Contents © 2016 Harold Pfohl


William and Augusta’s children experienced a life that was still heavily influenced by German language and culture.  English was taught in their country school, German was the language of the church service and a mix of German and English was spoken at home.

Their experiences of life on the farm were representative of the experiences of most German-American farmers in the upper Midwest in that era.  The modern world was transforming life and easing burdens, but the nature of the work and the self-sufficiency required were remarkable.  The daily life described here was commonplace then but is virtually non-existent in our time.



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William & Augusta Lueder’s children.  L-R: Gerald, Viola, Harold, Elda, Edgar, Cordelia, Renata  Source – family photo – about 1923

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L-R: Gerald, Renata, Cordelia, Father William, Viola, Harold, Mother Augusta, Edgar, Elda  Source – family photo – about 1924-25.


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Wisconsin, 1924 – Source – David Rumsey collection

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Location of the William and Augusta Lueder dairy farm  Courtesy of Steve Lueders, Source – Ozaukee County Historical Society


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Home – three miles west of Cedarburg on Bridge Rd.  Apple trees grow beyond the fence.  Source – family photo – about mid 1920s.


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Augusta’s brother Charlie Nieman operated a somewhat different farm from that owned by William and Augusta.  Nonetheless, the receipts in his January 1910 book keeping entry give an idea of income for that era on a small farm.


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Herding cows on Bridge Rd.  Source – family

Traffic was limited, and Bridge St. was just a country lane. For quite a few years, the Lueders used a pasture that required herding the cows along the street each morning and evening. The photo is from the 1940s but could easily have been the 1920s. The boy is Cordelia’s son, Ronald Pfohl.

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Edgar Lueder in the barn in later years – about 1970.  Source – Mark Krueger

Viola – “Your Mom (Cordelia) & I always had to help Edgar in the barn with the chores.  Always feeding the cows, bedding them, brushing them and whatever.  Between you and me and the fence post, as the saying goes, your Mother and I could do the barn chores from morning ‘til night and that included everything if it had to be.  No one else needed.”

The writer, as a five year old boy in 1947, sat high on the steps in the photo when visiting the farm and saw laid out before him a mighty agricultural empire with his big, wise and strong uncles feeding, milking and controlling enormous beasts.


Source – Pinterest

Viola – “There was never a shortage of work on the farm and we all had to pitch in and help.  At the age of 14 after confirmation we were taught how to milk the cows.  We each had certain cows that were ours to milk morning and night.”

Cordelia“It was not such a bad chore except when the cows would kick or swish their dirty tails in our faces.

* * * * * *

There were always numerous cats around the barn which was beneficial since they kept the rodent population down. They knew that if they were behind the cow they would occasionally get a squirt of milk pointed directly at them and they loved it.


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Source – Cordelia Lueder diary

“Very warm and beautiful outside.  Sunshine all day.  Quite muddy.  In forenoon hauled manure.  Heard whistles & bells for armistice.”  (The armistice occurred in 1918.  WW I was so horrific that celebration of the end of it continued for a number of years)

“In afternoon Ed. & Viola were to town.  Art. Helm and Otto J. Groth were here and wanted our milk.  Ed. & Pa fixed tractor.”

* * * * * *

Perhaps Art Helm and Otto J. Groth operated a commercial dairy and were interested in contracting for the milk from the Lueder farm.


Creamery – at the corner of Bridge and Granville Rds.  Source – family photo

For many years the milk was hauled to the creamery at the northwest corner of Bridge Rd., and Granville Rd.  Three different families occupied and operated the creamery over time with three features that the Lueder children distinctly remembered: practicing nudists, moonshiners, and a man who beat his horse to death.  The operators were very poor.

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Bridge Rd., February, 1936 – dairy farmers returning from delivering milk to the Cedarburg dairy  Source – family photo

The winter of 1936 was memorable. The snow overwhelmed the graders and blowers, and roads remained unplowed for an extended period. The traffic shown consists of farmers hauling their milk to the dairy over an unplowed road, either Bridge Street or Western Avenue. Most farmers still used horses as well as tractors.

Cows must be milked every evening and again every morning.  Under normal circumstances, milk was picked up daily in the morning from the dairy farms around Cedarburg.  Lack of trucking due to the storm meant milk spoilage, which meant lost income to the hard-working farmers and shortages to the city folk.



Tante (Aunt) Mary Lueder, wife of William’s brother, Albert.  Source – family photo

We’ve met Aunt Mary previously.  Mary, a kind person, had a hard life.  She and Albert had three fine daughters, Hulda, Erna and Anita. Unfortunately, Albert preferred beer to farming. “Tante” Mary made “cooked cheese,” (gekochter kãse) carted it to town with horse and wagon, and sold it to stores, barely making ends meet. Tante Mary and the girls also did the farm chores.  Not surprisingly, Erna and Anita never married. Hulda died in 1905 at the age of 14.


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At Lueder’s barn: Herziger’s meat market gets a bull – April 13, 1928  Source – family photo

Edgar Lueder is shown after loading their old bull onto Herziger’s Dodge truck. Trucking was a particularly desirable convenience when dealing with something as dangerous as a Holstein bull, an animal that is huge, unpredictable, and sometimes violent.

