My mother was an artist. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated from Drake University with a BFA in Art. Art is just who she was.
I don’t remember when she was first diagnosed with macular degeneration, but she lived with it for well over ten years. At the time of her diagnosis, she was doing finely detailed hand-painted cards. As the disease took away her ability to focus on these details, she explored other paint methods and settled on alcohol ink, loving how fluid the medium was, and yet she could manipulate the paint to create finely detailed pieces of art.
Cards were always her way of sharing her talent. I have copies of Christmas cards going back to the 1960s. Cards that she created by cutting her design into a linoleum block, then inking, stamping, and hand painting the detail. Others were in watercolor. My birthday invitation was just a black marker on orange paper. Because of this, I have years of her art, created just for me.
Mom passed away from kidney cancer in February 2021. At the end, she was almost blind. She could no longer pass the day reading books on her iPad. She could no longer spend sunny afternoons painting. Today I decided to tackle a stack of paper that was set on a shelf in her closet. I found this handwritten piece dated 18 Feb 2016. Her handwriting was still good. She wrote of her macular degeneration.
“I understand that everyone who has macular degeneration experiences it differently. This is my experience.
I can see the world around me, but I cannot see the fine detail.
I cannot see to read a book a magazine, a menu, people’s faces are distorted — but I can see geese in the sky migrating in the fall, stars on a clear night (what a thrill!), the beautiful white clean world after a snowfall. My world will never be dark. Not perfect, but not dark. Thank you, God!”
In 2018, I took a photo of a blazing orange sunset that I was watching from my kitchen window. I sent it to Mom, wanting to share its beauty and knowing that she could access it on her large iPad, blowing it up, expanding the image with her fingers so that she could see it. The next day, she painted what could see of our backyard and the blazing sky.
Macular degeneration is a funny thing. Mom could not see the television, and listening to programs irritated her. Yet there were mornings as I sorted our supplements, I would drop a Vitamin D gel tablet. Moving to quickly find it before our dog Lizzy would come to help, I would not see it, yet mom could always see it glisten and know just where it was. My mom’s world was not perfect, sometimes irritating, but never dark. Thank you, God!
In January of 1915, Hubert Fassbender’s cheese factories in the Town of Ellington, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, were running at full capacity. His wife Anna was about four months pregnant with their fourth child, their first-born, a son they named Clemens, was born on August 10, 1904, but sadly passed away just eight days later, and was buried in the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Greenville. Living at home were eight-year-old Mabel, born May 24, 1906, and five-year-old Gertrude, born July 28, 1909.
It was around this time that Hubert was approached with a business proposition. He met with Appleton resident John L. Jacquot whom he had known for several years. Jacquot who had moved to Appleton in 1903,1 owned and operated a cold storage and distribution depot on College Avenue, which moved local cheese all over the country. At the Jacquot facility in 1910, the first “Big Cheese,” a 4,000-pound American cheese, was constructed for the National Dairy Show, held in Chicago, from October 20th through the 29th.2
Hubert was invited to join Jacquot, who had partnered with the Ingersoll Packing Company of Ottawa, Canada, and the Martin Brothers and Company of Denver, Colorado in a new business venture, the business to be called The Bluhill Cheese Company would manufacture Anona Cheese for distribution west of the Mississippi.
In preparation for this new phase in life, on March 20, 1915, Hubert purchased a home in Appleton on Prospect Street from Flank Slattery.3 The home which was located at 930 Prospect Street, was renumbered in 1925 to its current address, 410 West Prospect Avenue. Hubert would live in this home until his death in 1947, and it was here that he and Anna welcomed their son, Hubert Peter, on July 27, 1915.
Six days before to the birth of his son, on July 21st, Hubert joined John Jacquot and Fred V. Heinemann in the office of George T. Richard at the Outagamie Loan and Title Co. to execute the new firm’s Articles of Organization.4
Two days later on July 29th, The BluHill Cheese Company, was incorporated with a capital stock of $30,000, three stockholders, and three hundred shares valued at one hundred dollars each. The stated purpose of the company was to “Manufacture, Buy, Sell, Store, Ship and deal in Cheese, Dairy Products and Food Products and to conduct such business incident thereto.”
