Cedar Shakes, Red Clay Bricks, and the Great Fire: Walloon-Speaking Belgians on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula

Author(s): John D. Richards; Patricia B. Richards

Year: 2013

Summary

Encouraged by earlier emigrants as well as boosterism by steamship companies, some 60,000 Belgians immigrated to the United States before 1900. A particularly dense concentration of Walloon speakers settled the southern portion of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula and by 1860 over 60% of this area was Belgian owned. Today, the area harbors the largest concentration of Belgian-American vernacular architecture in North America and is remarkable for the presence of well-preserved agrarian landscapes as well as thriving ethnic traditions. However, the red brick structures so typical of this area post-date 1871 when the Peshtigo wildfire denuded much of the southern Door Peninsula and devastated Belgian settlements. With lumber in short supply, survivors rebuilt with hand-made bricks produced by a number of local brickworks. The excavation of the Vandermissen Brickworks has provided the first archaeological data on Belgian-American brickmaking on the Door Peninsula and highlights the resilience of this nineteenth century immigrant population.

Cite this Record

Cedar Shakes, Red Clay Bricks, and the Great Fire: Walloon-Speaking Belgians on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. John D. Richards, Patricia B. Richards. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428231)

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Keywords

Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 282