Illinois Genealogy Trails


1st Term

2nd Term

3rd Term


Biographical Notes




William Ogden
William Butler Ogden
b. June 15, 1805 Walton, NY
d. August 3, 1877

Was a founding father not only of the city (because he wrote its first charter) but of the Chicago & North Western Railway, and was a principal in the nation's first transcontinental railroad. Ogden Flats, Utah, where the Golden Spike was driven, was named for him.
He built the city's credit reputation as well as his own by keeping the city solvent during the depression of 1837.Initiated in 1848, its first railroad. He designed the first swing bridge over the Chicago River and donated the land for Rush Medical Center.
On October 8, 1871, Ogden lost most of his possessions in the Great Chicago Fire. He also owned a lumber company in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, which burned the same day.
He eventually retired from politics and moved back to his native New York.




Buckner morris
Buckner Stith Morris

b. August 19, 1800 in Augusta, GA
d: December 16, 1879;
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

A genial man with a Southern background who later became a respected judge, was Chicago's second mayor. Arrived in Chicago in 1834 and practiced law with J. Young Scammon. By 1835, Morris had left Scammon and was practicing law with Edward Casey. Elected mayor of Chicago in 1838 and went on to serve terms as a city alderman.
Outspoken in his opposition to the "War Between the States" and was suspected to sympathize with the "Copperheads". In 1864, he was arrested for aiding in a Confederate attempt to free prisoners of war from Camp Douglas, just south of the city. Imprisoned, but pardoned nine months later. As a result, he lost most of his assets through foreclosures.




Benjamin Raymond
Benjamin Wright Raymond

b. June 15, 1801;
d. April 6, 1883;
buried in Graceland Cemetery

He founded the Elgin Watch Company.
Bucking the petty opposition of his fellow South Siders, he cast the deciding vote to rebuild the North Side's link with the rest of the city, the Dearborn Street Bridge, which had been swept away in a flood.




alexander lloyd
Alexander Lloyd

b. August 19, 1805
d. April 7, 1871
buried in Graceland Cemetery

Irish-born Lloyd arrived in Chicago in 1833 and opened a shop. Within four years, he was considered a principal contractor and builder in Chicago.
He was a man concerned with education. Chicago's public school system was formally established while he was mayor. In 1842, during an era when far too few believed in the common school, he became a school board trustee.




(the first 2 year term by mayors)

francis sherman
Francis Cornwall Sherman

b. September 18, 1805;
d. November 7, 1870;
buried in Graceland Cemetery

Sherman arrived in Chicago in April of 1834 from Newton, Connecticut. Was a brick manufacturer, real-estate investor, and a man whose wealth permitted him to retire at an early age and build the City Hotel (later called the "Sherman House"), a Chicago landmark. In July 1835, he was elected a village trustee.
He continued to work as a contractor and builder, eventually serving as mayor of Chicago three times




augustus garrett
Augustus Garrett

b. 1801
d. November 30, 1848
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

He ran an auction house for both goods and land near the Chicago River and invested in real estate; He won re-election in 1844 only to have the election invalidated. His fortune was used to establish the Garrett Biblical Institute (later called the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary) on the Evanston campus of the Northwestern University in Evanston, IL by his widow after his death.
Stain glass of Augustus and his wife in the Garrett Institute




Alson Sherman
Alson Sherman

b. April 21, 1811
d. September 27, 1903
buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Waukegan, IL

He spent three years as chief of the Chicago Fire Department (1841-4). He was a founder of the city's municipal water system and of Northwestern University, then located on the south end of what is now the Loop.
He established the first sawmill in Chicago and developed the Lemont marble quarry.




john chapin
John Putnam Chapin

b. April 21, 1810 in Bradford, Vermont
d. July 27, 1864
buried in Graceland Cemetery

New England Yankee and one of the 13 merchants who founded the Chicago Board of Trade. One of the city's earliest meatpackers, he had built a slaughterhouse on the South Branch of the Chicago River in 1844.


Elected March 5, 1850 


james curtiss
James Curtiss

b. April, 1803;
d. November 2, 1859; originally buried in City Cemetery
(when the Cemetery was moved to make way for Lincoln Park, his remains were lost.)