The new company planned on opening on October 1st on West College Avenue next to John Jacquot’s cold storage facility at 1102 College Avenue.5 The building was just across Locust Street “where the Ruhsam Grocery store” was located. The address was 1086 College Avenue,6 and the building was situated on the west side of the block with College on the south, Richmond Street on the east, North Locust Street on the west, and West Washington Street on the north. Walgreens is currently (May 2023) the only building on this block, numbered 700 West College Avenue. The Ruhsam grocery building was to be the temporary location for the new company, as plans were being made for a new “factory, modern in every respect” which they planned to build in 1916.7
O. J. Ruhsam announced on August 18 that he had secured a new location, and Monday, August 23rd he would be open for business in the “old Maurer brick store at the corner of College avenue and Cherry street, near the C. & N. W. tracks.”8
While the newspaper does not announce the opening of the Bluhill plant, we can assume that it occurred on schedule as on December 10th an amendment to the articles of incorporation was filed, changing the name to the Anona Cheese Co., with C. C. L. Wilson of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada as president, and J. L. Jacquot, secretary and treasurer.9
By January 1916 the factory was in full operation, and there was a curiosity about this new product that “looks like a cross between cheese and butter,” which “can be spread over bread the same as butter” with one “brand” containing green chili. “It is very appetizing, and from an economical standpoint is a good product. Butter at present is worth about thirty-eight cents, while [a pound of] Anona Cheese sell for ten and fifteen cents.” “One package of the Anona cheese would go as far as one pound of butter.”
The Appleton Evening Crescent reported that “Hobart [sic] Fassbender, Maker is Closely Guarded During the Mixing Process—Cream Cheese and Other Ingredients Unknown to Public Used in Manufacturing.” “…he is closely guarded, because be it known, he alone knows the process by which Anona Cheese is made, and his employers are very desirous that this knowledge remain where it belongs, in the factory on the west end of College avenue.”10
Hubert was “enclosed by a big cage of wood, within which he is again caged in a steel enclosure, where he does the mixing that produces the Anona cheese, made from the best cream cheese and other ingredients unknown to the public in general…the secret of the process remains with him alone. Day after day he enters the cage, works all alone and emerges after the day’s work, conversing with no one except at meal time and evenings. Lonely work, but important.”11
The cheese used in Anona cheese was all made in Outagamie County from “summer made cheese.” While there was no retail outlet for the cheese, a “number of local concerns” were selling the product which was first placed on the market the last week in December 1915.12
Wednesday, January 12, 1916, may have dawned bright but soon darkened. While working in the plant Hubert “suffered a broken arm when he was caught in a belt.”13 Arriving home after his arm had been set, he learned that his five-month-old son who had the flu, was not getting better.14 Hubert Peter Fassbender passed away that evening at 6:00 p.m., “after a severe attack of convulsions.” He was buried two days later on Friday in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.15
In May plans to build a state-of-the-art facility were well underway, with the Appleton architectural firm DeLong and Son in charge of the design. The location chosen for the new building was on “the north side of the ravine, near the Maurer tailor shop, but across the ravine from it”16 and “opposite the Godfirnon Grocery store, adjoining the Haussmann property on the north side of the avenue.”17 The location? Where the Viking Theater would be built in 1941.
