Local legend says the Dartford Cemetery in Green Lake, Wisconsin is haunted by the ghosts of an Indian chief, Civil War soldiers, and children who died from polio.
The old pioneer cemetery gets it’s name from the original village of Dartford, which became Green Lake, Wisconsin. The graves date back to the early pioneers from the 1800s.
Strange things said to happen include dark shadowy figures, strange noises, orbs, grave stones changing or vanishing, and the sensation of being followed or watched.
There are reported sightings of a Native American chief. The story behind the Indian Chief is that he ruled and lived in the Green Lake/Princeton area, and he drowned in the Fox River during an attempt to cross it while drunk.
He was the last Winnebago Chief to rule the Green Lake Area and his name was Chief Highknocker.
Although a treaty forced the Winnebagos west and onto reservations, it was said that “everyWinnebago was expected to come to Green Lake at least once in a lifetime to worship the Water Spirit . . .” Green Lake was attractive to Indians for all the reasons it later became attractive to white settlers, but it was also viewed as sacred because it was the home of the “Water Spirit”. Many Winnebagos stayed, which explains the many Indian mounds, burial sites and other onetime villages that have been found around the lake through the years.
Highknocker wasn’t the Chief’s real name but was the name given to him by local white residents for the stovepipe hat he always wore. He was born in the year 1820 on the east shore of Dartford, as the community was originally known. He was the son of Big Shoulder, a chief who was said to have lived to the ripe old age of 106.
According to A Heritage History of Beautiful Green Lake, by Robert W. and Emma B. Heiple,, “Highknocker loved to sit on a large sun-baked rock near the shore of Green Lake. He was friendly with the white residents who lived around the lake and would sometimes carve bows for the children.” “Then, one hot Saturday, August , 1911, Highknocker met his tragic end.”
He was returning from the town of Berlin but there was no canoe to get him across the Fox River so he elected to swim. Unfortunatley his attempt failed and Highknocker drowned.
He was at first buried at a campsite along the Fox River. There he remained for many years but his son, Henry Dick, wanted his father buried near the lake he had so dearly loved so in the 1930’s Highknocker was finally moved to the Dartford Cemetery at the edge of the village. Donations were raised to mark his grave with a boulder taken from the shore of the lake. A street in Green Lake is named for him, as is a meeting room at a local resort.
At Highknocker’s final resting place in Dartford Cemetery is a marker on which is etched “Highknocker, A Winnebago Chief. Drowned Aug 12 1911.”
But the main attraction to locals and legend trippers is the old mausoleum. The mausoleum in the cemetery contains the bodies of several children from the same family who all died from polio. It is said that if you sit on the roof of the mausoleum, a ghost will push you off.
Apparently, until recently, most Green Lake locals had never heard of ghosts or anything supernatural happening in the cemetery. Children regularly put flowers on the graves of the soldiers buried near the mausoleum.
Charlie Hintz, Wisconsin Sickness
Dennis McCann, FindAGrave