“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Port Washington in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Those That Fished

Those That Fished Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devon Polzar, circa 2015
1. Those That Fished Marker
Inscription. The Indians who spent their summers where Sauk Creek and Lake Michigan meet were Port Washington's first fishermen. They used rocks or clubs to kill fish in shallow water. Later, spears were used. Then, crude hooks were fashioned out of bone. With the coming of the white settlers, in 1835, barbed hooks and seine nets were introduced. Port Washington's first commercial fishermen were Sam Curray and Frank Delles. Curray was the first to use pound nets, in 1870. John Everson followed in 1872, along with Driscoll and his sons, the first to use gill nets. Newman and Peterson entered the growing business in 1873 and George Rathbun and his son began commercial fishing a year later.

William Smith brought his family to Amsterdam, Wisconsin, just 15 miles north of Port, in 1848. He and his son Gilbert used a 100 foot seine net to catch whitefish. Gilbert's sons, Delos and Herbert, the "original" Smith Brothers, struck out on their own, moving south, first to Blakesville, then Sucker Brook and finally Port Washington in 1896. Their brother Roy joined them in 1900. Delos' sons Lester and Oliver, followed by their sons carried on the Smith fishing operations until 1988. By then the family's large fleet of fish tugs had been reduced to one boat, the OLIVER H. SMITH. This tug was to become the last fishing boat based in Port Washington's
Commercial Fishermen Memmorial image. Click for full size.
By Devon Polzar, circa 2015
2. Commercial Fishermen Memmorial
harbor. In its heyday, the Smith family expanded its business ventures to include restaurants in Wisconsin and California, fish wholesale and retail outlets, and a motel in Port Washington.

Henry, George and Jacob Van Ells emigrated from Holland to Jones Island, Milwaukee, in the mid 1850's and worked for other commercial fishermen until they bought the MARIAH B.M. in 1880. George and the MARIAH B.M. came to Port Washington in the late 1880's and the rest of the Van Ells settled here in 1890. A land dispute on Jones Island was the catalyst for the families' move. The Van Ells business was located at the west end of the west slip. Fathers and sons, uncles and nephews worked side by side for 40 years. The last to actively fish, Captain Andrew Van Ells laid up his boat and rig in 1930.

August and Berth Ewig emigrated to Jones Island in 1882. Soon thereafter he was joined by his brother Herman, his wife and five children. They settled among the German and Kashubian (Polish) immigrants, most of whom had come from the Baltic area and were people of the sea; sailors, shipwrights and fishermen. Herman and August brought with them fishing skills learned on the Baltic, joining forces, their first steam tug was the HANNAH SULLIVAN. The two families fished and lived together in the insular community until l894 when they made the move to Port Washington. Sons Gustav and
The Fisherman Statue image. Click for full size.
By Devon Polzar, circa 2015
3. The Fisherman Statue
Emil carried on the fishing tradition and formed Ewig Brothers. Emil's son Oscar became a licensed captain and was master of the steel fishing tug H. EWIG, at the time one of the largest on Lake Michigan. The Ewig fleet moved to Sheboygan in the 1930's. Generations have passed and the family no longer engages in commercial fishing. Eugene Ewig and his sons operate a retail fish outlet located near the west slip.

John "J.T." Bossler was born in Port Washington in 1860. Son of a butcher and later sheriff, J.T. became interested in fishing and learned his trade by working for many of our city's pioneer fishermen. He then set out on his own and formed J.T. Bossler and Sons Fish Company. J.T. and his wife, Susanna, had five sons and a daughter who assisted on shore and aboard their first tug, the OVER THE TOP. They later had the steam tug J.T. BOSSLER built, followed by the BOSSLER BROS. The sons and grandsons of J.T. carried on the family name through the decades, finally leaving the lake around 1950. Dan Bossler and Arthur Reiter bought the BOSSLER BROS. in 1951, but the venture was short lived.

Picture captions (top to bottom): The Ewigs and Crew; Left to right: Eddie Gross, Richard, J.T. and Billy Bossler, Gip Klein Back: Nick and Dan Bossler; Left to right: Henry Yurk, Harry Klein, Joe Zukairus and George Klein; Diesel Tug, Bossler Brothers; Smith Bros. Pile
"The Fisherman" image. Click for full size.
By Devon Polzar, circa 2015
4. "The Fisherman"
In fond remembrance, this statue is presented to the City of Port Washington in loving memory of Herbert O. and Beverly F. Smith for the city they loved and called home. Sadly missed, but never forgotten Jim, Jeff, Tori, Chris, Grant, Amy
Driver and Steam Tug HOPE; Left to Right: Herbert Smith, Lester Smith, Charles Klein, and Bill Niesen (Marker Number 4.)
Location. 43° 23.23′ N, 87° 52.06′ W. Marker is in Port Washington, Wisconsin, in Ozaukee County. Click for map. The marker is located in Rotary Park at the end of East Grand Avenue. Marker is at or near this postal address: East Grand Avenue, Port Washington WI 53074, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Art of Commercial Fishing (here, next to this marker); They Had To Go A Fishin' (here, next to this marker); A Lakefront in Transition (here, next to this marker); Of Valor and Sorrow (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Those That Fished (here, next to this marker); Port Washington State Bank Centennial Pavilion (a few steps from this marker); Lake Michigan Habitat (within shouting distance of this marker); Sidewheel Steamer Niagara (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Port Washington.
More about this marker. The marker is part of the Commercial Fishermen's Memorial.
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
Smith Bros. Advertising Card image. Click for full size.
circa 1950
5. Smith Bros. Advertising Card
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 100 times since then and 43 times this year. Last updated on , by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin.   4. submitted on , by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin.   5. submitted on . • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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