Arrived in Chicago from New York in 1835 and opened a law office. He was a candidate for mayor six times, and elected twice. His terms saw the city's first national convention (the River and Harbor Convention in 1847) and, with the building in 1851 of the Bridewell Jail, the abolition of chain gangs on Chicago streets.




james woodworth
James Hutchinson Woodworth

b. December 4, 1804 in Greenwich, New York;
d. March 26, 1869
buried in Oak Woods Cemetery

Acquired a comfortable fortune in land speculation, banking, and the milling of flour.

He was the first man elected to successive terms as mayor of Chicago. He tried literally to clean up the city and proposed a complete sewer system for Chicago (population 20,000) to help fight the scourge of cholera.
As mayor, he presided over the opening of the Illinois-Michigan Canal. He returned to New York after his terms as mayor and worked as a miller.




walter gurnee
Walter S. Gurnee

b. March 9, 1813
d. April 18, 1903
buried in New York, NY

Came from a well-to-do family and amassed a sizable fortune in his saddle and tanning business. Gurnee also founded the village of Winnetka on land he had purchased and was at one time president of the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad.
The city of Gurnee is named for him.




charles gray
Charles McNeill Gray

b. March 7, 1807 in Sherburne, New York;
d. October 17, 1885;
buried in Graceland Cemetery

Arrived in Chicago on July 17, 1834 and took a job as a clerk for Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, later working for Peter Cohen. By 1844 he was a candle maker with his own shop. He subsequently worked as a manufacturer, contractor and railroad man.

A businessman, volunteer librarian and "Douglas Democrat", Gray was mayor in 1853-4. He had been a partner of Cyrus McCormick, the reaper manufacturer, and was later associated with George Pullman in the building of railroad sleeping cars. He had also been a gold miner in 1849 in California.




Isaac Lawrence Milliken

b. August 29, 1815
d. December 2, 1885
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

A blacksmith before becoming mayor, he was chief of police after his term. He narrowly won the mayoral race over the Temperance candidate, Amos Throop. 




levi boone
Levi Day Boone

b. December 6, 1808 KY
d. January 24, 1882
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

A great-nephew of Daniel Boone, graduated from the medical school of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky and arrived in Chicago in 1835. Boone had a medical practice with Charles V. Dyer. Elected first president of the Chicago Medical Society in 1850 and a prosperous physician whose wealth came from canal lands and downtown real estate. He was elected mayor in 1855 as a Native American or "Know Nothing" candidate.
He established the first Chicago police force and barred all immigrants from city jobs. He also proposed an ordinance which would close taverns on Sundays and raise the cost of liquor licenses by 600%, sparking the Lager Beer Riot by the German-Americans on April 21.




thomas dyer
Thomas Dyer

b. January 13, 1805 Sandwich, New Hampshire
d. June 6, 1862
buried in Connecticut

A meat-packing partner of former Mayor Chapin, Dyer was elected mayor in 1856 on a "Pro-Nebraska" slate as Stephen A. Douglas turned the Chicago mayoral election into a referendum for his side of the slavery question. Reportedly, 1,500 Irish residents of neighboring Bridgeport (which was not yet annexed to the city) were imported by the Democrats to help swing the election to Dyer. 




john wentworth
John Wentworth
b. March 5, 1815
d. October 16, 1888

Managing editor of Chicago's first newspaper, the Chicago Democrat.
After election as mayor, he instituted chain gangs in the city and tried to clean up the city's morals. To do this, he hired spies to determine who was frequenting Chicago's brothels. In 1857, Wentworth led a raid on the Sands, Chicago's red-light district, when his friend, former mayor William Ogden, gained rights to the land there, and which resulted in the burning of the area.

He was also a six-term congressman in the House of Representatives and effectively blocked the Territory of Wisconsin's claim to the Chicago area (the territory needed the area's population to qualify for statehood).

"Long John" Wentworth was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln




John Haines
John Charles Haines
born: May 26, 1818 in New York; died: July 4, 1896; buried in Rosehill Cemetery

Arrived in Chicago on May 26, 1835 and took on work as a clerk for George W. Merrill. By 1846, he formed a partnership with Jared Gage and acquired several flour mills. Haines worked to organize the Chicago waterworks beginning in 1854.

