November, 1903 (By permission and courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.)
The top photograph, published in 1912, in the book, Chicago: Its History and Its Builders, illustrates how quickly the foliage behind the boulder filled the landscape in the nine years that passed since the bottom photograph was taken. The later picture also shows evidence of the patina forming on the surface of the bronze tablet. This bronze plaque was later replaced with one made of aluminum.

Over time, the various plaques commemorating David Kennison's legacy have disappeared. This item from the 1915 Lincoln Park Commissioners' Annual Report, mentions metal tablets that were in place, then stolen, before the boulder marked the gravesite. The dispute involving the location of Kennison's grave began in 1896 when Fernando Jones and other men who claimed to have been at Kennison's funeral, argued with Joseph Ernst. Ernst had been the City Sexton during the disinterments, as the cemetery was being converted to Lincoln Park. My research has shown that Ernst was correct; the boulder is in the wrong location.
(See The Likely Burial Site section.)

A photograph from 1929 shows the boulder with an additional metal plaque. This new commemoration was placed to the left of the bronze tablet and was in the shape of a five-pointed star surrounded by a circular ring. Around the ring were the words, "In honor of service in the war of 1812." Beneath the circled star was David Kennison's name.

In 1935, when the boulder was moved approximately one hundred feet north, and rotated to face Clark Street, a flag was also installed behind the memorial. The Children of the American Revolution then mounted another plaque on the boulder. This one was a simple square, and it said, "Flag and Staff presented by Aaron Milner Chapter CAR and Dr. Bodo Otto Chapter CAR, June 14, 1935."

On June 17, 1972, the Chicago Daily News reported that vandals had stolen all three bronze plaques that had been mounted on the boulder. By August 1974, according to a letter to the "Action Line" column of the Chicago Tribune, the plaques were still missing and the rock was painted with "obscene graffiti."

Chicago Daily News, December 19, 1974:
"A new plaque marking the grave of David Kennison, the last survivor of the Boston Tea Party, graces a huge rock in Lincoln Park near Wisconsin and LaSalle. It was set in place just in time this week for the ceremony by the Chicago People’s Bicentennial Commission to mark the 201st anniversary of the Tea Party. The plaque is made of cast aluminum, making it a less likely target for vandals, who stole the original bronze plaque."

February, 2007

Today, the 1974 aluminum tablet remains on the boulder.
The vestiges of the ealier two plaques are visible as a circular form, left of the tablet, and a remnant of the concrete upon which the 1935 commemoration was placed. It is likely that the original bronze plaques were sold as scrap metal.


Pamela Bannos © 2021