The deadliest fire in United States history started on October 8, 1871, but it wasn't started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow. The same evening that Chicago began burning, the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, burned flat in ninety minutes.
In the aftermath of the disaster, news of a great fire in the Midwest was splashed in headlines across the nation. Tragically, none of the stories concerned Peshtigo: all attention was focused on one of the region's larger settlements, Chicago, which had suffered its own terrible blaze the same day- killing around 250. More than 1,200 souls had perished in the Peshtigo Fire, although the true total will never be known due to the town records being destroyed in the blaze. [Link via Neatorama]Genealogist Deana C. Hipke is attempting to compile a master list of Peshtigo fire victims on her website.