John G. Rakowsky

John G. Rakowsky, a respected citizen of Duluth, Minn., and one of her pioneers, is a native of Germany and was born March 24, 1824, and is the only surviving child of John and Dorothy E. (Tuman) Rakowsky, both natives of Germany. The father, a Lutheran minister, died in 1828. The mother died in 1842.

John G. was educated in his native land and there learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed after coming to this country at Superior, Wis. In 1857 he took up a homestead claim of eighty acres near the present site of Duluth, then known as Rice’s Point. To secure a clear title which was in dispute, he went to Washington, D. C., in 1860, and while there enlisted in response to President Lincoln’s call for ninety days men, and served until after the first battle of Bull Run in the Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, when he received his discharge. Re-enlisting at Cleveland in the Fifty-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, he again entered the service.

He participated in the battles of Shiloh and Ball’s Bluff, where he was taken prisoner and went to Vicksburg. Thence he was taken to Jackson, Miss., and finally to New Orleans, where he was exchanged. Rejoining his regiment at Vicksburg he served till the close of the war in 1865, being sergeant of his company and never receiving a wound. After his discharge from the army, Mr. Rakowsky, during the gold excitement at Vermillion lake, returned to Superior and headed a company of old soldiers which he had organized and set out on what proved to be a fruitless search for gold, cutting a road a distance of eighty-five miles from Duluth. During the three years following this adventure, Mr. Rakowsky conducted a general store at Superior and later at Vermillion lake, and was also for a time an Indian trader. He then settled in Duluth and for five years was in the merchandise business; then for two years carried on a feed and provision trade, and following that engaged in the grocery business, retiring after ten years with considerable property holdings and an ample competence to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

In 1863 Mr. Rakowsky married Miss Maria Krause, a native of Germany and daughter of Charles and Christine (Vant) Krause. The father, a farmer, came to the United States with his family and settled at Port Washington, Wis., in 1853. He died at Duluth in 1890. The mother passed away in 1880. They had a family of seven children, all of whom are living at this time, 1910. Of five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Rakowsky, Charles L., the eldest, now a real estate dealer in Duluth, was for some years deputy county auditor; Gustav A., mechanical engineer; Mamie P. is married to Mr. T. H. Little and lives in Duluth; Victor I., a consulting mining engineer, with a general practice and has offices in Duluth, and Gertrude L. is married to Fred Steiner, of San Francisco. The family are attendants of the Pilgrim Congregational church. Mr. Rakowsky cast his first ballot for James Buchanan for president in 1856, but has since been a Republican in politics. He belongs to the Old Settlers’ Club of Duluth, and has served as president of Gorman post of the Grand Army of the Republic.


  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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