flint does not make casually).

For those memorials I have added at Find-A-Grave, I generally have only entered a very cryptic description due to time limitations and the first priority of just finding the locations. Those musicians usually have much more extensive and detailed biographical information elsewhere on the web which is usually copyrighted and cannot be just copied over to Find-A-Grave memorials. In just a couple cases I have written more extensive bios. when none other existed.

Any effort such as this is highly susceptible to error. Documentation behind the lives of many of these musicians is especially thin. Reports of burials come from various sources (reference books, obituaries, death certificates, etc.) which themselves may have had difficulty obtaining correct information. So any additions, corrections and updates are enthusiastically solicited.

Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest at Findagrave.com

Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest "Virtual Cemetery" at Findagrave.com

This is a list of burials (they call "Memorials") shown individually at FindAGrave.com that I created as what they call a "virtual cemetery." A number of Memorials had been previously entered by various inviduals and are controlled ("Managed") by them. A large number more were entered by me from various sources so I have the ability to update those. I have added a large number of individuals for whom I have death date and other biographical data, but do not yet know the cemetery. They are the "unknowns." They would have lived in the Chicago area or died there so most likely would have been buried in one of the local cemeteries, but not necessarily. It is a best guess.

A couple individuals whose memorials I do not control are shown in Find-A-Grave as "unknown" burials. I have found their burial locations but despite repeated requests, the "managers" of those memorials have chosen to ignore my update requests. They are:

Please send any further additions, updates and corrections to my email address at the end.

Unknown Burials

Subsequently, I created a second list that is a subset of the first which shows just the unknown burials, included in the above list, which are presumed in or near the Chicagoland area. This is to help focusing on finding them.

Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest "Virtual Cemetery" at Findagrave.com - Unknown burials

They would have lived in the Chicago area or died there so most likely would have been buried in one of the local cemeteries, but not necessarily. This is a best guess.

Following is a viewable and downloadable plain text file (July, 2015 - not current):

Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest - Unknown burials (Text - Single Spaced)  
  Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest - Unknown burials (Text - Double Spaced)

I have checked various sources already to attempt to locate these unknown's, so they generally do not need to be re-checked unless I really missed something. In rough order of success they are:

  1. [*] A number of deaths are reported as occurring specifically in Chicago, particularly in Blues A Regional Experience but I was unable to find them listed in Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1939, 1955-1994 or elsewhere. The actual death location may have been in suburban Cook County, near Chicago.
  2. [**] Note that for Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1939, 1955-1994 the years 1955-1994 include City of Chicago only. Also, there were a number of individuals who should have appeared in this index but I couldn't find, so there may be unshown gaps or other idiosyncrasies in its coverage or even reliability of its search engine.
I have found a significant number of individuals listed in the index of Cook County Death Certificates for various periods which would show the cemetery BUT each one costs $15 just to look at the image online (Crook County politicians are desperate for any money they can extort from the people). They all add up to too much money. So any tips or leads are greatly appreciated!!

Burials Elsewhere

A third list of blues musicians who have had a long term involvement with the Chicago blues, lived in the area for many years (often decades) who may have died in the area but are known to have been buried or inurned far outside the Chicagoland area. This includes cremations where location of ashes is unknown, presumed still in possession of the family.

Chicago Blues Musicians at Rest "Virtual Cemetery" at Findagrave.com - Burials outside the Chicagoland area.

Other Blues Burial Websites - Outside the Chicago Area

Steve Auterman of WEVL Memphis and host of "The Deep Blues Show" has created his own website which includes names and burial locations of blues artists but is nationwide in scope. These sites are, as expected, works in progress. See: "Blues Gravesites"

Illinois Cemetery Laws

In Illinois, cemetery records are explicitly open to public inspection by statute. There is no provision to charge for access, only a "reasonable" fee for a copy. Maps are also required to be available to the public, again with a "reasonable" fee for a copy. See Illinois Cemetery Laws on this website.

Blues Histories - Video Documentaries

Extended video documentaries focusing on historic Chicago blues scene and performers, some mixed other locations and performers.

Blues Histories - Other Online

Big Bill Broonzy

Series of three hour-long interviews by Andrew Patner with Bob Riesman, author of "I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy"

Bob Riesman (Author) on Big Bill Broonzy – Part 1 (Rebroadcast)

broonzy

Andrew Patner talks with Bob Riesman, author of the book “I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy,” in the first of a 2013 series on the legendary Chicago blues and folk musician.

Bob Riesman (Author) on Big Bill Broonzy – Part 2 (Rebroadcast)

broonzy

Andrew Patner talks with Bob Riesman, author of the book “I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy,” in the second of a 2013 series on the legendary Chicago blues and folk musician.

Bob Riesman (Author) on Big Bill Broonzy – Part 3 (Rebroadcast)

broonzy

Andrew Patner talks with Bob Riesman, author of the book “I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy,” in the last of a 2013 series on the legendary Chicago blues and folk musician.

Blues Histories - Websites

Blues Histories - Misc. Articles

  • Maxwell Street
    • A Visit To Maxwell Street
    • Musicians Also Singing The Maxwell Street Blues : April 13, 1994 : By Howard Reich, Tribune Arts Critic.
    • Maxwell Street Blues : The Sunday-morning market may be in danger, but thanks to a new generation of bluesmen the music is as strong as ever. : By David Whiteis
    • Ora Nelle [Record label] by George Paulus & Robert L. Campbell, February 1, 2014 Exceptionally thorough and detailed page documenting the short-lived Ora Nelle record label originated by Bernard "Bernie" Abrams out of his record shop on Maxwell Street.
    • "Maxwell Street Princess" Reminiscences by Fern Abrams Packer, daughter of Bernie and "Red" Abrams, owners of Maxwell Street Radio and Records
    • Big Road Blues Show 9/28/08: Maxwell Street Blues "Today's show is called Maxwell Street Blues in tribute to Mike Shea's legendary film on Chicago's Maxwell Street Market, And This Is Free ..." The link is to the archive site for Big Road Blues , a radio program that
      ... airs on Sundays 5 to 7 PM (EST) on WGMC Jazz 90.1 [Greece, New York] and streams live on the web. The show is an exploration of African-American music, namely the music that falls in the standard blues discographies, spanning the 1920ís through the 1970ís. Each week we examine different themes, in essence the show is a history of the blues in two hour installments in no particular chronology. In addition to classic artists, the show focuses an equal amount of time on those forgotten blues figures from the past; from the once popular artists who are now a memory to the obscure artists who may have only cut a handful of 78's, 45's, LP's or were recorded in the field. This site is updated regularly with playlists, show notes and occasional articles and reviews.
  • Delta Fish Market
  • The "Delta Fish Market" was an actual store on Chicago's West Side that sold fish, particularly catfish imported live from Mississippi's Delta Region. It was owned and operated by Oliver Davis who was also an accomplished slide guitarist in the Mississippi Delta style. He was born 18 May 1943 in Greenville, Mississippi and moved to Chicago where he opened his first store in the late 1970's at Washington and Kedzie. Around 1980 he moved the store a few blocks to the northwest corner of Jackson and Kedzie (228 S. Kedzie) where he converted an old gas station that had a large parking lot. He built a stage and beginning in the early 1980's blues musicians of all types would arrive on Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings during the good weather months to play. After a time, interest declined but there was a resurgance in the early 1990's that continued for a few more years. By about 1997/1998 it had ended. (Last reference found in media is from August, 1996.) Oliver Davis, Sr. passed 29 January 2007 at the age of 63. As of 2015, the site is a large parking lot.

  • Misc. Topics

 


E-Mail to Neal

Main Genealogy home page