by Ruth Kriehn
Jones Island, originally a mile-long peninsula bordering on the Lake Michigan shoreline, is today the site of Milwaukee’s sewerage treatment plant and a substantial part of the city’s port facilities. The area has a long and fascinating history, including close ties to several important maritime industries and the rich and varied ethnic heritage of Milwaukee. In 1854 a shipbuilder named James Monroe Jones established a yard on the island and gave to it an identity that has lasted into modern times. Later in the 1870s, a sizeable colony of Kashubian fishermen, Polish immigrants from the Baltic Peninsula of Hel, began to settle on the island. Broadening the ethnic mix of the island colony were Germans from the Stettin area on the Baltic, and a sprinkling of Scandinavians and other nationalities. Officially, all the Jones Island residents were “squatters” on property they did not own. In 1892 the Illinois Steel Company, which claimed legal title to the land, began a long series of court actions to determine who really owned Jones Island. Based on research into traditional sources, court records, photo collections and personal interviews, this volume describes in fascinating detail the life and customs of the Fisherfolk.