The building was to be eight stories tall, and the three below ground would be used as a cold storage facility, principally for Anona Cheese, and the Simon Cheese company, with room for other industries. The Appleton Ford Company would occupy the ground floor, and other industries and offices utilizing the rest of the space. Estimated to cost $100,000, the building would be “the most imposing structure on College avenue, the front to be of enameled terra cotta…[with a] frontage of 100 feet, and a depth of 150 feet.”18 The building will be of heavy construction, reinforced concrete, suitable for manufacturing purposes. Two elevators will afford transit accommodations for the building tenants.19
In 1942, at the time the Bahcall Building’s Viking Theater was built, the Appleton Post-Crescent described the ravine property this way: the property was “once a deep ravine in which rubbish and snow removed from city streets was dumped…Residents of Appleton who have forgotten the depth of the ravine, and since the filling in have lost their conception of the building’s [the Bahcall Building] depth under the ground level, will be amazed at the floor space in the basement and sub-basement. Not only are they tremendous in size, but both are 16 feet in height with the exception of the portion under the theater which varies from 10 to 16 feet because of the auditorium’s sloping floor…”20 The perfect space to house cold storage.
On June 21st for $2,500, the Appleton Ford Company purchased two tracts of land adjoining the land for the new building. This T-shaped piece of property would presumably have been a car lot, with the showroom located on the ground floor of the new building.21
The location of the building was chosen not only for the benefit of the ravine but theproximity to the railway lines. Surveys were run “for the trackage, which will reach the building on the north and west sides,” and the company now awaited “sanction of the city council before going ahead with the actual construction” of the building.22 The plan was to have two Chicago & Northwestern railway tracks “one running along the north side of the building, the other on the west side. Besides these, there will be team tracks on the west side. If the tracks are laid as outlined, one of the cement sheds near the market on Walnut street will have to be removed.” “Mayor Knuppel said…that no decision would be given relative to running the track through the stock fair grounds until an engineer has shown them just what was desired.”23
It is not known whether the city did not approve the petition for a new sidetrack from the C. & N.W. Railway, or the fact that the Chicago and Northwestern Railway failed to build a “much heralded” new freight depot. The new depot had been promised by the railroad for more than two years and was to have been constructed in 1916.24
Whatever the reason, the Anona stockholders decided not to go ahead with the proposed building on College Avenue. Instead, they reversed course and made the decision to move the company to Chicago citing “poor shipping facilities” as the reason for the move and they “expected that better shipping facilities will greatly aid business.”25 Interestingly enough, the Appleton Evening Crescent published an article directly above the Anona announcement titled: “New Freight Depot Now A Certainty” which reported that the plans for the new freight depot were ready, and work would start in the spring.
His young family was settling into life in Appleton, and Hubert decided not to move with the company to Chicago, sending a letter on February 10, 1917, to C. C. Martin in Denver stating his decision and inquiring about disposing of his stock. Martin responded on February 17th, stating that he had forwarded Hubert’s request and decision to the Ingersoll Packing Co. in Canada. He went on to say that the company would prefer the stock be held by the original incorporators, but if not, at the “proper time” it would be “absorbed by those remaining in the company.” Hubert agreed to stay with the company to assist with preparing for the move, which Martin expected to occur “about the last week in March.”26
By the middle of March the new facilities near the Fulton markets, were ready, and the packing of the machinery was completed, ready for the three-day journey to Chicago. Work had already begun in tearing down the plant on West College Avenue.27
On April 18, 1917, following a special meeting of the stockholders, “the articles of said corporation be so amended so as to increase the capital stock of said Anona Cheese Co. from three hundred (300) shares of one hundred ($100) dollars each, to five hundred (500) shares at one hundred ($100) dollars each, so that the authorized capital stock of the corporation shall be fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars; and that the said articles be further amended empowering the said corporation to do business both within and without the state of Wisconsin.” The change was signed by C. C. L. Wilson, President, and J. L. Jacquot, Secretary and Treasurer.28
With Anona leaving Appleton for Chicago, Hubert was left without a job. His whole life having been spent in the dairy industry, it is no surprise that 10 months later, in early February 1918, Hubert, his wife, Anna, and Peter Ulmen signed incorporation documents for the South Kaukauna Dairy. The new factory was located in South Kaukauna, Outagamie, Wisconsin, and was incorporated with a capital stock of $10,000.29
Hubert never forgot his short time with Anona. He loved to talk about his years in the milk and creamery business, and area Rotary Clubs were eager to invite him to speak. In April 1929, speaking at the Kaukauna Rotary business meeting, he had this to say: “At [sic] the honor of making the first Anona cheese. This still is being made by that company in Chicago.”30
Two years later on March 2, 1931, Borden Company acquired “the entire assets and business of the Anona Cheese Company of Chicago…”31 The dissolution of the company occurred at a stockholder meeting held in Madison, Dane, Wisconsin. “The firm had 1,000 shares of stock and all voted in favor of the dissolution. Officers of the company were: C. C. Martin, president; and J. F. Tines, secretary.”3233
And two years after the dissolution of the Anona Cheese Co., Hubert introduced a natural cheese product that “Spreads Like Butter.” He created four flavors: Plain, Chili, Pimento, and Limburger. Coincidence? I personally don’t think so. But that is a story for another day.