Known as John "Copper Stock" Haines, his nickname came from his dabbling in copper stock. His police supposedly were called "coppers," the origin of "cops" for policemen. He vetoed an ordinance to allow street railways in 1858 because it granted franchises in perpetuity if the city didn't buy the rights back within 25 years. Nevertheless, the city got its first horse drawn streetcar in 1859.




julian rumsey
Julian Sidney Rumsey
born: April 3, 1823 in Batavia, New York; died: April 20, 1886; buried in Graceland Cemetery

Rumsey arrived in Chicago on July 28, 1835 to work in a shipping company owned by his uncles.

He eventually became president of the Board of Trade, and was one of the primary movers behind implementing the stringent grain inspection that established Chicago's solid reputation in the national grain markets, becoming the president of the Corn Exchange Bank. As mayor, he was a militant patriot who required Chicagoans to take a loyalty oath.

He founded the Illinois Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1869.




John Rice
John Blake Rice
(May 28, 1809 - December 17, 1874;
buried in Rosehill Cemetery)

Arrived in Chicago in 1847 to work as an actor and entertain the politicians at the River and Harbor Convention, Chicago's first national convention. He decided to stay and establish a permanent theater, called Rice's Theater.
He succeeded Francis C. Sherman, the first mayor to serve a 2-year term.
As mayor, Rice was anti-labor, and he vetoed a plan to enforce an eight-hour work day. This veto led to a spontaneous demonstration on May 1, 1867 by workers which led to the international May Day observance. The City Council eventually overrode his veto. During his terms, Chicago grew in size from 11 to 35 square miles.

Rice and the City Council were connected with graft, prostitution and gambling




Roswell B. Mason
born: September 19, 1805; died: January 1, 1892; buried in Rosehill Cemetery

While Chicago's territory grew in the 1860s, so did its political corruption, as "rings" controlled payoffs in the city council. People's Party candidate Mason was elected as a reform mayor in 1869, but he is better remembered as the man who held office
during The Great Chicago Fire in October, 1871.

Civil engineer, was born in Oneida County, N.Y.; in his boyhood was employed as a teamster on the Erie Canal, a year later (1822) accepting a position as rodman under Edward F. Gay, assistant-engineer in charge of construction. Subsequently he was employed on the Schuylkill and Morris Canals, on the latter becoming assistant-engineer and finally, chief and superintendent. Other works with which Mr. Mason was connected in a a similar capacity were the PA Canal and the Housatonic, NY & New Haven and the Vermont Valley Railroads. In 1851 he came west and took charge of the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad, a work which required 5 years for its completion. The next four years were spent as contractor in the construction of roads in Iowa and Wisconsin, until 1860, when he became Superintendent of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, but remained only one year, in 1861 accepting the position of Controller of the land department of the Illinois Central Railroad, which he retained until 1867. The next two years were occupied in the service of the State in lowering the summit of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. In 1869 he was elected Mayor of the City of Chicago, and it was in the closing days of his term that the great fire of 1871 occurred, testing his executive ability to the utmost. From 1873 to 1883 he served as one of the Trustees of the Illinois Industrial University, and was one of the incorporators, and a life-long Director, of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest. (Src: Historical Encyclopedia, 1901)




joseph medill
Joseph Medill

b. April 6, 1823 Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

d. March 16, 1899

Owner, publisher, and editor of the Chicago Tribune for most of the last half of the 19th century. He was elected on the Union-Fireproof ticket less than a month after the Chicago Fire in 1871. He faced opposition for taking the fire department out of politics (the "spoils system"), extending the ban on the erection of wooden buildings in the city.
Included the unpopular enforcement of the Sunday closing law, ended a period of relative tranquillity in the mayoralty and ushered in significant changes, including the “Mayor's Bill” of 1872, by which the legislature enlarged the mayor's powers of appointment.

Created Chicago's first public library, enforced blue laws and reformed the police and fire department

During the American Civil War, Medill's great journalistic enemy was The Chicago Times, run by Cyrus McCormick. Eventually McCormick's nephew married Medill's daughter. Strongly supportive of Abraham Lincoln, the Tribune was instrumental in his nomination for the Presidency. Medill was a racist who opposed slavery. In one editorial, Medill espoused putting strychnine or arsenic in the food of unemployed citizens.

