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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Hon. Edward S. Minor

History of Door County, Wisconsin : The county beautiful Chicago: by Holand, Hjalmar Rued; S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1917, Pages 64 - 68

There is a picture of Hon. Edward S. Minor on page 65

Hon. Edward S. Minor is now living retired in a beautiful residence in Sturgeon Bay. There, in a congenial environment, he is spending his days resting from the arduous labors which have hitherto occupied his time and attention, for he has been a most active man, not only in business circles, but as one of the lawmakers of the state and nation, having long served in the legislature and in congress, during which time he has been instrumental in promoting valuable merchant marine legislation. He was born in Jefferson county, New York, December 13, 1841, a son of Martin and Abigail J. (St. Ores) Minor. He comes from an old family of English descent, founded in America during the first half of the seventeenth century. Of this family the first governor of Connecticut was a member. Various generations of the family were represented in that state, but the great-grandfather removed from Connecticut to New York, where his son, Roe Minor, was born. For many years he lived in Jefferson county, New York, and it was there that the birth of Martin Minor occurred. In early life he learned the trade of ship calking and in 1845 he removed with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he followed his trade until 1850, when he became a resident of Sheboygan.

In the spring of 1858 his son, Edward S. Minor, started for Door county and on the 1st of April reached Baileys Harbor, from which point he walked across the county to Fish Creek when the snow was four feet deep on the level. In July of that year the father brought his family and took up a half section of government land at Fish Creek. He then engaged in farming and also got out cord wood. Clearing away the timber, he brought his fields under cultivation, the family experiencing all the hardships and privations incident to frontier life. At that period there was not a doctor or a lawyer in Door county, Martin Minor took an active part in establishing the early schools and in furthering the work of progress and civilization along many lines. In politics he was a stalwart republican. In their family were four sons and a daughter; Edward S.; Elvisa, the deceased wife of Ingham Kinzie, of Fish Creek; Alfred, living at Green Bay; Augustine A., of Sturgeon Bay; and Grant, who is a steamboat captain residing at Sturgeon Bay.

Edward S. Minor acquired a public school education in Milwaukee and Sheboygan and was a youth of sixteen years when he made the trip to this county preceding the arrival of his family. He then bore his part in the arduous task of developing and improving a new farm and in 1861, when nineteen years of age, he responded to the country's call for military aid, enlisting as a member of Company G, Second Wisconsin Cavalry. He was among the first to leave Door county for the front and served four years, being mustered out with the rank of first lieutenant, although he was in command of the company on account of the illness of the captain. He served two more years in the southwest, in Indian Territory and in Arkansas, and his later service was down in Mississippi. He was mustered out in Austin, Texas, under General George A. Custer, and returned to his home with a most creditable military record.

Mr. Minor on again reaching Door county once more took up agricultural pursuits and in 1867 he was married to Miss Tillie A. Graham, a daughter of Oliver Perry and Mary Ann (Marshall) Graham. Her father was one of the pioneer settlers of this section of the state and built the first lumber mill in Sturgeon Bay. Abandoning farm work, Mr. Minor turned his attention to merchandising at Fish Creek and also was engaged in getting out timber and forest products of all kinds. He continued his business there until 1882, when he sold out and removed to Sturgeon Bay, where he established a hardware store, but in 1884, his store was destroyed by fire. At that time he was made superintendent of the Sturgeon Bay & Lake Michigan Ship Canal, which position he filled for seven years. He also operated a tug for towing vessels through the canal. In 1886 he began dealing in stone, contracting for stone at various points along Lake Michigan, and to that business he directed his attention until 1894, when he went to Washington, having been elected to Congress.

Mr. Minor has had much to do with shaping public thought and action in Door county and in the state and has left the impress of his individuality upon much constructive legislation, which has been of great value to the people of the commonwealth. In the fall of 1877 he was elected on the republican ticket to the state assembly and while thus serving gave hearty support to the legislation necessary for the building of the Sturgeon Bay & Lake Michigan Ship Canal. In 1879 he was reelected to the general assembly and again in 1880, while in 1882 he was chosen to represent his district in the state senate for a four years' term and during the last two years was president pro tem. He gave thoughtful and earnest consideration to many vital questions which came up for settlement and which had direct bearing upon the welfare and progress of the state. In 1894 he was elected to congress, in which he took his seat in December, 1895, entering upon a congressional experience that covered twelve years, for he was five time reelected to that position. He served on the merchant marine committee and was very active in promoting that branch of legislation, for he based his knowledge upon practical experience and study. He acted as chairman of the committee for much of the time and took a great interest in all questions relating to rivers and harbors and is directly responsible for many harbor improvements along the lake shore in this district. He enjoyed the confidence and was frequently called into consultation by the leaders at Washington, including the president, and he became a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. He served on the merchant marine commission, which traveled throughout the entire country and is acknowledged to have accomplished the greatest work of the kind.

The family of Mr. and Mrs. Minor numbered six children: Stanton, who acted as private secretary to his father in Washington for twelve years and is now assistant postmaster at Sturgeon Bay; Byron A., who is in charge of the Southern Pacific Bath House in Redlands, California, and is general superintendent of the properties of the railroad at that point; Sybil, who became the wife of Charles A. Elwell, of Boston, and is now a widow, living in Milwaukee; Maude, the wife of Oscar Knudtson, of Milwaukee; Ula, the wife of Ralph Frank, connected with mercantile interests in Milwaukee; and Ethel, the wife of Otto Nelson, who is register of Deeds in Door county, The second son is a retired lieutenant of the navy.

Mr. Minor and his wife occupy a most beautiful home in Sturgeon Bay and in addition he owns a small fruit farm and summer home. He is now living retired after a life of intense and intelligently directed activity. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and he holds membership with the Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal Legion of the United States. He has ever been a man of positive character, fearless in expression of his convictions and a power in the community where he has long resided. Nor has his influence been checked by the boundaries of Door county, as he has had directing voice in the affairs of state and nation and numbers among his warmest friends many of the most eminent men of Wisconsin and of the country, who have ever been proud to name him as a colleague.

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