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Submitted by Peggy Oberbeck

 Mary Jane Foreman Herriman and John Van Ransellier Herriman

Mary Jane Foreman, the daughter of James T. Foreman and Ruth Russell, was born November 30, 1839 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She married John Van Ransellier Herriman on December 9, 1855 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was born on September 11, 1832 in Boston, Summit Co, Ohio. J.V. Heriman was a veteran of the Civil War serving with the 2nd Ohio Calvary. They brought their family of 5 children to Oconto in 1867, settling on a 40-acre land grant, which became Little River Township. The first child, Lucy was born in 1856.She married John Livingston and remained in Oconto. Henrietta was born in 1858. She married Robert Burns Taylor. The third child, Gertrude was born in 1861. She married William Walter Starkey and remained in Oconto. James Henry was born in 1867. He married Henrietta Simmons and lived in Smethport, Pennsylvania. His brother Arthur E. Herriman, was born in 1880 and married Laura A. Shaffer. They lived in Lycoming, Pennsylvania.  My new cousin Jim Herriman provided the family pictures and valuable information of the Herriman, Foreman and Taylor family. Jim is the grandson of Arthur Herriman. I will be eternally grateful for the incredible family treasures he has shared with me. He has filled an empty space in my Family tree, and my heart!
To e-mail Jim Herrimann please click HERE.
The entire family tree is HERE

George Foreman with the army fife he saved from the fire.

George Foreman, the brother of Mary Jane Herriman, was born on July 24, 1842 in Euclid, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. He came to Oconto County in 1865. He obtained a land grant near the Herrimans and settled on a nearby section of 40 acres. George married Lucy Ann “Loo” Brockett on July 28,1865 in Mayville, Dodge County, Wisconsin. George and Lucy had 4 children. Ada Leota was born in 1868 and died in 1871. Joselyn “Linnie” Trevanian was born in 1871. He married Ora Hays and lived in Texas. Lulu Bernice was born in 1875 and married Edward Paschall. They also lived in Texas.

The year 1871 must have been a happy and tragic year for the Foreman family. The first born child, Ada had died and a new son was born. Then in October the Great Fire struck, destroying thousands of acres of land and the nearby town of Peshtigo. It took between 1200 and 1500 lives with it. The following letter is an exciting description of the Foreman’s experiences during the night of the fire. George Foreman wrote the FIRE LETTER on January 17, 1872 in Blue Earth City, Minnesota, to his mother and father.

For more information on the Peshtigo Fire please click HERE.

Blue Earth City, Faribault County, Minnesota
January 17th, 1872

Dear Father Mother and Josie.
     I wrote to you some four or five weeks ago, stating how sick Linnie
(our boy) was and that I soon should go back to Wisconsin and leave Lucy
(Loo) here until spring ect. and hope you receive it.  Well, Linnie got
well and on Christmas morning Lucy's sister Fanny's husband (Ves.
Varton) and I left here for Oconto, intending to work in the finery all
winter and was at work to Ranses (John Van Rensalear Herriman), for
$40.00 per month but the first letter I got from Loo, she was sick abed,
and has not been able to sit up since.  It is three weeks ago today
since she was first confined to her bed.  Fanny wrote to me every day
and Loo got "very" low and some thought dangerous, and of course I got
uneasy, and on last Thursday I left Oconto and at 9 o'clock the next day
(Friday night) I was at home, and on Saturday Loo had another hard day,
suffered a good deal.  The Dr. came that night again and from that time
until this morning she has been gaining slowly, but not able to sit up
yet only as I prop her up with pillows or lift her up while her bed is
made.  I am in hopes now she will have no more bad spells but before I
go any farther I will tell you what ails her. She has had the worst form
of intermitant neuralgis and fever.  You will remember how Mrs. Farwell
used to suffer with her head I suppose.  Well Loo has suffered more than
she did.  Dr. says her whole nervous system is prostrated and no wonder
considering what she has passed through.  She has taken a great deal of
morphine and quinine, besides other medine, is taking one morphine
powder a day now and the Dr. innjected morphine into her arm twice while
she was the worst.

      I believe I told you before that the old folks had gone east a
visiting.  They are coming home next Saturday.  Fanny attended Loo all
the time until I came home, but had to hire a girl to help them.  Fanny
was about done out when I got here, so you can bet they were glad to see
me.  Linnie is well and getting so cunning, talks considerable, and is
such a buster for his age.  We take lots of comfort with him I tell you.

