Eighty-five years ago on July 7, 1935, Door County held a centennial festival honoring Increase Claflin, Door County’s first pioneer, who settled here 100 years earlier, in the spring of 1835.
The celebration was held on the shore of Little Sturgeon Bay on the property owned by Charles Gustafson, who donated a small piece of his land to the Door County Historical Society. There was an unveiling of a huge granite boulder that had been placed there with a bronze plaque inscribed, “In memory of Increase Claflin, Door County’s first pioneer, who settled here in 1835.”
The celebration lasted all day, with a memorial service, presentations, speeches, stories, music, games and a one-act play titled A Powder Keg Peace, based on a near-deadly encounter that Increase once had with the Native Americans living there.
It seems as if people have forgotten our Door County history. The site is in terrible condition. It looks like a dump instead of a place of historical interest. The Claflin family purchased a number of shrubs and landscaped it themselves several years ago, and a bench was put there by the Gustafson family, but nothing is taken care of.
Tourists come to visit this historical site every year, and I feel that the Door County Historical Society should be responsible for maintaining this piece of property so it can be presented in a way that all of us who live in Door County can be proud of it.
Beverly Claflin Wages
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin