Garrett Bay, flanked on the west by 200-foot Door bluff and on the east by Gills Rock and Table bluff, is one of the more spectacular beauty spots on the Door County peninsula.
Lakes shipping is usually in sight as the boats round the tip of the peninsula, and the ferry leaves Gills Rock at frequent intervals on its trip to Washington Island.
Gills Rock, a fishing village, is at the northern end of Wisconsin Highway 42, where the highway dies amid drying nets, fishing boats, soaring gulls and weathered sheds.
Porcupines gnawed so many holes in a boat left on the Barrett bay beach during the winter of 1856 that the first settler named it “Hedgehog harbor.”
That first settler was Allen Bradley, know to pioneers as “Old Bradley, the timber chap, who lived like an Indian and could cut seven cords of body maple in a day.”
And in those days, adds H.R. Holand in his book, “Old Peninsula Days,” the big maple trees were felled and cut into cordwood with axes only.
Bradley was more than 6 feet tall, measured more than 4 feet around the chest, had hands as big as shovels, and wore moccasins because he could find no shoes to fit him. The genial giant, it was reported, could drag huge fishing boats up on shore, life timbers which six men could not handle, and pile 300-pound barrels all day.
He once carried 415 pound of pork 3 miles to his home without resting.
Bradley, Holand wrote, “had a long thick beard, and it was a common amusement for some of his friends to seize it and hang suspended, whereupon Bradly would walk around the room seemingly unmindful of the burden imposed on his chin.”
Once on a wager he carried a 250-pound man on his beard in that way.
Bradley, who served in the Civil War, died in Sturgeon Bay in 1885 and was buried in a potter’s field.
Barrett bay now is lined with summer resorts and private cottages. With water in almost every direction, nights are cool no matter which way the wind blows and hay fever sufferers find relief.
Plymouth likes to be known as the cheese capital of the world. Sales of cheese on the Wisconsin cheese exchange at Plymouth affect prices of the product all over the country.
About a fourth of Plymouth’s more than 4,000 citizens are employed in the cheese business, and the largest group of cheese factories in Wisconsin centers in the Plymouth area.
The cheese exchange meets at Plymouth every Friday. It supplies a price where individuals, cooperatives, independent dealers and large corporations may buy or sell cheese.
Sales on the exchange exceeded 36 million pounds from July 1946 through February 1949. That is the equivalent of about half the total cheese receipts in Chicago for the same period. During World War II the United States government purchased practically all cheese offered on the exchange.
The Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls area has been making and selling cheese for nearly 100 years. In 1858 John J. Smith, a farmer living 2.5 miles west of Sheboygan Falls, became the first in the area to make cheese on a commercial basis at a central place.
Smith also was the first to ship cheese outside Sheboygan County. He took 48 cheeses to Chicago, but dealers there refused to buy any but New York cheese. Smith offered to pay them for their time to look at his product, and finally sold it at 8 cents a pound.
Plymouth was settled May 8, 1845, when Isaac, John and Rensellaer Thrope and William Bowen arrived from Pennsylvania with a load of lumber and started building.
Henry I. Davidson and his son, Thomas, arrived that July. The son insisted on naming the new settlement Plymouth in memory of Plymouth, Connecticut, where his early sweetheart was buried.
Sheboygan Falls was started when the Stedman sawmill and a log cabin housing mill workers were constructed in 1838. The first grist mill run by water in that part of the state was built before 1840.
Early Sheboygan Falls had spirit along with a strict temperance viewpoint. When Deacon William Trowbridge was preaching on a Sunday in April 1861, he was interrupted by Nathan Cole, who came down the street beating on a drum. The deacon demanded that Cole stop. But when he was told of the start of the Civil War and Lincoln’s call for troops, Trowbridge shouted, “Nathan give me that drum!” and beat it himself.