“It was the first cemetery in Hammond,” said Brian Poland, treasurer of HHS. “Many of the early settlers are buried here. “
Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than some residents of Oak Hill is its history. What started out as a Catholic cemetery has continued to grow and prosper. Over time, however, questionable ownership resulted in the cemetery falling into disrepair. Eventually, some normalcy returned to Oak Hill as former Northern Township Administrator Frank J. Mrvan assumed the cemetery title in 2012.
Mark Mikals, an HHS member and tour guide, said he learns something new about the cemetery with every visit. “A lot of these tombstones cannot be duplicated,” Mikals said. “Plus there are the stories behind them.
Mikals and other guides, some of whom are descendants of those on the tour, shared anecdotes about them.
This included lawyer John Gavit and his wife Emma. The namesake of the now-closed Gavit High School, Gavit, who died in 1937, became a prominent lawyer and figure among Lake County Democrats when that area was a Republican stronghold. Emma became active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
The cemetery is divided into sections and a trail, Mikals noted, may have been part of Ridge Street. Plus, while many cemeteries are on flat terrain, Oak Hill is characterized by rolling hills, Mikals said, because thousands of years ago this land marked the edge of Lake Michigan.