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.[2] 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".[3]

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.

Fort Dearbon
Kinzie Mansion and Fort Dearborn[1]
John Kinzie
BornDecember 23, 1763
DiedJune 6, 1828 (aged 64)
Resting placeGraceland Cemetery
Known forFirst permanent European settler in Chicago
Spouse(s)Margaret McKinzie
Eleanor Lytle McKillip Kinzie
ChildrenJohn H. Kinzie, Ellen Marion Kinzie, Maria Kinzie, Robert Allen Kinzie

Early life and first family

Kinzie was born in Quebec City, Canada (then in the Colonial Province of Quebec) to John and Anne McKenzie, Scots-Irish immigrants. His father died before Kinzie was a year old, and his mother remarried. In 1773, the boy was apprenticed to George Farnham, a silversmith. Some of the jewelry created by Kinzie has been found in archaeological digs in Ohio.

By 1777, Kinzie had become a trader in Detroit, where he worked for William Burnett. As a trader, he became familiar with local Native American peoples and likely learned the dominant language. He developed trading at the Kekionga, a center of the Miami people.

In 1785, Kinzie helped rescue two American citizens, sisters, who had been kidnapped in 1775 from Virginia by the Shawnee and adopted into the tribe. One of the girls, Margaret McKinzie, married him;[4] her sister Elizabeth married his companion Clark. Margaret lived with Kinzie in Detroit and had three children with him. After several years, she left Kinzie and Detroit, and returned to Virginia with their children. All three of the Kinzie children eventually moved as adults to Chicago.

In 1789, Kinzie lost his business in the Kekionga (modern Fort Wayne, Indiana) and had to move further from the western U.S. frontier. The US was excluding Canadians from trade with the Native Americans in their territory. As the United States settlers continued to populate its western territory, Kinzie moved further west.

Marriage and move to Chicago

Kinzie House
1857 drawing of John Kinzie house c. 1804, near the mouth of the Chicago River. The house was built by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.

In 1800 Kinzie married again, to Eleanor Lytle McKillip. By the time they moved to Chicago, about 1802-1804, they had a year-old son, John. Eleanor bore him three more children in Chicago: Ellen Marion (born in 1805), Maria Indiana (1807), and Robert Allen (1810).

In 1804 Kinzie purchased the former house and lands of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable,[5] located near the mouth of the Chicago River. That same year, Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory appointed Kinzie as a justice of the peace.

War of 1812

After American citizens built Fort Dearborn, Kinzie's influence and reputation rose in the area; he was useful because of his relationship with the Native Americans. The War of 1812 began between Great Britain and the United States, and tensions rose on the northern frontier.

In June 1812, Kinzie killed Jean La Lime, who worked as an interpreter at Fort Dearborn. He fled to Milwaukee, then in Indian territory.[6] While in Milwaukee, he met with pro-British Indians who were planning attacks on American settlements, including Chicago. Historians speculate that La Lime may have been informing on corruption related to purchasing supplies within the fort and been silenced. The case has been called "Chicago's first murder." [3] 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).

Although worried that Chicago would be on heightened alert, a force of as many as 500 Indians attacked the small garrison of soldiers, their support and their families near the current intersection of 18th and Calumet, as they fled south along the lake shore after evacuated the Fort. The Fort Dearborn attack took place on August 15, 1812 and left 53 dead, including women and children. Kinzie and his family, aided by Potawatomi Indians led by Billy Caldwell, escaped unharmed and returned to Detroit.[7] Identifying as a British subject, Kinzie had a strong anti-American streak.

In 1813, the British arrested Kinzie and Jean Baptiste Chardonnai, also then living in Detroit, charging them with treason. They were accused of having corresponded with the enemy (the American General Harrison's army) while supplying gunpowder to chief Tecumseh's Indian forces, who were fighting alongside the British. Chardonnai escaped, but Kinzie was imprisoned on a ship for transport to England. When the ship put into port in Nova Scotia to weather a storm, Kinzie escaped. He returned to American-held Detroit by 1814.

Although he had previously been a British subject, Kinzie switched to the United States. He returned to Chicago with his family in 1816 and lived there until his death in 1828.

During the 1820s, Kinzie served as a justice of the peace for the newly created Pike County,[8]:254 which at the time extended from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan.[8]:248

Death and legacy

John Kinzie grave stone 20101031
John Kinzie's grave in Graceland Cemetery

Kinzie suffered a stroke on June 6, 1828 and died a few hours later. Originally buried at the Fort Dearborn Cemetery, Kinzie’s remains were moved to City Cemetery in 1835. When the cemetery was closed due to concerns it could contaminate the city's water supply, Kinzie's remains were moved to Graceland Cemetery.


