Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association
Rules and Regulations
Effective 12 March 2015
Effective 10 July 2019 Amendment (Section III)
Effective 9 September 2020 revised Article 4 (Section V)
In 1830 when Ottawa was platted as a city, virtually all of the settlement at that time was south of the Illinois River. What today is known as West Ottawa may have had only a few farm residents and it would not be until the 1840s that Ottawa began to grow in that direction. The first marked burials in the present Cemetery ground were Samuel Works, July 1, 1835 and W. Richardson, July 23, 1835 and thus here would be one of the oldest marked burial grounds in northeastern Illinois.
The land in the old “Ottawa Section” was purchased and laid out by George H. Norris. Plots were sold for burial purposes beginning in 1847. Alvin Ford platted land on the west edge of the Ottawa Section for burials in 1862 and St. Francis Catholic Church opened a church cemetery adjacent to the Ford Section in 1864.
In 1865 the Ottawa Cemetery Association was formed to assist the interests of individual Lot owners. In 1871 George Norris issued a quit claim deed to the Association for the Ottawa Cemetery and in 1874 Patrick Hayes also issued a quit claim deed to the Association for the Alvin Ford land. In 1882 the Ottawa Cemetery Association assumed management of cemetery ground owned by Washington Bushnell west of the St. Francis Cemetery known as both the New Cemetery and the Bushnell Section.
On July 20, 1921 the Ottawa Cemetery Association was renamed the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association and chartered with the State of Illinois in conformance with the Association Act of 1903. About 1940 the OACA assumed oversight of the St. Francis Cemetery, it having been abandoned by the Church in favor of a newer cemetery outside of Ottawa. Today the Ottawa, Ford, St. Francis and Bushnell Sections comprise the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery of approximately 40 Acres.
For the first two decades of the existence of the Ottawa Cemetery Association records were kept very informally and nothing has survived. We do not know of people who were responsible for records, burials, sales, maintenance and other activities. About 1887 a man named Gustave Meckenstock became the sexton and superintendent of the Cemetery and record keeping began in a limited manner. Upon his death in 1899 his son-in-law Gustave Hassley took over those duties. When Hassley died in 1929 his son Harmon Hassley took over until 1940 when he died. It is the Hassley records that give us some insight into the early workings of the Cemetery. We see that the early superintendents had to rely on a hay crop in the Cemetery for revenue. As burials took more and more space the hay crops were insufficient for income and the price of grave sites and burial fees had to be increased. On July 20th 1921 the Ottawa Cemetery Association became the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association, governed by a Board of six trustees after petitioning the Secretary of State of Illinois to be chartered as an association in conformance with the Illinois Association Act of 1903. Formal meeting minutes of the Association have been kept since July 1921 recording activities, finances and rules and regulations. Options for owner care or annual care and continual care were offered by the Association after 1921.
The sexton/superintendent duties fell to Frederick Beem from 1940 to 1949. The Cemetery Care Act of 1948 became law and thereafter all Association care funds had to be held in trust. In 1951 the Association became licensed under the Cemetery Care Act administered by the Illinois Comptroller’s Office where the Association must maintain an annual license and undergo an annual audit by that office. The following sextons and superintendents were Elmer Gaul 1949-1977, Palmer Wright 1977- 1995 and Charles Shuck 1995-1999. In 1999 the Board of Trustees voted to separate the position of sexton who handles burials and cares for the grounds from superintendent who sells lots and maintains records. In 1999 Sandra Scott became superintendent and John Jordan became sexton. In 2000 Timothy Scott replaced John Jordan as sexton.
By 2005 the Association no longer had financial means to pay for a sexton, superintendent, a bank trust department (for holding Trust Funds), secretary and other grounds workers. After that a contract custodian and other contractors have been used and all other duties have been performed by the Board of Trustees.
III. General Information and Conduct
1. No artificial flowers or other adornments are allowed on grave spaces from April 1st until October 30th. Between November 1st and March 15, when the grass is not being cut, artificial wreaths of less then 30 inches placed on stands are permitted. Evergreen blankets or grave coverings are not permitted at any time. All providers of ornamentation are required to remove such from Cemetery property by March 15th.
2. No plantings by owners are allowed without prior approval of the Board of Trustees or its designee.
3. Visitors permitted only during daylight hours. People on Cemetery property after dark may be subject to prosecution.
4. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
5. Acts of vandalism or desecration will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
6. No glass containers or objects are allowed on Cemetery property at any time. No statuary or other ornamentation may be placed by owners and relatives without the permission of the Custodian.