* * * * * *

In earlier years, prior to availability of trucking, a rope would have been passed through the large ring in the bull’s nose, tied to the back of a wagon and the bull would have been led to town with a team of horses pulling the wagon, or alternatively, the bull would have been butchered at home.

Bulls were a necessary hazard for a dairy farm. Cows are mammals, and in order to give milk, they must periodically have a calf; hence the indispensable bull. The ring in the bull’s nose was capable of causing incapacitating pain, and was a necessity for safe handling of the animal. It had everything to do with preservation of life and limb of the farmer and nothing to do with abuse.  A mature holstein bull weighs about 2,000 lbs!

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Source – fantastic_farm_and_country_photos.com

When neighbor George Weidman’s bull escaped into the fields, the situation was regarded as sufficiently dangerous that his neighbors arrived mounted on their farm horses with shotguns loaded with salt to help get the bull back into its pen. After a bit of salt, the bull headed back for the barn voluntarily.


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Lueder’s chickens  Source – family photo

Viola”We all had to help with the work…Elda’s chore was taking care of the chickens & hens.  Your Mom (Cordelia) had the ducks and sheep.”

Geese and ducks were also useful, providing both food and down. The entire household slept in down feather beds.

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Renata’s daughter, Glenrose Heckendorf, with chickens on the Lueder farm. 1932.  Source – family photo

Renata’s two-year-old daughter, Glenrose Heckendorf, is with the chickens.  Chickens were a permanent fixture on the farm and filled the kitchen pot for three to four dinners per week. Dinner was the largest meal of the day, held at noon to provide sufficient fuel for the afternoon labor.

There is an altogether superior taste to a free-ranging chicken, fed on grain versus chicken coming from the mass-produced enclaves that now supply most of the fowl that we consume. Elda’s chicken dinner was worth a special trip to Lueders.


Elda in later years grading eggs – about 1970.  Source – Mark Krueger

When the siblings were children, their mother would preserve eggs for the winter – unboiled – in a “special” water.  Perhaps they were somehow pickled.  The hens didn’t lay eggs during the winter.

Elda spent thousands of hours of her life taking care of the chickens, gathering eggs, cleaning butchered chickens (Edgar butchered them) and preparing chickens and eggs for sale.

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Source – Cordelia Lueder diary

“December 21, 1925, Mon.  Clear & sometimes cloudy & snow.  Killed & picked 7 geese & 2 ducks.  Edgar was to town in afternoon.  Otto Kison was here in evening & got goose.”

Cordelia: “One of my jobs was to take care of the ducks we raised for our own use. I used to take an empty bottle out to the field near the grain shocks, catch grasshoppers and put them into the bottle, take them home and as they hopped out ducks would gobble them up. They also like earthworms, so I would lift up stones, they would crawl under and gobble them up. One time I accidentally let a big rock fall and one little duckling was killed. It wasn’t easy for me to tell Mama what I had done!”



Chicken, axe, and a block of wood.  Source – 13moonsfarm.wordpress.com



Source – web


Source – author photo

In our era we are far removed from the realities involved in the process of getting meat on the table. For millennia, the butchering that is described below differed little from generation to generation. Now the process is mechanized, industrialized, and engineered on a mass scale. We hardly ever think of the process involved.

Butchering was commonplace on farms. It was a necessity. In the towns one was insulated from the slaughtering process by purchasing meat from a butcher shop. Cedarburg had one butcher shop in one family was immensely popular for nearly a century – “Hoffman’s Meat Market.”

The meat that was provided from the fall butchering on the farm formed a mainstay of the daily diet.

Cordelia“… butchering time every winter. Several hogs and one beef were butchered for our year’s supply of meat. We all had to help. Poppa was the butcher, Uncle Otto (Lueders) came to help…. Mama had to ‘catch’ the blood to be used for the blood and potato sausage. Edgar and Renata ‘kneaded’ and mixed the ground beef and pork in a large wooden tub for the summer sausages. Some garlic and spices were added. This was ‘stuffed’ into casings and then smoked in the smokehouse. After the sausage had hung in the smoke for a while, Pappa would bring in a sample for all of us to taste, to see if it had smoked enough. What a delicious snack.

“We had meat on the table every day…pork, beef, veal, mutton, and chicken.  Lambs were usually butchered in the fall.  Occasionally we would have wild rabbit (in winter) providing Edgar could catch one in his homemade trap.”

“We had no refrigerator so the meat had to be preserved in various ways. Some of the beef was canned, hams and bacon were smoked in the smokehouse.  Pork was fried and put in gallon crocks and hot lard poured over it to seal it. There was always lots of lard. Once in a while Poppa would butcher a calf and, in fall, a lamb. None of us cared too much for mutton. I couldn’t stand the odor while it was cooking!”

* * * * * *

The “casings” were hogs intestines that were cleaned, sterilized by boiling, stuffed with sausage meat and then smoked in Lueder’s smokehouse.  The casings were perfect for this since they were porous and allowed the smoke to readily penetrate to the meat thus preserving it for the winter.

