Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1871
, this excerpt was published as part of a pre-publication presentation from the book,
Chicago and the Great Conflagration
, by Elias Colbert and Everett Chamberlin.
The Chicago Fire began during the evening of Sunday, October 8, 1871, and continued burning until just after midnight on
Monday. A very early Web Site, The Great Chicago Fire and The Web of Memory
, presented jointly in 1996, by the
Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University, is an excellent compendium of Chicago Fire materials.
The Chicago Fire hastened the transformation of the cemetery into part of Lincoln Park. From the documents and newspaper reports that I found, the lots in the graveyard, at that time referred to as the Old Cemetery,
were not being actively emptied. Although the park commissioners passed a resolution on August 5, 1871, to pay eight dollars each to have the bodies removed from the The Milliman Tract
lots, on the twelve acre parcel at the northern edge of the burial grounds had reportedly completed its disinterments, with the removal of 1,635 bodies in 1867. See the itemized invoice for those lot transfers, here
. The Lincoln Park Commissioners did not have the monetary resources to arrange for the exhumations of remains from the older, southern section of the cemetery. Although lot owners were implored to remove their loved ones to the newer rural cemeteries outside Chicago's city limits, it does not appear that many responded to this plea. Additionally, although the potter's field had ceased burials in 1866, and in 1867 the rebel graves
were reported to have been removed to Oakwoods Cemetery
, no other disinterments had occurred in that section of the City Cemetery by the time of the Chicago Fire. In an 1871 report
to the city officials, the Lincoln Park Commissioners acknowledged they not afford to acquire the Milliman Tract to become part of the park, they only had funds available to protect the lakeshore and to continue the construction of what would become Lake Shore Drive. The Old Cemetery remained what was becoming a neglected graveyard until the Chicago Fire ravaged those grounds.