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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Hold Service - A large crowd attended closing ceremonies honoring victims of the Peshtigo Fire Friday, Oct. 8. Once back at the museum, members of the Peshtigo Historical Society read accounts of the Peshtigo Fire and told stories about life 150 years ago. Pastor Nate Reed of Peshtigo Methodist Church said a prayer in remembrance of those lost in the fire. Top Photo; Sally Kahl, far right reads an account of the Peshtigo Fire to start the service at the Fire Museum, Friday. Pictured left to right; Paige Frappier Potkay, Jasmine Clement, Pietra Biundo Barahkshani, Allen Brey, Wendy Kahl and Sally Kahl. Bottom Left Photo Pastor Nate Reed says a prayer for those lost in the fire while Mary Lock and Wendy Kahl look on. Bottom Right Photo; Mary Jo Seidl lights a candle during the candlelight service at the museum.

Over 200 Attend Historical Commemoration Service

Issue Date: October 14, 2021

Approximately 200 people turned out for the Peshtigo Historical Society service honoring victims of the Peshtigo Fire, Friday Oct. 8. People lined up early at River Front Park to recognize the victims of the Peshtigo Fire. Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Malke welcomed everyone to start the program. She started her welcome by saying honored guests, neighbors and friends, welcome to the 150th Anniversary of the Peshtigo Fire. I am grateful for the presence of so many of you here today and I want to thank you for joining us on the most solemn day of remembrance in the history of the City of Peshtigo. We gather to pay tribute to those men, women and children who lived and died in the worst fire in our Nation's history, unfortunately it happened right here in the exact spot you are standing. Citizens of Peshtigo reflect on the fire every time we see the church tower in the center of the city, or we walk past the cemetery where a mass grave of souls lost in the fire rest nameless, and there is no getting across the Peshtigo River without thinking of the people that fled there to escape the fire.

In times of tragedy much hurt; and much good can unite people. 150 years ago today some survived, many did not, many souls buried in common mass graves, yet one thing is for certain, survive or not, they were all in it together. We are held to deliver on a promise which comes unsaid as citizens of Peshtigo; our promise to never forget, our promise to always remember those who lived and those who died. Yes we are built from the ashes of that fire, but what Peshtigo is really built on is human perseverance, courage, determination and pride. In closing we remain bound to an internal link of commitment to our city's heritage backed by our most precious treasure, our people, 150 years ago, our people today, and our people of the future.

After the opening welcome, Mary Jo Seidl gave a brief overview on the fire and the aftermath. Allen Brey read from Father Pernin's account of the fire and Wendy Kahl and Mary Lock also spoke briefly about events 150 years ago. Mary Jo Seidl and Mary Lock then placed a wreath near the river honoring those that perished 150 years ago. Kay Waddingham then sang Amazing Grace and a candlelight walk proceeded to the Peshtigo Fire Museum. Members of the Peshtigo Fire and Police Departments blocked traffic and escorted walkers to the Fire Museum.

Once at the Museum, a short program and prayer service took place followed by the official ringing of the bell at 8 p.m., closing the days activities. Church bells rang throughout the city in remembrance of the fire. One of the speakers said that the church had bell sounded 150 years ago to alert citizens of the approaching fire storm and the bell ringing continues today. There are mixed accounts of the number of people who died in the Peshtigo Fire but most people believe it exceeded 1500 people.


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