Oakwood Cemetery is one of the more significant historic cemeteries on Chicago’s South Side with burial sites of renowned figures like Mayor Harold Washington, civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, and Olympian Jesse Owens. It is also the site of the final resting place of up to 6,000 Confederate soldiers, the largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere. #thechicagoscene
Oak Woods Cemetery Association was organized in 1853 by a group of city leaders. Today, it is one of Chicago’s most widely known and respected institutions. Previous to the time when Oak Woods Cemetery was incorporated, most burial places were churchyards or small plots adjacent to cities or towns. The 9 men who organized Oak Woods secured the services of Dolph Strauch, foremost landscape architect and designer, and the foundation was laid for the conception of a cemetery capable of development into a beautiful park with wide lawns and winding roads.
On Feb. 12, 1853, the Illinois State legislature granted a special perpetual charter to the Oak Woods Cemetery Association. One of the few cemeteries to be organized and operated by virtue of a special legislative act, the charter guaranteed a permanent resting place for those who would find peace among the wooded, lake-studded acres.