Contributing Factors in Moving the Cemetery: Milliman Tract

In 1862, it came to the city officials' attention that they had illegally acquired a twelve acre parcel of land, twelve years earlier. During those years, the land had been subdivided and sold as City Cemetery burial lots. By 1865, the area beneath those grounds contained the mortal remains of an entire generation of citizens. Genealogists consider a generation to be 20-25 years. By a Supreme Court ruling, the City was required to return the land to the Milliman heirs. To comply with this ruling, after monetary negotiations, it was determined the city officials needed to remove the bodies from within the tract of land. Thus began the first surge of disinterments from the Chicago City Cemetery.
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The story of the Milliman Tract begins in 1848, but to fully understand how Chicago land was first acquired by individual white Americans, it is necessary to go back to 1830. That was the year the land around the Town of Chicago was first officially surveyed. The federal government granted the land to the State of Illinois, who divided the land so they could sell it to pay for the construction of a canal to bridge the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. According to John Lamb's, Illinois and Michigan Canal entry in the online version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago, when completed, this canal "provided a direct water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and helped to shift the center of Midwestern trade from St. Louis to Chicago."

Of these so-called canal lands that were mapped and divided to be sold to pay for the I&M Canal, some sections were kept by the State and were sold later. In 1843, the "Act for the completion of the canal" was passed. This act granted the State-owned land to a Canal Board of Trustees, who were authorized to sell the land to pay for the canal. These land sales were to occur only after the construction of the canal was completed. It was also stipulated that the land would be sold in a public auction, and it would be granted, but not conveyed until the price of the land had been paid in full. (This process was like the 1837 act when the State granted Chicago a parcel of land for use as a burial ground. The City paid for that land, thus beginning its use, in 1842.)

On September 5, 1848, during a public auction of Canal Trustee lands, Jacob Milliman bought four lots. These lots covered the area shown on the map, at left, as numbered 45, 46, 48, and the bigger box surrounding the lot marked, 49. That large mosaic-like box represents the pieces of that land sold back to the Lincoln Park Commissioners by 1873, the date of this plat.

Jacob Milliman died in 1849, before he had paid for all four of his lots. In 1850, the City of Chicago acquired lots 48 and 49, and began burying its dead within those grounds. Jacob Milliman and his wife were already interred in that soil.

The triangular area of land, lot 47, became known as the Ira Judd tract.

On September 23, 1848, the City of Chicago bought lots 33, 34, 35, 36, and 50. The City had originally been granted more land, and perhaps if the city officials had paid more money back in 1842, when they were conveyed the land comprising the Old Cemetery, as marked on the left, they would have already owned all of the land to the east of Clark Street on this map.

Pamela Bannos © 2017