Warren house

About Heritage Village at Big Creek  

historical familyHeritage Village at Big Creek - represents community The Heritage Village at Big Creek serves as a memorial to the people who lived in rural Door County from 1880 to 1910.  Farmers and their families were isolated and lonely, but, by traveling five or six miles by horse or foot, they could find other people at a village. They could find community.


Vignes schoolVignes School represents education and social life

Children in all eight grades, ages 4 to 14, studied together in the single room of this school. The teacher, usually a female graduate of eighth grade and county normal school, taught in spring and fall. Sometimes a male was hired for the winter term if the older boys were unruly. The teacher and students did most of the chores: cleaning, hauling wood, keeping the stove going, fetching water from the nearby cheese factory. Older students often helped teach the younger children. The school also provided social life for the community, with concerts, socials, holiday events, Christmas programs and school picnics giving families an opportunity to get together.


Greene General Store interiorThe Greene General Store - represents commercial heritage

At the turn of the last century, a general store was the focal point of a community.  The storekeepers and their wives bought surplus items such as eggs, butter and vegetables from local farmers, and sold them to other residents. Farmers got credit and could use it to buy staples they couldn’t grow or make in their homes.  Storekeepers ordered requested items from afar. General stores sold manufactured clothes, tools and supplies, household goods and food. Shopkeepers also served as informal bankers and legal advisors, as well as informal welfare agents for families in need. They were the purveyors of the latest news and gossip. The store was a meeting place and social center. Men would gather around the potbelly stove, discussing the weather and arguing politics. A store might be the stagecoach stop for the area and often housed the local post office and only telephone. The candy counter was the most popular place in the store. Storekeepers would sometimes reward the little ones with a free candy treat.


historic blacksmith shopPetersen Granary/Blacksmith Shop - represents agriculture and the craftsman heritage

At the turn of the last century,  wheat was the major crop in Wisconsin. When a farmer had enough cash to purchase nails, he gathered his neighbors to build a granary. Wheat, oats, and barley were stored in a granary until needed to feed chickens, cows and horses, or to be taken to the mill to be ground into flour for the family. A lean-to could be added easily to shelter a couple of cows or perhaps a blacksmith shop. Blacksmiths could repair a buggy or plow, sharpen a knife, shoe horses, or make kitchen tools. As the blacksmith worked, men would gather and share news, discuss politics or tease the children. Sometimes they pitched horseshoes.


chapelThe Chapel at The Crossroads - represents spiritual heritage

Settlers in Door County clustered with other people of the same language, culture and religion. The immigrants almost immediately built a church — first log and later a frame building — so that their children would learn and keep the same values, morals and faith in God that they knew in Europe. Weekly worship was offered in their native tongue. Settlers gathered at their churches with joy to celebrate baptisms, weddings, the harvest and church holidays. They also came to grieve the many misfortunes of pioneer life. Usually the pastor was paid with a chicken, potatoes or oats.  The clergy were thrilled when, in 1905, the Wisconsin legislators passed a law requiring that 25 cents be paid when a preacher filed a wedding license. The people often lingered after church services. Men talked about weather, crops, trading horses or planning a barn raising. Women discussed sickness, quilting and fashion, and some women may have gossiped about the neighbors or organized Sunday Schools or a Ladies Aid.


joan in the Warren houseThe Schopf House

The house has been restored to typify the German immigrant family.  Gus and Caroline Lautenbach came from Germany and built this log house in 1900 for themselves and their ten children. Gus farmed; he  also was skilled as a harness maker. They were founding members of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1912, Harry Ostrand purchased the house, and his Norwegian family lived in it for 88 years. After the house was moved to the Heritage Village, it was named for Orville Schopf, a past officer of Door County Historical Society.


Kohl fish houseKohl Fish House represents the Door County fishing industry

In 1900, more than 200 commercial fishermen worked the waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay, catching herring, lake trout, whitefish, perch, chub, carp, suckers, and smelt. Ed Kohl fished out of Jacksonport, and sold his catch from this building. In the winter, he harvested ice from Clark Lake and built wooden boxes for shipping iced fish to growing cities.


Heritage planting gardenThe Heritage Garden represents horticultural heritage

Farmers struggled during a long depression in the 1890s.  They never had enough cash. Gardening was essential, providing food and adding variety to diet. Women and children did the garden work. At a general store in The Crossroads, the families could trade surplus potatoes or beans for yard goods and thread, or perhaps an axe or hoe. Everybody, even the storekeepers, had a garden, and usually the garden included flowers that brought beauty to an otherwise dreary life.

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