Cook County, Illinois
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Genealogy and History

Fires, Floods, Train Wrecks
and Other Calamities
News Stories

These are in Date Order
©unless otherwise noted, transcribed by KT

Cholera on the Lakes
As the steamer Nile was recently passing up Lake Huron, with about one hundred Swiss emigrants on board, the Cholera broke out among them, in a very malignant form, and before the boat arrived at Chicago, eight had died, and were buried in the Lake. There were fifteen others laying, most of them, in a collapsed state. They were promptly taken to the Hospital by the authorities of Chicago. These emigrants were bound to Henry county, Illinois, where there is a large settlement of their country-men. The Cholera was still prevailing at Mackinac, at the latest accounts. [The Daily Crescent [New Orleans, La.], October 17, 1849]

Five Persons Drowned.
Chicago, July 10. On Thursday last, Rev. Mr. Nichols, wife and child, Mr. Cleveland, wife and two daughters, and a brother-in-law, of Minneapolis, while bathing in Calhoun Lake, got beyond their depth and all but Mr. Nichols and an infant daughter of Mrs. Cleveland were drowned
[Campaign Atlas and Bee, Boston, Sat. July 14, 1860 - Submitted by Src #22]

The four-story brick building, on Monroe Street, Chicago, occupied by the National Printing company and Bradner, Smith & Co., paper dealers, burned on the morning of the 30th. The losses are estimated at $370.000. [Mower county Transcript (Lansing, MN), April 8, 1885, page 1]

Chicago, July 17 - a boy's curiosity "to see if it would burn" yesterday set the Chicago river on fire. It occurred near the stock-yard where the river has long ceased to be water and is in reality nothing but grease and animal fats which have found their way from the slaughter houses. A lighted match thrown into these ingredients soon had the river blazing for several blocks and the fire boat and two locomotives succeeded in keeping the flames from the more valuable property, but not until the $500 worth of dockage had been destroyed. (The Daily Northwestern Oshkosh, Wis., Tuesday, July 17, 1888 column 1; Submitted by Diana Morse)

The new seven-story brick building, Nos. 298, 300 and 302 Fourth avenue, Chicago, owned by John C. DALE, of Chicago and S. E. HART, of Marietta, Ohio, was burned a few evenings since, causing a loss of $250,000. patent medicine, bookbinding and printing firms were the principal occupants, and their inflammable stock fired so easily that nothing could be done except try to save adjoining structures. The building was worth $115,000, and is nearly a total loss. It was insured for $40,000 [Jan. 18, 1888, The Newton Press, Jasper County, IL Newspaper; Sub. by source #23]

Forty people narrowly escaped being burned to death in a fire in a big apartment house in Chicago a few night ago. [1 Feb. 1888 The Newton Press, Jasper County, IL Newspaper - Sub. by source #23]

2,000 Persons Watch Thrilling Battle and Cheer Officer as He Rescues Youth
Auto Parties See Fight
Plank Pushed Into Lake From Cornelia Street by Boys Using It as a Raft
Fully 2,000 spectators, including many members of the North Shore social set, from their automobiles yesterday witnessed a desperate battle by Lincoln Park Policeman Philip Versgrove to save two boys clinging to a plank, five hundred feet out in Lake Michigan, at the foot of Cornelia street. Men and Women stoop [sic] up in their autos and cheered when the policeman, weighted by his heavy uniform and breasting the waves that tossed the small plank like a leaf on the waters, gained its side and took one of the little fellows from his slender refuge. They cheered again when he reached the s hore with his burden and turned bravely back to rescue the other, though as events proved he was too late to save him. The boy rescued was Roy Noreen, ten years old, 3243 Wilson avenue. He was wandering along the shore with his playmate, Harry Eeneberg [sic], 3307 Osgood street, when they found an oak plank and pushed off on it as a raft.
There was not much wind when the boys started out on their plank, and they had poled off shore several hundred feet before the breeze began to roughen the waters. Then they realized their danger, and yelled for help. Versgrove, a probationary Lincoln Park Policeman, who has served but eight months, heard their cries, and, peling [sic] his coat, he started after them without waiting to doff his helmet.
But the policeman could save only one boy at a time and he took off Noreen, who was clinging to one end of the plank. The boy was unconscious when he reached shore, b ut a dozen men and women stood ready to give first aid to the injured and Versberg [sic] dropped his burden and staggered back into the water to get the second boy. Noreen soon revived.
The waves had weakened Harry Eneberg's hold on the plank and he had sunk for the first time when Versgerg reached him. Avoiding the unwieldy timber, the policeman dived t wice and the second time he came up with the boy. He was almost exhausted whe n he reached the short and placed the limp form of Ereberg [sic] on the grass.
Willing hands gave first aid to the unconscious boy and an autoist raced for a resuscitating machine, but it was used in vain. As a last hope they boy was taken in one of the autos to the Alexian Brothers Hospital, but the surgeons failed to revive him. [Chicago Examiner, Chicago, IL, Sunday, May 24, 1914, tr. by Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff]

Five persons were killed and 18 others injured here during Sunday automobile accidents, bringing the fatality to totals for the year to 597. The dead included Captain Peter Christensen, 53, head of a fire company -which was responding to a false alarm. His truck struck a taxicab, the driver of which was released. Three other firemen and two women taxicab passengers were injured in the crash, none seriously.  [San Antonio Light, 17 Nov 1924 - Submitted by Src #104 ]

Squad Car Collides with Another Auto
One person was killed and five were injured yesterday when a squad car collided with another auto as a policeman chased the driver of a stolen car. William Fessett, 40, of 1835 W. 58th st., a machinist, who was driving the auto which was struck by the squad car, died two hours after the accident. [dod May 12, 1963] Policeman Victor Vega, 26, of 1204 N. Karlov av., was critically injured.
2 Thrown from Car
Four of the six passengers in Fessett's car were injured. They were his wife, Lottie; his sons, Kenneth, 16, and Gary, 4; and Mrs. Catherine Havelka, 40, of 5338 S. Wolcott av. The injured were taken to Presbyterian-St. Luke's hospital, where Fessett died. Vega was taken to the University of  Illinois research hospital. Fessett and his son, Kenneth, were thrown from the car when it was
struck by Vega's northbound squad car at Oakley boulevard and Van Buren street, according to Sgt. Nicholas Miljanovich of the Maxwell street traffic unit. Miljanovich said Vega observed two cars drag racing at Harrison and Leavitt streets and pursued them. One of the cars suddenly stopped in Harrison street, its driver ran to the other car, and it sped off, turning north in Oakley boulevard.
Runs Into Building
The car being pursued sped thru Van Buren street intersection at Oakley boulevard, but Vega's car, close behind, slammed into the Fessett auto. The squad car then careened into the side of a building at 2300 Van Buren st. before coming to a halt.  Miljanovich said the car abandoned by the two drag racers was stolen May 9 at 2521 S. Harding av. The car that got away, a 1957 red Chevrolet, also was believed to have been stolen, he said.
[May 1963, Submitted by Source #96]

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