This Week in History: October 2-8
The Great Chicago Fire.
By: Kelli Ballard | October 5, 2022 | 1038 Words
“History never looks like history when you are living through it.” ~ John W. Gardner
October 8, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire
In the 1800s, fire departments didn’t have the technology that modern firefighters use. Especially in regions where buildings were made from wood, the danger of fire was always present. It only took one little spark to destroy a home or even a town. One night, in 1871, this fear became a reality when a fire broke out in Chicago that destroyed 3.5 square miles and 17,450 buildings, and caused a loss of about $200 million.
According to legend, the whole thing was started by a cow that kicked over a lantern in a barn. Reports blame Patrick and Catherine O’Leary for the blaze, despite Mrs. O’Leary denying that her cow had anything to do with the catastrophe. The fire raced across the town, burning buildings and wooden sidewalks for nearly two days. On October 10, it started raining, helping the firefighters to finally put out the fire.
Today, no one knows what really caused The Great Chicago Fire and, in 1997, the city’s council cleared Mrs. O’ Leary’s name. The current Chicago Fire Department’s training academy sits on the property where the O’Learys lived when the fire broke out more than 100 years earlier.
Other Notable History Mentions
October 2, 1935: Italian troops, led by Mussolini, invaded Abyssinia. The occupation lasted until 1941.
October 2, 1967: Thurgood Marshall became the first black associate justice of the Supreme Court.
October 2, 1968: In California, the Redwood National Park was established. These are the tallest trees, reaching up to 400 feet, and they can live for 2,000 years.
October 3, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving would be held on the last Thursday in November.
October 3, 1974: Frank Robinson became baseball’s first black major league manager after being hired by the Cleveland Indians.
October 3, 1990: East and West Germany united after 45 years of the Cold War to form the Federal Republic of Germany.
October 4, 1582: To correct a 10-day error in the calendar, Pope Gregory XIII issued a decree putting the Gregorian Calendar into effect, replacing the Julian Calendar.
October 4, 1830: After being a part of the Netherlands since 1815, Belgium gained its independence.
October 4, 1957: The Russians launched the first satellite, beginning the Space Age.
October 4, 1965: Pope Paul VI was the first pope to address the United Nations and visit the US.
October 5, 1813: Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Native Americans was killed during the War of 1812. He fought against white settlers coming into the area of his people, and joined the British in the war.
October 5, 1877: Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe said, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever” as he surrendered to the US Calvary at Bear’s Paw near Chinook, Montana.
October 5, 1908: Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire.
October 5, 1910: Portugal rebelled against King Manuel II and became a republic.
October 5, 1964: Fifty-seven East German refugees escaped to West Berlin by tunneling underneath the Berlin Wall. This was the largest escape since the wall was constructed.
October 6, 1927: In New York, the first “talkie” movie The Jazz Singer opened.
October 6, 1949: Iva Toguri d’Aquino, known as “Tokyo Rose,” was sentenced to ten years in prison for treason. An American citizen, she had traveled to Japan to visit relatives just before the US joined World War II. Stuck between two countries at war, she got a job at Radio Tokyo, where she worked among other female hosts broadcasting music and Japanese propaganda to US troops. President Gerald Ford pardoned her in 1977.
October 7, 1765: The Stamp Act Congress met in New York City to protest the Stamp Act imposed by the British Crown.
October 8, 1918: American soldier Alvin C. York single-handedly took on a German machine-gun battalion in the Argonne Forest in France during World War I. He later received the Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre.
October 8, 1998: The House of Representatives approved a resolution to start an impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton.
Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi (October 2, 1869) was born in Porbandar, India. His nonviolent beliefs and lifestyle were an inspiration around the world and helped to end British rule over India.
Cordell Hull (October 2, 1871) was born in Pickett County, Tennessee. He was an influential part of establishing the United Nations. He also served in Congress and as secretary of state.
St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, 1181) was born in Assisi, Italy, as Giovanni Francesco Bernardone. He gave up the family money and founded the Friars Minor, now known as the Franciscan Order, a group of monks within the Catholic Church. St. Francis aimed to emulate the life of Christ, so members of the order had to take a vow of poverty and were not allowed to own property.
Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822) was born in Delaware, Ohio. He was the 19th president of the US.
Frederic Remington (October 4, 1861) was born in Canton, New York. An artist, he traveled the West sketching cowboys, frontiersmen, Native Americans, and soldiers.
Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703) was born in East Windsor, Connecticut. A theologian, he led the “Great Awakening,” a religious revival, in America. He was also president of Princeton University.
Robert Goddard (October 5, 1882) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. An engineer and scientist, he invented and launched the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926. He is considered the “Father of the Space Age” even though during his time the public ridiculed him for his ideas on space flight.
Vaclav Havel (October 5, 1936) was born in Prague. A Czech playwright, he spoke out against the country’s communist government and spent five years in prison. In 1989, he led the peaceful “velvet revolution,” ending Soviet communism in Czechoslovakia.
Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914) was born in Larvik, Norway. He believed that ancient people and civilizations could have traveled across large oceans to make contact with each other. To prove the possibility, he launched several transoceanic expeditions using primitive ocean vessels – including a wooden raft called Kon-Tiki.