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«With Sherman Bay Addendum by Henry Scheig 1 Strange that so few ever come to the woods. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. ...»

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Compiled by Mary Clarke and Joanne Conklin

Original drawings by Mary Clarke

With Sherman Bay Addendum

by Henry Scheig


Strange that so few ever come to the


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.

— Henry David Thoreau 2






In 1969 the National Geographic Society discovered Door County, calling it “A Kingdom So Delicious.” One of the choicest morsels in this smorgasbord is the Glidden Drive area.

What past events occurred to develop this unique region?

Before Wisconsin was admitted to the Union in 1848, it was a wilderness under the dominion of the British and French, inhabited by Indians. In 1787 it became part of the Northwest Territory, then was organized into the Territory of Wisconsin in 1836. By that year there were transfers of titles in what is now Door County, including a one-fourth interest in 257 acres, for which the Territorial Governor paid $182.34. Enter the settlers and speculators!

In 1851 Door County was defined and organized as a county, and shortly the value of lands was fixed: improved lands $3 per acre; unimproved lands $2.50 per acre; pine lands $6 per acre.

3 The township of Laurieville was organized in 1860, but at a protest meeting, citizens were not in agreement with the name.

It was decided to choose the British name for the greatest battle of the Crimean War — Sebastopol. Later the Russian spelling was adopted, so it became Sevastopol.

Potawatomi Indians lived along the western shore of Lake Michigan, and had a summer camp in a clearing just south of the present Glidden Drive, now named Onanguisse. Years later settlers found hun- dreds of arrowheads, and pieces of deco- rated pottery in the sandy soil. Mr. Neville of the Neville Museum in Green Bay brought workmen to sift the sand for relics, which have been displayed in the museum.

The area was heavily wooded with virgin pine and cedar.

Before 1884 a lumber company owned by Mashek and Horn moved in to harvest the timber, hiring Indians and settlers from the region. They named the harbor “Lily Bay” for Mr. Horn’s daughter, Lily.

The firm built a large camp, erecting a steam mill, board- ing house, general store, blacksmithy, and a pier about 100 feet wide, which extended 400 to 500 feet into water twelve feet deep. Using both sides of the pier, as many as nine ships at a time could dock, be loaded with logs and lumber, and set sail for lake ports. On the shore, awaiting transport, lumber was piled eight feet high. Pine logs, thicker than a man’s body, cost $3.00 a thousand.

4 Because Green Bay waters froze in winter, Goodrich boats from Chicago docked at Lily Bay with supplies for Sturgeon Bay stores, and these goods were hauled to town by horse and wagon.

When the railroad bridge was to be built across the waters of Sturgeon Bay, extending the Ahnapee and Western Railway Co. into town in 1894, all of the iron and steel for the bridge arrived at Lily Bay, and was hauled to town by the father of John Wester, grandfather of Ed and Ted Wester, whom we will meet again in the next century.

The company store carried shoes, yard goods, groceries, and in the basement, barrels of sugar, vinegar, and whiskey. On St. Patrick’s Day the green flag was raised above the store, and glasses of whiskey were hoisted in the camp.

In 1894 the lumber company moved its operations to Whitefish Bay, leaving the pier, whose upper structure was destroyed in a few years by winter storms. Small pine and cedar trees, and pine stumps four feet in diameter remained, as well as the boarding house, which was eventually razed. Parts of it were used to build a cabin at Onanguisse.

One of the colorful characters living north of the camp was Joe Mardin, a Civil War veteran. He had bought land near Shivering Sands Creek in 1893, where he built a shack. South of the creek he planted apple trees, some of which still remain, though his vegetable garden and hay fields have been completely overgrown.

5 He was known as “Wildcat Joe Mardin” because he trapped wildcats, then collared and chained them near his shanty. He also captured skunks, using their oil on his long, braided hair, which was trimmed with ribbon. He was very generous with his menagerie, taking it to county and state fairs, and send crates of skunks to the Chicago World’s Fair on a “Wildcat Joe Mardin” Goodrich steamer. The vessel pitched, the skunks objected, as did the captain, throwing crates and occupants overboard.