  1. ^ Lossing, Benson (1868). The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. Harper & Brothers, Publishers. p. 303.
  2. ^ Hayner, Don; McNamee, Tom (1988). Streetwise Chicago: a history of Chicago street names. Loyola University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-8294-0597-6.
  3. ^ a b "Chicago's First Murder," Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 November 1942, p. 10
  4. ^ Eckert, Allan W. (March 1993) [First published 1992]. "Amplification Notes". A Sorrow In Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh. United States: Bantam Books. p. 886. ISBN 0-553-56174-X.
  5. ^ Quaife, Milo Milton (June 1928). "Property of Jean Baptiste Point Sable". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 15 (1): 89–96. JSTOR 1891669.
  6. ^ Pierce, Bessie Louise (1937). A History of Chicago, Vol. I: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 21.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b History of Pike County Illinois. Chicago: Chapman, 1880.
  9. ^ Steuart, William Calvert, "The Steuart Hill Area's Colorful Past," Baltimore Sun, Sunday Sun Magazine, 10 February 1963

External links

Economy of Chicago

Chicago and its suburbs, which together comprise the Chicago Metropolitan Area, is home to 29 Fortune 500 companies and is a transportation and distribution center. Manufacturing, printing, publishing, insurance, transportation, financial trading & services, and food processing also play major roles in the city's economy. The total economic output of Chicago in GMP totaled US$679B in 2017 making Chicago equivalent to the 21st largest economy in the world just surpassing the total economic output of Switzerland.

Eleanor Lytle McKillip Kinzie

Eleanor Lytle McKillip Kinzie (fl. 1800) was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, wife of John Kinzie, and mother of John H. Kinzie. At the age of nine, Eleanor was captured by Native Americans. She was a captive of a Seneca tribe for four years and was adopted into the family of Chief Cornplanter. He released her and her family moved to Detroit. At the age of 14, she was married to Captain McKillip, a British officer. They had a daughter named Margaret and he was later killed in 1794 by friendly fire at the future location of Fort Defiance at the Miami Rapids.

Jean Baptiste Beaubien

Jean Baptiste Beaubien (September 5, 1787 - January 5, 1864), a multi-lingual fur-trader born in Detroit, Michigan, became an early resident of what became Chicago, Illinois, as well as an early civic and militia leader in Cook County, Illinois during the Black Hawk War, before moving to Du Page County, Illinois in his final years.

Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite

The Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite is the location where, around the 1780s, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable located his home and trading post. This home is generally considered to be the first permanent, non-native, residence in Chicago, Illinois. The site of Point du Sable's home is now partially occupied by and commemorated in Pioneer Court at 401 N. Michigan Avenue in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois.

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.

Jefferson Park, Chicago

Jefferson Park is one of the 77 community areas of Chicago, located on the Northwest Side of the city. The neighborhood of Jefferson Park occupies a larger swath of territory, as shown on this map.

Jefferson Park is bordered by the community areas of Norwood Park to the northwest, Forest Glen to the northeast, Portage Park to the south, and the suburb of Harwood Heights to the west. Although the official community area map draws the boundary between Jefferson Park and Portage Park at Gunnison Street and Lawrence Avenue, the Jefferson Park neighborhood extends to Montrose Avenue farther south.

John H. Kinzie

John Harris Kinzie (July 7, 1803 – June 19, 1865) was a prominent figure in Chicago politics during the 19th century. He served as president of Chicago when it was still a town and thrice unsuccessfully ran for Chicago's mayoralty once it was incorporated as a city.

John Kinzie (disambiguation)

John Kinzie may refer to:

John Kinzie, early Chicago settler

John H. Kinzie, his son, and early Chicago village President

John Kinzie Clark, early Lake County, Illinois settler

John Kinzie Clark

John Kinzie Clark (1792–1865) was a trader, trapper and a prominent early settler in the Chicago area. He was raised by Native Americans, who called him Nonimoa or Prairie Wolf. Clark first arrived at Fort Dearborn in 1818. In 1830, Clark settled in the vicinity of today's Jefferson Park area where he built a log cabin on the prairie. Hired to carry mail by horseback between Chicago and Milwaukee, he would make stops in Deerfield with provisions for early settlers there. Clark eventually moved to Deerfield, where he is buried at the Deerfield Cemetery.Prairie Wolf Slough, a forest preserve in Deerfield, Illinois just north of Deerfield High School is named for Clark using his Native American name.

According to New York Times science writer William K. Stevens, Clark was the first owner of a part of Somme Woods in Northbrook. He sold that property to John Frederick Werhane in 1853. The site was farmed by the Werhane family until it was acquired as a forest preserve in the 1930s. It is currently known for its prairie, savanna, and woodland restoration, as featured in Stevens' book.

Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie

Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie (September 11, 1806 – September 15, 1870) was an American historian, writer and pioneer of the American Midwest.


Kinzie may refer to:

George Kinzie Fitzsimons (born 1928), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church

John H. Kinzie (1803–1865), the eldest son of John Kinzie, one of Chicago's first permanent settlers

John Kinzie (1763–1828), one of Chicago's first permanent European settlers

John Kinzie Clark (1792–1865), trader and trapper who was a prominent early settler in the Chicago area

Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie (1806–1870), American, historian, writer and pioneer of the American midwest

Mary Kinzie (born 1944), United States poet

Walt Kinzie (1858–1909), American professional baseball player

Kinzie Hotel

The Kinzie Hotel (formerly the Amalfi Hotel Chicago) is a 215-room hotel, located near the corner of State Street and Kinzie Street, in the River North District, in downtown Chicago, Illinois, US, within walking distance of the Chicago Loop.

