(Also known as: Lake and Wabash Burial site)
NW corner Lake Street and Wabash Ave
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois 60601
South Township Section: 10 Township 39 Range: 14
This burial site, now the northwest corner of Lake and Wabash, was used in 1832 to quickly bury soldiers from Fort Dearborn who died of Cholera. The Chicago Tribune of August 8, 1897 described the location as the west side of Wabash (50 east), between Lake (200 north) and South Water Street. Early reports described the site as being “not far from where the American Temperance House was later erected.” A later report stated that the Leander J McCormick Building was erected on this site in 1872. Despite being so close to the Fort Cemetery, it appears that this was a separate location.
Four steamers, the Henry Clay, Superior, Sheldon Thompson, and William Penn, were chartered by the United States Government for the purpose of transporting troops, provisions, etc., to Chicago during the Blackhawk War; On the evening of the 8th of July, 1832 the steamer, Sheldon Thompson arrived in Chicago from Fort Gratiot commanded by Capt. A. Walker, with General Scott aboard, . During the trip, nearly one-fourth of the soldiers and crew contracted cholera, and several were buried at sea. Upon arrival at Chicago, 18 more died and were quickly buried in a mass grave at this site. No coffins were used, the victims buried in white sheets or their personal blanket. In the next four days, 54 more soldiers died of the disease, and were also buried here. Reports indicate that a total of 88 soldiers died, with possibly about 72 buried at this location. One victim has been identified as 2nd Lt. Franklin McDultie of Rochester, New Hampshire who died on July 15, 1832.
Today the cemetery is under the Harold Washington College.
2 thoughts on “Cholera Cemetery – Chicago 1835”
Harold Washington College built over a cemetery? That doesn’t seem right
although there is not a direct connection between the burials and Harold Washington College, both were/are on the same exact piece of land,the northwest corner of Lake and Wabash, but at vastly different times. There are no end of examples where land has been used for one purpose, then many years later recycled into other uses, often large buildings. Fort Dearborn back during that period is another good example, Now the corner of Wacker and Michigan. There are some detailed diaries describing the ships encountering Cholera resulting in a hasty burial. Lastly, there is no evidence one way or another that the bodies of the Cholera Cemetery are still there. They may or may not have been reburied elseware.