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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter I: The first Belgian pioneers,   pp. [9]-16 PDF (132.9 KB)

Page [9]

BETWEEN Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is
a large tract of beautiful farming country-about a dozen
contiguous townships in all-which is populated almost ex-
clusively by people of Belgian origin. It is by far the largest
rural settlement of people of this nationality in America.
Three generations of people have lived and toiled here since
this land was reclaimed from the wilderness, but there are
still a few old men and women, now approaching a hun-
dred years in age, who remember how this region appeared
when they and their parents penetrated into the vast prime-
val forest that covered it eighty years ago. It is principally
from these survivors of the first pioneers that this brief
record of their early experiences has been gathered.
    The first Belgian known to have visited Wisconsin was
Father Louis Hennepin who was born in Ath in the province
of Hainault. He came to America in 1675 and took a promi-
nent part in exploring the West. In 1679 he became one of
the chaplains in Robert LaSalle's expedition to explore the
Mississippi river. He was the first man to describe Niagara
Falls near which point LaSalle built his vessel, the Griffin.
With the rest of the party he sailed on this first vessel to ply
the uncharted waters of the Great Lakes to Washington
Island, their destination, at the north end of the Door
County peninsula. From this point the Griffin started back

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