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Answered 2009-08-02 15:14:41

A Feminist Newspaper called "The Revolution" written shortly after the Chicago Fire of 1871, read as follows: "Mrs. Leary denies that her cow kicked over the lamp that set fire to the straw that burned the stable that caused the destruction of half of Chicago. Which is rendered exceedingly probable by the well-known fact that Chicago cows never kick, and Chicago kerosene is a non-combustible fluid, and Chicago hay is gathered from marshes and is so saturated with salt that it will not burn, and that Mrs. Leary's shed was built of fire-proof materials, and that the destruction of Chicago was in punishment of its sins, and, moreover, is a great blessing for which those who were not burned out are exceedingly grateful. The cow must be exonerated." In regard to the newspaper "The Revolution", for those who may be interested, see Women in American History" http://search.eb.com/women/articles/Revolution_The.html Also, reliable historians say there is no doubt that the Great Fire did begin in the cowshed behind the home of Patrick O'Leary. Nope, that's just a urban legend. It is said that Daniel Peg Leg Sullivan started the fire accidentally, though it may have been intentional. One theory is that he was smoking and one of his ashes fell in to the hay and started a small fire that eventually became the Chicago Fire. One reason is it is said that he was the first to see the fire and try to put it out. However, he said that he saw it from his porch even though there was a whole bulding blocking his view and making it impossbale for him to see the fire from where he was sitting. Another theory is that a group of neighborhood toughs were playing cards, drinking and smoking by lantern light in the O'Leary's shed. They knocked the lantern over, and blamed it on the cow later. The question you have to answer is. . . why was a lantern there in the first place? Cows were milked before dark, so what was the cow doing? Reading the newspaper all alone by lantern light? The cow maybe got scared by something and then they when wild? Why would a lit lantern be in a shed with a cow? If a cow kicked over a lantern that was lit, someone would have been there, and it would have been an easy matter of putting out a small fire, if a fire started at all. Lanterns typically have a glass shroud/cylinder protecting the flame. Even if the flame did not go out, the shroud would have given whoever was there enought time to prevent a fire or stomp out a very small one. The whole thing with the cow kicking a lantern is absurd, as are most other hypotheses. It was probably arson, or some type of more significant fire in a area that was prone to quick spreading. Maybe it did start around the barn area; maybe the buildings in the area were made of old, dry wood that would easily burn; maybe it did not take much for a fire to spread if ruptured gas lines were involved.

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What are facts about the great Chicago fire?

The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagaration that burned Sunday October 10, 1871. It killed hundreds and destroyed about four square mile in Chicago,Illinois. On the Municipal Flag of the Chicago, the second star commemorates the fire. People proclaimed that a cow that started the fire. But that isn't totally true.It began on Sunday, 8 October 1871.It destroyed about 4 square miles of the city.It began at or near 137 DeKoven Street.It was not started by Catherine O'Leary's cow.The Chicago Water Tower survived the blaze.It destroyed 17,500 building.It left 100,000 people homeless.Between 200 and 300 people were killed and 125 bodies were recovered.The Chicago Fire Academy is now located where the fire began.Within six weeks, 212 new brick and stone structures were under construction.


How did the great Chicago fire happen?

The true cause of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is not known. Folklore of the time said the fire was started in the barn of Mrs. Patrick O'Leary when her cow kicked over a lantern. A reporter, Michael Ahern, first reported this, however recanted his statement about Mrs. O'Leary's cow being the cause of the fire. Many people believe Mrs. O'Leary was a scapegoat because of her Irish Catholic heritage. Other theories include that the fire was started by Daniel "Pegleg" Sullivan, a drunkard, who was one of the first to report the fire. Another theory is the fire was started by Louis M. Cohn during a game of craps. It is also rumored to be that Mr. Cohn confessed to starting the fire.


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