Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871

This week is the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire.

This is a photo of my great-uncle, John Whelan, a survivor of the Chicago Fire. The family story is that as the fire was coming toward their house, they ran toward Lake Michigan for safety. But the father, Timothy Whelan, ran back to the house to lock the door against burglars, before joining the rest of the family. Their house was well within the burn district, on Chestnut near Franklin, so locking the door probably made little difference in the end.

This photo was labeled "John Whelann in his Johnny hat." As a young man, John (Jack) Whelan worked in a haberdashery as a model and then as a manager. Later he was with the steamfitters union, working off and on. He died in 1930, after being hit by an Illinois Central train at 27th street while shoveling the tracks.

Here are my favorite websites about the Chicago Fire:
The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory
This is a great website containing images, eyewitness accounts and essays about the fire.

Progress of the Chicago Fire of 1871
The Encyclopedia of Chicago is a very useful reference. This link is to a map which shows which sections of the city burned in the great fire.

Upcoming Genealogy Workshop

The 16th annual workshop of the Lake County Illinois Genealogical Society is on Saturday, November 8th. This year, the workshop has two excellent, nationally-known speakers: Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL and David McDonald, CG. Both are Certified Genealogists, and Tom is also a Certified Genealogical Lecturer.

Tom Jones is recognized as an expert on genealogical research methodology. He will be speaking on a variety of topics, including “How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet” and “Organizing Evidence to Overcome Record Shortages.”

Dave’s talks include “A Flatlander’s Genealogical Guide to the South” and practical guides to researching in Madison, WI and Springfield, IL. Dave is an Illinois native who now lives near Madison. He has more than 30 years’ research experience, focusing mainly on the Upper Midwest, New England and the United Kingdom.

I have heard both speakers many times, speaking on a variety of topics, and I highly recommend both of them.

For additional information about the speakers, the topics, the location and the lunches, see the genealogy society’s website at .

A registration brochure is available for download from the site. An early-registration discount applies to forms postmarked by October 15th. I hope you can attend!