Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.
Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.
My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest – and sometimes further North – so I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a Sunday feature.
This week’s cemetery is Pioneer Cemetery in Door County, WI. The private cemetery is located Peninsula State Park in the small community of Fish Creek. It was the first state park established in Wisconsin.
Door County was made up of Native American Indians until the arrival of the first white settlers, Increase and Mary Ann Claflin who built their log cabin (the first in the county) in Little Sturgeon Bay in 1835. Claflin was a trapper and Indian trader.
Like his grandfather and father, he too was in the military having enlisted before he was 17 and served in the War of 1812. In his early life, he lived in such places as Cleveland OH and New Orleans, before permanently settling north in Wisconsin.
Claflin was very self-sufficient, producing practically everything his family ate and wore on his farm. He also had a great business relationship with his Indian neighbors and was quite popular with them.
Claflin retired in Fish Creek, where he was also the first white settler. He died in March 1868; his wife Mary Ann died five years later. The couple had seven children: Sarah, Adelia, Albert, Charles, Mary, Maria and William.
Little Sturgeon Bay pays tribute to Claflin with a 17,000-pound granite boulder located at the Door County Historical Society. The accompanying plaque has the inscription: In memory of Increase Claflin, Door County’s first pioneer who settled here in 1835.
Until next time….