Union Street/Old City Cemetery, Center TownshipIndex of Union Street/Old City Cemetery burials . . . .
The Union Street Cemetery, also known as the Old City Cemetery, is located at
400 Union Street in Valparaiso. The cemetery, the oldest located in Valparaiso,
is fenced, gated, and under lock and key due to past vandalism to tombstones. A
key to gain entrance can be obtained from the City Garage, located south of the
cemetery on Brick Street.
Many tombstone in this cemetery have been damaged due to age and/or vandalism. Also, numerous burials have no tombstone marking the burial location. In May 1969, the old wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetery was removed and replaced with a security fence to prevent entrance and, ultimately, vandalism to tombstones.
The following article concerning the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the June 11, 1930, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 3, Page 5, Columns 7 and 8]:
THE OLD CEMETERY
EDITOR'S NOTE -- Following is one of a series of articles written by members of Miss Mabel Benney's English class about historical subjects of interest in and around Valparaiso.
On the outskirts of almost every town the size of Valparaiso is usually an old burial place. The old Valparaiso city cemetery has been a burial ground since 1838 and some of the dates on the markers go back to the late seventeen hundreds and many to the early eighteen hundreds. The old plot lies between Union street, the Pennsylvania railroad, Locust street, and Axe avenue.
The cemetery stands on a high hill sloping gently to the Pennsylvania railroad on the south and with a steep decline to Union street on the north. The high banks on Union street with their velvety covering of well kept grass beyond the ancient iron picket fence presents a beautiful approach. The long disused drive seems half guarded by the gates which hang on their rusty hinges, for few burials are now to be made in the old plot. The disused drive has become practically a lover's lane as the dawn creeps over the east side. Branching as it does into two paths, one of which leads to the east and one to the west on the south side. One of these leads to the Axe avenue railroad crossing in the extreme southwest corner, while the other opens into the Valparaiso university campus on the east side. Thus the main path with its two connecting bypaths forms a perfect T.
A wall of lilacs, in the shadows of which lurks the unseen iron fence, flanks the entire eastern stretch. Bushes and shrubs of many varieties grow along the fence that marks the railroad's right-of-way on the south.
On the steep hill of the northern entrance stand two stately maple trees, like silent sentinels guarding the gates while in the extreme northwestern hollow a small clump of lilacs flourishes. A weeping willow, predominant of trees, with it's long green tresses in season stands on the left side of the grassy drive, like a mourning giant. In the heart of the cemetery many spruce, hickory, and oak trees of immense size look down on the ancient graves. On the immediate right side of the drive is a long hedge of wax berry, back of which a giant catalpa tree flourishes. The cemetery is having excellent care from the old sexton who keeps the bushes in trim and the graves in neat order. He seems perfectly satisfied with his lonesome job and is to be seen early in the spring transplanting peonies and geraniums. He mows one side of the graveyard one week and the other the next.
The old cemetery, on a quiet day, is an ideal spot wherein to follow Bryant's advice, "Go forth under the open sky and listen to nature's teachings."
The following article concerning the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the July 31, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 10, Page 1, Column 3]:
WARN VANDALS OF PROSECUTION
City Councilman Joseph Durnd today warned culprits who have been playing the part of vandals in Old City Ceemtery, Union street, that if caught, they will be prosecuted.
"I can't understand why boys will take hammers, go into the cemetery, and wreck tombstones," stated the councilman, "but," he added, "if we catch anyone at this business we will prosecute to the limit of the law."
Caretaker George Blount reports that there have been several instances of vandalism in the cemetery.
The following article concerning the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the October 21, 1947, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 21, Number 92, Page 1, Columns 2 and 3]:
Deplores Destruction of Lot In Pioneer Cemetery
By MISS MABEL BENNEY
An act of unparalleled destruction was perpetrated by two girls at the Old City Cemetery last Thursday. The lot of David Chaney, who gave the graveyard to the city, is a shambles. The simple obelisk at his grave, erected in 1840, lies on the ground in three pieces. The smaller stone at the grave of a grandson is also on the ground. He was a Civil War soldier. The stones were in perfect condition. George McGillicuddy had recently put a new foundation under the obelisk.
That there might be no doubt as to the malice of the deed, there was scribbled in pencil on a large square stone on the fourth lot of the group, "This stone is too heavy to push over."
The cemetery is kept in good condition by the city. Sixty-four Union soldiers are buried there and many of the founders of the city. A neighbor woman, who saw the girls at work, telephoned the police but they have not discovered the miscreants. This plot has furnished valuable details to many of the abstracts of College Hill property. David Chaney acquired the land in 1835.
The following article concerning the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the February 13, 1952, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 25, Number 188, Page 1, Column 4]:
Reports Vandals Have Been Active In 2 Cemeteries
Damage wrought by cars driving and parking on the lawn of the city's Maplewood cemetery and by vandals who have pushed out of position some markers in the Old city cemetery on Union street, was brought to the attention of the city council Monday.
Councilman Al Rader, cemetery committee chairman, said the group intends to see that these practices are discontinued.
He said that cars using the Maplewood cemetery roadways at night have done considerable damage to the lawn and that a number of markers have been damaged in the old city cemetery. The committee plans to have the grave markers straightened sometime in the future, Rader reported.
A ditch at Maplewood is in need of repair and will be lined with stone, Rader said, and Sexton Ray Collar will need a new mower and trimmer.
The following mention concerning the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the October 27, 1952, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 26, Number 97, Page 3, Column 3]:
Police received complaints of youths shooting with air rifles at bottles in the Old City cemetery and of youths throwing stones at the Valparaiso University cafeteria, Greenwich and Mound.
The following mention of the Union Street Cemetery appeared in the August 27, 1960, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana [Volume 34, Page 1, Columns 5 and 6, and Page 10, Columns 5 and 6]:
".... No records exist, but Mrs. Elizabeth Massey, who was an early
settler, often told of counting 45 Indian graves on the highland, close
to the site where our citizens established the Old Cemetery, the
Union Street cemetery. That general area was the only spot in the
vicinity high enough to permit a dry grave to be dig."
NOTE: If you have information that you like to add to this database, including corrections, then please contribute it to Steve Shook.
Old City Cemetery data prepared by Steven R. Shook