This grave with the statue of a young girl is marked ‘Inez" and "Daughter of J.N. & M.C. Clarke. Born Sept. 20, 1873, Died Aug. 1, 1880." There is also a plaque stating the graves of John N Clarke and Mary C Clarke lie just to the north. For decades the true identity of the girl and of the person buried there have been in question. Based on extensive research it is now all but certain that the girl is Inez Briggs, the daughter of Mary C Clarke from a previous marriage.
Legends of the little girl have been numerous. One states the little girl died when struck by lightning during a picnic or when locked outside during a thunderstorm. From this legend came another legend that the statue disappears during thunderstorms because Inez is so afraid of them (since being stuck by lightning!). One cemetery employee reportedly ran from the cemetery terrified when he found the glass case surrounding the statue empty. Other reports say Inez died of tuberculosis and that the statue has been seen "crying." Inez's spirit has also been reported to wander the cemetery being seen by other children. Visitors often leave toys, stuffed animals or coins on the monument.
Based on research by cemetery historians Helen Sclair and Al Walavich in an article in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2007, these stories are completely untrue. According to the cemetery's records there is no one by the name of Inez Clarke buried in the cemetery. An Amos Briggs is listed as being buried under the statue, next to an infant named Delbert Briggs (remember these names). According to the 1880 census, no one living in Chicago at that time was named Inez Clarke. The Graceland Cemetery files also contain an affidavit issued in 1910 by Mary C Clarke stating her daughter from her marriage to John N Clarke was still alive and neither she nor her husband had any other children. (Remember that, too.)
Sclair and Walavich theorized that the statue was carved by the sculptor, Andrew Gagel, as a sample of his work in order to elicit business. It was originally in an unoccupied section of the cemetery. The information and conclusion that follows is the result of gathering information from death, marriage, census, divorce pension and other genealogical records by author John Binder and historian William Willard.
No one named Inez Clarke died in Illinois prior to 1916. However, an Inez Briggs died in Chicago of diphtheria on August 1, 1880, the same day listed on the monument of Inez Clarke and the "Amos Briggs" noted on the record card. The name "Graceland" was hand written on her death certificate indicating her burial there. Inez might sound like Amos when spoken, and Amos may have been accidentally written on the cemetery record. The cemetery card was transcribed in 1929. Graceland has no record of anyone named Inez Briggs buried there, hence she is not buried anywhere in the cemetery. Also, no Amos Briggs is listed in the Illinois death records before 1916, which adds credence to theory that the name is an error in transcribing the record.
In 1880 the U.S. census shows Inez Briggs living with her grandparents, David R Robhrock and Jane McClure Robhrock, in Chicago. All other sources have the name spelled Rothrock. The Rothrocks are buried next to Delbert Briggs and "Amos" Briggs according to the cemetery records. The Rothrocks were married in 1872. In 1880 there was a fourth person living with the Rothrocks and Inez Briggs; Philander McClure, the son of Mrs. Rothrock from a previous marriage and stepson of Mr. Rothrock. In the 1860 census, Jane McClure and her previous husband, Amos, who died during the Civil War, lived in Michigan. They had a son, Philander, with the correct age and birthplace, and a five year old daughter named Mary. Mary McClure was about the same age as Mary C Clarke.
David R Rothrock was divorced from his first wife, Sarah, in 1872. He claimed Sarah deserted him. Later, Sarah claimed David had run off with Jane McClure who kept a house of prostitution in Lansing, Michigan. He and Jane eventually moved to Chicago. The daughter of Jane McClure, Mary C McClure, married Wilber N Briggs in 1872 in Cook County, Illinois, about one year before Inez was born. The theory that Mary C Clarke is the daughter/stepdaughter of David and Jane Rothrock makes the evidence proving Inez Briggs was her daughter complete. In 1880 John N Clarke married Mary C Briggs. They had a daughter, Beatrice N Clarke in 1881, whose mother's maiden name as listed as McClure. In the marriage record of Jane and David Rothrock they are listed as the parents of Mary C Briggs. In 1882 the city directory lists the residences of both David R Rothrock and John N Clarke as the same. This continues for three addresses over the next years. The fact the two families lived and are buried together (with the word "Mother" on Jane Rothrock's headstone) along with the evidence in the public records proves that Mary C Clarke was formerly Mary McClure/Briggs and the mother of Inez Briggs.
Delbert Briggs, buried next to Inez, is apparently the brother of Inez. However, Mary C Clarke denied the existence of both Inez and Delbert, the reason of which will probably never be truly known. While she stated neither of the Clarkes had children from previous marriages, the birth record of daughter Beatrice Clarke indicates she is the third child of Mary Clarke. Based on the available information, the person buried beneath the beautiful statue in Graceland is almost certainly Inez Briggs.
This is a synopsis of "The Mysterious Statute of Inez 'Clarke' " which appears in the Fall 2011 issue of Chicago Genealogist.
Thanks to John Binder, author of The Chicago Outfit and the novel The Girl Who Applied Everywhere and William Willard, Chicago historian who has done extensive genealogical research.
Mary C McClure Clarke