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Category: History

Door County is rich in history, from its most prominent founding citizens to the business leaders who embraced tourism to make it the destination it is today. It’s a history of orchards, farming, and fishermen, but also of potters, artists, and writers. But more than anything, it’s a history told in the lives of the remarkable people who’ve called it home for a spell or a lifetime. Door County Pulse tells them all.

  • Pioneer Store, Dan Eggert

    The Center of Life in Ellison Bay

    The sign above the front porch has read Pioneer Store for 40 years, but if you ask almost any resident of Ellison Bay if you could find a needed item at Ruckert’s, they’d know just what you meant. And the answer would likely be “yes” – whether you were referring to the store of 2008 […]

  • Billerbeck Field Re-dedicated

    Gibraltar High School re-dedicated Billerbeck Field to its namesake, Rod “Chief” Billerbeck, Thursday, May 15 in a pre-game ceremony. Billerbeck coached the team for nearly three decades and led the Vikings to 17 conference championships, as well as the school’s only team sport state championship in 1979.

  • Das ist alles mein!: Dr. Herman Welcker and the Rise of Fish Creek

    One way to leave a lasting impression on a small village is to build an imposing building in the center of it. Or better yet, find that building far away, drag it across the frozen lake, and reconstruct it where it will stand over 100 years later. This was what Dr. Herman Welcker did in […]

  • Land of Midnight Sun Comes to Light in Door County: Scandinavian traditions in the Door

    Scandinavians staying in Door County have been known to experience a more friendly type of “Stockholm Syndrome” whereby the affected travels thousands of miles to feel as if he never left home. Case-in-point is recent Swedish immigrant Helene Ingsten-Anderson, owner of Flora Special Occasion Flowers in Sister Bay, who sees glimpses of her homeland at […]

  • Door County’s Old Ski Hills: Warm Memories of Cold Winter Fun

    Many Door County locals experience a wave of nostalgia every time they drive past Little Sweden on Highway 42 between Egg Harbor and Fish Creek. A quick glance in the direction of those rolling hills brings back fond memories of a crackling fireplace, knit caps, seeing your breath in the cold air, lace-up boots and […]

  • Peninsula State Park: A Portrait of What Door County Used to Be

    “Let the State of Wisconsin give to its children this vast playground, where the old, and tired, and worn may grow young in spirit and rested in body, nursed by the purity of Nature’s medicine, and where the young may romp and their bodies grow strong among the wonders of scenic beauty.” – Assemblyman Thomas […]

  • Gratitude is Attitude: Uncle Tom’s

    It’s not unusual for the soul searcher to pull up roots and start a new life in a new place. A man compelled to search for peace and quiet might pack his things, travel as far north as possible, turn right at the farmer’s field onto a quiet, seldom traveled road, and hole up in […]

  • Preserving a Community’s History: Ephraim Foundation

    Founded in 1853, Ephraim is historically significant on many levels, not least of which is its status as one of the oldest organized communities in Door County. Today, the village’s more than 150 year-old history and the story of its early settlement are preserved through the dedicated efforts of the Ephraim Historical Foundation, established in […]

  • Sturgeon Bay’s 3rd Avenue: Past and Present

    In 1850, Oliver Perry Graham built a log cabin on the east shore of Sturgeon Bay, the wilderness of northeastern Wisconsin. The rugged landscape – dense forests, treacherous waters, rocky fields – was challenging, as well as intimidating. But the early settlers were hearty immigrants who recognized opportunity. Shortly after his arrival, Graham was joined […]

  • The Legends of Death’s Door: Crossing between fact and fancy

    In Door County, heritage and history seep from every place imaginable. A sense of ancestry drips from the names painted upon mailboxes and carved into roadside placards, while each row of cherry trees in an orchard draws lines back to earlier days. These elements speak to the history of this place as much as the […]

  • Ice Harvesting in Door County’s Early Years

    For nearly a century, private homes and businesses in Door County relied on ice harvested from Green Bay or Lake Michigan for refrigeration purposes.

  • Prohibition Era in Door County

    As the harsh Door County winter settled in shortly before Thanksgiving in 1933, John R. Seaquist addressed the Door County Council of Religious Education at the Ephraim Moravian Church. On that 19th day of November, just two weeks before the repeal of the 18th Amendment would be ratified, Seaquist pledged his organization “to do all […]

  • The First Door County Residents: Native American Tribes in Door County

    Before Swedes or Norwegians; before Moravians or Belgians. Before Captain Bailey or Increase Claflin; even before French explorers such as Nicolet and Radisson, who began visiting the area in the 17th Century. For hundreds of years before European exploration and settlement in the Great Lakes region of what we now call the United States, indigenous […]

  • The Legacy of an Industry: Quarrying for Stone in Door County

    A deep dive into the history and legacy of the quarrying industry in Door County, one of the peninsula’s first exports.

  • Faces of the Past: Chester Thordarson

    One of the most fascinating characters in Door County’s history has to be Chester Thordarson, particularly where Rock Island is concerned. Born in Iceland in 1867, Thordarson immigrated with his family to Milwaukee when he was nearly six years old. Chester and his family moved throughout the Midwest and by the time he was 20, […]

  • Finding “Door County Beautiful”: One historian’s discovery of the roots of tourism

    For any tourist destination such as Door County, marketing the place and what it has to offer is absolutely essential. The medium for delivering the message has commonly fallen to some form of ephemera. Ephemera is printed matter intended to be of use and value for only a very short period of time. Current examples […]

  • Passing along History: Two Local Women Team up for Book on Sturgeon Bay’s Past

    History, like languages, can be lost unless passed on through word-of-mouth or written documentation. Sturgeon Bay’s beginnings could become whispers of a time that once was, but with the help of two employees at the Door County Museum, Ann Jinkins and Head Curator Maggie Weir, along with the Arcadia Press, future generations who reside in […]

  • Location and Longevity: A History of Two Cheese Factories in Door County

    It seems that no matter how many yellowed pages are flipped back through the history books, Door County is remembered for growing fruit. However, cherry and apple blossoms are not the only agriculture to speckle the horizons of Door County’s history. Door County has had a rich, agricultural tradition over the years which includes contributing […]

  • Noble House, Doug Blahnik, Door County, Fish Creek

    The Alexander Noble House in “Olde Towne” Fish Creek

    “A jolly good town is old Fish Creek, The best on the pike I know: With its back to the rock and its face to the sea, Where the rollicking breezes blow. As snug as a bug in an old woolen rug, It lies there embowered in green: You may go where you like, on […]

  • “Grudge” – the Enduring Rivalry between Sister Bay and Baileys Harbor

    The annals of sport are filled with storied rivalries. They’re called clashes, battles, and feuds. In Door County League baseball, one of the best is referred to simply as the “Grudge.” It’s Sister Bay versus Baileys Harbor – Bays versus A’s, North versus South. And in its heyday, it featured as much intensity as an […]