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Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England and Dukes of Bourbon. c.1465. Newberr
Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England and Dukes of Bourbon. c.1465. Newberry Case MS 166.

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On the Shelf: Forgotten Fires of Chicago

Although the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is the fire most associated with Chicago, there have been other significant conflagrations in the city’s history.

May 27th is the 42nd anniversary of the fire dubbed the “Worst Since Mrs. O’Leary.” On a rainy Sunday morning, May 27, 1973, a blast rocked Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District. The fire centered in a large building, belonging to the Levey Division of Cities Service Oil, located at 4250 W. 42nd Place. More than 400 firemen fought the blaze which spread over several city blocks, hampered once again by the inability of the city to get enough water to the fire. It is estimated that the blaze caused $40-50 million dollars in damage. The timing, a Sunday morning instead of a weekday, most likely saved many lives.

To find out more about this fire and other blazes in Chicago history, we recommend: Hogan, John F.Burkholder, Alex A.Forgotten Fires Of Chicago: The Lake Michigan Inferno And A Century Of Flame. Charleston, SC  The History Press, 2014. Call no.: Chicago Browsing F548.5 .H74 2014.


Grandfather, Russell Gerace, grew up in Chicago and moved to Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana where he owned semi-pro baseball team, car dealership and other businesses; was married to Seraphine Graffagnino. Mother died in childbirth from what we understand; her name may have been Concetta Felici. Stepmother may have been Christina. Father was Anthony. Information needed.

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