Remembering our Venice ancestors' final resting place
The new sign marking the location of the St. Mark Church and Venice Methodist Episcopal Church cemeteries was dedicated at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2016.
The sign is located at the northern end of the nearly 10-acre tract. It is at the intersection of Propes Ave and Access Street. You can scroll to the bottom of this page to see where the cemeteries are located.
From Nameoki Road, you can access the area by turning onto E. 25th Street then right at Charles Street. This is the south end of the cemetery property. You can also access the area from Propes Avenue, but it is blocked off at Nameoki. Access is also possible from the west using Hodges, Sheridan or Jerden avenues.
Many former residents of Venice were buried in these cemeteries as well as others from Madison and Granite City. You can read more about the cemeteries on this page. .
First established in 1900, burials continued until 1938
Due in large part of the work of the Madison County Genealogy Society back in 1993, we now know there were two cemeteries in Granite City with direct connections to Venice.
The Venice Methodist Episcopal Church established a cemetery east of what is now Nameoki Road (Illinois Route 203) in 1900. Father Peter Kaenders, pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church, saw the need for his church to have a cemetery as well. So in 1906, he made a deal to purchase the north end of the Methodist cemetery and established the St. Mark Catholic Cemetery.
The cemeteries are located just west of Nameoki Road and are now bordered on the north by Propes Ave, on the south by East 25th St., on the west by an access road and on the east it was literally bordered by the former Kirkpatrick Homes operated by the Granite City Housing Authority. The old apartments have since been razed and new energy-efficient apartments have been built. The new layout of the housing complex now places a green space between it and the cemetery site.
The history committee began discussions about erecting some kind of marker or sign at the site several years ago, but the project was not followed through with until this past winter when some of the members started talking about it again. This time, over several months and several regular meetings of the group, various design ideas were discussed and many area signs of various types and sizes were researched and further refinements of the design were made. The long and deliberate process resulted in the design shown at the top of this page.
Access to the site can be made from Nameoki Road to west onto Edwards Street, then north on Charles Street. Access can also be made from East 25th St., Hodges, Sheridan, Jerden and Propes avenues from the west.
The almost 10-acre tract is maintained by the Granite City Township, which keeps the grass well-groomed for such a large area.
Only a couple of the grave markers remain in place on the site, but records, which are incomplete, show that as many as 2,100 deceased, many from Venice, were buried in the two cemeteries. After the establishment of Calvary Cemetery, in 1925, and Sunset Hill Cemetery in what is now Glen Carbon, some the remains in the two Venice-connected cemeteries were moved and reinterred in those and other cemeteries.
Subsequent to the active use of the cemeteries, they fell into disrepair and maintenance of the grounds became nonexistent. Many gravestones were damaged or broken and many were toppled over. During the 1970s and later, the area was frequently visited by the Granite City police responding to calls about teenagers drinking and doing drugs amongst the grave markers.
The Madison County Genealogy Society was able to find records of burials in the cemeteries from local funeral homes and in church records. The society members have compiled the records into a volume of 151 pages, including an index by last name so you can find who is buried there and on which page to look for more information.
The large PDF file has been divided into four more managable files. Part 1 includes Odd Fellows Cemetery, also known as Old Irish and Spanish, located north of the Lowe's store just west of Illinois Route 3. Part 2 covers the Methodist section, Part 3 is the St. Mark portion and Part 4 is the index. The files are available below, just click on one of the images and the file will open. Please be patient as several are still rather large files.
One of the pages of the first part includes a list of past and present (this was in 1993) undertakers and funeral homes. Some may be surprised to find out that the first eight listed were located in Venice. The single page can be accessed by clicking on the link to the left.
THE WAY IT ONCE WAS: This is a view of the cemetery taken during the 1940s.
THE WAY IT IS TODAY: This is a portion of the cemetery showing the only above-ground grave marker remaining with the new apartments seen in the background in this view looking east.
AERIAL VIEW of the cemeteries in East Granite City. Namoeki Road runs from top to bottom on the right. The cemeteries are outlines at the left and the approximate location of the new sign is marked at the north end of the tract. Click on the photo to view a larger version. Below is a receipt for a funeral that took place in 1915. Click on the photo for a larger version so the itemized prices are legible.
THE EARLIEST KNOWN MAP that shows a cemetery in the approximate location of the two church cemeteries. The map is from a Madison County Atlas dated 1906. At that time the cemeteries and surrounding area was part of Nameoki Township. The east-west streets had different names on the map, but the north-south streets still have the same names.