Peninsula Genealogical Society

    Peninsula Genealogical Society - Door Co., WI

Town of Gibraltar 


Contributions by Mary and Lee GROTA-(PGS Meeting 28 Oct 2010)

 updated 13 Jan 2011


The following pictures and letter regarding the Town of Gibraltar-Chambers Island Lighthouse were contributed by Mary and Lee GROTA, PGS members, who shared them at a PGS meeting where they brought items to be scanned and shared for the PGS Website in Oct 2010.


Lee GROTA's step-grandfather, Theodore "Teddy" JACOBSEN/JACOBSON, who is buried at Town of Liberty Grove-St. Rosalia's Cemetery, was Assistant Lighthouse Keeper for the U.S. Government at Chambers Island in the Bay of Green Bay, Town of Gibraltar, from at least 1926 to the early 1950's.  Lee's father,  H. D. (Hubert David) GROTA, M.D., who practiced medicine in Door County from 1935 to early 1970's, recounted a history of the lighthouse and the island in a letter written by himself to Joel BLAHNIK on 1 Feb 1979.


Our thanks to Mary and Lee GROTA for sharing their pictures and family letter with the PGS so they can be part of the PGS Website!


If you have any additions or corrections/pictures or information regarding Chambers Island that you would like to contribute, please contact the Peninsula Genealogical Society (PGS) at [email protected].




Above: Theodore JACOBSON/JACOBSEN (step-grandfather of Lee GROTA)-Chambers Island Lighthouse Keeper from at least 1926 to early 1950's with pet fawn.

Below: Chambers Island Lighthouse-1944.


The following personal history was contributed by Lee GROTA and was a copy of a letter written by Lee GROTA's father, Hubert David GROTA, M.D. (in Door County 1935 to early 1970's) on 1 Feb 1979 after his retirement to Joel BLAHNIK of Hales Corners, Wisconsin, regarding Chambers Island:


1 Feb 1979


"..I will try to give you a chronological report of what I had to do with Chambers Island. I am sorry that I do not have pictures of the Island.  I believe my sister would have pictures and I will try to get them from her and mail you copies.  In order to give you the proper relationship of how I got to Chambers Island, I will have to start back quite a few years.  In January of 1915 when I was 4 years old, my father died leaving my mother with six children.  I was the youngest.  In June of 1924 my mother took a job on Chambers Island as receptionist for the visitors at the Chambers Island Girls Camp.  This girls camp was run by Mrs. Florence K. TUTTLE of Milwaukee.  There were 120 girls and 40 counselors.  It was a summer camp eight weeks in duration.  The following year in June of 1925 my mother and I returned to Chambers Island.  Being the youngest one at home, I went with my mother to Chambers Island.  I worked part time at the girls camp as assistant to the chef.  My job was washing pots and pans.  The entire Chambers Island except for the point that the Lighthouse was on was owned by Mrs. BARRET of Sheboygan.  Mrs. BARRET was the daughter of Fred DENNET of Sheboygan, the founder on the Sheboygan Chair Company.  Mr. and Mrs. Bill FAIRCHILD and family were caretakers of the Island.  Mrs. CAWSLER was one of the cooks at the Chambers Island Camp.  In the Spring of 1926 my mother married Mr. Theodore JACOBSON, the assistant keeper on Chambers Island.  In June of 1926 I returned to Chambers Island to live with my mother and stepfather and worked that summer at the girls camp.  My sister who taught school in Marinette, Wisconsin and two other teachers visited the Island June 24, 1926.  On August 27, 1926 my sister and I went to Marinette were she taught school and I attended high school. 


In June of 1927 when school was out in Marinette, my sister and I went to Berlin where we formerly lived for a visit.  Following the visit, we returned to Chambers Island and lived at the Lighthouse with my mother and my stepfather, who was the assistant keeper.  At this time the girls camp was discontinued.  The camp was sold to the Glidden Company and from the Glidden Company was sold to a Cahmbers (Chambers) Island developement company from Chicago.  The building that was formerly the girls camp was now a hotel.  An airport landing strip and golf course was built on the north end of the Island and a rather large dock in the sandy bay on the north end of the Island.  That year I worked as an assistant to the cook at the hotel for a while and later at the camp where the construction workers that built the roads and airport lived.  This is the year that L. J. DRAKE built the first private owned cottage on the narrow strip on the East shore of Lake Makaysee.  Also this same year a cottage was built by the NELSONS of NELSON Laundry of Chicago and by Mr. KATE of Chicago.  A two engined airplane made trips every weekend bringing guests from Chicago to the Island where the developers tried to sell them property on Chambers Island.  This activity continued through the summer of 1928 but during the fall and winter of 1928-29, the stock market crash caused the Chambers Island Company to go into bankrupcy and all activity on Chambers Island stopped. The principals in the Chambers Island Company were Mr. THOMPSON, Mr. McALVERY and Mr. EBERS.


Mr. Claude CHAPMAN of Sturgeon Bay became the keeper of the lighthouse on Chambers Island and Mr. JACOBSON, my stepfather, was assistant keeper.  I lived on the Island with my mother and stepfather.  My sister was married so she was not living at home.  In fall of 1928 I enrolled in Marquette University pre-medical school course.  There was no work on Chambers Island so I spent the summer of 1929 clearing brush in the woods, hunting and fishing.  The FAIRCHILD's were no longer care takers of the Island properties so no one policed the area.  Considerable vandalism occurred at the hotel properties.  In fall of 1930 the main lodge at the hotel burned to the ground.  Fire of unknown origin.  The cape cottage also burned earlier in that year.  About this time or possibly a year or two after, Butch (George) BAUDHUIN of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin became interested in Chambers Island.  BAUDHUIN ran BAUDHUIN Yacht Harbor and Chris Craft Yacht Sales.


Much of the Island had been purchased by different lumber companies and extensive logging operations was all that took place for quite a few years.  I was going to school in Milwaukee at the time and worked in Milwaukee during the summer so I did not get to Chambers Island until after 1935.  In the early 1940's Mr. BAUDHUIN bought the L. J. DRAKE cottage and properties and considerable acreage on the northeast end of Chambers Island.  The DRAKE cottage was then donated to the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay and was enlarged and made into a retreat house.  It is still a retreat house with a busy schedule during the summer months.  There are a few private cottages on Chambers Island but I am not sure the names of those that own them.


My stepfather retired from Lighthouse service in the early 1950's.  He and my mother moved to Sister Bay and lived their until they died in the late 1950's.  I have been back to the Island several times but it is so different now that it makes me feel sad to see it now and remember how beautiful it was when we lived there..."  - H. D. GROTA, M.D.




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