Milliman Tract

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Milliman Tract Soundex Code C536

The story of the Milliman Tract of the Chicago City Cemetery begins in 1848, but to fully understand how Chicago land was first acquired, it is necessary to go back to 1830. That was the year the land around the Town of Chicago was first officially surveyed. The federal government granted the land to the State of Illinois, who divided the land so they could sell it to pay for the construction of a canal to bridge the Chicago River and Illinois River. According to John Lamb's, Illinois & Michigan Canal entry in the online version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago (, when completed, this canal "provided a direct water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and helped to shift the center of Midwestern trade from St. Louis, Missouri to Chicago."

Of these so-called canal lands that were mapped and divided to be sold to pay for the Illinois & Michigan Canal, some sections were kept by the State and were sold later. In 1843, the "Act for the completion of the canal" was passed. This act granted the State-owned land to a Canal Board of Trustees, who were authorized to sell the land to pay for the canal. These land sales were to occur only after the construction of the canal was completed. It was also stipulated that the land would be sold in a public auction, and it would be granted, but not conveyed until the price of the land had been paid in full. (This process was like the 1837 act when the State granted Chicago a parcel of land for use as a burial ground. The City paid for that land, thus beginning its use, in 1842.)

On September 5, 1848, during a public auction of Canal Trustee lands, Jacob Milliman bought four lots numbered 45, 46, 48 and 49. This large mosaic-like piece of that land was sold back to the Lincoln Park Commissioners by 1873.

Jacob Milliman died in 1849, before he had paid for all four of his lots. In 1850, the City of Chicago acquired lots 48 and 49, and began burying its dead within those grounds. Jacob Milliman and his wife were already interred in that soil.

On Saturday, September 23, 1848, the City of Chicago bought lots 33, 34, 35, 36, and 50. The City had originally been granted more land, and perhaps if the city officials had paid more money back in 1842, when they were conveyed the land comprising the Chicago City Cemetery, they would have already owned all of the land to the east of Clark Street.

Eventually, the majority owners of the remaining Milliman Tract were David Milliman and his sister Caroline Schnell, nee: Caroline Milliman. Another sister, Catherine Netherfield, nee: Catherine Milliman, had sold her share in separate sections. When their father Jacob Milliman died in 1849, he left five orphaned children. Their mother had already died and was buried on the property. In 1853, the heirs were given two Chicago City Cemetery burial lots within the tract, where their family members were already interred. By 1863, two of the children had died and were buried in their family lot.

The Milliman's chose Graceland Cemetery for their later burials. Graceland Cemetery's Milliman files indicate there were five family reinterments from the Chicago City Cemetery on Friday, May 17, 1872. There was no indication in any city records that these family graves were allowed to remain in the Milliman Tract after the 1866 lot removals were completed.

David Milliman (1847 - 1877), at the age of 30.

Catherine Netherfield, nee: Catherine Milliman, (1836 - 1897), at the age of 61.

Caroline Schnell, nee: Caroline Milliman, (1840 - 1917), at the age of 77.

All of their graves, with their family members, are together in Graceland Cemetery, within steps of the Entrance.

In 1866, the city officials had made the decision that the appraised value of $75,000 was too much to pay for the Milliman Tract. It was determined that it would cost no more than $30,000 to remove the dead from the grounds.

In 1869, the Lincoln Park Commissioners assumed authority of the grounds covering North Avenue, north to Fullerton Avenue, and Clark Street, east to Lake Michigan. It became the Commissioner's responsibility to acquire the Milliman Tract to incorporated it into the Lincoln Park landscape.

The individual Lincoln Park Commissioners got involved in the land acquisitions: Wednesday, May 13, 1871.