Get stuffed

Museum’s Third Saturday looks at county’s history with sausage

Stephani Meat Market circa 1920. Stephani Meat Market circa 1920. Sausage Making in Sheboygan County is the May 21 “Third Saturday” program being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheboygan County Historical Museum, 3110 Erie Ave., Sheboygan.

German immigrants settled the Sheboygan area in the 1830s and 1840s, bringing with them a love of the sausage.

It is theorized that the bratwurst we know today is based on the weisswurst of Germany. Weisswurst is a white sausage made primarily of veal.

Because Sheboygan County was initially a wheat-growing area and not dairy land, veal was not readily available to the new settlers of Sheboygan County. They turned to the more common pork for their sausage and the Sheboygan-style bratwurst was born.

A brief review of city and county directories between 1868 and 1980 by researcher Mary Meyer found well over 160 butcher shops and meat markets. Many shops produced their own sausages, developing and using their own special blend of meats and spices.

Johnsonville Sausage original store circa 1950. Johnsonville Sausage original store circa 1950. Every community in the county had a butcher shop and sausage company. The building on the north corner of Broadway and Pine streets in Sheboygan Falls was built as a butcher shop in the 1880s. It remained butcher shop until 1908.

Plymouth had three shops in 1895 - Haase’s, Ackerman Brothers and Knauer’s.

Sheboygan had several throughout the years. Brothers Max and Herman Luedke opened their shop on North 15th Street in 1915. Theilmann’s Sausage Co. started in the late 1940s, becoming Old Wisconsin Sausage Co. after Bill Stolzmann became sole proprietor.

The Sheboygan Sausage Co. organized in 1933, reporting production of 60,000 pounds of sausage weekly in 1953. That same year, Rammer & Sons Meat Market opened on South 15th Street and Indiana Avenue, opening with a stock of 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of hard summer sausage.

Poth’s Meat in 1988 reportedly was producing three tons of bratwurst each week during the summer and a half ton each week during the winter holidays. Currently, Johnsonville Sausage is the largest producer in the county.

The bratwurst has been celebrated since 1953 during the annual Bratwurst Days festival held at Kiwanis Park in Sheboygan as well as every summer weekend in the backyards of homes across our county.

Joining us on this day to share their story will be Shane Bennin, assistant plant coordinator of Johnsonville Sausage. Nick Bender will be in attendance representing Old Wisconsin Sausage Co.

Lee Brockman will be on hand to talk about his family’s meat market. Richard Stoelb will be sharing his knowledge of the Howard Grove Meat Market and its long history.

Finally, Scott Poth will be sharing information on his family’s long-running meat market in Sheboygan and letting everyone know that Poth Brats can still be purchased at Mentinks Piggly Wiggly in Oostburg.

We will be holding a bratwurst-only brat fry during the program so bring your appetite and enjoy the many different, delicious sausages that we are privileged to have in our wonderful county.

“Third Saturdays” start at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Guests are welcome any time throughout the day.

The admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and active military. Members and their guests are free.

The event is sponsored in part by H. C. Denison, Kohler Foundation Inc, Sargento Foods Inc, Windsor Family Foundation, Sheboygan Press, and Great Lakes Blue Printers.

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