Ghost Towns of Sugar Bush(es) and Williamson
These communities shared the same fate. Both were thriving communities on 7 Oct 1871. Sugar Bush was a series of communities near the larger community of Peshtigo.
Williamson was a community of 77 people across Green Bay from Peshtigo. Founded by brothers Tom and Fred Williamson who owned and operated a sawmill which primarily manufactured shingles. All of those in the community were either related to the Williamson brothers or employed by them.
On 8 Oct 1871 a tornado of fire, commonly referred as the Great Peshtigo Fire or Peshtigo Fire. The communities were destroyed. The devastation upon these smaller communities was beyond imagination.
In the Sugar Bushes, entire families were wiped out without a trace. Fleeing families hid in wells, rivers or attempted to bury themselves in the ground. Some drowned, some suffered from hypothermia overnight, some burned anyway. Those who survived dealt with the knowledge that many friends and relatives didn't and had many physical scars as well.
In the community of Williamson, 60 people went to seek shelter in a field and all burned to death.
A marker along the roadside between Brussels and Sturgeon Bay at a park named "Tornado Park" reads: Here was the Village of Williamsonville with a population of 77 persons on October 8, 1871. This Village was blotted out by a tornado of fire. 60 persons sought refuge in an open field surrounding this spot and were burned to death.
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