Shirley Kaufman places a new floral arrangement on the tomb of Marie Antoinette Chevalier, also known as Queen Marinette, during a ceremony Friday at Forest Home Mausoleum in Marinette. EagleHerald/Zac Britton
Shirley Kaufman places a new floral arrangement on the tomb of Marie Antoinette Chevalier, also known as Queen Marinette, during a ceremony Friday at Forest Home Mausoleum in Marinette. EagleHerald/Zac Britton
MARINETTE - The large sarcophagus across from the main door at the Forest Home Mausoleum received a new floral display Friday.

The tomb is not just any burial container - it holds the remains of Marie Antoinette Chevalier, commonly known as Queen Marinette.

Her first and middle names were accidentally combined by members of the Menominee tribe, and she is the inspiration for the city and county of Marinette.

"To honor her is a pleasure for me because it's an education and it's the history that the people of Marinette and Marinette County should remember," said Shirley Kaufman, who replaced the floral spray on Queen Marinette's tomb. "It should be more important for the young people to not ever forget our history."

That history of Queen Marinette was chronologically reviewed by Marinette resident Beverly Doucette during the bulk of a 30-minute ceremony at Forest Home.

A small crowd listened as she recounted the historical figure's life from her birth in 1795 in Langlade County west of Marinette County to her death at her son's home in Green Bay in 1865.

In between, she came to the Menominee River area in 1823, established a fur trading business and raised children from her two marriages. Doucette cited her will and heritage - having one parent as a member of the Menominee Indians - as helping the area prosper from a small settlement to the Twin Cities area.

After Kaufman replaced the floral arrangement, the largest in a marble-laden mausoleum filled with tributes, Doucette said, "I hope this will be the next step to honoring Queen Marinette" as attendees dropped pinches of unprocessed tobacco in front of the sarcophagus as a tribute.

"That was moving, respectful and doing honor to a situation and person that should be," said Bob Shaw afterward.

Shaw and his wife, Linda, own a home at 2125 Marinette Ave., listed as the site of Queen Marinette's home - the first frame home built in present day Marinette - and near her fur trading business.

"This was awesome," commented Keith Comeaux, a retired school teacher who has volunteered at the Marinette County Historical Museum for 22 years. I'm very indebted to Shirley for bringing attention to the public on the fact that Queen Marinette is here."

The city's namesake has not always been here, being relocated from an Allouez cemetery in the 1987 and placed in her prominent tomb. Since then, Doucette and Kaufman both feel she has received due attention, whether in local classrooms or history books of the area.

"The word has to get out about what she has done," Kaufman said. "You know, have classes on it. If I'm not mistaken, I've just heard (Thursday) that some of the teachers are starting to have education classes regarding Queen Marinette and they're going to bring them out here and that's what we want to see. Teach the people in the city and county our heritage.

"A lot of people that I know very well, that grew up here, never knew she was located out here. We have to make the public aware."

"She was our founder," agreed Comeaux, pointing out that the museum on Stephenson Island has a chair and the original tombstone as part of its Queen Marinette display. "She really belongs to Marinette."

Zac Britton can be contacted at 715-735-6611 Ext. 146 or zbritton@eagleherald.com