Good Samaritan rewarded

The family of J. E. Beebe—he, his wife, and four children—were running for the river. Both parents and three of the children were struck down by the flames, but the four-year-old daughter was unhurt. She was seen and snatched up by a cobbler, Fred Guse, who carried her to the river. She clung to his shoulders while he found some protection in the deep water. His face and neck were burned, but the child was unharmed.

This child’s mother was the daughter of Governor Henry P. Baldwin of Michigan. When he came to Peshtigo to claim his granddaughter, he heard the story of her rescue. In gratitude, he gave Guse $500—enough money in those days that he was able to establish a business in Chicago.

Governor Baldwin also saw areas of his state burn on the same day as the Peshtigo Fire. On both sides of the state, 23 townships had burned, and another 18 townships were partially destroyed. Holland, Manistee, and Port Huron were especially hard hit. Fourteen thousand square miles were blackened and it is unknown how many people died (estimates range from 50 to over 1,000). Thousands were left destitute.