You've probably heard about the Chicago Fire of 1871, but did you know the Peshtigo Fire started the same day? Peshtigo didn't get the same press -- being in northern Wisconsin and Michigan -- even though it was the worst recorded forest fire in North American history, taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives. You can see on this map of the fire area that Green Bay, Wisconsin, is just south of the damaged area.
Shortly after the 1870 census was recorded, Jan and Eva Piotrowska Janusz settled in Green Bay. On October 10, while the woods burned, their third child, Mary Ann, was born. (It would be more than a year later, on 2 Nov 1872, that her birth was recorded in the state records in Madison.)
Tragedy struck again on 26 January 1873 when Jan Janusz died. The death was entered in the state records on 31 Dec 1874 but no cause of death was listed. An illness? A farming or logging accident? Or the lingering effects from the smoke and ash endured 15 months earlier?
With 3 young children, Eva remarried in June 1873 and had 6 more children in the next 12 years with her second husband, Joseph Kroll. Still young at 53, Eva passed away 29 December 1901.
Martin Janusz, probably a brother of Jan's, lived in Milwaukee. Perhaps while visiting relatives, MaryAnn met Pawel Paprocki. They were married in Milwaukee the day after MaryAnn turned 21 — on 11 October 1892. Apparently, it was a love match. MaryAnn and Pawel had 12 children in the next 20 years.
MaryAnn's last child was born 11 October 1912 and named Paul Jr. Sadly, complications during the birth caused excessive bleeding and MaryAnn, at the much too young age of 41, passed away on 19 Oct 1912. She left 12 children who gave her 73 grandchildren (that I've identified so far).
I'm thrilled that I can introduce my grandchildren to their great-great-great grandmother, and that together we can speculate about the inbetween spaces of her life.
Happy Birthday, MaryAnn! – from your great-granddaughter, Denise