Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument (1906) Henry Bacon, architect, Daniel Chester French, sculptor /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When Chicago's multi-millionaire merchant prince Marshall Field died in 1906 his recently departed remains joined those of his first wife Nannie and their son Marshall, Jr. at Graceland Cemetery. In one of the most famous will filings of the era, Field's 23,000 word document stipulated that $50,000 be set aside for the "preparation and adornment' of a family burial lot with an additional $25,000 placed in an income producing trust for the perpetual care and maintenance of said lot. Nannie had died in 1898, and Marshall, Jr. was buried at Graceland on November 30, 1905 just 8 weeks before his father died of pneumonia while on a visit to New York City.

  [Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument, Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Before death brought the three Fields back together again, life was looking good for the nation's largest tax payer in September 1905. His hard work had paid-off big time, and to sweeten the pot, at age seventy-two, he married his Prairie Avenue neighbor, the recently widowed Delia Spencer Caton. Many of his neighbors and business associates were surprised, but not completely. There had been rumors circulating in the city's upper social strata for some time that Mr. Field and Mrs. Caton had been on very friendly terms for a number of years, even while both of their respective spouses were still alive. With a suitable period of mourning behind him after Nannie's death, and with Arthur Caton resting peacefully at Graceland, the two got married. Then on November 22, 1905, Marshall, Jr. shot himself while cleaning or handling a pistol. That was the official story. Soon however, word got out that the 38-year-old son of one of the country's wealthiest citizens had committed suicide. The gossip mill really got going when word spread that the young man had actually been shot while visiting the Everleigh Club, a brothel located within walking distance of the Field's Prairie Avenue homes. When the elder Field breathed his last a few months later people said he died of a broken heart.

  [Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Field left a fortune, and made sure that the money he had accumulated over the years was dished-out exactly the way he wanted it to be distributed well after his mortal remains had been interred. He had signed a pre-nup with Delia, but upon his death she still received an additional $1 million and the mansion he and Nannie built in 1875. His daughter Ethel was taken care of, but in typical patrimonial fashion his son was left the bulk of the $150 million dollar estate when the will was drawn-up in 1904. But since Junior was already at Graceland by the time his father joined him, the beneficent bequest passed on to Field's two grandsons Marshall III age 12, who would receive 60% of the residual estate, Marshall the third's ten-year-old brother Henry would get 40%, while their 3-year-old sister Gwendolyn was left an outright $3 million, all held tightly in trust.

  [Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument, Graceland Cemetery, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

While all the paperwork was being sorted out the trustees, three of Field's business associates, got to work building a memorial tribute worthy of their friend's remarkable success. They chose an architect and sculptor who, as a team, had designed some notable monumental works of art in remembrance of the the country's more prominent and wealthy citizens. Architect Henry Bacon laid out the Field burial ground and designed the marble platform that would hold a seated figure dubbed "Memory" designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French. The pair would eventually go on to design the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. In 1917 Henry Field died and his brother Marshall III inherited the entire Field fortune. But because of that massive, multi-stipulating document that the wily merchandiser had created before his death, young Marshall wouldn't have total control of his grandfather's hoard until he turned fifty. Marshall three joined his father and grandfather under French's somber figure in 1956. Delia Spencer Caton Field had joined her husband of a handful of months in 1937, while number three's son Marshall IV came to rest at Graceland in 1965. His wife Ruth Field joined the family group in 1994 at the ripe old age of 82. Marshall Field V is still going strong at age 72, while Marshall VI may be the last in the line of Fields bearing numbers.

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