Jean La Lime

Jean La Lime (died June 17, 1812) was a trader from Quebec, Canada who worked in what became the Northwest Territory of the United States. He worked as an agent for William Burnett, also of Canada, to sell to the Native Americans and take furs in exchange. He was among the first European permanent settlers in Chicago. He was killed there in 1812, in what was called the "first murder in Chicago", by John Kinzie, a trading partner of Burnett who was another early settler from Canada.


After trading along the frontier and likely in Detroit, La Lime arrived in the Chicago area on August 17, 1792 as an agent for William Burnett of Canada. In 1800, he purchased the homestead of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable for Burnett for 6,000 livres.[1] The bill of sale was filed in Detroit, Michigan on September 18, 1800, although dated in Chicago on May 7 of that year.[2]

By 1804, Burnett's partner, John Kinzie, who also settled in Chicago, had bought the former du Sable house. He lived there with his wife and first child. They had three other children born in Chicago.

After the Americans established Fort Dearborn in 1804, La Lime worked there as an interpreter, aiding communication between the Americans and Indians. He broke his leg in 1809 and, as it was improperly set, was left lame.

On June 17, 1812 in Chicago, La Lime and Kinzie quarreled, and Kinzie killed him. Kinzie fled to Milwaukee, then in Indian territory.[3] He claimed La Lime had shot at him and he had stabbed the interpreter in self-defense.[1] Historians have speculated that La Lime was acting as an informant on the corrupt economic activities within the fort, and Kinzie killed him to silence him. It has been also proposed the Kinzie's attempted to cover up the families early real estate transactions, substituting Francis May as the original owner (who died after eating at the son's [James] home).

La Lime was originally buried within sight of Kinzie's house, as the European settlement was thinly strung along Lake Michigan. Kinzie maintained the gravesite. After he died in 1828, his son John H. Kinzie had La Lime's remains exhumed and reinterred in the churchyard of St. James Church.[1]

In 1891, a coffin was discovered at Wabash Avenue and Illinois Street near the Rush Street Bridge.[1] Based on the research of Joseph Kirkland, the bones inside were believed to be La Lime's. The remains are held by the Chicago History Museum.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Chicago's First Murder," Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 November 1942, p. 10
  2. ^ "Historic Paper Will Be Filed in City Today", Chicago Daily Tribune 26 August 1954, p. 10
  3. ^ Pierce, Bessie Louise (1937). A History of Chicago, Vol. I: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 21.
  4. ^ "Chicago Historical Society to Opens Its Home," Chicago Daily Tribune 1 November 1896, p. 41
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (also spelled Point de Sable, Point au Sable, Point Sable, Pointe DuSable; before 1750 – August 28, 1818) is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what later became Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. The site where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780s is identified as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.

Point du Sable was of African descent but little else is known of his life prior to the 1770s. During his career, the areas where he settled and traded around the Great Lakes and in the Illinois Country changed hands several times among France, Britain, Spain and the new United States. Described as handsome and well educated, Point du Sable married a Native American woman, Kitiwaha, and they had two children. In 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, he was arrested by the British military on suspicion of being an American sympathizer. In the early 1780s he worked for the British lieutenant-governor of Michilimackinac on an estate at what is now the city of St. Clair, Michigan.

Point du Sable is first recorded as living at the mouth of the Chicago River in a trader's journal of early 1790. He established an extensive and prosperous trading settlement in what later became the city of Chicago. He sold his Chicago River property in 1800 and moved to St. Charles, now in Missouri, where he was licensed to run a Missouri River ferry. Point du Sable's successful role in developing the Chicago River settlement was little recognized until the mid-20th century.

John Kinzie

John Kinzie (December 23, 1763 – June 6, 1828) was a fur trader from Quebec who first operated in Detroit and what became the Northwest Territory of the United States. A partner of William Burnett from Canada, about 1802-1803 Kinzie moved with his wife and child to Chicago, where they were among the first permanent European settlers. Kinzie Street (400N) in Chicago is named for him. Their daughter Ellen Marion Kinzie, born in 1805, was believed to be the first child of European descent born in the settlement.

In 1812 Kinzie killed Jean La Lime, who worked as an interpreter at Fort Dearborn in Chicago. This was known as "the first murder in Chicago".During the War of 1812, when living in Detroit, Kinzie was accused of treason by the British and imprisoned on a ship for transport to Great Britain. After escaping, he returned to American territory, settling again in Chicago by 1816. He lived there the rest of his years.

Timeline of Chicago history

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States.

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