Two years after he purchased the property Joe announced that nothing less than $500,000 would be an inducement to sell.

He envisioned the area as a “capital place for a summer resort.” To further the idea he built a four-story hotel, using lumber he found on the beach, fastened with bolts, spikes, wire and twisted iron. He named it “Castle Romance,” but for whom? Pigs occupied the lowest floor, geese were on the second. The third was furnished with beds, chairs, a stove, and a piano for the comfort and entertainment of guests. Pet ducks nested on the top floor penthouse.

6 For some time he was busy building a bridge over the creek for the convenience of all, and planning a system of boulevards to, and around Mud Lake. Perhaps that was his last dream, for in 1909 he was found in his rocking chair, with his feet in the oven.

Since there was no foundation under the hotel, it soon collapsed, to musical accompaniment.

The Joe Mardin property — 43 acres — was purchased at auction by the Reverend Samuel Groenfeldt, the father of Reverend John Groenfeldt, who lives just south of Glidden Drive at Onanguisse. The only access to Joe’s property was an overgrown logging trail, so the elder Groenfeldt drove his horse and buggy along the beach. Choosing Joe’s favorite site and using the best of the lumber from “Castle Romance,” he built the first summer home on Glidden Drive in 1913.

The Groenfeldts didn’t have too long a buggy ride to get the celebrated whitefish at Wester’s. John Wester had purchased a commercial fishing business just north of Onanguisse in 1904. The catches were abundant, and he shipped barrels of salted whitefish and herring to cities along the lake The water at the pier which he had built was too shallow for a lake steamer to dock, so he had to sail out to the larger boat, transfer the heavy barrels of fish, and pick up the large bags of salt and other supplies. No small task for one man!

By the time his boys, Ed and Ted, were old enough to help, trucks could come some distance from the fish shanty, and be

7 Wester's fishing dock

loaded by boy-power. With all of their labor, the Westers received one or two cents a pound for the fish.

After the railroad came to town they packed the fish in ice, which they obtained from Mud Lake, and took the boxes to the depot. As roads improved, the fish were picked up by truck and taken to Chicago.

In 1928 the sons took over the business from their father.

Ted bought a box mill, and supplied boxes to fishermen from Two Rivers to Gills Rock. After about twenty years Ted sold his share of the fishing business to his brother, Ed, but kept the box factory.

Later he acquired a sawmill, and used that to make boxes, and to saw lumber. His father helped to nail boxes until he was over ninety years of age. Eventually Ted sold the sawmill, but usually wandered over to observe the success of his proteges.

8 During Ed’s fishing days, while she was able, his wife, Lucille had a small store near the fish house, which carried a few staples, soft drinks, and goodies. The real attraction was the slot machine, in which many a coin disappeared, and a few reappeared.

Ed fished for thirty-seven years, until it became unprofitable. Then in addition to selling sand, which the lake waves deposited on his shore, he agreed to be caretaker for homes, and for the easements along the Drive. His fish house was a haven for men from the Drive, where they swapped stories, bought bait and smoked chubs, had their catches cleaned, and lifted a glass.

Chubs became too expensive to sell, but the lure of Wester’s Fish House continued as a place to get fishing equipment, to launch a boat, or learn to tie knots from an expert.

The sawmill

9 John Wester was at rest from his many years of labor in 1970. Ed’s booming voice was stilled in 1977, and Ted’s quiet chuckle and generous nature were missed by all, when he died in 1990. But that little corner of Door County will always be known as “Westers,’” at the beginning of Glidden Drive.

Ted Wester with German Brown Trout In the midtwenties Orrin Glidden, a banker from Michigan City, Indiana visited Door County, staying in Egg Harbor. Always an entrepreneur, he became interested in the development of property west of Alpine Resort. He bought into that expansion, and originated the golf course, which was taken over by Alpine in later years.

