Regent Gregory's Grave
A forgotten landmark, the grave of John Milton Gregory resides in peaceful serenity in a small memorial grove between Altgeld Hall and the David Dodds Henry Administration Building.
Gregory served as the first Regent of the Illinois Industrial University and was instrumental in shaping it into the University that we know today. Upon his death in Washington D.C., on October 19, 1898, his body was brought back to the University to lay in state in the rotunda of Altgeld Hall, before being laid to rest in a vault in Mount Hope cemetery. However, before his death, Gregory had expressed the wish to be buried on the grounds of the University that had truly been his life for so many years. Hence, the following November his body was exhumed to be laid to rest once again. Even in death, Regent Gregory was a well-traveled man.
The Board of Trustees ordered that his "burial be made in mason work in the neighborhood of a point south of the line of John Street, if projected into the University grounds, and about one hundred feet therefrom [sic], and about midway between University Hall and the west line of the University grounds", along the path he had walked each afternoon on his way to his house on John Street. For the gravestone, they selected a "a simple marker in the form of a bronze tablet attached to a glacial boulder, which had lain for unnumbered centuries in the soil of what is now the University campus, and which was found in the excavation of the Woman's building".
On May 14, 1914, President Edmund Janes James sent a letter to all faculty inviting them to the dedication of the grave and expounding that "this is not merely an alumni tribute, but a tribute of the University to the work of this man, and it is well worth the while of everyone of us who is benefiting by his labors to participate in the exercises of this occasion". On Monday, June 15, the classes of 1874, 1879, 1884, 1889, 1894, 1899, 1904, 1909, 1911, and 1913 celebrated their reunions, and the 42nd annual Alumni Renion was held in the Woman's Building.
The following day, the memorial proceedings began in the Auditorium at 10:30 in the morning. The Rev Charles B. Taylor, a gradate of 1879, performed the Scripture readings and prayer, followed by President Charles A. Richmond, D.D., LL.D., Chancellor of Union University, who read an address titled Dr. John Milton Gregory, His Student Days and Life in New York. Martin L. D'Ooge, PH.D., D. Litt., Professor Emeritus in the University of Michigan next read his address, John Milton Gregory, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Michigan, followed by William E. Praeger, B.S., a graduate of 1900, M.S., Professor in Kalamazoo College, who read John Milton Gregory as President of Kalamazoo College. The song America was read, followed by two more addresses, John Milton Gregory as President of the University of Illinois - His Personal Relations to the Students and Faculty, by the Honorable Henry M. Beardsley, 1879, Kansas City, and John Milton Gregory as an Education Leader in Illinois, by President Edmund J. James, PH.D., LL.D. Finally, Regent Gregory's University Anthem, first read at the dedication of New Main University Hall, was recited, and the alumni dinner was held at the Woman's Building at 1 o'clock.
The memorial procession assembled at the Auditorium, where it left for the the Regent's grave at 3 o'clock. The Rev. Charles Ryan Adams gave the final prayers, before Gregory's youngest daughter, Allene Gregory, unveiled the tablet. The President of the Board of Trustees, the Honorable William L. Abbott, an 1884 graduate, gave the final address, concluding with "By the authority of the Board of Trustees, I declare this tablet dedicated to the memory of John Milton Gregory. May his ashes forever rest in peace amid the stirring scenes in which his spirit is a living and potent factor."
Several other University of Illinois Presidents are buried in cemeteries around the campus area, including Jonathon Burrill and Edmund James, while Andrew Draper was buried in Albany, NY, and Selim Peabody was buried in Mount Hope cemetery in Chicago.
|Selected Images of Regent Gregory's Grave|
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