Early German settler cemetery

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Early German settler cemetery - "I know they are buried here because of the...
"I know they are buried here because of the cemetery records" Gary Borman Griffith man searching for lost ancestors BY NANCY BANKS-HERNANDEZ Times Staff Writer Whirling winds of time fling cold rain against the eroding stones marking the sunken graves of early German immigrants at Waldheim Cemetery in Gary. A few scattered red tulips and yellow and blue irises wave in the soft breeze as the sun breaks through to bring yet another spring to the overgrown burial grounds. It seems a little strange now to see flowers that were planted so long ago in the cemetery. It is a tie to the era when the German Lutherans settled about 150 years ago in the wild dune land of Lake County. Toppled and broken tombstones and the wrath of time are erasing the historical trail of the people who lived in the area be J "c- .-rrv; j-vrs. jr story Griffith man finds graves of his ancestors, ties to another era in Gary 's old Waldheim Cemetery fore there was even a dream of the city of Gary. The old cemetery still holds keys to the stories of the immigrants who worked as section hands on the railroads and founded the St John Lutheran Church at Taft Street and 10th Avenue. The settlement became the town of Tolleston prior to the incorporation of Gary in 1906. Tolleston was annexed by Gary about 10 years later. The city of Gary mushroomed after the U.S. Steel Corp., out of Pittsburgh, leveled dunes to build the world's largest steel mill on the shores of Lake Michigan. People buried in the cemetery and in the pauper graves outside the fence saw the industrial boom, two serious economic depressions and two world wars pitting their adopted land against their native country. The sun hits the reddish high lights in the light brown hair of Gary Borman. His piercing blue eyes, tall frame and broad shoulders reflect his German heritage as he walks in the cemetery. Borman, of Griffith, discovered Waldheim after deciding to trace his family tree. He became intrigued with his own genealogy when his grandfather died about a year ago. "I haven't been able to find their graves," he says of discovering that his earliest known relatives were German immigrants buried in Waldheim. "Their names are Christopher and Dorethea," Borman says. "They were my great, great, great, grandparents. They would be great, great grandparents of astronaut Frank Borman. He is a third cousin of my father. He doesn't know much about the family because he moved from this area when he was so young. I in got to meet him (Frank) one time in Wisconsin. Fve talked to him a few times on the phone." Census reports indicate Christopher and Dorethea probably came to this country around 1850. They were counted in a copy of a 1882 census found by Gary Borman. "I know they are buried here because of the cemetery records," Borman says. "I think they might be over in this corner. It seems this is the oldest section. It could be one of these gravestones. Some are so worn away that you can't read them. "Some of the stones have been turned upside down. You can't see the fronts to read the names. They are so heavy it's very difficult to get them upright It probably took five or six people to push this one over," he says as he stands by a huge monument that See HISTORY, Page W 1 Photos By Paul A. Many of Waldheim's gravestones toppled or defaced by vandals. Michna The Times e l:'v have been

Clipped from
  1. The Times,
  2. 11 Jun 1995, Sun,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 83

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