Today we travel to Moline, IL’s Riverside Cemetery to find the unlikely burial place of Francis Jeffrey Dickens, third son of Charles Dickens – and check out some other Dickens family graves (all of which are more about Charles than the person buried there).
Perhaps the most famous thing about Francis is that he once asked for 15 pounds, a horse and a rifle to set up as a gentleman farmer overseas. Charles wrote back that he’d be robbed of the money, he’d be thrown off the horse, and that he’d shoot his head off. We read the letter in the episode!
Modern articles about the grave invariably say that Francis was in Moline to kick off a lecture tour about his father’s life and works, but a look into Quad Cities newspapers from 1886 show that he was there on vacation, and just planning to give a talk to a local club about his time in the Canadian military. It was an easy mistake to make, though – many of Charles’ sons went on lecture tours, and not many people go to Moline on vacation.