Thomas H. Ryan, Editor-in-Chief, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin: Being a General Survey of Outagamie County History including a History of the Cities, Towns and Villages throughout the County, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), p. 946-947.
“To Make 4,000 Pound Cheese,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 9 Sep 1910, Friday, p. 1, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 13 Jun 2023).
“Real Estate,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 20 Mar 1915, Saturday, p. 5, col. 5; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 3 Sep 2018).
Anona Cheese Company, Corporation Documents, 1915-1931; File no. A 001286, Box no. 0022; Domestic Corporation; Outagamie County, Corporations Index; Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, United States.
Anona Cheese is Now Being Made in City,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 5 Jan 1916, Wednesday, p. 1, col. 7; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 3 Sep 2018).
I was introduced to Robert Thomas’ book Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven: History of the Village and Borough of Oedekoven1in 1999, but it is only recently that I have been able to actually see the pages. And while the book answers many questions, it also raises so many more.
During a 1999 visit with Arthur Ellenbecker, grandson of Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender, he stated that before his marriage, his great-grandfather, Johann Fasbender, had lived in an apartment behind the “third upper window from the right” of Tempelhof Manor.
Thomas states through Google Translate: “Several generations of the Faßbender family subsequently lived in the former Tempelhof, the part of the manor house with the chapel, while the part of the farm belonged to the Raes family. The merchant Bel, also known as Mair von Oedekoven in French times, still lived as a landowner on the Tempelhof in 1825, but may have given up his ownership of the former Tempelhof in Oedekoven shortly afterwards.”2
The paragraph previous to the one above tells of the French needing to sell land “due to great financial needs.” In 1804 they sold a house and a field to Th. Faßbender, and a house, garden, vineyard, and a meadow to P. Schmitz. In 1808 the French sold Tempelmühle, Tempelhof manor, the chapel, fields, vineyards, and meadows to Joseph Bel. [Blog post: Tempelhof Manor and Tempelmühle aka Belsmühle]
Writing about the Tempelmühle, Thomas writes of the sale of the mill to Joseph Bel, and states that the property “remained in the possession of the Bel family throughout the French administration and up to the present day .”3 He even runs through the generations of ownership, ending with the fact that the last generation to run the mill was married in 1906 and that his daughter was the present  owner, and the mill “is now used only as a residence.”4
Tennessen family legend states that Mathias Tönnessen worked for Joseph Bel as his chauffeur and “chief-hunter” in the years before Joseph’s death. Mathias was only 14 years old when Joseph passed away.5
To summarize without conclusion:
April 1808 – Joseph Bel purchases Tempelhof Manor including the chapel, fields, vineyards, meadows, and the Tempelmühle.
May 1808 – Joseph Bel marries Anna Maria Schweikart.
1814-1816 – Bel is the mayor of Oedekoven.
1825 – according to Thomas, this is the last time Bel is noted in documents as the owner of Tempelhof Manor and Chapel.
After 1825 – Speculation that Bel gave up his ownership of the Tempelhof.
