Exploring the Library: Door County Historical Books Online

by Laura Kayacan, Adult Services Librarian, Door County Library

Two influential books of note for researching Door County’s history and people are History of Door County, Wisconsin: The County Beautiful by Hjalmar Holand and History of Door County, Wisconsin by Charles I. Martin. Both are available online in a number of locations, and you can find links at under Books and Articles.

The Holand book was published in 1917 in two volumes. Volume One includes a variety of subjects about Door County, such as its early explorers, first settlers, schools, churches, banks and newspapers. Learn about the county’s great rivalries between the train-transport contingent and the shipping-canal supporters as they played out in the newspapers of the early 1870s. This controversy included “furious mud-slinging,” and it was an important part of the opening of the Sturgeon Bay canal. Go to to read the original newspapers. 

Volume Two of Holand’s book lists important people in Door County, some with illustrated portraits. Holand, the inaugural head of the Door County Historical Society, also authored several other books, such as Old Peninsula Days and The Kensington Rune Stone.

Charles I. Martin wrote the other landmark book outlining early Door County families, people and events. His book, published in 1881, is an invaluable resource for the names and detailed relationships of early settlers in the area. There are also sketches of events, such as the Great Fire in Williamsonville in 1871. 

Of special interest is what happened to Charles Martin himself. An interesting character, he left in a boat from Menominee, Michigan, headed for Door County, and was never seen again.

In addition to these works, find many more historical books and articles about Door County at