In ill health and tiring of mayoral responsibilities, Medill took a leave of absence and appointed Lester L. Bond as acting mayor while he traveled throughout Europe.

Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL was his home, later occupied by his grandson Robert R. McCormick.




Lester Legrant Bond

b. 1829

d. 1903

Acting mayor.
Lawyer, born at Ravenna, Ohio, Oct. 27, 1829; educated in the common schools and at an academy, meanwhile laboring in local factories; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1853, the following year coming to Chicago, where he has given his attention chiefly to practice in connection with patent laws. Mr. Bond served several terms in the Chicago City Council, was Republican Presidential Elector in 1868, and served two terms in the General Assembly - 1866,-70.




harvey colvin
Harvey Doolittle Colvin

b. December 18, 1815;
d. April 16, 1892;
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

The mayoral election of 1873 was a contest between Colvin, the "personal liberty" candidate of the People's Party and his "law and order" opponent. Colvin won decisively. He is best remembered as the mayor who refused to give up the office in the aftermath of a city council ordinance that called for city elections in 1875, but failed to mention the mayor's office. Colvin refused to yield the office to the man who was elected mayor in that election. The conflict, during which the police supported Colvin and armed guards stood by, was settled by the courts when they ultimately ruled the election illegal.

In 1875 a new city charter lengthened the mayor's term from one to two years and expanded the office's powers. Because it was not clear whether the new charter extended the term of incumbent mayor Harvey Colvin, political chaos and near riots resulted when Colvin refused to give up the seat to the newly elected Thomas Hoyne in 1876. After a police cordon around City Hall prevented bloodshed, the court permitted Colvin to remain in office until a new election later that year.




monroe heath
Monroe Heath

b. March 27, 1827
d. October 21, 1894
He is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery

Heath, a "short term" (1876) and a "full-term" (1877-79) mayor, was a tough and sometimes clumsy reformer. It was during his second term that the city saw the 1877 railroad riots, during which mobs roamed the streets and regular troops were brought in to restore order and break the railroad workers' strike.

Elected to 5 terms


1893 (assassinated in office)

carter harrison
Carter Henry Harrison, Sr.

b. February 15, 1825
d. October 28, 1893

Southern-born Harrison, one of the strongest and most charming of Chicago mayors, was elected five times (1879, 1881, 1883, 1885 and 1893). He was also the first cousin twice removed of President William Henry Harrison.
He was in office during the Haymarket tragedy (1887), which resulted in the hanging of four anarchists, and had counseled the police against the action that led to the riot.
The World's Columbian Exposition was held during his administration in 1893. On October 28, 1893, three days before the close of the Exposition, Harrison was murdered in his home by Patrick Eugene Prendergast, a disgruntled office seeker. Prendergast was hanged on July 13, 1894.
Harrison was Chicago's first five-time elected mayor.




john roche
John A. Roche

b. August 12, 1844
d. February 10, 1904;
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

A Republican who tried with limited success to upgrade the morals of the city. He was more successful in improving the city's sewage system when he appointed the commission that recommended the building of the Ship and Sanitary Canal to take the city's wastes away from the lake. 




dewitt creiger
DeWitt Clinton Cregier

b. June 1, 1829
d. November 9, 1918
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

An engineer with the City of Chicago, he was awarded in 1875, U.S. Patent 164149 and in 1876, U.S. Patent 173768, both for fire hydrants. The latter was a combination drinking fountain, fire hydrant, and watering basin for animals.

One of his major tasks was to start integrating into the city such annexed suburbs as Lakeview, Hyde Park, Lake, Jefferson and part of Cicero, which added 128.24 square miles to the city's 44 sq. miles. His gggg-grandfather saw similar public service in 1653 as burgomaster of the newly chartered city of New Amsterdam, now New York City.




hempstead washburn
Hempstead Washburne

b. November 11, 1852
d. April 13, 1919
buried in Graceland Cemetery

He was the son of Elihu B. Washburne, Congressman, Secretary of State under President Grant, and Minister to France.

