Born in 1827 in England, Chislett was the son of Sarah Chaffey and John Chislett, Sr., renowned rural cemetery designer. In 1832 he immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his family. After assisting his father with the design of Allegheny Cemetery, Chislett moved to Dubuque, Iowa in 1853 and opened a hardware business. His hardware career ended in 1863 when the corporators of Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis called upon Chislett to realize his father’s design and serve as its superintendent. Married with three children, Chislett accepted the position and moved his family to the future cemetery grounds, then an isolated farm in a wooded area outside of the city. Implementing Chislett, Sr.’s landscape design, Chislett oversaw the construction of the cemetery from 1863 to 1864. He led crews in draining marshes and clearing thickets to create a park-like setting, accentuating the ground’s naturally hilly topography with meandering roads that crisscrossed the site and pathways interspersed with canopy tree plantings and expansive grassy meadows. After serving as the cemetery’s superintendent for thirty-six years, Chislett died in 1899 and was succeeded by his son, John Chislett, Jr.