As Peshtigo Fire Anniversary Nears, Belgian Heritage Center Remembers

Barb (Englebert) Chisholm will reprise her portrayal of her great-grandmother, Emmerence (Gaspard) Englebert, who survived the Great Fire in October 1871 for three presentations at the Belgian Heritage Center on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 am and Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10 am and 1 pm.

The massive forest fire which raged Oct. 8, 1871 in and around Peshtigo, as well as in southern Door County, greatly affected the Belgian settlement area. She will also tell the general story of the fire and how it influenced the area and its people. This is a story of courage, suffering and rebuilding lives after one of the worst natural disasters in United States history.  

Also on Sunday, Kathleen Ernst will speak about her new book, The Lace Maker’s Secret, a Chloe Ellefson mystery at 11:15 am. The book was inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the most devastating forest fire in American history.

Ernst is a bestselling author who has written several books including fiction, nonfiction and books for young readers. She will be available after her presentation to meet readers and sign books. The Lace Maker’s Secret and other books in the series will be available for purchase.

A chicken booyah lunch will be available for purchase, on Sunday only, following the morning presentations. All proceeds benefit the Belgian Heritage Center in its mission to preserve and promote the area’s unique culture, history and architecture.  

The Belgian Heritage Center is located at 1255 County Road DK, Brussels (the former St. Mary of the Snows Church in Namur). Learn more at  

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