Green Bay Road Pioneer Road marker, Somers, Kenosha County
©Jacqueline Klapproth Nelson. All Rights Reserved.
This marker is located on Highway 31 (Green Bay Road) north of Highway A, just inside the entrance to Hawthorn Hollow. The marker is significant in that the immediate surrounding area is where the first pioneer settlements of Somers occurred.
Information and History
Green Bay, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois were important areas to the Indians because they were major trading centers marked with two forts: Fort Dearborn in Chicago and Fort Howard in Green Bay. Indians, and later European settlers, used old Indian trails that connected the two cities.
The historic Green Bay Road began in Chicago at the north end of the Michigan Boulevard bridge and commenced north to Gross Point (now Evanston), through Waukegan three miles inland, Kenosha five miles inland, Racine about the same distance, and points north to Green Bay.
The primary use of the Green Bay Road during pioneer days was a mail route between the two forts. Stage coach companies competed for business to deliver the mail as well as transport passengers. To travel on the 500-mile round trip by foot would consume a month, and because the area was wilderness, people were forced to rely entirely on their own resources.
The Green Bay Road from Chicago to Green Bay dates its beginning from an Act of Congress approved June 15, 1832, for the establishment of a post road between these two points. Trees were cut to clear the width of 33 feet (single lane) and log bridges were laid over impassable streams. Transforming the old Indian trail to an improved road resulted in settlement along this route resulting in towns, similar to the Town of Pike (now known as the Village and Town of Somers), recording our earliest settlement along the Green Bay Road in the 1830’s. Due to the increased travel of settlers, the dirt road required maintenance as evidence of towns appointing Highway Commissioners. Eventually, plank roads were built.