Contributing Factors in Moving the Cemetery

In April of 1866, the City Attorney was asked to look into the matter of intramural interments and the liability of the city in prohibiting interments in the City Cemetery. While the City Attorney was preparing his report, the city officials were also consulting with physicians to verify the hazards of the burial of the dead in close proximity to the living.

These documents illustrate those reports, and lead to the ordinance (presented, far right) that prevented the burial of the dead within the Chicago city limits.

This ordinance did not mention removing the cemetery, it only prevented further burials.

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Office of the Counsel to Corporation
Chicago April 20 – 1866

To the Common Council:

I have examined the Ordinance, concerning Intramural Interments, referred to me at your last regular meeting.
Whether you possess the power to pass it, is a question of fact, rather than of law. The charter authorizes you, “to regulate the burial of the dead, “to abate all nuisances which are or may be injurious to the public health,” and “to do all acts and make all regulations which may be necessary or expedient for the preservation of health and the suppression of disease.” Laws & ordinances of the City, pages, 28 & 31.

         If it be true, that the prohibition of interments within the limits of the City, is necessary, as a sanitary measure, you have the power to pass the proposed ordinance. This is a question of fact which you must determine from the best light within your reach.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

S.A. Irvin

Council to Corporation





REPORT OF COMMITTEE

To the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Chicago, in Common Council assembled:

Your Special Committee to whom was referred the resolution of Alderman Proudfoot regarding the subject of prohibiting interments within the Corporate limits of the City of Chicago

Having had the same under advisement, beg leave to report that they have thoroughly examined the subject, have consulted with the City Physician, and with a number of other leading Physicians of the City, all of whom are unanimous in their opinion as to the baneful effects of the custom of interments in the vicinity of cities, upon the health of the living.

         Your Committee therefore report that as a Sanitary measure, henceforth all interments within the limits of the City of Chicago, should be prohibited; and they recommend the passage of the accompanying ordinance, provided that it will not make the City liable in damages.

W.Woodard
L. Proudfoot         Committee

 





To the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Chicago in Common Council assembled.

         Your Special Committee, to whom was recommitted the resolution of Alderman Proudfoot, with the ordinance regarding the prohibition of interments within the Corporate limits of the City, for the purpose of consulting with the Corporation counsel, as to the question of the liability of the City to indemnify Lot owners, in case of the passage of such ordinance, beg leave to report that they have consulted with the Corporation Counsel on the subject, and herewith present his written opinion in relation thereto

         Your Committee report, that no liability whatever is incurred by the City, for the indemnification of lot owners in the Old City Cemetery for the reason that the ordinance does not provide for the taking possession of these lots by the City, or for the eviction of the present owners, but it merely provides that as a Sanitary measure, further interments therein be prohibited: Your Committee are of the opinion (taking into consideration the fact, that there is not a dissenting opinion among the medical men of this City, as well as of the whole world so far as your Committee are informed, as to the prejudicial influence, of Cemeteries in close proximity to crowded cities) that it is due to the Citizens of Chicago, that this ordinance should be passed.

         Your Committee would suggest that, if agreeable to all parties, some arrangement might be entered into, with the lot owners, whereby upon the future vacation of these lots by the owners, and a conveyance of the same in fee simple, to the City; the original price paid, (or such sum as the Council may decide upon) be refunded to such lot owners as may desire to make such arrangement.

All of which is respectfully submitted:

W.Woodard
Chas G. Wicker
L. Proudfoot            Special Committee






Whereas the City is rapidly extending around and beyond the old City and Catholic Cemeteries in the North Division, and whereas the continuance of the custom of interments in these Cemeteries, cannot fail to be prejudicial to the health of the vicinity, as well as to the general health of the City of Chicago, therefore as a Sanitary measure

Section 1        
Be it ordained by the Common Council of the City of Chicago: That hereafter no body shall be buried in either the City, or Catholic Cemeteries in the North Division, nor within the Corporate limits of the City of Chicago.

Section 2        
Any person who shall violate the provisions of this ordinance shall be liable to a fine of $250.00 for each and every such violation.

Section 3        
All ordinances or part of ordinances heretofore passed which may be in conflict with this ordinance, are hereby repealed.

Section 4        
This ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage, and due publication.

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