      I am thankful to you both for that $10.00 you sent I got it as
soon as I got to Oconto, but as you have sickness more or less you need
not to send us any more.  I think if we have no more bad luck we will
get along.  "The whole country" has been sending clothing, bedding ect.
to Oconto and I have lots of clothes and Lucy has several nice dresses
her acquaintances gave her in Wisconsin besides quite a supply af calico
dresses and other garments to make her comfortable, and she says, tell
your mother how much she "loves" you and would like to see you all and
you need not send any more of your hard earnings to us, unless we need
it more than we do at the present, and speaks of you both and Josie too
coming to live with us when you get old or too sick to work for
yourselves, and says if we have a bone you shall share it with us and
you "know of course" I agree with her in it all.

      We hope Father's health is better by that time, and hope to hear
from you soon as we have never received but the one letter from you
since the fire, but in order to relieve your minds somewhat I will give
you an account of the most we have received.  First in Oconto and in
Dodge Co. LeRoy and Mayville where we were married and including your
ten dollars, we have received $93.57 in cash, as wheat which I sold for
cash, almost three bbls flour, 9 bushell potatoes over 100 pounds pork
some tea a little sugar, 2 gallons lard, one square No. 8 cook stove, 2
pillows eleven (11) bed quilts some quite new, others a little ragged,
but all very good for now grey army blankets, and two quilts saved makes
us 13 quilts and 4 blankets in all.  Loo has had about 12 or more
dresses four bran new two nice one 50 cents a yard, with velvet and nice
trimming for one must costs seven or eight dollars, has it made bask
waist looks real neat and nice a new balmoral new hat, shawl  gaitors
some shimmies and drawers & stockings.  Linnie has a lot of woolen and
cotton clothes.  I have received, I believe 12 coats, 2 fine nice ones
for sunday one nice "almost" bran new "overcoat" worth at least $12, and
several "good" ones for every day and one or two ragged ones, but all
will come good and as near as I can count up now I have eleven pair of
pants some nice  for Sunday some nice  for every day and others that
have a good deal of ware in them or fit to cut up for Linnie.  I have
something less than a dozen vests, two hats & a cap seven pairs of socks
two pair new "very nice" and "all" good ones, some eight shirts I
believe, two have made from new cloth and have over 4 yds of nice
flannel to make another,and the rest are all good ones, some nice
undershirts, and some 4 pair of drawers, two pair Loo made from an old
woolen dress given her, but they are good ones, but in coming home (I
forgot that Ves Varton [John Dillivan Dayton, his brother-in-law] did
not come back with me) I pawned my flour and potatoes for a certain
lenght of time to get money to come with. Father gave us 100 lbs pork,
and I bought the balance of the hog from him for 4 cents per pound, got
about 4 gallons lard out of it and took it all to Oconto with us when I
went, had about 300 lbs pork in the bbl.  It is in Oconto now. I forgot
to say I got one good bed tick.

