Category: Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender

The Fassbenders, the Cheese, and Wisconsin

1926ca - Milk Cans

I first started researching this topic in 1998 at the request of my father-in-law who wished to know more about his grandparents. It still saddens me that he did not live to enjoy my findings, but even more so, that I was unable to discuss the stories, and to ask what he remembered about the events that I was uncovering. The prompt to blog this history is the fact that these stories are disappearing. That the successful cheese factories that were built by the Fassbender men and later sold to large corporations have had the story of their origin either altered or deleted from the company history. I can’t let that happen.

Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender had been residing in Ellington Township, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin for approximately 9 years when in 1872 he decided to enter the cheese and butter manufacturing business. He chose a site across the road from the family home to build his first factory. By 1887 the factory had a capacity of 11,000 pounds of milk per day, which Peter obtained by purchasing milk from his farming neighbors, and from 24 of his own cows. Peter’s eldest son, John, returned home to work along side his father. As a 20 year old, he was an experienced cheesemaker, having worked in various cheese factories since the age of 16. [1]  Peter also enlisted the help of 19 year old Joseph, and two years later in 1889, 14 year old Hubert joined the family business. [2]  Showing remarkable skill and interest in the making of cheese, Hubert would be in “full charge of the factory” by the time he turned 16 in 1891. [3]  It was at this time that John left his father’s factory and “embarked on the business himself, conducting a factory for five years.” [4]  The youngest son, Henry, was not yet born when his father began making cheese and butter, so he literally grew up in the factory and would follow in his elder brothers footsteps, and in time become a cheesemaker in his own right.

SOURCES:

  1. Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 764.
  2. Ryan, History of Outagamie County, 958.
  3. The Appleton Post-Crescent, “Rotary Club Hears Talk On Creamery Business.” 18 April 1929.
  4. Ryan, History of Outagamie County, 765.

It’s a Google World

It is hard to remember the internet without the term “Well just Google it!” What a difference it has made in our lives, and in our genealogy.

I recently began working on a revised edition of my book about the Fassbenders, and one sleepless morning I attacked the pages of the book that chronicle their lives in Oedekoven, Germany. It had been a few years since I had Googled Oedekoven, and wanting to beef up the early history section of the book, I started an intense Google search. Knowing the Fassbenders had been Roman Catholic for “as far back as can be traced,” [1] I was looking closely at the history of the Catholic church in the region. My morning Google search showed me that the small chapel built in Oedekoven in 1756 was only large enough for private prayer, so regular church attendance in 1856 still occurred at St. Lawrence in Lessenich. This confirmed why all of the baptism, marriage and death records were recorded in this nearby village. Wikipedia, translated from its German page, gave me an insight into the chapel, now called St. Mary’s Marriage.

1904 St. Mary's Marriage

Later that morning as I was heading down to our lower level, I stopped on the landing to look at a chalk drawing that I received from Peter Fassbender’s grandson, Arthur. The drawing was done in 1904 by an unnamed cousin of Peter’s. Looking at the drawing I let out a gasp! For up in the hills sat the exact chapel that I had been learning about during my Google morning.

If you haven’t Googled an ancestor’s homeland in a while, do so, I bet you will be amazed at what has been uploaded since you last searched.

SOURCES:

  1. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley Counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago, (Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers. 1895), 571.