The Remains of Jean LaLime

It’s a story often retold on tours (including ours, from time to time): two of the first settlers in town were John Kinzie and John (Jean) LaLime. Kinzie murdered LaLime, moved into his house, and buried the body in the front yard, where he tended to the grave for years. Years later, the bones were dug up and given to the Chicago Historical Society (who, of course, were just thrilled), then were destroyed in the Great Fire.

The thing is, though, the killing wasn’t exactly murder – it was a case of self defense, by all accounts. And the bones certainly didn’t burn up in the fire – they were still underground at the time! The skeleton (pictured on the right) was actually dug up around the corner of Illinois and Wabash where workers were digging for a cellar in 1891. Experts couldn’t be sure if it was LaLime or not, as old timers had conflicting views on exactly where he was buried, but most agreed that this was probably him (or what’s left of him). My understanding is that the historical society actually still HAS the bones.