1830 – Joseph and Anna Maria’s 4th born child, Carl Michael marries Maria Gertrud Löltgen and took over the role of Miller at Tempelmühle.
1837 – Joseph Bel dies in Oedekoven.
1838 – Johann Faßbender and Salome Barbara Bel marry in Oedekoven.
1838 – Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender is born in Oedekoven.
1843 – Johann passes away in Oedekoven.
1848 – Salome Barbara Bel Faßbender marries Mathias Tönnessen in Oedekoven.
1856 – Mathias Tönnessen, Salome, Peter Fassbender, Henry and Philip Tönnessen emigrate to Wisconsin, United States.
1857 – Anna Maria Schweikart Bel passes away in Poppelsdorf.
1860 – Salome dies in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
1864 – A fire at Tempelhof destroys the courtyard and damages the chapel.
1864 – The chapel is decommissioned, a “figure of Mary” and the altar is moved to the Oedekoven chapel, St. Mary’s Marriage.
January-March 1899 – Peter Fassbender returns to Oedekoven for a visit.
Did Joseph leave Tempelhof Manor and move his residence to Tempelmühle, hiring Mathias Tönnessen as his chauffeur and “chief-hunter?” Did the Fassbender family subsequently move into the manor, Johann’s room being behind the “third upper window from the right?
And then there is this image from the Robert Thomas book. The caption reads: “Owner family of the former Tempelhof around 1900.”6 The photo can be found elsewhere with this Google Translated caption: “Tempelhof, the family who owned it, turned to the photographer around 1900. In the background the former chapel of the Tempelhof. Photo from the private archive of Heinrich Arenz, Oedekoven.”7 I have cropped it to focus on just one figure. I am not saying that this is Peter Fassbender (who was home for three months in 1899), but it could be. But if not, the family resemblance is strong.
PS: I HATE how large these photos are, but for now I have to go with it.
Robert Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei .Oedekoven: History of the Village and Borough of Oedkeoven (N.p.: Hrsg. von Gemeinde Alfter/Pfarrgemeinde St. Laurentius, Lessenich, 1978).
Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven, p. 92.
ibid, p. 233.
ibid, p. 234.
Roger Tennessen, email to Susan Sternitzky Fassbender, 2001.
Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven, p. 89.
At the top of a hill in Oedekoven, Nordhrhein-Westfalen, Germany, sits a small chapel built by the townspeople in 1756. It was given the name of The Seven Pleasures of Mary when consecrated in 1757, but the name was later changed to St. Mary’s Marriage.
This small chapel, 20 feet long, and 13-14 feet wide, was too small to hold the townspeople for Mass, so was used for saying a communal rosary, and private prayer. For Mass and sacraments such as baptism, the people of Oedekoven traveled to the nearby town of Lessenich to St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Oedekoven did not have its own church until 1947 when St. Mary’s Ascension was constructed near the chapel.1
Why does this small chapel, included in the chalk drawing given to Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender in 1904, hold a special meaning to the Fassbender family? It is the altarpiece.
This altarpiece graced the chapel at Tempelhof until the fire of 1864. The fire burned part of the farmyard to the outer walls, damaging the adjoining manor house and chapel. At this time, the chapel was decommissioned, and the altar and pictures were transferred to the Oedekoven chapel, St. Mary’s Marriage.2
Wikiwand’s translation describes the altar this way: “The rococo altarpiece (late baroque) and the figures were restored [in 1981]. The altarpiece and the figure of Mary above the entrance came to this chapel only in 1864, after the chapel in the temple courtyard, where they originally were, was destroyed in a fire. The altarpiece was probably originally colored. In the center is the image of the Holy Family adoringly looking at the newborn child. Above that the lamb lying on the book with the seven seals (Rev 5-8 EU). In the round arch of the altarpiece is the Christ monogram “IHS” in a halo, often translated as “Jesus, Savior, Blessed.”3
It is absolutely amazing to me to think that I could travel to Oedekoven, Germany, and enter the chapel that was part of the community when the Fassbender and Nettekoven families were living there, and stand before the altar that was first installed in the chapel in Tempelhof.
