Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Peshtigo Fire - The List of the Dead

From the Peshtigo Times centennial edition October 1971
So many people died in the Great Peshtigo Fire.  The number will most likely never be fully known.  Some of the workers were transient which makes what happened to them even harder to track.  Perhaps they came as temporary labor to clear the woods and lay track for the railroad that was being built at the time of the fire. Perhaps some got work at the lumber mill.  Our ancestors were just passing through.  Had they perished with so many others, I most likely would not have figured out what had happened to them.

This post is to remember those that we know perished in the Great Fire.  The list covers those that died in Peshtigo and the Sugar Bush area, but please remember that the Great Peshtigo Fire covered a large area of Northwestern Wisconsin.  In yesterday's post there was a map attached to the newspaper clipping that shows the burned area.  Not everyone that died is listed.  For whatever reason the State Assembly chose to only mention those in the hardest hit area.  If you have a family member that perished or survived the Peshtigo Fire, feel free to write their story in a comment so that they too can be remembered.

"Official List of Dead Given In State Assembly Journal of 1873

(Editor's Note:  The following is the official list of dead in Peshtigo and the Sugar Bushes as recorded in the State Assembly Journal of 1873.  This is not a complete list but a list of the dead who were recognizable.)


The list can be depended upon as far as it goes, but it is well known that great numbers of people were burned, particularly in the village of Peshtigo, whose names have never been ascertained, and probably never will be, as many of these were transient persons at work in the extensive manufactories (sic), and all fled before the horrible tempest of fire, many of them caught in its terrible embrace with no record of their fate except their charred and blackened bones.  The people of Peshtigo can all tell of acquaintences (sic) they had before the fire of whom they have lost all knowledge since, and that many perished in the company's boarding house and the catholic and presbyterian churches, of whom not a vestige remains, there seems to be no reasonable doubt; for the very sands in the street were vitrified, and metals were melted in localities that seem impossible.

Alvord, John, wife and one child.
Beebe, J.E., and wife Frances, and three children.
Bruette, Mrs. Anton.
Bruette, Mrs. Charles, and one child.
Barton, Roger, died from effects of the fire at Peshtigo harbor.
Cramer, Mrs. Michael, and two sons; husband saved, and one son.
Clement, Joseph G., just married; wife saved.
England, Mrs. William, and two children, fled to the village and were burned; husband and eight
  children remained in the sugar bush and were saved.
Jacobs, Frank, infant son of T. Jacobs, was taken to the river by his aunt, Charlotte Seymour; both
Kerr, James.
Keenan, James.
Kuncner, Ernst, found in river.
Lawrence, Charles, wife and four children; fled from lower sugar bush to village, and were all burned
  near the river.
Monaghan, Patrick.
Mellen, James, son and daughter of.
McGregor, Daniel, wife and sister Jenny.
McDonald, Mrs. Leroy, and five children.
Marsh, Nellie, daughter of P. J. Marsh.
McMinn, Mrs. Silas.
McGregor, Mrs. James, and child
Olestrom, Charles, wife and two children, and a lady visiting, name unknown.
Olson, Hans, wife and two children.
Olson, Anson.
Plush, Charles.
Potter, J. T., child of.
Stitt, Mrs. Wilson, died at Marinette.
Scott, Joseph, child of, died at Harbor.
Slaughter, Mrs. Robert and child.
Seymour, Miss Charlotta, drowned in river.
Tanner, Mrs. J. J. and two children.
Thompson, William, and wife.
Timmer, John, two sons and a daughter of.
Tackman, Mrs. Christina.
Westfall, Charles, wife and his father.
Winters, Neils.
Van Byniger, John.

