First News Story - 2

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[From the Eagle Extra of Oct. 9th]

The fires which have been lurking in this vicinity for weeks have at last culminated in the holocaust of destruction. Last night the wind raised and blew fearfully from the south. The swamp lying back of Dr. Hall's became ignited, and the flames spread through it with inconceivable rapidity.

The fire was about three fourths of a mile distant from Marinette, and shooting above the tallest tree tops, lit up the whole country with a fierce lurid glare. The fire fiend was holding high carnival having selected the towns of Peshtigo, Marinette and Menekaune as its prey. Every available force that could be brought to bear, to stay the force of the fire was brought into requisition.

Standing out on the Peshtigo road, we were a witness to the awful scene. The fire swept through the swamp and destroyed several out buildings in the rest of the Boom Co.'s place and Dr. Hall's together with a large barn containing nearly 100 tons of hay. The hay was the property of Mr. Bentley of Marinette. At this time the direction of the wind changed rapidly blowing from several points of the compass alternately. First from the south-west, then from the west, then from the north-west, then back again to the south, during which time we were visited by a series of whirlwinds which showered cinders and sparks in every conceivable direction. The fire having partly spent its fury here, cries of distress were heard down the river in the direction of the mouth. Steam whistles of the mills and tugs in the harbor blew the first alarm, and every man that could be spared went to the scene of disaster. From the rear of J. S. Dickey's store in the direction of the Bay all was one broad lurid sheet of flame as far as the eye could reach.

At this time no hopes were entertained of saving anything. Men worked with the energy of despair.

Sickening rumors came up from the scene of the devastations of the fire fiend. Rumors that Menekaune was destroyed — the catholic church, the Union School house, McCarney & Hamilton's mill, Bagley & Curry's sash, door & blind factory, a new and splendid edifice just completed and in operation, and the whole lower part of Marinette were in flames. In company with A. M. Fairchild we were driven to the forks of the road leading to Menekaune.

Just below the Marinette Iron Works, the fire was raging so fearfully, that it was impossible to go any further. It was evident that the rumor[s] which we had heard were alas too true, with the exception that the buildings in the lower portion of Marinette, were not yet in flames. The fire had burned clear up to the fences, and here by the hardest work, its progress was stayed.

The streets were lined with men, women and children fleeing for their lives. Many of the families were engaged in making excavations in the sand and burying their household goods. Any quantity of goods was hauled over on to the Island. The sick were being removed to places of safety, and thus, with alternate hope and despair, the long, weary hours of the night wore away.

The wind had at least settled to blowing steadily from the south west, but still it blew with tremendous fury, and the flames in the swamp immediately in the rear of the town, raged with corresponding fearfulness.

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Transcribed from the Marinette and Peshtigo Eagle
Published on Saturday, October 14, 1871

Cite as: Deana C. Hipke. The Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871. <http://www.peshtigofire.info/>
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