Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871

Although overstaged by the Chicago Fire on the same day, a fire on 8 Oct 1871 destroyed many communities in Oconto, Marinette and Door Counties along Lake Michigan. The area was suffering from a drought. Many areas had been cleared and the branches, twigs, sawdust, etc lay in piles throughout the area. It is said that the heat from the fire turned sand into glass and melted metals thought to be unmeltable. Whole families were burned to death. People with their belongings and stock headed for the river to escape the flames. Some drowned, some suffered from hypothermia. Others hid is wells or attempted to stay in root cellars only to die. Those who survived were scarred by the events of this one night. Many of the survivors were badly crippled. The fire crossed the Peshtigo River destroying communities on both sides. It jumped across the Green Bay destroying communities on the Door Penninsula. Not all victims were identified. Several lumber camps were totally destroyed. Those who survived may not have known everyone. Mass graves were dug and the charred remains placed together with others.

Before the fire, Peshtigo was a thriving community of about 1700 people. In one night, it became a smoking ruins. Because this was not the only fire that night, Chicago also suffered a devastating fire, as well as Holland, Michigan and Manistee, Michigan and Port Huron on Lake Huron. In the aftermath, the first week in October has been established as Fire Prevention Week.

Over a million acres was burned in the area around Peshtigo. An estimated 2500 people lost their lives. Most of these names were taken from the 1873 Congressional Report to the Wisconsin Legislature about the devastation. Not all names are listed.


