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Did Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Really Start the Great Chicago Fire?

Getty Images, photo by Martin Hunter

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was blamed on a cow, probably the most famous cow in history: Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. The fire started in the barn and destroyed 3.5 square miles of the city, killed 120 and left thousands of other homeless. But did the cow start the fire?

The investigation of the Great Chicago Fire racked up over a thousand pages of testimony but no one could determine the exact cause of the blaze. Some say Mrs. O’Leary was milking her cow and knocked over a kerosene lamp by accident. Others claim she started the fire on purpose to get revenge on the city after they cut off her welfare benefits after they found she was selling milk. Others think the cow knock over the lamp and started the fire.

Most do agree on one thing though, the fire started in the barn. The cow has always been known as Mrs. O’Leary’s cow because no one could agree on the actual name; it was Daisy, Madelyn, or Gwendolyn depending on who you asked.

 

howstuffworks.com

 

 

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