In 1928 he purchased lakeshore property south of the Whitefish Bay community. Glidden realized that the stretches of sand beach, heavily wooded land, and cool summers would attract those seeking a perfect location for vacation homes. He hired Ewald Schmock, also from Michigan City, to build a narrow, winding road through the tract.

–  –  –

pulled onto the turntable, which was then rotated. That vehicle was loaded, and pulled off to make room for the next. Sticks and stones probably broke their bones, but the one-track road was completed in 1929, conforming to Ewald’s design.

–  –  –

The southern end of Glidden Drive from Westers’ to Goldenrod Lane was subdivided into lots sixty feet wide, and named “Long Beach Plat” — another tie to Indiana. Mr.

Glidden Realized the need for restrictions to preserve this prime area, and his foresight has maintained Glidden Drive as a tribute to his name.

With the advent of the Depression Mr. Glidden was unable to retain the property. He died in 1933 after a year’s illness, leaving his widow, son, and daughter. The Schmocks, with financial help from family members, were able to gain title to the land.

Their first experience as absentee landlords came with the remodeling and rental of the former Groenfeldt cottage, which they called “Shivering Sands.” That spurred them to enlarge 13 The Homestead to accommodate guests, and to build a couple of cottages on their grounds.

At the same time a few vacation and permanent homes were being built along Glidden Drive, which necessitated supplying electricity to the residences. In 1934 Sturgeon Bay Utilities began service at the south end of the Drive, going north as far as there were customers. Wisconsin Public Service began erecting their poles at the north end in 1935, working south.

Eventually they converged south of Goldenrod Lane, with W.P.S. beginning at 3999 Glidden Drive.

The road had been under the jurisdiction of the township, but in 1933 it became a county road. As larger trucks were being used for delivery of building materials, the Drive had to be widened and improved. One section had veered toward the lake

Glidden Lodge entrance

14 at Goldenrod Lane, going north along the shore for about 600 feet; then, turning away from the water, continued north through the woods. Because this stretch had washed out twice, it had to be rerouted to the present roadway.

There was a group twelve trees forming an island in the center of the road, which Babette had named, “The Twelve Apostles.” With the reconstruction, the apostles were removed and sent forth to spread the word.

By 1938 Ewald and Babette decided that theirs was an ideal spot for a summer lodge. They chose the site of the former workers’ camp for the hotel. With their innate hospitality, perserverance, and Babette’s genius for preparing luscious meals, how could they fail?

They were involved in every aspect of the construction, even to collecting and hauling beach stones that were used in the interior and exterior of the lodge, and in forming the decorative flower beds leading to the entrance.

In a short time more cottages were added, and guests were served three delicious meals each day in the lodge dining room, overseen by the cuckoo clock. Fresh flowers from Mama Schmock’s garden graced every table. A picnic lunch was provided for those away for the day.

Fishing parties appealed to early risers; tennis or hiking to those trying to balance the scale; to family groups —swimming or building sandcastles. After dinner, games, books, and puzzles were available in the lounge, or dancing to the jukebox in the recreation room. A cocktail lounge was added later. No wonder reservations were required much in advance. The Schmocks’ 15 personality, inspired by their German heritage, won friends who returned each year, bringing offspring and kin.

In the early 40’s Ewald requested that the gravel road be paved going past the lodge to eliminate dust. The Drive was blacktopped then, in 1½ mile stretches, as monies were available.

With permanent residents on Glidden Drive, the U.S.

Postal Service began its appointed rounds. Mail had been delivered as far as Westers,’ at first by horse and buggy.

Gradually the mechanized route was extended, going north on the Drive only as far as there were year-round homes. Then the carrier turned back, going to Brauer Road, eventually delivering mail to the north end of the Drive, coming in from Whitefish Bay Road, bringing magazines, catalogues, bills, billet douce, and correspondence from the town treasurer.

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