The Swedish settlement lying between Sister Bay and Appleport is one of the prettiest farming sections in Door County. The land is gently rolling, comparatively free from stone and apparently very fertile. The improvements are substantial and neat. Altogether, this little part of the county will compare favorably with any part of the state.
When viewing this beautiful section of the county, it is hard to believe that practically all of it was a timbered wilderness as late as 1880. Yet such is the fact. The first settlers came there about 10 years earlier with no thought of farming. They came to make a temporary living as woodchoppers, believing that when the timber was cut, the value of the land was exhausted.
The history of the Swedish settlement begins with Gustav Carlson who in the fall of 1867, with a dozen other Swedes, came to Ephraim to cut wood for John Anderson, a member of the Norwegian community at Ephraim. He lived within a mile of Sister Bay but at that time there was no business of any kind at Sister Bay. These 13 Swedes the following winter all bunked in a shanty which stood on the land now owned by Charles Magnet. Gustav Carlson was farsighted and bought a tract of land north of Sister Bay. However, he and the other 12 woodchoppers left Door County in spring and did not return for any years.
In 1868 came another contingent of woodchoppers. Several of these bought land and became permanent settlers. Among these was Andrew Seaquist whose descendents are still living in the settlement. Andrew Seaquist was therefore, in one sense, the father of the settlement. He was a quiet, deeply religious man, unlike most of his wood-chopping countrymen who, under the conditions then existing, were a boisterous, carefree class of people.
In 1870, Sister Bay was opened up as a shipping point. A firm known as Henderson, Coon & Dimond built a pier at the head of Sister Bay. Thomas Dimond was the leading man in this business. A large sawmill and gristmill were built and two or three stores and a hotel were opened up. The company also owned much land. About 1878, Andrew Roeser, who came from Belgium, became the owner of the property. His son Adolph Roeser still owns and runs the mills and the pier. Due chiefly to the business brought in by Roeser’s gristmill and sawmill, Sister Bay became a place of great importance in the county and much business centered there. Being ambitious to magnify itself, the village was incorporated in 1912.
Across the bay on the east side, at the place still know as Wiltse’s pier, Judson and Archibald Wiltse built another pier around 1870. These brothers were from England, and Judson Wiltse was one of the first to clear a farm near Sister Bay. It is still in the possession of his son. Patrick Dimond had the farm now owned by John Lagerquist and built the house which is still in use and is the oldest house in this part of Liberty Grove.
(From History of Door County, Wisconsin/The County Beautiful—Volume I, by Hjalmar R. Holand, originally published in 1917, re-published in 1993 by Wm Caxton Ltd, 12037 Hwy 42, Ellison Bay, WI, 54210; 920.854.2955.)
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