Fanny Boggs Lester

Fanny Boggs Lester was eleven when Chicago burned.  She recorded her memories in a letter written seventy-five years afterwards.

...I was a child eleven years old. We lived on Michigan Avenue at twenty-third street--so were not in its alarming path, but of its terror I was well aware.

My father had a "sash, door and blinds" mill on west 12th St.--it was not burned, but made him very anxious. When he got up to dress to go and see it, its dangers, the gas would not light so we knew that was gone.

Opposite us on the S.E. corner of Michigan Ave. and Twenty-third was a vacant lot. When we looked out in the morning it was filled with refugees from the hotels with their belongings in bags, sheets and pillow cases. In front of our house was a hearse filled with baggage and on the driver's seat a man with his marble mantle clock.

I remember my mother saying, "I certainly would not have chosen that heavy thing to carry," so as one of the letters said "there were amusing things too."

I remember my mother with others feeding these sufferers, in the Michigan Ave. Baptist Church which was two doors from us, and for many following weeks, because a distributing center to give out clothing and food that came so generously from many places.

The danger from incendiary fires made my father and the other residents of our blocks watch night after night. One was discovered near us. I to help, got my new shoes and put all the silver and napkins in these and was ready to go.

For weeks we had to use candles which mother put in bottles with water in them and card-board to catch the wax.

When my father let me ride down with him to see the wreck the cedar blocks of the pavement were still smoking in many places which our horse did not like....