Williamsonville (or Williamson's
Mill) was a settlement in
the Town of Brussels (Door County, Wis.). It was centered around the sawmill run by Belgian
brothers Tom and
Fred Williamson, who were engaged primarily in shingle-making. All 77 residents of the community were either
members of the Williamson family or employees of their mill.
More than three quarters of them lost their lives in the fire.
Robert W. Wells
describes the tragedy of Williamsonville in detail (Embers of
October, p. 58-72). Listed in Manuscripts.)
Here is how Fred
J. Holmes described the memorial to the Williamsonville victims
concrete highway midway between Brussels and Sturgeon Bay is a
hill and valley section set aside as a memorial to the
pioneers of that tragic hour. It bears the name of
"Tornado Park." Before its entrance portals I paused
with uncovered head, and in humility copied from the inscribed
tablets this cryptic recital:
the Village of
Williamsonville with a population
of 77 persons on October 8, 1871.
This Village was blotted out by a tornado of fire.
60 persons sought refuge in an open field surrounding
this spot and were
burned to death.
From Old World
Wisconsin Chapter VIII, describing the Belgian communities
of Door County. Listed in Manuscripts.