Speaker series to focus on Peshtigo Fire

The Oconto County Historical Society will present its monthly speaker series program at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in the meeting room of the Beyer Home and Carriage Museum, 915 Park Ave., Oconto.

The October program will be on the Peshtigo Fire.

The Peshtigo Fire was a large forest fire on Oct. 8, 1871, in northeastern Wisconsin, including much of the southern half of the Door Peninsula and adjacent parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest community in the affected area was Peshtigo, which had a population of approximately 1,700 residents.

The fire burned about 1.2 million acres and is the deadliest wildfire in recorded history, with the number of deaths estimated between 1,500 and 2,500. Although the exact number of deaths is debated, mass graves, both those already exhumed and those still being discovered in Peshtigo and the surrounding areas, show that the death toll was much greater.

The program will be presented by Karen Vincent Humiston, a genealogist and family historian. Karen has researched the stories of hundreds of families involved in the Peshtigo Fire, on both sides of the bay. Her presentation will focus on several families and individuals — their lives leading up to the disaster and their experiences in it. The program will include lots of visual elements.

The program is free with light refreshments served.