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More to Belgian migration than Peshtigo Fire

The Belgian Heritage Center remembered the Great Peshtigo Fire this weekend but there is more to the immigration story, both trial and triumph, than that one event. Historian Barb Chisholm says that many Belgian immigrants found the terms of their passage to Wisconsin changed at Castle Gardens, the predecessor of Ellis Island.

 


Chisolm's own relatives got delayed in Chicago where they worked for a year before finally scraping up enough cash to get to northeast Wisconsin. Once here, they learned that the thick forest would have to be clear cut and the stumps removed from the fertile soil before farming could begin in earnest.

 

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