This year, Dundee Township officials reached a macabre milestone.
The elected officials, keepers of two cemeteries, filled their 10,000th grave. With little fanfare and just as much mention, township leaders now must turn their attention to opening another burial section for the next 10,000, said Dundee Township Supervisor Sue Harney.
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That section will be in Dundee Township Cemetery East along Route 25 in East Dundee, and it is scheduled to open in April.
"(The new section) will include a columbaria, which is an aboveground wall where cremated ashes are placed in compartments," Harney said.
The names of people will be engraved on a plaque, which will be affixed to front of the compartments. The new burial section will have room for 2,000 more graves, said Robert Block, Dundee Township clerk and secretary of the township cemetery board.
It even has room for expansion for township officials fill their 12,000th grave. Then, they will open another adjacent plot of land.
The East Dundee cemetery is the only publicly owned graveyard in Dundee Township that still offers burial plots for sale. The township's other cemetery, Dundee Township Cemetery West, along Route 31, has been nearly filled for years.
It started in the 1800s before the Civil War.
"We perform a few burials a year in the West cemetery," Block said. "Those are for people whose family members purchased plots years ago."
The West cemetery is landlocked and expansion is out of the question. The East cemetery, where the majority of the 10,000 graves are, opened in 1892. It started as a cornfield, and as township cemetery board members needed, they used more land for graves and less for corn.
Ten years ago, a Dundee Township burial was popular among Chicago area residents who were looking for inexpensive graves. As a result, space was used more quickly. Since then, township officials have increased the price of a graves, putting them on the same level as publicly owned cemeteries in townships the same size.
The increasing number of cremations also slowed space consumption in the East cemetery.
"The (rate of land use) is slower than the 1960s and 1970s because more people are choosing cremation," Block said.
In the existing section, a grave for a Dundee Township resident costs $600. In the new section, a grave will cost $750 for Dundee Township residents. The cost of space for cremation remains in the existing cemetery section is $350, Block said.