The Historical Society of Forest Park mourns the passing of our previous Board of Directors member and self-described “seat of the pants historian” Mark Rogovin.
If you were lucky enough to be at the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument while Mark was driving down Des Plaines he would have pulled into the cemetery to give you an impromptu tour by the man who wrote the book on it. Mark co-authored both editions of The Day Will Come, a comprehensive booklet with biographies of everyone who is buried or had ashes scattered at Radical Row. Digging deep into the handwritten cemetery records, Mark found the people and their sometimes forgotten stories.
In 2010, working with the Illinois Labor History Mark launched a successful crowdsource campaign to replace the stolen bronze fronds and flowers from the front of the Haymarket Martyrs Monument. Mark found historic photos of the fronds and flowers and worked closely with the restoration company, Conservation of Sculptures & Objects Studio, inc, even driving a few hours to the bronze pouring to see them made with his own eyes. On the 125th anniversary of Haymarket, the restored bronze fronds and flowers we unveiled.
Concerned that the intricate Altgeld pardon plaque from the rear of the monument could also face the same fate of being stolen Mark created another successful crowdfunding campaign to get a mold of the plaque made. The only remaining piece that needed restored was the small rear plaque with the names of men who were given sentences other than hanging at the Haymarket trial, Mark, of course, worked to have this piece recreated. The Haymarket Martyrs Monument is restored for all the world to see thanks to Mark Rogovin.
But restoring the monument wasn’t enough, Mark wanted to know what was under it. After learning of a time capsule buried at the cornerstone of the monument Mark and his co-researcher Bleue Benton worked to have the time-capsule exhumed. In 2016 the excavation to find the time-capsule took place with the team of experts they assembled. Unfortunately, this dig did not result in finding the time-capsule.
Working with the Historical Society of Forest Park Mark used his vast knowledge of Forest Home Cemetery and their records to locate victims of the Eastland Disaster buried there for the 110 year anniversary of the largest inland ship disaster in American history. Knowing that so many people came to Forest Home Cemetery to see the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, a National Historic Monument Mark created a website Forest Home Cemetery Overview to give a comprehensive background on this very unique cemetery as a whole.
Mark never would shy away from asking for people to donate their historical items to the society, often convincing them of the value he saw it in. From pulling out pieces of railroad when the street was redone to lamb cake pans from Kay's Bakery to the stained glass window from Wolf Bros. Mark wanted to preserve it all.
The monthly tour on the first Saturday of the month (May-October) at 11 am that he started and lead for many years still continues. His booklet The Day Will Come is available online, at the cemetery office and at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore. We hope that you too can enjoy the history of the Haymarket the way Mark did.
Read more about Mark's exceptional life:
Forest Park Review: Missing Mark Rogovin
Forest Park Review: Mark Rogovin, 73, exemplified being a 'good neighbor'
Chicago Tribune: Mark Rogovin, artist and activist who promoted outdoor murals and social justice, dies
People's World: Mark Rogovin, 1946 – 2019; Artist, activist, organizer