From Legislative Report 1873

Casualty HeadFamily CasualtiesFamily SurvivorsTown
Aldis, Williamwife & 2 children (visiting from CT the family of N May) Sugar Bushes
Alschwager, Mrs Johnone childHusband & 5 childrenPeshtigo
Alvord, Johnwife and one child Peshtigo
Auest, Fred wifeSugar Bushes
Bartels, Miss Augusta (visiting grandmother, dau Capt Fred J Bartels)  Sugar Bushes
Barton, Roger  Peshtigo
Beebe, J Ewife Frances & 3 children Peshtigo
Bell, Mrs William husband and childSugar Bushes
Birney, Caroline (lived with Chas Chapman family)  Sugar Bushes
Bodot, Mrs Louis  Lincoln
Bohemaster, Henrywife and child Sugar Bushes
Bosworth, Mrs Olivewith two children of John Taylorís Sugar Bushes
Brackett, Augusta  Sugar Bushes
Bruce, Mrs Augustthree childrenhusband & 2 childrenSugar Bushes
Bruette, Mrs Anton  Peshtigo
Bruette, Mrs Charlesone child Peshtigo
Bush, CharlesWife & 6 children Sugar Bushes
Busly, John  Sugar Bushes
Chapman, Charleswife, son and hired man and girl Sugar Bushes
Church, Johnwife and one childWarren Church cut his throat rather than be burned & livedSugar Bushes
Clement, Joseph G wifePeshtigo
Cook, Jacob Ewife & 3 children Sugar Bushes
Cramer, Mrs Michaeltwo sonsHusband & one sonPeshtigo
Crow, John (Native American)  Brussels Mill
Curtis, WilliamdaughterMrs Eliza Curtis, his wife, badly crippled but aliveSugar Bushes
Dantoin, Mrs Joseph3 childrenInfantLincoln
Davis, Normanwife & 3 children hired man (James Hays) and girl Sugar Bushes
Delafosse, Matilda  Lincoln
Denis, Mary  Lincoln
Diedrich, Joseph (alias Bailey)*4*wife & 3 children Sugar Bushes
Disotelle, Mary  Brussels Mill
Doughherty, John  Brussels Mill
Doughherty, Sarah  Brussels Mill
Doughherty, William  Brussels Mill
Doyle, Patrick*5*wife & 7 children Sugar Bushes
Duckett, Benjaminwife and one child Sugar Bushes
Eamer, Mrs Mary Ann*6* two sonsSugar Bushes
England, Mrs Williamtwo childrenHusband & 8 childrenPeshtigo
Fagan, Mrs Martin2 children;husbandSugar Bushes
Fletcher, Mary and Halsey, children of Lucius  Sugar Bushes
Glass, Flora, Belle and William, children of James  Sugar Bushes
Gregor, Johnwife Sugar Bushes
Hayes, Henry Srwife & 1 son Sugar Bushes
Hayes, Isreal wifeSugar Bushes
Hayes, Rebecca, wife of Henry Hayes Jrone child Sugar Bushes
Helms, Charleswife and son Sugar Bushes
Hill, L Hwife Sugar Bushes
Hoyt, Charles Ewife & 1 child Sugar Bushes
Hoyt, Enoch*7*wife and one childFour ChildrenSugar Bushes
Jackson, Asa  Sugar Bushes
Jackson, Harry, child of E A Jackson  Sugar Bushes
Jackson, John  Sugar Bushes
Jacobs, Frank (infant)Aunt Charlotte Seymour Peshtigo
Kappus, Catharine, wife of Chris2 childrenhusband & 3 childrenSugar Bushes
Karrow, Michaelwifetwo childrenSugar Bushes
Kelly, Terenceone childwife & 3 childrenSugar Bushes
Kenan, James  Peshtigo
Kerr, James  Peshtigo
Kiefer, Peterwife & 2 childrenone childSugar Bushes
King, Johnwife & 4 childrenA daughter and sonSugar Bushes
King, Robertwife & 3 childrenA daughterSugar Bushes
Kolbeck, Georgewife & 3 children Brussels
Kuncner, Ernest  Peshtigo
Lafay, Josephwife Sugar Bushes
Law, James  Sugar Bushes
Lawrence, CharlesWife & 4 children Peshtigo
Leach, Ann, wife of Peter Leach  Sugar Bushes
Leach, Lotwife and infant Sugar Bushes
Leasuae, Mrs Joseph Jrfour childrenhusbandSugar Bushes
Lembk, Mrs Charlesfive childrenhusbandSugar Bushes
Licot, Mauricewife Lincoln
Ligot, Hypolite  Brussels Mill
Loucks, Lindseywife Sugar Bushes
Loyal, John  Sugar Bushes
Marsh, Nellie (dau of P J Marsh  Peshtigo
May, Nepthallonwife (sister of Mrs Aldis) and child Sugar Bushes
McDonald, Mrs Leroyfive children Peshtigo
McGregor, Danielwife and sister Jenny Peshtigo
McGregor, Mrs Jamesone child Peshtigo
McMinn, Mrs Silas  Peshtigo
McNames, John  Brussels Mill
McWilliams, Daniel (colored)  Brussels Mill
Mellen, Jamesson and daughter Peshtigo
Milichewart, Josephwife & 4 children Brussels
Monaghan, Patrick  Peshtigo
Moore, Mrs Hiram5 childrenhusbandSugar Bushes
Mutter, Frankwife & 2 children Brussels
Myers, Georgewife & 4 children Sugar Bushes
Newberry, Henry Sr wifeSugar Bushes
Newberry, Charles O2 childrenwifeSugar Bushes
Newberry, Edward Swife and child Sugar Bushes
Newberry, Walterwife and three children Sugar Bushes
Newton, Ralph and Lizzie, children of Samuel and Helen Newton  Sugar Bushes
Olestrom, Charleswife & 2 children & female visitor Peshtigo
Olson, Anson  Peshtigo
Olson, Hanswife & 2 children Peshtigo
Olson, Mrs Nelson2 childrenhusband & 2 childrenSugar Bushes
Papp, William Jr  Sugar Bushes
Pavlic, child of Casper  Brussels
Pentree, Charles Srwife & 3 children2 childrenSugar Bushes
Pentree, Mrs William2 childrenhusbandSugar Bushes
Perault, Nelsonwife & 8 children and a Frenchman with them Sugar Bushes
Phillips, Cornelia E (daughter of R E Phillips  Sugar Bushes
Plush, Charles  Peshtigo
Potter, J T (child)  Peshtigo
Pratt, A Awife & 2 children2 childrenSugar Bushes
Prestine, Mrs Joaquin husband badly crippledSugar Bushes
Race, Martinwife & 2 children Sugar Bushes
Scott, Joseph (child of)  Peshtigo
Seymour, Miss Charlotta  Peshtigo
Segar, Lymanwife and child Sugar Bushes
Seveikert, Michaelwife & 5 children and wife's parents Brussels
Seymour, Fred (son of Isaac J and Charolette)  Sugar Bushes
Shelber, Johnwife and child Brussels
Sheponto, Peter  Sugar Bushes
Slaughter, Mrs RobertChild Peshtigo
Smith, John Fritzwife & 2 children Sugar Bushes
Soper, William  Sugar Bushes
Spear, Lemuel Hwife & 2 children Sugar Bushes
Tackman, Mrs Christina  Peshtigo
Tanner, Mrs J J2 children Peshtigo
Taylor, John2 childrenwife & 1 childSugar Bushes
Thompson, Williamwife Peshtigo
Timmer, John2 sons and a daughter Peshtigo
Tousley, C Rwife & 2 children Sugar Bushes
Trydy, Mrwife & 5 children wife's parents and his brother-in-law Brussels
Utter, Mrs John2 childrenhusbandSugar Bushes
VanByninger, John  Peshtigo
Vanderhoven, John  Sugar Bushes
Warneck, John  Sugar Bushes
Weiss, Louiswife and one child Brussels
Wendrick, Mrs John B3 children Lincoln
Wenzel, John, Srwife Sugar Bushes
Westfall, Charleswife and father Peshtigo
Wienhart, Philipwife & 5 children4 childrenSugar Bushes
Winters, Neils  Peshtigo
Wood, John  Brussels Mill

*4* Enlisted in the 5th Wisconsin infantry under the name of Bailey, and drew a pension for wounds until he was burned.

*5* Known to have been upon their farm at the time of the fire. Nothing has been heard or seen of their remains since. Mrs Doyle was a daughter of John Derryman of Mill Point, Michigan with three of the children by her first husband, Ferguson

*6* Husband died just before fire

*7* Three of the sons were badly burned. One in trying to save the life of his mother, Mrs Maria Hoyt, who begged to be left to her fate, which he refused to do, and is badly crippled by the fire in consequence.

Brussels Mill is the Schoefields & Co Mill is section 15 of Brussels

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