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  • Johanna Foster Wyszynski (1819 - 1895)
    Lived through the great Chicago Fire of 1871 along with her husband, daughter and five grandchildren
  • Baron Eustace Wyszynski (c.1810 - 1891)
    Eustuchie Wgazynski was an artist of note and was educated in a Russian government school. Baron Eustace Wyszynski of Warsaw, who had been exiled by the Russians after the failed insurrection of 1830-1...
  • Adeline Hensley (1869 - d.)
    As a baby, she, her mother and 4 siblings survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871
  • Julia Lemos (1867 - d.)
    She, her mother and siblings lived through the great Chicago Fire
  • Nicholas Lemos (1865 - 1924)
    He and his mother and siblings lived through the Great Chicago Fire of 1871

Were your ancestors effected by this fire? Most are familiar with the Chicago fire. But Michigan and Wisconsin were also greatly effected.

The Chicago Fire of 1871 gets (justifiably) a great deal of attention. Something that is not as well known is the fact that it was only one of a number of major fires across the Midwest that burned millions of acres in October of 1871 and caused over 1200 deaths. The worst of these destroyed the city of Peshtigo, Wisconsin which killed over 800 people. Michigan was dealt grievous blows from “The Fiery Fiend” as fires swept across the state, wiping out or endangering entire cities, towns and villages including Holland, Manistee, Grand Rapids, South Haven and Port Huron doing millions of dollars worth of property damage and killing hundreds.

The Great Chicago Fire Wikipedia - Great Chicago Fire

The summer of 1871 was very dry, leaving the ground parched and the wooden city vulnerable. On Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, just after nine o'clock, a fire broke out in the barn behind the home of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary at 13 DeKoven Street. How the fire started is still unknown today, but an O'Leary cow often gets the credit.

Personal account of the Chicago fire by Anna Higginson

Related fires On the evening of October 8, 1871 the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through Northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and timberland, and taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives.

The great Midwestern city of Chicago also happened to endure a terrible fire that same fateful night, and for whatever reasons -- an irresistibly charming legend about a cow and a lantern among them -- the Chicago Fire became part of the national consciousness while the Peshtigo tragedy gradually slipped into obscurity, eventually remembered primarily by scholars, local "old-timers" and Wisconsin school children (who are required to study their state's history in the 4th grade).

In recent years America's "forgotten fire" has proven to be anything but. The tragedy is a subject of inquiry and debate among meteorologists, astronomers and conservationists. It has been dramatized by novelists and playwrights. It continues to fascinate history buffs and frustrate genealogists.

The Great Michigan Fire was a series of simultaneous forest fires in the state of Michigan in the United States in 1871. They were possibly caused (or at least reinforced) by the same winds that fanned the Great Chicago Fire; some believe lightning or even meteor showers may have started the fires. Several cities, towns and villages, including Holland, Manistee, and Port Huron, suffered serious damage or were lost. The concurrent Great Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin also destroyed several towns in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


A personal account

Port Huron, Michigan

More in Michigan

Largest fire losses in the United States - The 1871 Chicago fire is listed as number 3.