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Survivor Stories of the Peshtigo Fire

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


Frank Oliver and Family

in the Peshtigo Fire

Please click on the map image for a full view


Contributed by descendant; Carl Bennett

Frank Olive was my great-great grandfather. Lizzie was my great grandmother. Frank served in Co. F of the 12th Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War.

From "The Soldier's and Citizen's Album", pg. 176, 177.

He returned to Oconto and engaged as a carpenter. He went, soon after, to Peshtigo where he remained until 1871 and passed with his family through the horrors of the fire. All the possessions of his family were lost and with his wife and three children, on the night of October 8th, he remained in the Peshtigo River. One of the little ones was a babe and died afterwards. Mr. Olive states that the terrors and, suffering he endured in the fire ranked those of the war by all odds. From Peshtigo, Mr. Olive went to Green Bay, destitute of everything, blinded and expecting to lose his sight permanently from burns and exposure to the glaring light of the fire. Captain Reynolds of Company A, 12th Wisconsin infantry, saw and recognized him as a soldier of his former command, took him in charge and took care of him as he required, like a man and a soldier of the Union he went to Symco, Waupaca county, where he remained with his brother until he was well and then he
 went to Marinette for a short stay.

Sept. 12, 1865, the marriage of Mr. Olive and Amelia Grandau took place and their children are Frank J. William Henry, Mary, Lizzie, Edward, John D., Robert and Lillie May, as mentioned. Mrs. Oliver is of French origin and is born in Canada.

I thank Russ Scott for this information from his website about the 12th Wisconsin Infantry.


A brief history of Frank Olive and Family:

Frank Olive (also Franklin) was born April 1837 in Canada to parents born in English Canada. He came to the U.S. in 1848 at the age of 11 years.  Frank volunteered for military service from Peshtigo, Wisconsin, at the beginning of the American Civil War on July 10, 1861. He served as an active duty Private in the Union Army from October 7, 1861 to July 16 1865, a total of 3 years and 10 months. Franklin Oliver received an honorable discharge when mustered out of Company F, Wisconsin 12th, Infantry( Film Number: M559 roll 22 ). He made the long trek home by August, 1865.

Franklin Olive married in 1865. Wife, Amelia, was born April 1847 in Canada and had imigrated to the U.S. in 1860.

Children in the 1870 family were both born in Wisonsin, at the time Peshtigo was in Oconto County (now Marinette County). Sons were Frank, age 3 and William age 1 year. Franklin worked as a laborer. The census was taken16 months before the family experienced the Peshtigo Fire on the river mud flats and lost everything, including one infant, shortly after the fire.

Working as a carpenter in 1880, the family lived in  Menominee, Michigan. Franklin and Amelia resided with children Frank age 14 (WI), William age 12 (WI), Mary age 7(WI), Elizabeth age 5 (MI), Edward age 3 (MI) and James age 1 year (MI).

By 1890 Frank Olive was a mill sawyer living in Menominee, Michigan. In the 1900 household was his wife Emely (Amelia) and sons  Edward A, born May 1877; James J., born June 1879; Robert O., born May 1881; Harry C., born May 1884.

Frank and Amelia Olive lived alone on Main Street in Ward 2, Marinette, Wisconsin in 1910. The couple had been married 45 years. Amelia stated that she had given birth to 10 infants, with 6 children living in 1910. Frank was age 68 and self employed.

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