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Photos: Historic Figure Robert Kennicott

The naturalist, explorer, Smithsonian founder was son of Dr. John Kennicott, one of the first doctors in the Des Plaines area.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of one of the Des Plaines area’s most prominent historical figures will be discussed at a special fundraising program hosted by the Des Plaines History Center on Oct. 4.

Robert Kennicott was a prolific naturalist, explorer and founding member of the Smithsonian Institution when he was found dead on a riverbank in Alaska in 1866, while on an expedition for Western Union to plan for telegraph lines and collect more specimens for the Smithsonian.

In these images we see Robert Kennicott dressed in clothes like those worn by French Canadian trappers at the time, the last known photograph of him in his Western Union uniform, a picture of his father, Dr. John Kennicott, one of the first doctors in the area, and more.

The presentation, "Robert Kennicott: The Final Expedition" will be given by Steve Swanson, director of the Glenview Park District, who worked on behalf of the Kennicott family with researchers from the Smithsonian Institution to exhume the body of Robert Kennicott in 2001 and determine what caused his death at 30 years old.

The presentation will be given at Casa Royale Banquets, 783 Lee St. in Des Plaines, from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 4. Tickets are $25, and advanced purchase is required.

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