Great Fire of 1871 - Preface

Great Fire of 1871 (Illustration) Nineteenth Century Life Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Famous People American History Famous Historical Events Social Studies Disasters

This drawing, illustrating the October 1871 fire which devastated Chicago, was originally published by Currier & Ives in 1871.  It was later reprinted for use on vintage postcards. Click on the image for a better view.


One dark night when we were all in bed
Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in her shed,
The cow kicked it over, winked its eye and said
There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.

Popular Rhyme 
Concerning the Great Chicago Fire 
October 8-9, 1871

From the very beginning Catherine O’Leary and Daisy, her cow, were blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire.

Mrs. O’Leary swore she was in bed when the fire started, but her testimony didn’t change people’s opinions. She'd made too many statements earlier - when she told her neighbors it was an accident.  At least ... that’s what her neighbors remembered.

Ironically, although 17,450 buildings were destroyed, the O’Leary’s house survived. The cow (and the barn) didn’t. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Jun 29, 2019

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"Great Fire of 1871" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2002. Jan 26, 2020.
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