Letters to the Editor


I have analyzed the Charles Yerkes letter that details the gift he made to the University of Chicago of the Yerkes Observatory. There is no chance, from the clear reading of the actual words you see reproduced here below, that Charles Yerkes ever intended to gift the observatory at all. He intended, clearly by his words herein, to allow the university to possess it and use it. Here are the words of the letter clearly written:

Charles T. Yerkes, of the City of Chicago,

County of Cook and State of Illinois, in consideration of the
acceptance by the Trustees of The University of
Chicago, a corporation located at the City of Chicago,

of the property hereby conveyed, to be by them held and used for the purpose of astronomical investigation, by those presents does give and convey unto them, the Trustees of The University of Chicago and their successors,

the Observatory Building, the Telescope therein contained, together with the power

house and all appurtenances and appliances to them

belonging, which have been paid for by him,

located upon the property on the shore of Lake Geneva, belonging to the said The University of Chicago, in the County of Walworth and State of Wisconsin,

To Have and To Hold unto the said Trustees and their Successors so long as they shall use the same for the purpose of astronomical investigation, but upon their failure

to do so, the property hereby conveyed shall revert

to the said Charles T. Yerkes or his heirs at law,

the same as if this conveyance had never been made.

In Witness Whereof, Charles

  1. Yerkes has hereunto set his hand and affixed

His seal this twenty first day of October eighteen – hundred and ninety-seven.


Terry O’Neill, former Lake Geneva Alderman



Sign up for Updates