Cemetery a cross-section of village’s early history
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org July 26, 2013 8:28PM
Brad Bettenhausen, a trustee with the Orland-Tinley Park Memorial Cemetery Association, talks about damaged grave markers at the Tinley Park Memorial Cemetery. Many of the stones are unidentifiable, and the association lacks the funds to repair or restore the stones. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 29, 2013 6:11AM
Tinley Park Memorial Cemetery was established in 1858 when a group of German immigrants formed the German Religious Society and acquired property at what now is the southwest corner of 171st Street and 84th Avenue.
The property was purchased from Conrad and Catherine Andres, who are buried there.
In 1861, a group called the German Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church acquired property at what now is the northwest corner of Harlem Avenue and Wheeler Drive in Orland Park, beneath a village water tower, according to Brad Bettenhausen, a trustee of the association that maintains both cemeteries.
That property was bought from Justus and Mary Jane Weber, who are among the handful of people buried there. The cemetery has not had a burial in nearly 100 years, Bettenhausen said.
At the Tinley Park cemetery, stones bear the names of the town’s well-known families, such as Andres, Bettenhausen, Brandau, Bormet and Keuch.
Some markers, reflecting the German immigrants’ heritage, denote dates preceded by Geb., short for geboren, or “born,” and gestorben, or “died.”
Christian Andres, who is buried there, was one of the founders of the village’s Bremen State Bank in 1912, now First Midwest Bank. A possible relative buried there is Adam Andres, who died on Christmas Eve 1867 and served in the Civil War with the 57th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
Race car driver Melvin “Tony” Bettenhausen Sr., a distant relative to Brad, also is interred there. He died at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1961 when, while testing a friend’s car, crashed. Buried not far from him are brothers Emil and Charles Andres, cousins of Melvin and also automobile racers.
The cemetery also is the final resting place of Marine Cpl. Kevin Michael Clarke, who was killed in February 2005 during a firefight near the Iraq-Syria border. The Andrew High School graduate, nicknamed “Superman,” was 21, and a small Superman action figure is among the decorations on his marker.