I had to post this update as soon as possible because time may be running out. For years people have thought that the grave stone that is in the parking lot at the abandoned apartment building at 7889 Archer Avenue in Justice IL was just a hoax. In fact six years ago I spoke with the supervisor of Bethania Cemetery across the street and he stated that the whole thing was a hoax dreamed up by the producers of a television show called “Sightings” in the 1980s that was supposed to be doing a story on the hauntings at the building. The link to my first article from two days ago is here.
I, however, was not so sure since the land used to be owned by The Bethania Cemetery Association at the time that Mr. August Boness died on March 26, 1915.
I put the information out on my facebook group “Chicago History The Stranger Side” and the almost 7,000 members got to work. It wasn’t long before a sharp researcher by the name of Maryann Felinski found a listing on Find-A-Grave for an August Bonas (phonetic probably for Boness) with the exact dates of birth and dates of death as the mystery stone in the parking lot across the street. Hmmm…kinda coincidental. The stone marker actually looks fairly new and the inscription at the top (it is a dual stone) says Schultz and the two inscriptions on the stone were “Son, Rudolph September 23 1915 to June 8, 2001” and next to it “Uncle, August Bonas Oct 15, 1888 to March 26, 1915” the exact dates of birth and death and almost the same name as the mystery stone.
So I did a little research and guess what! These are all real people. I found Rudolph Schultz’s information from his obituary and also from his social security claim files and he was one of many children of Ferdinand and Ernestina Schultz. His wife’s name was Helen and it doesn’t appear that they had any children but plenty of nieces and nephews. Guest what Ernestina’s maiden name is? You guessed it, “BONAS.” So August Bonas IS an Uncle of Rudolph Schultz.
This is not some throw away tombstone from some defunct marker company. August Boness or August Bonas is a real person. He died on March 26, 1915 (oddly enough today is the anniversary of his death) and his stone and a very large stone base which are consistent with materials used 100 years ago for grave markers are sitting on land that at the time of his death was owned by The Bethania Cemetery Association (so much for it never being cemetery land)
I went to Bethania's Website and you can do it for yourself! There is a burial records search form! So this is the scary part. I found Rudolph Schultz along with his father Ferdinand and mother Ernestine Schultz (maiden Bonas) they are all in Lot 21, Section 8 in Division E. Guess who I didn't find? Uncle August Bonas! There was no August Boness or Bonas under any spelling.
Now it is time to do a little reverse genealogy and contact some living descendents of Rudolph Schultz who was born on September 23, 1915 and died on June 8, 2001. I have his obituary from the Chicago Sun-Times which lists all of his brothers and sisters and the fact that he had many nieces and nephews.
I tend to believe that the family obviously knows about Uncle August (After all they went to the trouble of having his information carved on the stone) and wanted to memorialize him on the stone or maybe they were told that he was buried there at one point. It makes me wonder if they even know about the original stone that is sitting across the street.
The worst case is that August Bonas or Boness and possibly others have been forgotten about in the land that was once Bethania’s land and was sold in February of 1916 about 11 months after August Boness’s death.
The abandoned buildings are being demolished, the land is for sale and the stone is simply propped up against a log and a discarded tire at 7889 Archer Ave in Justice, IL.
I am hoping to make contact with family soon in order to insure that Uncle August has been taken care of and will post an update when I do.
Find Chicago History The Stranger Side on FACEBOOK
If you love Chicago History please consider subscribing to my posts. You will receive an email that alerts you when a new article is published. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.