John Hillebrand with Redmond Lyons’ newly installed headstone.Photos courtesy of John Hillebrand

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On July 17, 1887, the temperature reached 95 degrees. Redmond Lyons, an Irish immigrant was working in Chicago’s swelter. He had come to the United States to find work, since jobs were becoming scarce in Ireland. That day, though, would be his last. He was buried in a pauper’s grave, because no one really knew who he was, said Evanston resident John Hillebrand, whose late wife Maureen, was Mr. Lyons’s great-granddaughter.

Two years later, Mr. Hillebrand said, Mr. Lyons’ brother came to Chicago in search of his missing sibling. Learning that Redmond Lyons had no real grave, the brother purchased eight gravesites in Calvary Cemetery, on Evanston’s southern boundary, and placed a small marker on the one where his brother’s body lay.

On July 16 of this year, nearly 130 years after his death, many of Mr. Lyons’ descendants gathered at the cemetery to say good-bye to their ancestor. In a simple ceremony, Father Pat Lyons of Calumet City blessed the grave, and last week, Father Kevin of St. Mary’s Church blessed the stone.

“A lot of people in Ireland are breathing easier,” Mr. Hillebrand said. He had purchased the stone and ensured the grave was marked without thought of reimbursement, because that had been a wish of his wife. To his surprise, though, money poured in from across the country – 21 checks so far, in varying amounts. The relatives of Accony in County Mayo, as the Chicago-area descendants, have put their minds at ease and their ancestor at rest.