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Survivor Stories of the Peshtigo Fire

October 8, 1871

This page is dedicated to the people who lived to tell of their survival and stories of the Peshtigo Fire. All submissions are from the family members and are welcome for posting.

The following story was originally written to the Wisconsin State Historical Society by Payne Family descendant Edith Ethel. Shufelt, sister of Sarah Shufelt English, in 1968. It is transcribed here and the names of the ancestors have been added to the lists on this site through the courtesy of Edith's nephew  Lee Grady.
Researched and contributed by Payne and Shufelt descendant Brenda .


Dears Sirs,

Since I was born in Wisconsin and my parents grew up and married there and my maternal grandparents lived there, coming from England, we have some memorabilia of our families and their activities there.

My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Payne, had a government (land) claim near Peshtigo. They were in the fire of 1871 - My grandparent's mother and uncles buried themselves in a spring on their farm and were saved.

My father, John F. Shufelt, managed lumber camps and saw mills for his uncle "Pete" Shufelt. They (John Shufelt and Eliza Payne) were married in Marinette in 1888. Her two brothers were William and John Payne of Oconto and Menominee. Most of these folks are buried in the cemetery in Peshtigo.

The items that we still have of theirs are mostly pictures and garments.

If these things would be of any historical value and you would be interested we will be glad to send them to you.
Edith E. Shufelt
Sister - Sarah Shufelt English

The 1870 U.S. Census for Peshtigo, which was a part of Oconto County until 1879 (now in Marinette County), lists the following people living at the Payne and Shufelt Family farms on the same census page 39, just months before the devastating and deadly fire roared through on the Sunday night of October 8, 1871.

Thomas Payne , age 42,  born in Scotland (England),  Male, farmer
Sarah Payne age 40,  Isle of Man (Scotland, England),   Female
Nelson Payne age 16, born in England, Male
William Payne  age 11, born in  Canada,  Male
Eliza Payne  age 9, born in  New York,  Female
John Payne  age 4, born in  Canada,  Male

Charles Shufelt age 45, born in Prussia, Male, farmer
Mary  Shufelt  age  47, born in Prussia, Female
Gustave Shufelt  age  16, born in Prussia, Male
Charles Shufelt  age 13, born in Wisconsin, Male
John Shufelt  age 11, born in Wisconsin, Male
Ada  Shufelt  age 8, born in Wisconsin, Female
Fred  Shufelt  age 6, born in Wisconsin, Male
Lena  Shufelt  age 2, born in Wisconsin, Female

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