Metropolitan Family Services

Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) is a non-profit organization in Chicago. Through seven major community centers and public policy advocacy, Metropolitan serves low-income and working poor families.

Northwestern Military and Naval Academy

Northwestern Military Academy (founded 1888) was a high school in Linn, Wisconsin which was founded by Harlan Page Davidson. Originally located in Highland Park, Illinois, the school was relocated to the town of Linn, Wisconsin on the south shore of Geneva Lake near the city of Lake Geneva in 1915 and was renamed Northwestern Military and Naval Academy (NMNA).

During the academy's century of operation, its primary goal was to mold young men, grades 9-12, into outstanding citizens, eager and ready for higher levels of education. The institution adhered to the visions and principles of Davidson which adopted military structure and religious principles into an exceptionally sound educational program. The results were a capstone curriculum which ranked the academy as one of the most prestigious schools within the nation. Within the later years of its operation the institution decided to expand upon its enrollment spectrum and began accepting students from the 7th and 8th grade level.

Two large 60" x 336" murals of John Kinzie and party first encounters with the Potawatomi Indians around 1841 were painted by Chicago artist Louis Grell. The first mural was a gift of the class of 1939 and the second a gift by the class of 1940. The large murals hung in the grand west and east wings of Davidson Hall for many decades until St. John's acquired and merged with the Academy in 1995. The murals are now in a controlled storage vault on the campus in Delafield, WI.In 1995, the institution merged with rival school St John's Military Academy to form St. John's Northwestern Military Academy. The Lake Geneva property was abandoned for a few years, which fell victim to vandalism and became the late night choice of neighboring kids. Before the beginning of the 21st century, the property was sold to a developing company. The several acres of NMNA land have been transformed into an affluent community peppered with expensive homes. The Davidson Building in Lake Geneva no longer exists, but in its place is a piece of stone from the school with a plaque of remembrance.

Pioneer Court

Pioneer Court is a plaza located near the junction of the Chicago River and Upper Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Magnificent Mile. It is believed to be the site of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable's original residence and trading post. In 1965, the plaza was built on the former site of his homestead as part of the construction of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America building. The Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite was designated as a National Historic Landmark on May 11, 1976. John Kinzie, a prominent early settler, bought and expanded Point du Sable's post in 1800. The Plaza is bounded on the north by the Tribune Tower, on the east by 401 N. Michigan Avenue, on the south by the Chicago River, and on the west by Michigan Avenue, adjacent to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. In 2017, a newly designed Apple Inc. store was opened on the south side of the court, which created new levels linking down to the river.

From 2011–2012 the plaza was the display site for the Seward Johnson statue Forever Marilyn. The statue was later moved to Palm Springs, California. The plaza was used as a location in the film Divergent in 2013. A new statue was installed on November 1, 2016 in Pioneer Court. Also created by Seward Johnson, the statue, titled Return Visit, is 25 feet tall and depicts Abraham Lincoln standing next to a modern common man dressed in beige corduroy pants, sneakers and a cream color cable-knit sweater. The modern man is holding a copy of the Gettysburg Address.

Prairie Wolf Slough

The Prairie Wolf Slough, officially known as Prairie Wolf Forest Preserve, is a forest preserve in Deerfield, Illinois just north of Deerfield High School. The name refers to the Native American name of early Deerfield and Jefferson Park pioneer John Kinzie Clark which was nonimoa, or prairie wolf in English. The preserve is 431 acres (1.7 km2) and contains 2 miles (3 km) of trails. Since 1994, the slough has been routinely burned to allow for more native plants and animals to inhabit it and to prevent overgrowth. The land was purchased by the government in the 1970s and today is used by the nearby high school and surrounding corporate offices as a place to learn, play, exercise, and enjoy.

Thomas Forsyth (Indian agent)

Major Thomas Forsyth (December 5, 1771 – October 29, 1833) was a 19th-century American frontiersman and trader who served as a U.S. Indian agent to the Sauk and Fox during the 1820s and was replaced by Felix St. Vrain, prior to the Black Hawk War. His writings, both prior to and while an Indian agent, provided an invaluable source of the early Native American history in the Northwest Territory. His son, Robert Forsyth, was a colonel in the United States Army and an early settler of Chicago, Illinois.


Waubonsie (c. 1760 – c. 1848) was a leader of the Potawatomi Native American people. His name has been spelled in a variety of ways, including Wabaunsee, Wah-bahn-se, Waubonsee, Waabaanizii in the contemporary Ojibwe language, and Wabanzi in the contemporary Potawatomi language (meaning "He Causes Paleness" in both languages).

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