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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.
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Abram Place

He settled in Peshtigo, WI, in 1838 and in August, 1843, built a fur trading post about four miles north of the village. He acquired
over 800 acres of land including a 420-acre homestead near Harmony Corners. On October 8, 1871, the home became a sanctuary for many residents of the area following a prairie fire that killed over 1,200 people in northeastern Wisconsin. Two weeks before the fire, some Indian friends came to the Place home to urge him to plow a large area of land in all directions surrounding the home because "there was going to be a great fire." They also urged him to pump water to fill every available container and to gather all the blankets and quilts they could find. The day of the fire, the Indians gathered at the home and, during the fire, they wet the blankets and quilts with water and carried them up ladders to place upon the roof of the home. It was the only one in that area that did not burn.
(Ref. Marinette Co. Historian, Oct. 1992).

Note: The Place Family opened their home at the time of the fire, and directly afterward, to all who needed treatment and shelter, doing all they could for strangers, their neighbors and friends until more help could arrive. Their large homestead was filled with survivors, the worst injured of which stayed in the house and the least injured took up temporary residence in the barn and outbuildings. Beside external burns, which left them wearing only light burned rags, nearly all suffered from blindness, painful severe breathing problems from scorched lungs, dehydration and severe exposure. Many were in shock; others could not speak and most swallowed even liquids only with great difficulty. For the least fortunate survivors, all that could be offered was a quiet death watch and respectful burial.

From the EAGLE (newspaper)
Extra of Oct. 11 th, 1871

The whole country is a scene of devastation and ruin that no language can paint or tongue describe. There is only one family of any note in the entire Bush that has escaped. This is the fine farm of Mr. Abram Place in the upper bush.  He having an immense clearing and protected also by the roads was enabled to save his house, barn and nearly all of his stock and supplies. His house has been an asylum for the suffering ones of that region, and he has rendered them all the assistance in his power. 

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