Welcome to Mount Auburn Cemetery, a place of beauty and serenity. Located just outside of Harvard, Illinois, it is nestled in a country setting. Majestic oaks and beautiful maple trees grace the carefully maintained grounds. Pines keep the cemetery filled with green during the winter months when the ground is blanketed with snow.
Wildlife abounds within Mount Auburn. Many species of birds live and raise their young in the cemetery. There is a flurry of activity in the spring. Birds can be seen building their nests and it is pleasant to watch them as they work. Geese and ducks spend their summers in a wetland on the cemetery property. Deer are occasional visitors. Squirrels love the abundance of acorns in the fall.
Mount Auburn Cemetery traces its establishment to January 1, 1867. Elbridge Ayer, founder of Harvard, and Robert Gardner, great-grandfather of former President Gerald Ford, purchased six acres filled with majestic oak trees for the purpose of creating a cemetery.
The park-like setting of the cemetery was modeled after the original Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts which was created as a place for the living as well as those who have passed before us. It was a place for picnics and leisurely strolls as well as burial of loved ones. This is the same philosophy of our Mount Auburn. Walking, biking, jogging, and strolling with the family dog are all common activities.
Over time Mount Auburn Cemetery has grown to its current 54.62 acres and has approximately 6000 interments. The cemetery has been plaqued by the McHenry County Historical Society and the Greater Harvard Area Historical Society. Mount Auburn Cemetery has also been designated a landmark by the McHenry County Board Historic Preservation Commission.
The Harvard community came together to build the beautiful stone chapel which was dedicated in 1936. All stones used in its construction were brought from local fields. Many burial services have been held in the chapel through the years.
History Throughout the Grounds
Mount Auburn Cemetery is filled with beautiful and also unusual monuments and headstones. A walk through the cemetery is as visually interesting as it is educational. A history of Harvard can be seen among the resting places of those who lived before us.
An example of history is our Soldier Block which was created in 1888. The monument, pictured at left, was erected at that time and is a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Civil War as stated on the engraving, Dedicated to the Memory of Our Fallen Heroes 1861 – 1865.
Soldier Block is also the final resting place of many veterans including those who fought in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War.
The Harvard American Legion Post 265 honors the memory of its comrades each Memorial Day by placing American Flags at the graves of all veterans in Mount Auburn. They also act as honor guard at the burial of veterans throughout the year. Every other year Mount Auburn Cemetery hosts the Harvard Memorial Day Service which is presided over by these fine veterans.
The Harvard Cemetery Association
Mount Auburn Cemetery is governed and operated by the Harvard Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization chartered by the State of Illinois in 1887. All lot owners are members of the association. A volunteer board of directors consisting of 9 members governs the operations of the cemetery. An annual meeting is held in February. The exact date and location will be announced on this web site. All lot owners are encouraged to attend.
The cemetery is not supported by any taxing body. It has existed on lot sales. A portion of each lot sale must, by law, be deposited in a special trust fund. Only money generated from investments of the fund may be utilized. No part of the fund may ever be withdrawn.
Contributions from benefactors throughout the years have assisted in the day-to-day costs of maintaining Mount Auburn Cemetery. Donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible.