Namur | Door County

Namur, Door County
Unincorporated community in the Town of Union
Population: around 20

Namur Snippets

     ★ Felix Englebert and his family had to walk 30 miles through a foot of snow and slush to reach their land. There were no roads, just animal and Native American paths that wound through the still pristine wilderness. The woods were filled with bear, wolves and other critters that sometimes stole the settlers’ food. There was no hardware for construction of houses and furniture was rudimentary and crude. No settlers had stoves; cooking was done over a campfire. Once shelter was built, the pioneers took on the daunting task of clearing the dense hardwood and conifer woods. The men left in the fall in search of work as far away as Chicago and returned in the spring with the money they had earned -- leaving the women and children alone and isolated in winter. Food was scarce – no bread, milk or butter – and nights were terrifying, filled with startling sounds and fear of attack by Indians and wild animals. Premature death came frequently to the beleaguered pioneers.

Suddenly the difficult life left behind did not look so bad, but they were now trapped in Wisconsin with no means to return to Belgium. Furtive letters were sent home warning others about their hardships and expressing great disappointment. Within a few years, Belgian immigration had tapered off considerably. The Belgians in Wisconsin persevered amid unimaginable obstacles, steadfastly clearing the land and finding a way to make their living as farmers, lumberjacks, fisherman, merchants, and cheesemakers.
     ★ St. Mary of the Snows church parochial school and convent was built in 1894 to provide a religious and “3 R’s” education to area Belgian children. The original school burned, placing a tremendous financial burden on the parishioners. Each contributed sacks of grain “according to their means” and were able to raise the funds to rebuild. The blackboards still roll back today to reveal an altar used by Rev. Pennings to lead mass for the early settlers. Sister Claire was hired to teach the 24 children enrolled. Classes were discontinued in 1925.

Green Bay Press Gazette: Celebrate Kermiss with Belgian Heritage Center, by Pamela Parks, August 5, 2017

Door County Pulse: All Are Welcome to Brussels Belgian Kermiss by Billy Kobin, August 18, 2017

Wisconsin Historical Society "Official" Marker 321:
"Belgian Settlement in Wisconsin"
was erected at Namur in 1993.

St. Mary of the Snow Parochial School & Convent /
Birthplace of the Norbertine Fathers Historical Marker

Archaeology and History of the
WIS 57 Transportation Corridor Historical Markers

Namur is located in southern Door County.

Belgian Heritage Center
Sponsors Belgian Kermiss held the third Sunday in August

Little Wisconsin will be available May 7, 2019.

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