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Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
([1997])

Introduction,   pp. v-[vi]


Page v

INTRODUCTION
One of the hallmark events in the history of Port Washington, Wisconsin,
was the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire which occurred on February
19, 1899. The fire completely destroyed the Chair Company factory
building and it also leveled six square city blocks of downtown Port
Washington. It threatened to consume the entire city and was a huge
financial blow to Port Washington.
I first became interested in the Chair Company fire after doing
geneological research. I discovered that the Martin & Wester Foundry,
owned and operated by my great-great grandfather's sister and brother,
Margaret (Wester) Martin and Michael Wester, was one of the other
businesses completely destroyed in the blaze. Margaret and Michael also
lost their homes in the fire, but their personal property was saved. These
findings lead me to greater curiosity and deeper research into the events
surrounding the Chair Company fire.
The following collection of writings about the fire offers a brief
history of the Wisconsin Chair Company, along with a compilation of
newspaper articles and other primary sources which describe the fire's
devastation and the chaos that followed it.
In reading this collection of writings, please note that I have
purposely and carefully left all spellings as in the original documents. Thus,
the reader might be struck by the numerous misspellings and variations of
spelling of personal names of individuals involved in the fire. I felt it
important to present all material, including spellings, misspellings, and
variations of names, as in the original.
It is my hope that this book will be of great interest to local history
enthusiasts and to the families of people who were employed over the years
at the Wisconsin Chair Company.
Fr. Kevin J. Wester


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