Letter Dated 8 September 1881, Parisville, Michigan

Lieber August,

Tuesday morning the nuns were here collecting for the poor. The sky looked shadowy and opaque. Our chickens had vanished. The horses were skittish. Then we smelled smoke.

August, it happened so fast! The forest to our west was burning! Wind carried sparks through the treetops, setting everything around us ablaze. Flames surrounded our hotel. There was no escape.

We fixed an icon of Our Lady to the front porch and raced back inside. We prayed.

Four hours the fire roared! Timbers creaked. Windows cracked. Heat blasted.

An unsettling silence followed. We opened the door and crept out past Our Lady. There was not a blister or burn on her. Yet the fire had consumed everything. Charred bodies of man and beast littered the landscape. The air reeked of soot and singed hide.

Miraculously the hotel was spared. It was the single structure left standing in the vast wasteland that was once Parisville.

We are grateful to be alive and to have lost nothing. But at times like this I wonder why I ever left home. First Papa. Now this. I need you more than ever. August, come to us!

We have been setting aside money for an emergency such as this. I have enclosed a draft on the American Exchange Bank for $350. At last you all can sail to America. Let me know when to expect you. Until then, I bless you all with the Holy Cross.

Deine Schwester,