From First Americans to Euroamericans
— Archaeology and History of the WIS
Jean Nicolet was among the first Europeans to arrive in
Wisconsin, landing on the eastern shore of Green Bay near Red Banks in 1634. He was followed by Claude Allouez in 1639 and Father Louis Hennepin in 1675.
For the next 200 years, American Indian groups including the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and Potawatomi shared the regions resources with Euroamerican explorers and settlers.
Door County's first community was settled by Increase and Mary Ann Claflin in 1835. Claflin came form New York via Ohio and New Orleans finally settling first in Kaukauna and then in Little Sturgeon Bay. Many later immigrants settled along Bay Settlement Road (now WIS
57). Conflicts increased between Euroamericans and Indians due to differing lifestyles and increased demand for farmland. Ultimately, most Native Americans were removed from the
Door Peninsula by the mid-1800s according to the terms of treaties signed by tribes and the U.S. government.
Immigrants from Belgium began to settle the Door Peninsula and cleared land for farming in the 1850s. The disastrous 1871 wild fire that burned Peshtigo also burned much of the Door Peninsula. After the fire, Belgian settlers built distinctive red brick houses and roadside chapels. Many Belgian families supplemented farming income by manufacturing handmade wooden shingles.
Following the Civil War, many of the established Belgian settlements grew into large towns and WIS
57 provided the transportation infrastructure necessary to connect these settlements. Today, some 20 percent of Door County residents can claim Belgian ancestry.
The area around the town of Namur strongly reflects the
ethnic Belgian presence on the Door Peninsula and the
continuing residence by Belgian-American families. The
Namur-Brussels area has been designated a National
Historic Landmark District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
logos of United States Department of Transportation, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Department of Transportation