One of Mayor Washburne's most popular official acts was preventing an increase in the price of gas that a private utility company wanted to impose.

mayor pro



george bell swift
George Bell Swift

b. December 14, 1845;
d. July 2, 1912;
buried in Rosehill Cemetery

He was selected to replace the assassinated Carter Harrison, Sr. as Mayor pro tem in 1893 and lost his re-election bid. He was re-elected when he ran in 1895 as one of the reform Republicans elected every other term during that era. He helped institute civil service, improved the sewers, and reformed the health department. But when he enforced the midnight-closing ordinance for saloons, the voters turned to another Harrison as their next mayor.




John Patrick Hopkins

b. October 29, 1858;
d. October 13, 1918
buried in Calvary Cemetery

Democrat Hopkins became mayor in 1893 in a special election held after the assassination of Carter Harrison. As an official five years earlier of the George F. Pullman Co., Hopkins was described by contemporary writer William T. Stead in his book "If Christ Came to Chicago: as the "only man in Pullman who dared call his soul his own." He was mayor during the Pullman strike of 1894, during which he used his own money to help feed the strikers.
He was the first of nine Irish-American Catholic mayors of Chicago




carter harrison 2
Carter Henry Harrison, Jr.

b. April 23, 1860, Chicago
d. December 25, 1953
buried in Graceland Cemetery

He was the first mayor who was born in the city of Chicago, and served five terms. Educated in Saxe-Altenburg, Germany, Harrison returned to Chicago to help his brother run the Chicago Times, which their father bought in 1891.

Although he spent more years in the office that his father, Carter Harrison I, he lacked the senior Harrison's ability to stay in touch with the people. His greatest accomplishment, perhaps, was saving the city's streetcar lines from the clutches of Charles T. Yerkes, but he is best known for closing the city's elite brothel, the Everleigh Club.




ed dunne
Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne

b. October 12, 1853 Watertown, Connecticut
d. May 24, 1937

The only man to serve both as mayor of Chicago and governor of Illinois (from 1913 to 1917).

Dunne is credited with refusing help from the state militia to quell the long Teamsters strike of 1905. A major issue during his administration was the question of city ownership or control of rail lines, gas, telephone and other utilities. His building commissioner was Joseph Medill Patterson, then an avowed socialist, who later founded the New York Daily News while continuing as co-owner with Col. Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.




Fred busse
Fred Busse

b. March 3, 1886
d. July 9, 1914
He is buried in Graceland Cemetery

Prior to serving as mayor, he was the Illinois State Treasurer (1903–1905)
German American, he was the first mayor to serve a four-year term, was a saloonkeeper politician and the first Chicago mayor without British ancestry.
He attempted to reform Chicago by appointing a vice commission, but Busse's mayoral tenure is noted for its extensive corruption and presence of organized crime in the city.

He also formed a Chicago Plan commission that quickly planned the building of a Michigan Avenue bridge and the development of Pine Street, now North Michigan Avenue. The present city hall, highly praised as efficient at the time, was constructed during his administration.
He died a pauper and bequeathed to his widow the life of a charwoman scrubbing floors to pay the rent.




wm thompson
William Hale Thompson

b. May 14, 1869, Boston, Mass.
d. March 18, 1944

William “Big Bill” Thompson practiced the politics of the “wide open town” to the delight of bootleggers and gangsters. A mayor who accepted campaign funds from Al Capone and enriched himself from politics, Big Bill was a far cry from the civic-minded founding fathers and economic titans who ran the office in the nineteenth century. Big Bill Thompson left his widow $1.5 million in unmarked bills in his safety deposit boxes.

