Fernando Jones is among the men who thought David Kennison was buried where his memorial boulder was eventually placed. (See more about Fernando Jones, here.)

In 1894, Jones, along with Josiah Lombard and George H. Fergus, placed a flag in memory of David Kennison, where they thought he had been buried. The three men claimed to have been present at David Kennison's funeral, forty-two years earlier. In 1896, a debate ensued regarding the gravesite's location. On June 10th of that year, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote of a committee of men discussing the grave's location with Joseph Ernst. The newspaper wrote, "Mr. Ernst pointed out what he thought to be the true place, but Fernando Jones and others who were present at the funeral, when a salute was fired over Kennison’s grave, would not accept Mr. Ernst’s decision as entirely exact, and it was decided to hunt up the map of the cemetery."

The cemetery map was apparently never found. If given the choice, I would have put my money on Joseph Ernst's chosen location. Ernst had been the City Sexton at the time of disinterments from the City Cemetery, in the 1860s, through the 1870s. (See some disinterment orders, in Joseph Ernst's hand, here.)

My first suspicion of the Kennison boulder being improperly located, came from my research involving the individual surveys within the City Cemetery. I knew the Kennison cemetery lot numbers to be 715 and 716, in the New Survey. (See that document, HERE.) From the extensive information that was published about the Milliman tract litigation, I had learned that the lot numbers represented within that tract of land were 804 - 1455, in the New Survey. The Milliman tract lots were located within the grounds covered by Menomonee Street, north to Wisconsin Street. The cemetery grounds were filled from south to north, which put the David Kennison burial place south of Menomonee street.


As early as 1880, a newspaper article referenced the Kennison burial site as being near my similarly suspected location. On April 4th of that year, in a letter to the editor of the Chicago Daily Tribune, the writer, signed as "XX," stated: "In looking over the ground recently the changes that have been wrought in the locality makes it difficult to precisely fix the spot where he is buried, but it is believed that the west curb line of La Salle street, which would cross Clark street diagonally and intersect the old cemetery fence line is within a few yards of the spot."

Chicago Daily Tribune, June 14, 1894, (excerpt)
"A little party of Chicago’s oldest settlers went out to Lincoln park this morning to a point near the head of LaSalle avenue and by taking measurements from several old landmarks located the grave of David Kennison, who was the last to die of that historic party of Bostonians that threw the British-taxed tea into the sea.

The old settlers differed a little in their recollections as to distances, so they averaged up the opinions like a jury and planted a bronze marker on what all agreed must be very near the exact spot of the grave.

The marker, referred to above, was a bronze cross, with a depiction of a Minute Man, along with thirteen stars, and a tablet with information about David Kennison.

This is an item from page 114, in the Fergus Historical Series, no. 28, published in 1896: “Kennison, David, last survivor of the Boston Tea-Party, died Feb. 24, 1852, aged 115-3-17; interred in Lincoln Park about 320 feet n.w. from the Couch tomb, and about 30 feet east of the east line of North Clark Street

Chicago Daily Tribune, February 24, 1901 (excerpt)
David Kennison, the last survivor of the Boston tea party, died in Chicago forty-nine years ago today, and three Chicago societies are discussing a project to mark his grave in Lincoln Park with a suitable monument. A bronze cross is at present the only indication of the grave, which is in the center of a group of trees nearly opposite Wisconsin street, and at the west side of the park."

Even while the bronze cross memorialized David Kennison at Wisconsin Street, the Lincoln Park Commisioners proceedings from September 4, 1901, refer to the intentions of placing a boulder monument at the aforementioned location to the south:

By permission and courtesy of the Chicago Park District Special Collections.

In the end, it is unclear to me why the David Kennison Boulder was ultimately placed two blocks north of the likely location of his burial site, except that it may have been at the insistence of Fernando Jones and the others who claimed to have been at Kennison's funeral. It is possible that they recalled the ceremonial guns being fired at the site near Wisconsin Street. The first sales of cemetery lots in that northern-most area of the City Cemetery did not occur until August, 1852. Kennison had died in February.

David Kennison died on February 24, 1852. His funeral was the next day. The city's officials did not assign him their donated cemetery lot numbers, until March 8th. It is possible that Kennison's funeral fanfare occurred in an open space at the north end of the cemetery. It is also possible that Kennison's body was placed in the cemetery's receiving vault for the twelve days that passed from the time of his funeral, to his assignment of space in the cemetery. Maybe there were no witnesses to David Kennison's burial.
Pamela Bannos © 2021