Herman Ewig was born in Stettin, Germany on January 24, 1840. Herman married and had 5 children, Bertha, Maria, Emma, Gustav, and Emil all born in Germany. Stettin was a bustling seaport on the Baltic Sea until Government restrictions left fishing families barely able to eke out a living.
Herman was forced to pack up the family and immigrate to the United States. They immediately headed for Jones Island in Milwaukee. Most of the inhabitants of Jones Island were people of the sea, immigrants from the Baltic area. Herman joined his brother August Ewig in the fishing business probably around 1882. They lived and fished in the community until 1894 when they moved their business to Port Washington.
In Port Washington, Herman and August’s fishing business was proving quite lucrative. Their many sons joined the business. The Ewig’s bought the steam tug HERBERT and changed the name to the H.EWIG. Emil and Gus fished her out of Port until Emil died in 1924. Emil’s son Oscar, a licensed captain, took over at the helm. Oscar later bought out his mother’s shares of the business. Herbert and Elmer replaced their father Gus and eventually bought their mother’s shares of the business. The Ewig business now belonged to 3 cousins and continued to flourish. As one generation replaced the other, so did the fish boats the family used.
In 1935, unsafe harbor improvements made the wooden EWIG I, and steel EWIG II, vulnerable to wave surges at their dock in Port Washington. The business was forced to move to Sheboygan. In 1959 Oscar’s failing health forced the sale of the business to Elmer and Herbert. Elmer bought out Herbert’s’ share a few years later. Herbert died in 1963. Elmer a few years later, died in a car crash coming home to Sheboygan in 1967. Another generation had passed in to history.
During the late 1960’s a decline in the fishing industry forced the Ewig’s to sell their boats the EWIG I, and EWIG II. Four generations of Ewig’s worked the lake as active fisherman. Today, Eugene, son of Elmer, Jeff, son of Eugene, and Matthew, son of Jeff, run the business. They operate the smokehouses and retail market across the street from where the original market was, and where the steam queen H. EWIG and other vessels of the Ewig fish company once moored. The Ewig’s no longer venture out onto Lake Michigan as commercial fisherman, but the name continues to be associated with the best our lake has to offer.