The Pioneer Store in Ellison Bay, WI is a commodity to many in Northern Door County history. Surrounded now by relatively modern buildings, restaurants, and attractions, the Pioneer Store’s late-1800s general store look catches many visitor’s eyes when travelling up the county. This appearance may seem like a play on the turn of the 20th century, however, it is true to it’s apppearance as the ‘Pioneer Store’ many visitors and citizens know today was established in the year 1900.
Originally under the title of Ruckert’s, the history of the landmark building can make Ruckert’s seem a city center for Northern county cottages. It’s placement and versatility granted Ruckert’s a collective support for the general store and its owner. Ruckert’s housed local fruits, grains, and as transportation became much more accessible into the 20th century, the store began selling dairy from Sturgeon Bay.
Ruckert’s acted as the post office for Ellison Bay as well. Being one of four accessible telephones, it was often that mail and messages were transferred to citizens from Ruckert’s. The image below, provided by Peninsula Pulse, shows the influx of mail that Ruckert’s faced between 1903 to 1915 at any given time. Ruckert’s was eventually passed down within Charlie Ruckert’s family before selling the building to Carol and Lester Newman.
Carol Newman, the succeeding owner after Jean Ruckert, obtained ownership of the Pioneer Store in 1968. Artifacts such as the original stove where people congregated and replica or original products and goods were kept in the Pioneer Store to reminisce on Ruckert’s history. However, in 2006, the Pioneer Store faced a disaster when the walls were blown out from the first floor after a propane gas leak occurred across the street. Carol Newman, who was living above the store at the time of the accident, was rescued from the collapse. The historic building, it’s artifacts from the early 20th century, and its physical history were decimated in the collapse.
However, community support of Carol Newman, citizens who remembered Ruckert’s, and those who relied on and cherished the Pioneer Store worked together to recreate the historic landmark in Ellison Bay just a year after the accident. The Pioneer Store is an exact replica of the 1900’s general store so many cherished. The Pioneer Store is still operating in Ellison Bay off of Highway 42.