[From the Chicago Tribune (20 May 1979)]:
"Big Bill" Thompson, his detractors said, had the hide of a rhinoceros and sometimes the style of one, but Chicago liked him enough to make him mayor for two straight terms, from 1915 to 1923 and then again for a third term in 1927-31. Known also as "Big Bill the Builder," his 1927 campaign included attacks on the Kind of England for alleged interference in Chicago affairs and help at the precinct level from henchmen of Al Capone. At Thompson's death, several million dollars in cash were found stuffed in his desk drawers. He is not among those listed as Chicago's reform mayors.




william dever
William Emmett Dever

b. March 13, 1862 Woburn, Mass.;
d. September 3, 1929;
buried in Calvary Cemetery

A tanner's son who became a judicial careerist, he was responsible for many improvements to the city's infrastructure, including the completion of Wacker Drive, the extension of Ogden Avenue, the straightening of the Chicago River and the building of the city's first airport, Municipal Airport.
After losing re-election, he served as a vice-president of the Bank of America, dying of cancer in 1929.
[From the Chicago Tribune (20 May 1979)]:
Dever, whose one term as mayor was sandwiched between Thompson's second and third terms, is best remembered as an honest man with such respect for the law that he tried to enforce Prohibition simply because it was the law, not because he believed in it. For his efforts Dever failed to win re-election.

(assassinated in office)



anton cermak
Anton Joseph Cermak

b. May 9, 1873
d, March 6, 1933
buried Bohemian National Cemetery

The city's only foreign-born mayor, Anton Cermak, was a coal miner and former firewood seller. He was born in Kladno, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), and emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1874. At age 13 he worked in an Illinois coal mine and later moved to the Pilsen and Lawndale areas of the city. He served as secretary of the United Societies, an organization of various ethnic groups enraged by reformers seeking to close down their saloons.
He began his political career as a precinct captain and in 1902 was elected to the Illinois state legislature. His main problem as mayor was finding enough money to pay teachers, policemen and other city employees.

While shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt’s in the rear seat of an open car in Miami, Florida, on February 15, 1933, Cermak was shot in the lung and seriously wounded when Giuseppe Zangara, alleged at the time to be attempting to assassinate Roosevelt, hit Cermak instead
His political and organizational skills helped create one of the most powerful political organizations of his day, and Cermak is considered the father of Chicago's Democratic machine.

Cermak's son-in-law, Otto Kerner, Jr., was governor of Illinois and a federal circuit judge

March 15, 1933-April 17, 1933 (32 days, acting)



Frank J. Corr

b. January 12, 1877
d. June 3, 1934
buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Corr is probably Chicago's least remembered mayor. Elected by his fellow members of the city council to succeed Cermak, he served 30 days in 1933 and then resigned so Edward J. Kelly, the Democratic Party's choice, could run for the office in a general election. 

April 17, 1933-April 15, 1947



edward kelly
Edward Joseph Kelly

b. May 1, 1876
d. October 20, 1950
buried in Calvary Cemetery

Served as chief engineer of the Chicago sanitary district in the 1920s

Following the assassination of Mayor Cermak, Kelly was hand picked by his friend, Patrick Nash, Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, for the mayoralty election of 1933. Together, Kelly and Nash built one of the most powerful, and most corrupt, big city political organizations, called the "Kelly-Nash Machine."
Looking like the engineer he was, Kelly was a "nuts and bolts" mayor whose quiet effectiveness further strengthened the control that Irish Politicians had over the city's affairs.




Martin H. Kennelly

b. August 11, 1887
d. November 29, 1961
buried in Calvary Cemetery

Born in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, the son of a packing house worker. He served in the U. S. Army during World War I with the rank of Captain. After the war he returned to Chicago and became a self-made moving and storage company owner;

Espousing "reform" once again, Chicago's Democrats got Kennelly elected as mayor in 1947. The office, however proved too big for Kennelly, and it was the city council that actually ran the city. Among other things, the council successfully blocked the efforts of Elizabeth Wood, chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, to put CHA house projects in all, not just in all-black wards. The result was later to earn Chicago the dubious distinction of being the "most segregated city in the U.S." After 8 years in office, Kennelly was dumped in a surprise maneuver by the Cook County Democratic Party.

Mayors began to resemble the voters more than had been the case in the nineteenth century. Whereas in the nineteenth century politics had often been a civic avocation, after the Great Fire it became a profession and a way of making of a living. Some did exceedingly well on the job. Although by charter Chicago government remains a “weak” mayor system, the office's powers have been strengthened over time, sometimes by formal and sometimes by extralegal methods. The mayor's authority and influence were considerably enlarged by the growth of the Kelly-Nash and Daley political machine, 1933–1976. In addition, Daley took control of the city's budget from the city council, considerably enhancing his office's powers over those of the council.

