The Jailing of Mr. Lahvic
In August 1877 the cemetery hired Joseph Lahvic as a grave digger from among 5 applicants. It was a position he was to hold until his death in 1895.
Lahvic’s first years were complicated by the town of Jefferson which objected to a cemetery in their township. Burials were halted until a judge ruled that the cemetery association had the right to burials and no one must put obstacles in their way. The town of Jefferson did have the right to police supervision and to keep the peace.
Jefferson interpreted police supervision as obstructing every burial possible and, failing that, they sent the local constable as an unwelcome guest to each burial.
Finally, they captured and jailed the grave digger. “The poor man did not know how to find help and had great difficulty and inconvenience”*
Two years later, after the court dismissed Jefferson’s appeal of the original ruling, “Mr. Lahvic was no further annoyed.”*
After his death, his son, Joseph A., took over as grave digger until his untimely death just four years later. Both widows stayed in the neighborhood, raising the next generation, and finally being laid to rest with their husbands.
The third Joseph Lahvic retired in 1947 after 35 years with the post office and joined his father, grandfather and other family members in 1960.
*A History of Czechs In Chicago