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In the Archives: 1800's Hearse Only Needs Horse, Driver

The hearse, a vintage sleigh and Wilbur, a 1954 fire truck, are among items on display at the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum's Annex.

 A visit to the is not complete without touring the museum Annex where a large variety of historic artifacts are on display.   

Among the larger items drawing attention is a late 1800's horse-drawn, glass enclosed hearse. It was donated to the by Bernard and Lois Hanekamp of the Hanekamp Funeral Home in Northbrook. The Hanekamps had purchased a retirement home on Highland Lake and moved the hearse there.   The Hanekamps purchased the hearse from Jerry Lorenz of Whippletree Farms on Route 176 in Mundelein. Lorenz reportedly purchased the hearse from a funeral home in Luxemburg, Wisconsin.

The hearse at one time was part of the Cuneo Mansion in Libertyville. had the hearse restored by the Amish. It is road ready; all it needs is a horse and driver.   

Another major attraction to young and old is that after many years of service has retired to the Annex. The bright red engine is complete with ladders, hoses, pumps and other firefighting equipment.   Wilbur is a 1954 Chevrolet Model 6400 (6,400 pounds including the cab and chassis).

The Chevrolet chassis was built in Janesville, Wisconsin. The fire truck body was built by the Grayslake Fire Equipment Company owned by Kenneth Poehler at 122 Center St.

Several other large items are on display in the Annex including a vintage sleigh the society members decorate each Christmas holiday season where Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus  greet children and have their picture taken with them. Also displayed is a wheeled hand-operated water pump used by the fire department many years ago, an old flatbed truck, a kerosene wagon, farm implements, small machinery, tools, engines and several antique car parts.   

Most items in the Annex, including Wilbur and the hearse, are owned by the Grayslake Historical Society and are part of the society's permanent collection. The museum's annex is available for tours during the open hours of the museum.

The Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum located at 164 Hawley Street is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and during downtown community events.

-Contributed by the Grayslake Historical Society 

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