Walloon-Belgians came to America in the first wave of immigration between 1853 and 1857. Many came from Brabant, Hanaut and Namur, cities in Wallonia, Belgium. By 1860, 3,812 Walloon-Belgians resided in the present day enclave in the Door Peninsula and accounted for 33.7% of all foreign born people in the region.
Many immigrants bought farmland, began cultivating crops and raising dairy cattle. Their lifestyles closely reflected those of the homeland including church-going and Conion playing.
Loss of industry
Rapid population growth
Crop failure 1840-1850
Centralization of transportation
Land for only $1.25 per acre
Enticement from Antwerpen shipowners
Accounts of prosperity from previous immigrants
Walloon-Belgian immigrants did not come directly to Wisconsin. They first landed in New York, traveled on the Albany-Buffalo Road, then sailed to Detroit.
Upon arriving in Detroit, they took a train to St. Joseph, a town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. From there, they crossed Lake Michigan to Milwaukee.
From Milwaukee, immigrants traveled north to Sheboygan. This area had already been settled by Dutch and German immigrants. The language barrier refrained Belgians from laying their roots.
After encountering Walloon speaking Father Edouard Daems, immigrants found a home northeast of Green Bay. He helped immigrants acquire land and create a home in the Door Peninsula.