It was a warm July day 117 years ago this month, when an Appleton Evening Crescent reporter strolled through City Park accompanied by a staff photographer, Le Roy.
They were looking for the men who, for the past ten years , had been spending lazy afternoons in the park. The men, ranging in age from 58 to 85 lived within walking distance and on “sunshiny afternoon[s]” “when the park trees made oasis of shade, and the lawn mower hummed busily away over in some distant corner of the green square,” they would gather. The men were known as Appleton’s “Uncommon Council.”
It started simply. The retired men would “take long rambling walks about the city, and one after the other formed the habit of stopping for a moment at the city park.” Peter Fassbender was one of these men who after his move to Appleton in 1901, found his way to the park, to the northwest corner where there were high-backed red benches, “more comfortable than the usual family of park bench.” “One can’t imagine how comfortable and homelike three plain park benches can be made to look until one has seen those three benches occupied by a group of white-bearded, snow-haired old men, leaning on the cane that rests between their knees, their hats in the hands, their pipe, perhaps, held comfortably in the hollow of the left palm, and their faces full of the look of comfort, and companionship, and now and then wreathed in a smile that is followed by a chuckle, as one of their numbers breaks into a witticism.”
There was a green bandstand in the center of the park. In those days it contained four tables, shiny from years of coat sleeves and card paying, games such as seven-up or Schafskopf. The perfect spot to spend a rainy afternoon.
When they were not playing cards, you might hear them speak of the past. Of their days serving our country during the Civil War, or as they swatted a mosquito, recalling the pests of times past…”’Why, back in Oconto county we used to wear gloves on our hands and veils on our faces when we ploughed…’”
The reporter states that “old age means loneliness, sometimes” as wives pass away, and children marry and move away. But these men found friendship, companionship, and a way to spend a hot summer afternoon in the cool and shady park. 1
‘“Appleton’s Uncommon Council.”’ Appleton Evening Crescent, 1 Jul 1905, Saturday, p. 1, col. 2; digital imges, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 31 Aug 2018).
Every so often I enter “White Clover Dairy, Hollandtown” into a search engine just to see what will pop up. This time I got a surprise.
Dairy Foods Magazine’s James Carper wrote an article about Arla Foods which was published on March 8, 2017.1 I cannot comment on the accuracy of the article as it pertains to Arla’s cheese production, but I can, and will comment on his opening statement.
I have written before as to my feelings about how Arla has wiped the Fassbender family from the history of the property and the plant. And this article is no exception.
Carper opens the article with this statement: “To see how White Clover Dairy grew up [GREW UP!!!?] to become Arla Foods, it helps to look at a series of aerial photos hung in the entrance hallway to this cheese plant in Hollandtown, Wis.” [HOW did Arla get these images? Minus the one were “the house is gone,” these images are in our families possession]. He continues: “In the first image there is a farmhouse near the original plant. Later images show how expansions to the plant crept closer and closer to the house. Eventually, the plant completely surrounds the farmhouse, and in the last image, the house is gone…”
If Carper had chosen to enter “White Clover Dairy, Hollandtown” into a search engine, he would have quickly discovered that this “farmhouse” was the original owner and cheesemaker’s home.
The house built in 1916 was not a farmhouse, never hosted thrashers, and the nearest cows belonged to the farm across the street from both the house and the factory. The closest that Ida Fassbender came to feeding farmhands, was when she would feed lunch to factory workers. But these men and women did not come in from the fields, but at noon walked next door for a home-cooked meal.
Henry Fassbender purchased White Clover in 1906, and it is because of his leadership, his vision, and his passion, all of which he passed down to his children, that there was a factory in Hollandtown for Arla to purchase. I am proud of this legacy, and will continue to work to keep it alive.