Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another Tale from the Fire

Peshtigo Times, 06OCT1971, Sec D, Pg 8
Another story retold in the 1971 Peshtigo Times.  This family was lucky...they lost everything except each other.

"Hale One Of Fires Heaviest Losers

The largest loss of property during the fire, with the exception of the Peshtigo Company, was sustained by Levi Hale, who lost the Peshtigo House and part of its furniture, several dwellings and contents, hay, wagons, carriages, horses and cattle totalling [sic] an estimated $30,000.

Hale was a builder who rented several home in Peshtigo to other families and had built the Peshtigo House in 1859 and ran it for seven years.

After having lost all this property, he became a farmer and stock raiser on the property later known as the John Bell farm or Reber's property.  It is now owned by Ray Pavelin.  The Hale road was named after the land's original farmer -- Levi Hale.

Hale, born in Jefferson Co., N.Y. and grew up in St. Lawrence Co., came to the Menominee River during the fall of 1841.  he spent the next year prospecting in the copper mines of Lake Superior.  In 1846, his traveling brought him to Peshtigo where he followed lumbering and various kinds of work until he built the hotel.

Hannah Windross became his bride in 1856 and they had two daughters, Martha and Katherine.  She was an immigrant from England and her brother, Dr. William Windross started a medical practice in Peshtigo in 1877.

The youngest girl, called Kittie by her family, was twelve years old when the fire struck and her daughter, Mrs. Cecil Engels, of Marinette recorded the story of that family's flight from the flames.

According to that account, the quiet of the Sunday supper table was interrupted Oct. 8, 1871, when Hall suddenly excused himself and went unstairs [sic] to peer at the fire from the west window.

Peshtigo Times (Peshtigo Fire Centennial Ed) 06OCT1971, Sec D, Pg 8
'You better pack the valuables because I suspect trouble before morning.' he announced to his wife upon returning to the table.  He then went out the door to inspect the barns.

Hannah immediately began packing the dresses she had made for an anticipated trip back to her homeland.  She also grabbed a pail of over a thousand buttons which she had saved as a little girl.

But her preparations were interrupted by sudden shouts from Hale.

'Get to the creek or be burned!'

The mother and the children ran to the creek carrying what they could only to drop it when crossing the creek.

Fire was everywhere and the creek outlining the barn was their only escape.

They sat that night in the creek with large pans from the kitchen over their heads for protection from cinders.  Occasionally they lifted them to catch a breath of air.

At last morning came, and they emerged from their all-night bath, wet, cold and hungry.  They went to the stone basement of what had been their home.  Hale built a bonfire from the remains of the back fence to dry their wet clothes.

Meanwhile he went to the village to discover all his buildings were destroyed.  His consolation was that, while many of his friends had lost members of their family, he had lost none.

Descendents [sic] of Levi and Hannah Hale now living in the area include Mrs. Cecil LeBlond Engels, Marinette, Mrs. William J. Smith, Menominee, Mich., a great granddaughter, and Franklin Hodgins, Marinette, a great grandson."