Project on track to be dedicated in spring of 2018

A campaign to build a memorial to children buried in an unmarked cemetery plot has reached its fundraising goal.

In less than a month, donors contributed enough to the Orphans Memorial fund to ensure it’s built, organizers said. The engraved stone marker will memorialize dozens of infants and children who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were buried in adjoining graves in an unmarked plot in Oakland Cemetery near Jackson Street.

“We really are so thankful,” said Woodstock’s Pam Moorhouse, secretary of the Oakland Cemetery Board who helped organize the fundraiser. “We’ve reached our goal in such a short time.”

The Orphans Memorial is planned for the spot in Oakland Cemetery where, from 1894 to 1926, 48 residents of the Chicago Industrial Home for Children were buried without permanent headstones. The children — many of them orphans and all of them impoverished — lived at the home near the corner of Routes 47 and 120.

Many of the home’s residents who died in childhood were victims of diseases such as measles, said Woodstock’s Gail Sorensen, who led the effort to mark the plot. Sorensen spent about two years researching the children’s lives and their final resting place, eventually seeking help from Moorhouse and cemetery board President Nancy Irwin, also of Woodstock. They also had help from Tony Zoia of Zoia Monument Company, 222 Washington St., who offered to provide a stone for the marker at cost.

Sorensen, Irwin and Moorhouse initially estimated they would need about $3,000 to install the Orphans Memorial, although they said that amount could change a bit. They’re still anticipating a few pending donations to help finish the job, but once all the donations are tallied and the marker is paid for, they said anything left will go toward other memorial expenses, such as landscaping on the plot.

The group said donations have come from individuals, businesses and churches in the Woodstock area who were moved by the call to ensure the deceased children are remembered.

“I was so proud that this community would take this story and act on it,” Sorensen said.

The Orphans Memorial will be dedicated in the spring.

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