Separation and reunion

Some survivors suffered for hours or even days, agonizing over the unknown fate of their loved ones.

Charles Albrecht lived with his wife and three children in a house on Emery Street, west of the Peshtigo River. He worked as a carpenter and at the time of the fire was employed on a project near the Peshtigo Harbor. His oldest, nine-year-old Louise, was keeping Mrs. Friedrich Aust company at the Aust farm in the Lower Sugar Bush. Mr. Aust was also away, cutting hay near the harbor. With all the talk of fires, she did not want to be alone.

When the fire approached the house, Mrs. Aust and Louise ran to nearby Trout Creek. Though the creek bed was almost dry, the two found a pool of water and immersed themselves.

Meanwhile, back in town, Mrs. Albrecht, though worried about her husband and elder daughter, focused on saving four-year-old Mary and baby Louis. They also found refuge in the same Trout Creek near its junction with the Peshtigo River,  several miles from where her daughter was huddled (now near the location of the middle/high school).

The harbor was east of the path the fire took, so Charles Albrecht survived. Mr. Aust, however—though also working in the harbor area—is thought to have succumbed to the gases that accompanied the fire. He is buried in a small cemetery on Bundy Creek.

It is impossible to comprehend the agony and horror Mr. Albrecht suffered as he walked back to town, looking for his family in the bodies he came upon. And to imagine the joy when the whole family was reunited.

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