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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 IV: Pioneer experiences,   pp. [46]-57 PDF (2.2 MB)

Page 57

A new company was now formed consisting of Eli, Antoine
and Joseph Chaudoir. They rebuilt the mill the same year
and made it the largest grist mill in the county but only six
years later it was destroyed again.
    During the many years of wretched highways and no
railroads, traveling along the peninsula was chiefly done
by means of the steamboats. The first of these local steam-
ers was the side-wheeler Union whose captain was Tom
Hawkey. He acquired fame by means of the lugubrious trick
whistle of his boat which used to frighten Indians and Bel-
gians alike.
    The Hart Line, however, became the principal steam-
boat line. Captain Henry Hart was the captain of their
first steamer, the Welcome, but never was a vessel more
misnamed. Many Belgians, having saved up a little money,
would buy a ticket in Green Bay which provided transport-
ation from Antwerp clear through to Red River or Little
Sturgeon Bay. This they would send to Belgium to enable
a relative or friend to come and join them. But when the
stub of this ticket eventually was presented to Captain
Hart, he would toss it aside, declaring it was no good, and
insist on further payment. If any fuss was made he had
his mate, Joe Redline, at his elbow. This fellow with foul
mouth and steely eyes, as fierce as any ancient buccaneer,
always went around with his fists closed, itching to crash
into anybody with the exception of the captain who em-
ployed him.
    In the dining room of the boat was more of the same
"Welcome". At the head of the table sat burly Captain
Hart, silently devouring fried chicken while the passengers
with doubled disgust would try to swallow a little of the
strong corned beef that they had to be content with.

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