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Photo of the Month
August 2014
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places


As a new bridge is under construction in the 1890s in Durand, WI, the tug boat Phil Scheckel, far right, pushes a lumber-laden barge, piloted by Iowa and Wisconsin pioneer Eli Minder (1838-1916), son of Johannes "John" and Anna ( Osawaldt) Minder.

Born in Centre County, PA, Eli relocated with his parents and siblings to Fort Madison, Iowa when he was five years of age. Attending school and working in a wagon shop with his father, he grew to manhood and was employed as a clerk in a dry goods and clothing store. At the age of 18, Eli relocated to Wisconsin, establishing a longtime residence on a farm in or near Frankfort, Pepin County. He got his start on the river at the age of 21, in 1859, as an oarsman on a commercial raft owned by C.C. Washburn & Co. His raft trips for the Washburn firm were routed between Waubeek and Read's Landing on the Chippewa River. He was profiled in the 1891-1892 book Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin

In 1864 he became a raft pilot for the Knapp, Stout Lumber Co., and soon after received a license as steamboat pilot and ran on the "Pete Wilson" for several years.... Mr. Minder lived at Read's Landing until 1873, when he removed to Ella [Frankfort] and opened a general store. In 1875 his store burned down and he next built and ran a ferry boat between Stockholm and Lake City. From 1882 to 1887 he owned an interest in the steamer "Luella" plying between Stillwater, Minn., and Hannibal, Mo. In the latter year he began running on the "Phil Scheckel," where he is still employed.


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