As a result of the Great Fire in 1871, most of Chicago's records prior to that time were destroyed. But in 1983, the proceedings of the Chicago City Council from 1833 to 1871 were discovered in a warehouse in southwest Chicago. The Illinois State Archives has made a searchable index to these records available at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/chicago_proceedings/home.html. I found an entry for the petition of John B. Winters for a free peddler's license. I believe this relates to my 3rd-great-grandfather John Bennet Winters. I called the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. A copy of the document will be sent to me, and I will be invoiced. I am so lucky that this document still survives!