Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, the Great Chicago Fire and a Mansion Sale

Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, the Great Chicago Fire and a Mansion Sale
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Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, the Great Chicago Fire and a Mansion Sale

Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, the Nice Chicago Fireplace and a Mansion Sale

Historians level to various apparent issues with the cow story: If a cow had, actually, kicked over a lantern whereas Mrs. O’Leary was milking it, why would she go away the barn and return inside after the fireplace broke out? Why wouldn’t she scream for assist? Why wouldn’t she attempt to save her cows or the barn?

So the place did the cow story come from?

Ann Durkin Keating, a historical past professor at North Central School in Naperville, Ailing., who focuses on Chicago historical past, stated the cow story caught on due to anti-Irish and anti-immigrant sentiment — and it began with a rogue reporter.

Greater than 20 years after the fireplace, Michael Ahern, who on the time was a reporter for The Chicago Republican, admitted that he had concocted the cow story as a result of it made for a greater story. His story had not implicated Mrs. O’Leary by identify, however Ms. Keating stated Catherine O’Leary — an Irish immigrant — was an all-too-convenient scapegoat.

“Inside 48 hours, they’re blaming the O’Learys for this,” Ms. Keating stated. “Mrs. O’Leary specifically. They have been searching for a scapegoat, and she or he was Irish and a girl.”

Newspapers revealed caricatures depicting Mrs. O’Leary as bumbling, ignorant and, in a single case, a “drunken previous hag.” They leaned on ethnic stereotypes as they lampooned the stupidity of the “previous Irish girl” who “swore she can be revenged on a metropolis that might deny her a little bit of wooden or a pound of bacon.”

(And that the O’Leary house survived the fireplace whereas a lot of the remainder of the neighborhood burned didn’t precisely assist issues, Ms. Keating stated.)

In 1997, the Chicago Metropolis Council handed a decision that exonerated Mrs. O’Leary and her cow. Nevertheless it was far too late for Catherine, who by no means allowed herself to be photographed and who, in response to her doctor, bore the burden of blame and notoriety till she died in 1895.

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