So, Who is John Kinzie?
To most, John Kinzie was an intrepid pioneer, an accomplished fur trader, a silversmith, and visionary settler that played an integral role in the early development of Chicago. Kinzie’s home, which he purchased from Chicago founder Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, served as one of the city’s first inns, and his son James would later open one of Chicago’s first hotels/taverns at Wolf Point.
But to us, John Kinzie also represents so much more. His boundless energy, enterprising spirit, and legacy of exploration are the inspiration for the Kinzie Hotel, designed to capture the true essence of Chicago.
Today, you can find Kinzie’s imprint throughout the city. From the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the Chicago Riverwalk to For Dearborn Park, John Kinzie's legacy lives on.
John Kinzie History: A Timeline
- 1763 - Born December 3 in Quebec, son of Dr. John MacKenzie
- 1773 – Ran away from home to work as an apprentice to silversmith George Farnham, making silver buckles, rings, and bracelets. Kinzie also became a fur trapper, frequently trading pelts with Native Americans and establishing his first of many peaceful and prosperous relationships with local tribes..
- 1777 – Became a trader in Detroit, working for William Burnett. There, Kinzie, developed trade relationship with the Kekionga tribe.
- 1785 – Helped rescue two American sisters, who had been kidnapped
- 1795 – Adopted into the Shawnee tribe. In 1795, Kinzie also married Margaret McKinzie, with whom he sired three children
- 1800 – Remarried to Eleanor Lytle McKillip, with whom he sired four children, including the first child of European descent born in the Chicago settlement
- 1804 – Arrived in Chicago and began working as a merchant and a banker, setting up a trading post. Around this time Kinzie bought the former house and land of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable near the mouth of the Chicago River.
- 1804 – Appointed a justice of the peace by Governor William Henry Harrison in 1804
- 1812 - Kinzie successfully performed the first recorded surgical procedure in Chicago on a woman who was shot at Fort Dearborn. During the Battle of Fort Dearborn, Kinzie and his family were saved by Billy Caldwell, also known as Sauganash, and the Potawatomi tribe.
- 1812 – Killed Jean la Lime in self-defense and was later acquitted
- 1813 – Accused of treason by the British, was arrested, and escaped a prison ship headed back to England
- 1816 – Returned to Chicago
- 1828 – Died of a stroke and buried in the Fort Dearborn Cemetery
- 1835 – Kinzie's remains were moved to the historic Graceland Cemetery in Chicago's Uptown Neighborhood