7. Vehicles are allowed on Cemetery roadways only and must travel no faster than 15 miles per hour.
8. Pets must be restrained by a leash at all times and owners are required to pick up waste left by their pets.
9. Failure to comply with general rules may result in a person being denied entry onto Cemetery property.
10. A Consumer Bill of Rights statement shall be posted on the Cemetery Website, www.ottawaavenuecemetery.com and shall be available on hard copy upon request for a fee.
IV. Grave Space Ownership
Any individual owning interment rights for a grave space shall be given a certificate explaining the rights permitted under the Cemetery Rules and Regulations and the purchase of such is limited to those interment rights. The Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association owns all of the real property situated within the limits of the Cemetery boundaries. Ownership of interment rights through assigns or heirship shall be in accordance with applicable State Statutes.
V. Interments and Disinterment’s.
1. Interments are permitted only for human remains in the form of a full body burial or cremated remains (cremains) burial. An appropriate burial permit from the State where death occurred must be given To the Association’s representative prior to burial.
2. Outer Burial Containers.
a. Shall be required for all interments and be of sound structural construction such as precast concrete, steel or other durable material that would deter future grave settlement.
b. For cremated remains (cremains) cast in place concrete shall be required if a vault is not provided.
3. Disinterments shall require a court order and the method and cost shall be negotiated between the requesting party and the Association prior to opening the grave and shall depend upon the complexity of the disinterment.
4. Single grave interments shall be limited to one person unless stipulated in writing by the owner, heir(s) or assigns that a 2nd cremains interment may be permitted. On the same basis a 3rd cremation interment may be permitted provided all three interments are cremations, all three are from the same immediate family and that the layout is approved by a representative of the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Board of Trustees prior to the 1st burial.
5. No interment or disinterment activities will be permitted on Sundays or legal holidays unless otherwise approved by the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association Board of Trustees or its designee.
VI. Care, Maintenance, Contractors and Workers.
1. The grounds of the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery are maintained by the Ottawa Avenue cemetery Association or its authorized representative(s). Caretaking of the grounds consists of grass cutting and trimming; shrubbery and tree maintenance; road and building maintenance as deem necessary and as funds permit.
2. Any party performing work on a fee or contract basis on Cemetery property must:
a. Comply with all Cemetery Rules and Regulations.
b. Provide a certificate of liability insurance in the amount specified by the Association before commencing work.
c. Hold the Association and Trustees harmless from any liability caused by their work activities.
a. In the Ottawa Cemetery there are one public and three private mausoleums.
b. The public mausoleum shall be maintained by the Cemetery Association as necessary and funding considerations allow.
c. Private mausoleums shall be maintained by the owners or their families.
VII. Hazardous Conditions, Errors and Omissions.
1. Hazardous Conditions.
a. As with many not-for-profit cemeteries, roadways are narrow, potholed, unsurfaced or poorly surfaced. In winter roads may be snowbound. Motorists are required to strictly adhere to the 15 mph speed limit and exercise caution while travelling over Cemetery roads. The Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association assumes no responsibility for any vehicle damage or motorist difficulty from use of Cemetery roads.
b. Cemetery grounds are inherently uneven and have holes created by various animals. Pedestrians are advised to use caution while walking on Cemetery grounds. The Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Association assumes no responsibility for individual safety for those who choose to walk on Cemetery grounds.
2. Errors and Omissions.
a. An individual(s) who represent the Cemetery Association and commit an unintended error(s) or omission(s) that adversely affect a customer(s) or owner(s) shall be required to remedy such error(s) or omission(s) with other provisions of like requirements. An individual(s) who represent the Cemetery Association and acts with fraudulent or illegal intent shall be prosecuted in accordance with the laws that govern cemetery conduct and the Cemetery Association shall provide the same remedy as stated previously to the customer(s) or owner(s).
b. A customer(s) or owner(s) who give a false affidavit(s) or statement(s) shall suffer appropriate legal consequence and must financially rectify the consequence to those who have been deprived.
VIII. Memorials and Monuments.
Rules and regulations for this section shall be stated in the most recent publication of “OTTAWA AVENUE CEMETERY ASSOCIATION POLICY FOR SIZE AND PLACEMENT OF MEMORIALS”.
Rules and Regulations may be subject to change at any time and will be available through the Association office or the website at www.ottawaavenuecemetery.com