April 20, 1955-December 20, 1976 (died in office)



Richard Joseph Daley

b. May 15, 1902
d. December 20, 1976
buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Worth Township, southwest of Chicago.

A former stockyards cowboy out of working-class Bridgeport, as well as a leader of the "Hamburgers", a politicized street gang.
He served as Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee from 1953 and mayor of Chicago from 1955, retaining both positions until his death in 1976.

Throughout his many years in office he attended mass daily and was a father figure whose slogan was "Good government is good politics" He was regarded as personally honest, but a number of his lieutenants were found guilty of various misdeeds. A militant Democrat, he found support not only among his well-rewarded precinct captains and other party workers but also, ironically enough, from the generally Republican leaders of the city's business community.

December 28, 1976-April 16, 1979



Michael bilandic
Michael Anthony Bilandic

b. February 13, 1923
d. January 16, 2002
buried in St. Mary Cemetery.

Its first non-Irish mayor since 1933, Michael Bilandic was of Croatian ancestry. He served as an Alderman in the Chicago City Council, which elected him to finish out Daley's term.
He oversaw the creation of ChicagoFest, a food and music festival held on Navy Pier. The Chicago Marathon had its first running in 1977, in which he ran. He was a businesslike mayor, but did not have the warm personal touch with the voters that characterized Daley, Kelly, Thompson, Harrison I or Long John Wentworth. Considered unbeatable when he came up for re-election in 1979, he was done in by his administration's mishandling of a bad winter and record snowstorm, a situation that was aggravated by revelations of expensive but seemingly worthless consulting contracts awarded to political cronies and the failure of the city's transit system to meet the needs of riders during the difficult days of that winter.

He was elected to the Illinois State Supreme Court in 1990 and served until 2000. From 1994 to 1996 he was the Illinois Chief Justice.

April 16, 1979-April 29, 1983



jane byrne
Jane Margaret Byrne
b. May 24, 1934

First (and only) female mayor of Chicago

She was appointed head of consumer affairs by Mayor Daley and held that post until fired by mayor Michael Bilandic in 1977. After her firing, Byrne launched a campaign to unseat Bilandic in the 1979 mayoral primary. A series of freak snowstorms in January paralyzed the city and caused Bilandic to be seen as ineffective at running the city.
She was the first Mayor to recognize the gay community.

Byrne was narrowly defeated in the 1983 Democratic primary for Mayor by Harold Washington. The younger Daley ran a close third, splitting the white vote with Byrne and allowing Washington to win the Democratic primary with just 36% of the vote. Washington went on to win the general election in a racially-polarized contest. Byrne ran against Washington again in the 1987 primary, but was defeated.

April 29, 1983-November 25, 1987 (died in office)



harold washington
Harold Washington

b. April 15, 1922
d. November 25, 1987
buried in Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side of Chicago

First African American mayor

In 1965 he was elected as a Democratic representative to the Illinois state legislature, becoming a state senator in 1976. In 1980 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

His first term in office was characterized by ugly, racially polarized battles dubbed "Council Wars"

The Chicago public Library, the world's largest public library, was re-named after him

November 25, 1987-December 2, 1987
(8 days,
interim mayor)



david orr
David Duvall Orr
born October 4, 1944

Has served as Cook County Clerk since 1990

December 2, 1987-April 24, 1989 (elected by city council to complete Mayor Washington's term).



eugene sawyer
Eugene Sawyer

born: September 3, 1934 in Greensboro, Alabama

Sawyer was elected mayor by the other members of the city council and took over from interim mayor David Duvall Orr.
While Washington's time as mayor was filled with controversy and racial hostility from white conservative and white ethnic voters (and politicians), Sawyer's tenure went much more smoothly.

He was defeated by Richard M. Daley at the 1989 election, and subsequently retired from politics

April 24, 1989-2011

reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003



Richard Michael Daley
born April 24, 1942

Son of Richard J., was re-elected to a fifth term in February 2003, carrying more than 40 percent of the African American vote.

He is described as one of the most powerful mayors in the country

April 2011


Rahm Emanuel


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