Was it the Cow?

October 8 is the anniversary of an enduring story that has survived since 1871:

“Late one night, when we were all in bed, Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed. Her cow kicked it over, then winked her eye and said, ‘There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!’”

This legend stands the test of time as an explanation for the Great Chicago Fire where more than 300 people were killed and almost 100,000 people were left homeless in the 3.5-square-mile fire that destroyed 17,450 buildings. Financial losses totaled more than $200 million in 1800’s dollars. The fire was a “perfect storm” so to speak with severe drought, strong winds, and exhausted firefighters who fought a big fire the night before. But Mrs. O’Leary, her husband, and five children claimed to be sound asleep when the fire started.

Fact: The fire did start somewhere near their property.

Fact: The drama was fed by the local newspaper reporting that Mrs. O’Leary illegally sold milk from her backyard cows to supplement her welfare check, and the city was shutting her down.

Fire was revenge?

Other speculation included the fire was started by squatters or barn rats. Rumors surfaced that renters who lived in the front part of the house sneaked into the barn late that night for milk and they started the fire. Despite more than 1,000 pages of testimony on the case, nothing was ever proven about who or how the fire started.

What do you think? Was it the cow? Should the legend live on? Does this story still exist because it’s human nature to need to blame someone for such a horrific event? BookWritingBusiness.com #BookWritingBusiness #WriteYourBook #BusinessWriting #Marketing

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