     Lucy has been very anxious to write you "all" a long letter
concerning the fire but has not had time nor been able, and has
requested me to every day since I got home, and I will give you a pretty
good account, as you have I suppose like many others a good deal that
you can't  understand about the fire.  First of all we had a long
drought very "dry".  Where I cut a small piece of wild land on my place
in July, ankle deep in water, some weeks after I had to dig six foot to
get water for the cow.  This is in a little swamp "always Wet."  The
R.R. was put though 2 miles east of us, and they burned as they went,
and having no rain the fires never went out, hanging all summer to old
logs roots in the ground etc.  For weeks we could only see the sun a few
hours in the middle of the day it was so "very smoky" it fairly made our
eyes ache (for miles around I mean) then after the frost in the fall the
leaves fell and my nearest neighbor (that was lost with his wife and 3
girls) once remarked that if we got no rain before all the leaves were
down there would be an awful fire.  My neighbor had fire around him for
weeks and it came down the woods and brush fence in front of our house
and fires were running in the woods in many places was all around Johns
and Ranse's, [John Barton and John Van Rensselaer Herriman, J. V.
Herriman was George's brother-in-law and my g-grandfather] and on that
Sunday fire was running gradually from Rans's towards my place in the
leaves, and I went away that day some five hours and when I came back I
found the fire marching a long in the leaves like an army in a line of
battle, over my place going straight towards the house.  Ranse and Mary
[J.V. Herriman and Mary Jane Foreman Herriman, George's sister] were
there, and Rans and my neighbor (Mr. Cook) had been pulling some of my
corn stocks into the field away from the fence as the fire was getting
close by and would burn the corn when once in the fence.  As soon as I
got home I took the broom and parted the leaves nearly acrost the 40
acres and checked the fire.  I worked hard you bet,  but the fire hung
to logs roots etc., so when about 7 oclock in the evening the wind was
very stronge and the fire swept acrost the path I had swept and moved on
rapidly.  I tried once more to check it but nearly suffocated and gave
it up, and went to the house and draged the tool chest out to the well
which was about 30 foot from the door, also your cousin Hannah's chest
and our valice.  Loo told me to put the watch into the chest which I
did.   I put our clothes on one of the beds, and Loo packed up some of
the dishes.  I carried water and threw on to the hay and barley stack,
and then Loo and I threw water on to the house & all around it.  Cook
was there at 7, went home a few moments, then came back to see how we
were getting along urged us to go home with him, and as he passed by the
house he said to Loo, "Come Lucy now and I will save you."  She said,
"No, Ed, I will stay with George and if he dies I will die with him."
And that is the last that was ever seen of poor Ed Cook. By the time the
wind was a perfect gale almost.  The wind blew the hay up so sparks
blowed into it and and in a moment the stack was in flames blowing
towards the house.  I was doing something close to the house, forgot
what now, when Loo hollowed and I ran in and the house was in flames
inside in the roof.  I grabbed the clothing with one quilt off from the
bed run into the garden with it, and spread the quilt over them and put
a pail of water on the quilt, and ran back to Loo.  She grabbed two
quilts and threw over her and Linnie and we went to the well, and I had
Loo stooped down behind the tool chest and I wet the ground all around
her but it seemed too terrible to stand it there, so I said "let us to
the Cooks."  I took Linnie and one quilt and Loo wet her feet and dress
and we started but before we had got 50 foot, I saw that we would
suffocate long before we could get there, and I said, "Come back!  Come
back!"  and went back past well and stopped in the garden, and Loo
stooped down took Linnie and I carried two pails of water and threw over
her, and by that time I was so full of smoke and heat I said, "My God.
I can carry no more  we must die right here!"  Loo said, "No.  Let us go
to the well."  I said, "No.  I and never get there."  She said, "Yes.  I
can carry Linnie."  We were then probably 30 feet from the well, so I
said, "Come on" and made a rush for the well.  I jumped in and braced my
feet acrost the well, reached up and took Linnie and then Loo came in
and down my leg and dropped to the bottom.  Then I went down and gave
her Linnie, and seemed to breathe a little easier for a moment, but as
soon as I gave the baby to her I rushed up out of the well and tore the
curo and the covering of the well away and pitched it to one side so it
would not burn and fell into the well on our heads.  Then I jumped down
again, and O! what a "roaring" like thunder, and how the fire and smoke
blew down the well.  I shall never forget.  I threw water on our heads
and back.  The water was about 30 inches deep and cold.  One spark some
where lit on the baby's nose and he wore a scab for a while and Loo
thought he was dying in the garden once, undoubtedly would had we not
kept him covered up.  He squealed some when I threw cold water on him,
and when Loo got into the well she threw the two quilts in, and after an
half hour or so I had gulped a tremenous amount of wind from y stomach
and felt better, and I climbed to the top and peeked out and said, "O
Loo the tool chest is not on fire," and she said, "Take one of these wet
quilts out of the bottom of the well and spread it over it" and I done
so, and while up on the ground I saw a small box and our valice and I
threw them down the well and got Loo on to them so she was out of the
water.  Then I noticed the Hannah chest open and shut it.  Then I open
it again to get something out when about a shovel full of fire blew in
and things commended to smoke so I emptied the chest right into the
well.  It contained Little Adas clothes presents and the watch and
various other little things.  My army fife was in it.  Then I drew up
water and threw on the bed quilt that was over the tool chest several
times during a period of ome 4 hours, during which time Loo got very
cold and after about 4 hours I thought Loo could stand it on land and I
got her out after considerable hard work she was so exhausted.  Then I
got out the valice which was on the box and not much wet, and Loo's
flannels were in it, and she changed her clothes by the remains of the
house, I keeping the sparks off from back while she done so.  That is,
she put on those flannels.  Then we took the quilt off from the chest
which was dry after all the water I had put on it, and spread it on the
ground and lay there until morning.  O! no one knows how we suffered
with our eyes, nearly smoke out of our heads.
     The wind blew  strong all night but nothing to what it did when we
went into the well.  Hattie was in the chest and was saved, and all of
Ada's long clothes and most of what she had before she died.  Her moreno
cloak was lost.  I think it blew out of the chest when it blew open,
also Loo's black silk shawl.  We saved the knives and forks & silver
spoons & butter knife  some 8 or 9 tea cups and 4 or five saucers.  I
believe that is about all.
     During the night several times I whistled and yelled "all right" to
Cook's folks, thinking to encourage them.  You see the fire blew from
our place to theirs, consequently we all thought it safer at his place
then at ours.  He had an outdoor cellar which they all went into, and
after daylight Loo urged me to go and see about them, thinking that if
there were safe he would have been over to see us before that time.  So
I groped my way over, being almost "blind", and I could find no trace of
them, only I saw the cellar was caved in and I knew at once that they
were in it.  So I returned told Loo and we started south toward John's.
I was bare headed and in shirt sleeves excepting a part of one of my
blouses I found next morning.  The smoke was mo[s]t awful thick and I
could hardly follow the road, so much fallen timber and so near blind.
Got to John Bartons (His nearest neighbor) and found them safe.  Soon
after went to John's and was there until Thursday, when we left for
Dodge Co. [where Lucy's parents lived].  [I believe "John's", refers to
John V. Herriman.  On the 1870 census the Barton's and Foreman's, and
Herriman's are on page two of Oconto Township {later Little River},
families 10, 11, and 12 respectively. It does not appear that the fire
hit the Herriman house, only a small distance away]

