John H. Kinzie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John H. Kinzie
John H Kinzie c1850s.png
2nd President of the Town of Chicago
In office
Preceded byThomas Jefferson Vance Owen
Succeeded byWilliam B. Ogden (as Mayor of Chicago)
Chicago Alderman from the 9th Ward [1]
In office
Chicago Alderman from the 6th Ward [1]
In office
Cook County Sheriff
In office
Appointed byJohn Reynolds
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byStephen Forbes
Personal details
John Harris Kinzie

July 7, 1803 (1803-07-07)
Sandwich, Ontario, Upper Canada
DiedJune 19, 1865(1865-06-19) (aged 61)
near Pittsburgh, PA[2]
Spouse(s)Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie
ParentsJohn Kinzie and Eleanor Lytle McKillip 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.

Early life[edit]

The eldest son of John Kinzie, one of Chicago's first permanent settlers. Kinzie arrived in Chicago with his parents when he was one year old.

The Kinzie family moved to Detroit, Michigan following the Battle of Fort Dearborn, living there for several years. However, the family returned to Chicago in 1816.

Life and career[edit]

From 1818 until 1823, Kinzie worked for the American Fur Company. He spent some time working for the governor of the Michigan Territory in the 1820s and became an Indian subagent at Fort Winnebago until he returned to Chicago in 1833.[3]

In 1831, Kinzie was appointed by governor as the inaugural Cook County Sheriff.[4][5]

On August 11, 1834 Kinzie became the second village president of Chicago.

On May 2, 1837 Kinzie ran against William Butler Ogden for mayor when Chicago became a city and lost.[6] He subsequently made two more unsuccessful runs for mayor in 1845 and 1847.

In 1857 Kinzie was voted president of the Chicago Board of Underwriters.

Kinzie served as U.S. Army paymaster for Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois troops in the Civil War

Death and legacy[edit]

Kinzie died suddenly while on a railroad train on June 21, 1865.

The John H. Kinzie elementary school in Chicago, IL is named after him.

The house he and his wife resided in for a short period at the end of his time as an Indian sub-agent, now known as the Old Indian Agency House, in Portage, Wisconsin, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[7]


Kinzie's father was John Kinzie and his mother was Eleanor Lytle McKillip Kinzie.

Kinzie himself was married to historian and author Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie. Together they had seven children. Three of their children died in either their infancy or youth, these being Alexander Wolcott (1833-1839), Julian Magill (b. 1843, died at age six weeks), and Francis William (1844-1850, d. of cholera). Four of their children survived into adulthood, these being Eleanor Lytle (1835-1917), John Harris Jr. (1838-1862), Capt. Arthur Magill (1841-1902), and George Herbert (1846-1890)

Kinzie's daughter Eleanor Lytle married William Washington Gordon II (the son of Savannah, Georgia mayor William Washington Gordon) with whom she had six children (including Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA).

One of Kinzie's sons died fighting for the Union in the Civil War, two others were taken prisoner by Confederate forces but survived. His son-in-law William Washington Gordon III was a general in Confederate Army.


  1. ^ a b "Centennial List of Mayors, City Clerks, City Attorneys, City Treasurers, and Aldermen, elected by the people of the city of Chicago, from the incorporation of the city on March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1937, arranged in alphabetical order, showing the years during which each official held office". Archived from the original on September 4, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Fergus, Robert (1896). "Kane, Patrick - Kroger, Arnold". Directory of the City of Chicago Illinois for 1843. Fergus Printing Company. Retrieved 2010-07-19. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society-John Harris Kenzie
  4. ^ "Organized Crime & Political Corruption". Retrieved 24 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia letter K". Early Chicago - Chicago History. Retrieved 24 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Chicago's First Half Century. The Inter Ocean Publishing Company. 1883. pp. 13–14. Retrieved January 31, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Home page". Historic Indian Agency House. Archived from the original on 2011-12-20. Retrieved 2012-02-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]