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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Fire Commemorative Ceremony at Peshtigo City Hall Oct. 8th

Issue Date: October 4, 2018

Remembering the 147th Anniversary of the deadliest fire in our Nation's history doesn't take much when you're living in the very same town that was ravaged by the flames. That town was Peshtigo, Wisconsin.  Peshtigo has become synonymous with the word "fire" and for good reason.  The deadly night of October 8, 1871 in two hours a horrific fire destroyed a swath of forest 10 miles wide and 40 miles long and obliterated the town of Peshtigo killing almost all of its inhabitants, as well as almost every living thing for miles around it, stated Beverly Doucette, program director for the Remembering Ceremony.

 The commemoration ceremony will take place at Peshtigo City Hall on Monday, Oct. 8 at 1 P.M. It is dedicated to the memory of all who perished in the fire, and to honor those who survived immense pain and hardships yet found the endurance and stamina to rebuild Peshtigo from the ashes.

 Though the human death toll will never be known, when you consider the number of Euro Americans alongside their Native American contemporaries who lived here, it is probable the number could easily be in the range of 1,500 dead.  Many more were seriously injured and some reports say at least 3,000 were made homeless. Temperatures reaching 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit obliterated the entire village including the Menominee Indian settlements and farming families of the Sugar Bush areas. Like the ashes of victims blown away in the wind, the numbers of lives lost no one will ever know.

Every year memorials are held in remembrance of the tragedy and the loss of thousands of lives that day will not be lost in this year's remembrance ceremony. The fire also produced countless stories of heroics and courage and it is fitting that this year tribute be paid to those who found the strength and determination not to give up through the worst of times a human being could encounter.

On the night of Oct. 8, 1871 people fled in terror down the streets of Peshtigo seeking to escape death by jumping into the Peshtigo River. Somehow some survived to rebuild Peshtigo. On the night of Oct. 8, 2018 people walk leisurely down the streets of Peshtigo and sit along the banks of the Peshtigo River enjoying its beauty. It has been said that you're not truly dead until no one utters your name or you are simply forgotten. Peshtigo remembers, Peshtigo will always remember.

Program Schedule for the Remembrance Ceremony of the 蕣th Anniversary of the "Great Peshtigo Fire," Monday, Oct. 8th Peshtigo City Hall (public should bring chairs for the outside program): Starts at

*1 P.M. with presentation of colors, by Peshtigo American Legion 312 under Commander Bill Warren;

*Peshtigo Police and Fire Personnel will stand honor guard at the flag raising;

*"National Anthem" by the Peshtigo High School Choir with Director Jacob Hickey; "Pledge of Allegiance" will be read by a member of the Peshtigo High School Rho-Kappa history class, teacher Amy Shields;

*Invocation by:  Rev. Archer Leupp of Faith Church, Peshtigo;

*Mayor Cathi Malke will read the message from Congressman Mike Gallagher about the significance of the flag now flying over Peshtigo City Hall.

The flag was flown over the US Capital in honor of the Peshtigo Fire.)

 Mayor Malke will introduce the representatives who will be presenting various proclamations to the City of Peshtigo, as well as other invited guests. They include:

Representatives for US Congressman Gallagher, US Senator Tammy Baldwin, and US Ron Senator Johnson, Rep. John Nygren for Governor Scott Walker,Senator Dave Hanson - Wisconsin State Senate District 30, Rep. John Nygren - Wisconsin State Assembly District 89, Rep. Jeff Mursau - Wisconsin State Assembly District 36, Representatives of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin will also be present.

Bev Doucette will read the essay about the Menominee Indians.

Mayor Malke, Rep. Jeff Mursau along with representatives from the various Wisconsin government offices will pay special tribute to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin recognizing the Menominee Native Americans who died and suffered in the Peshtigo Fire. The Menominee Indians are credited for saving many lives of the European Americans during and after the fire. The Menominee Indians also saved the home of Indian agent Abram Place and his Menominee wife, Elizabeth from burning and that house was the only one standing after the fire and became the only field hospital in the area. The Europeans and Menominee went out into areas around the Place residence and aided the dying and injured to the house where the Menominee Indians continued to offer care to all who showed up.

 The "Memorial" program continues,

*Bev Doucette will share a brief history covering the day before the fire, the day of the fire and the day after the fire.

*Rev. Leupp will ask for a Moment of Silence and say a prayer".with comment and the band will play a selection.

*Peshtigo High School Band under the direction of Alex Sheffield will present a "Memorial Tribute" in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

 Invitation only for the program inside City Hall. After the 20 minute ceremony the public will be allowed in.

The program will then adjourn into City Hall Council Chambers for the unveiling and presentation of a "Peshtigo Fire Memorial Quilt."

Bob and Vicky Hermans of Combined Locks spent the past year traveling to Peshtigo numerous times doing research with the assistance of Bev Doucette, Kathy Crabtree and Mayor Malke to secure pictures, stories, and other material about the fire to create a pictorial compilation of the "Great Peshtigo Fire." Many of the pictures and stories on the quilt have never been made public in 147 years. The quilt will remain on display in City Hall for visitors to see it.

Stories of Peshtigo Fire victims will be read by the Peshtigo High School Rho-Kappa History Club following the unveiling. (*Victims include both European Americans and Native Americans who perished in the fire, and the victims who escaped death but little of the effects the fire that remained a part of their lives.")

After the ceremony the Mayor will have a private tour of the Peshtigo Fire Museum and Cemetery for invited guests.

 Participants in the ceremony include: Beverly Doucette and Kathy Crabtree - Co-Organizers; Mayor Cathi Malke; Peshtigo Legion Post 312; Peshtigo City Police Department; Peshtigo Fire Department; Town of Peshtigo Fire Department; Rev. Archer Leupp - Faith Church, Peshtigo; PHS Rho-Kappa: Amy Shields; PHS Band: Alex Shuffield; PHS Choir: Jacob Hickey; Vicki and Robert Hermans; Lyle Lange " Sound System; Tracy Mangold " Photography/Public Relations; Peshtigo Times - Media; and Kris Karpowicz " Grounds, logistics and seating.


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
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