    Where I put our cloths next morning was a pile of pins and buttons all
that left of them.   Tuesday I cleaned out the well and took care of the
things tool chest and other things are safe at Mary's.  Out two hogs
suffocared and were badly burned and never gave out one squeal.  Our
poor little puppy howled just one and was burned up in the house.  All
the chickens perished.  Some I saw around the field with not a feather
left on them, all burned off.  Cook's heifer was with our cow and when
the wind commenced to blow I let them into the clearing, and when we
started for the well they started back through the fire an dare alive
today.  The cow was badly burned, so I got $5.00 for her.  My turnips
and potatoes were were principally baked in the ground.

      I can tell you I was almost gone when we went for the well (it was
13 feet deep).  Loo says she will never forget how I looked.  One moment
more and I should have fallen, and had I done so, Loo & Linnie would
have died too, for had they got down the well the curb would have burned
and suffocated them.

      You may ask, as others have, why didn't we throw our things down
the well.   If we had and stopped our access to the water we would
surely have been lost.  Some people ask was there no plowed fields in
which people could save themselves.  I know of those that were in the
fields half a mile from the woods and died there of suffacation.  Just
imagine the whole heavens a dense body of smoke, and "Millions" of
sparks and coals of fire flying through the air and then think of some
place to run to, and you have an idea of what it was that night.  To be
sure, many were saved one way and another, while several hundred [1200]

      You may ask what I done with all my money.  $40.00 was used for me
to go to Oconto and back here, and it was while back there I got the
most of those cloths, so considerable money was spent before some for
medicine and clothes and some for travling etc.

      Loo has not been well since the fire to speak of and the neighbors
here thought Linnie would never get well but we have the very best kind
of Dr. here.  Linnie was just 7 months old the day of the fire.  My old
English leather pocket book with those English letters is safe.  If you
have any neighbors who anxious to know more about the fire read this to
them and write as soon as you get this.  Loo sends her love to all, and
I send same.  Address as I headed this letter.

 From your affectionate son
 Geo Foreman

Jan. 18.  Loo has had another attack of headache today.  O! how she has
suffered.  The Dr. was here again.  She is very weak and sick.  I will
write again soon but you write when you get this.    George.
The preceeding is an exact rendering of the copy of the "Fire Letter" that my Grandfather, A. E. Herriman, past on to us.  The only conscience difference is that where George underlined a word I have put the word in parenthesis, due to software.

What follows is the location of the land George was homesteading.  It is now located in Marinette Co. Wisconsin.

Patentee Name: Foreman, George
Accession Number: WI1780__.422
State: Wisconsin
Volume: 1780
Page: 422
Document Number: 437
Land Office: Menasha
Aliquot Part Reference: SESE
Section Number: 12
Township: 29 North
Range: 21 East
Meridian/Survey Area: Fourth Principal Meridian
Misc. Document Number: 626
Act/Treaty Authorizing Sale: Homestead Entry Orig.
Date Signed: May 15, 1876
Acreage: 40.00

The Foreman family survived the Peshtigo Fire. George Foreman took his family to Blue Earth City, Minnesota after the fire. They eventually settled in Cisco, Eastland County, Texas. Lucy “Loo” died at the age of 40 in 1886. George died in 1917. He was 75 years old. “Linnie” lived in Crescent City, California and died at the age of 74 in 1945.