By permission and courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.
"As fiction the accounts of Streeter's activities would astound; as truth they truly tax belief."
Francis X. Busch, from Casebook of the Curious and True, 1957.

George Wellington Streeter
AKA Cap Streeter

Every good story needs a colorful character. In my project, Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park, David Kennison fit the bill. Kennison convinced Chicagoans that he was the last remaining member of the Boston Tea Party and when he died in 1852 at the self-proclaimed age of 105, his military funeral was the grandest the city had ever seen. More than one hundred years later genealogists asserted that his boasts were unfounded and he was more likely in his eighties when he died. His grave remains in today's Lincoln Park.

Legend has it (by his own account) that in 1886 as George W. Streeter approached Chicago's shoreline his boat butted into a sandbar where it remained stuck for many years gathering sand, adding to its mass and eventually joining with the coast. He named his land The District of Lake Michigan. But, unlike David Kennison who captured the city's imagination as its citizens briefly reveled in pride, claiming their own Revolutionary War hero, Streeter lingered around during a legally confusing time of lakefront development, and his refusal to leave escalated to include the formation of his own militia and eventually murder.

This section of the Streeterville chapter of Shifting Grounds attempts to detangle the Cap Streeter story as it crosses over into other sections in the sidebar on the left: Filling in the Lakeshore and The Streeterville Neighborhood. Encompassing the years 1886 until his death in 1921, the claim to land, which he also sold to others, continues with his heirs for fifteen more years.

The two Chicago Daily News photographs overlayed to create an animated GIF were taken in 1903 while Streeter was in custody for the murder of Watchman John S. Kirk. Convicted of manslaughter, Streeter served a prison term. (It was during this same year that a granite boulder was placed in Lincoln Park, marking the grave and honoring the falsely claimed legend of David Kennison.)