From the Peshtigo Times centennial edition October 1971


Alschwager, Mrs. John and one child.  Husband and five children saved.
Auest, Fred; wife saved.
Aldis, William, wife and two children, were from Connecticut, visiting the family of N. May, also
Mrs. Nepthallon May, was the sister of Mrs. Aldis.
Bruce, Mrs. August, and three children; husband and two children saved.
Bell, Mrs. William; husband and child saved.
Birney, Caroline; lived with Chas. Chapman and family; burned.
Bush, Charles, wife and six children.
Bosworth, Mrs. Olive, with two children of John Taylor's.
Bush, John.
Brackett, Augusta.
Bartels, Miss Augusta; was visiting her grandmother; daughter of Capt. Fred. J. Bartels, of Peshtigo
Bohemaster, Henry, wife and child.
Curtis, William, and daughter.  Mrs. Eliza Curtis, his wife, was badly crippled by fire, and remains so.
Church, John, wife and one child -- Warren Church cut his throat rather than be burned, but was saved.
Chapman, Charles, wife and son and hired man and girl.
Cook, Jacob E., wife and three children, burned in root house.
Diedrich, Joseph (alias Bailey), wife and three children.  Enlisted in the 5th Wisconsin infantry under
  the name of Bailey, and drew a pension for wounds until he was burned.  His wife was found dead,
  standing upright, leaning against the roots of a large tree.
Doyle, Patrick, wife and seven children, 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.  Three of the children were by her first husband, Ferguson.
Davis, Norman, wife and three children.  This family were burned in a well.  James Hays, a hired man,
  and hired girl, name not known, also burned.
Duckett, Benjamin, wife and one child.
Eamer, Mrs. Mary Ann.  Husband died just before the fire; two sons saved.
Fletcher, Mary and Halsey, children of Lucius.
Fagan, Mrs. Martin, and two children; husband saved.
Glass, Flora, Belle and William, children of James.
Gregor, John and wife.
Hayes, Israel; wife saved.
Helms, Charles, wife and son.  Mr. Helms traveled a long distance in the fire.  The calves of his legs
  burned loose; dragging on the ground, held by the cords.  Was taken to the hospital at Marinette, but
  soon died.
Hill, L. H., and wife.
Hoyt, Charles, E., wife and one child.
Hoyt, Enoch, wife and one child.  One saved.  Three other 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 fire in consequence.
Hayes, Henry Sr., wife and one son.
Hayes, Rebecca, wife of Henry Hayes, Jr., and one child.
Jackson, Harry, child of E.A. Jackson.
Jackson, John, left with the child named above.
Jackson, Asa, reported burned, remains not identified.
King, John, wife and four children.  A daughter and son away from home were saved.
King, Robert, wife and three children.  A daughter absent from home, saved.
Kiefer, Peter, wife and two children; one saved.
Kappus, Catharine, wife of Chris., and two children; husband and three children saved.
Kelly, Terence, and one child; wife and three children saved.
Karrow, Michael, and wife; two children saved.
Loncks, Lindsey, and wife.
Loyal, John.
Lafay, Joseph and wife.
Lembk, Charles, had his wife and five children on a wagon, fleeing for safety, when one of his horses,
  falling, he got out to help him up, and finally succeeded in doing so, and upon returning to the wagon
  found his family all dead.  He finally reached a small brook near by, in which he lay until morning,
  when returning, he found the remains of his family and wagon entirely consumed.
Leasuae, Mrs. Joseph, Jr., and four children, husband saved.
Leach, Ann, wife of Peter Leach.
Leach, Lot, wife and infant child.
Law, James.
May, Nepthallon, wife and child.
Moore, Mrs. Hiram, and five children.  Mr. Moore could not induce them to leave the house after it was
  enveloped in flames, and barely escaped himself.
Myers, George, wife and four children.
Newton, Ralph and Lizzie, children of Samuel and Helen Newton.
Newberry, Henry, Sr.; wife saved; absent from home.
Newberry, Charles O., and two children; wife saved.
Newberry, Edward S., wife and child.
Newberry, Walter, wife and three children.  The three later named were sons of Henry Newberry, Sr.
Olson, Mrs. Nelson and two children, husband and two saved.
Pratt, A. A., wife and two children; two saved.
Penree, Charles Sr., wife and three children; two saved.
Penree, Mrs. William and two children; husband saved.
Papp, William, Jr.
Prestine, Mrs. Joaquin, husband badly crippled.
Phillips, Cornelia E., daughter of R.E.P.; died from effects of the fire.
Perault, Nelson, wife and eight children, and a Frenchman with them, name could not be ascertained.
Race, Martin, wife and two children.
Seymour, Fred., son of Isaac J. and Charlotte; reported in Peshtigo list.
Soper, William.
Sheponto, Peter.
Smith, John Fritz, wife and two children.
Spear, Lemuel H., wife and two children.
Segar, Lyman, wife and child.
Tousley, Mrs. C. R.; Mr. Tousley cut the throats of his two children and his own; all found dead.
Taylor, John and two children; wife and one child saved.
Utter, Mrs. John, and two children; husband saved.
Vanderhoven, John
Winehart, Philip, wife and five children; four saved.
Wenzel, John Sr., and wife.
Warneck, John.

This closes the list of those identified in Peshtigo, and the Sugar Bushes, while all who are familiar with the circumstances, assert that large numbers were found and buried, who could not be recognized.  Different intelligent people vary so much in their estimates of the number who perished, that it would be mere conjecture to attempt to give any figures on the subject.  The large amount of swamp lands in and about the sugar bushes and in the localities on the peninsula, where it is claimed the 'flames traveled in the air' confirm, in addition to the testimony of hundreds of living witnesses, the theory before advanced, that they were caused by immense amounts of inflammable gases, arising from the burning low lands, composed mainly of vegetable matter.

Immediately after the fire at Peshtigo and the Sugar Bushes, hundreds of badly maimed people were removed to Green Bay by boats, and to Marinette, where the Dunlap House and others were used as hospitals, until suitable buildings could be erected for that purpose.  The hospital under the charge of Dr. B. T. Phillips, did most excellent service.  At Green Bay, the Turners' Hall was used for like purposes, and under the good management of Dr. H. O. Crane and a host of good samaritans, was speedily cleared.  At Peshtigo and Marinette, barracks were erected, where the destitute were fed, clothed and housed, as a temporary matter, until more suitable places could be provided.  I promised you a list of names of those who have been most conspicuous in the good work performed in behalf of the sufferers, but upon reflection, as their name is legion, conclude it is better not to mention any.  Good actions are their own reward."

NOTE: the newspaper clippings shown here were published in a centennial edition of the Peshtigo Times in October 1971.  They were not newly written articles from 1971, but from the time of the fire and articles that had been published in the aftermath and as some of the survivors aged and told their stories.  This was one of many, many articles in the centennial edition that was passed on to me by my Green Bay family.

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