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Source – Cordelia Lueder diary

“December 14, Mon. cloudy outside but not so cold. Killed three Berkshires, Arnold Nieman & Uncle Otto (Lueders) helped.”


Berkshire hogs  Source – web


Berkshire hogs  Source – web

Viola:  “Butchering and sausage making. Butchering and making sausages was always exciting for us children. When we were older and had to help it meant work of which there was enough to keep everyone busy.

Pappa would butcher five hogs and a heifer or steer. Uncle Otto Lueders butchered the pigs, and Pa butchered the beef. By this I mean that they did the killing. The hogs have to be scalded in a barrel of hot water. Otherwise the hair cannot be scraped off. Early in the morning on the day of butchering Pa would go and start a fire under the huge cauldron so that the water would be boiling by the time neighbors came to help.”

Cordelia: “I really never liked the killing part – to hear the hogs squeal!”

Viola: “The catching up of the pigs’ blood and cleaning the casings were women’s work.”

“The liver, some of it, the hearts and tongues were cooked. The beef tongues were smoked. Different meats went into different sausages. Summer sausage was the main sausage made. Then there was a lung sausage, liver sausage, pork sausage, and a potato blood sausage. Ma also made another kind of blood sausage that Pa liked.”

“Pappa and Edgar brought the whole pig in and cut it up. Some for smoked ham, bacon and roasts, and quite a lot went into the summer sausages. All the meat cutting was done in the kitchen so also the sausage making.”

Cordelia: “Edgar and Renata kneaded and mixed the ground beef and pork in a large wooden tub for the summer sausage. Some garlic and spices were added. This was stuffed into casings and then smoked in the smokehouse.”

Viola: “The fat from the porkies’ back had to be strips, the skin taken off and then the fat was run through the meat grinder. So also the meat for the summer sausage. After the lard was ground was rendered by the time that was done there would be eight or 10 1 gallon crocks filled with lard. This lard was used for baking, frying, and eating. We all like freshly rendered lard spread on bread.”

“After the summer sausage was stuffed into the casings, it was hung in the basement to dry for a day or two. Then it was carried into the smokehouse. Pa had the best smokehouse in the whole neighborhood. Hardwood was used for smoking. A few sausages were made in small casings. These would be done early, so when they had been in the smokehouse for a few days then Pa would say, I think I will go and get some sausage. He did and we all got a taste of it.”

“Homemade summer sausage and homemade bread and a glass of sweet cider something to write home about.”

“After all was done came the hard work of cleaning the kitchen up again. It took a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease.”


Cauldrons used for scalding hogs – Source – shelbycountyihistory.org


Source – ancientgardenerblog.blogspot.com


Source – hagenbuch.org


Source – gherkinstomatos.com


Source – recochanboy from flickr


Source – weaversofwellsville.com

The fire in the smokehouse was always smoldering and smoking, never blazing as in the photo.


Source – ifoodblogger.com

Viola: “it was nice upstairs but in winter at times it was bitter cold. After butchering the north room (bedroom) was where the sausages and meat were. It seems the winters must have been colder than they now are for the frost on that North window at times was an inch thick.”  Lueder’s home was not insulated.  That was commonplace for homes built in that era (1903 in this instance).”

“Edgar hated the killing part of butchering and was a member of the Humane Society for many years.”


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Edgar high on the ladder picking apples, Elda on the ground – 1930s.  Source – family photo

Viola“there were always spring chickens in the orchard.  And on these beautiful autumn days picking apples, listening to the roosters crowing, the hens cackling and in the swamp the crows cawing to each other, it is something I will not ever forget.”

The apple trees were quite tall and the ladders were accordingly high.

In later years agronomists created trees with a dwarf stock that the desired apples were grafted onto. As a consequence that, plus pruning, made the picking far more manageable


Elda sorting apples next to the orchard with toddler nieces Marcella and three year old Sylvia about 1936.  Source – family photo


Picking and storing apples.  Source – family photo

Brother-in-law John Pfohl on the left, Edgar in back with a huge cigar.  Late 1930s.  Apples were stored in the basement of the house and kept well for the entire winter.

For many years the farm kept ten acres of apple trees and did the necessary pruning, spraying and picking.  Weekends during the fall and part of the winter would involve going to a farmers’ market in Milwaukee (20 miles away) to sell a panel truck load of apples.



Source – family photo

Carrots – October 18 – 21, 1932

Carrots were planted on one acre as a contract cash crop for two years during the Great Depression. The farm was barely making interest payments on the mortgage, and carrots helped to provide badly needed cash. The labor required was disproportionate to the meager profit realized, and carrot farming was soon abandoned. Potatoes, however, were planted and harvested for many years.


Picking carrots – October 18 – 21, 1932  Source – family photo

L-R: William Lueder, Erwin Graese, Edgar Lueder, Alice Heckendorf Lueder, Cordelia Lueder Pfohl, Elda Lueder, “Oma” Graese, and Viola Lueder Graese.


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Source – family photo

Cordelia’s responsibility was caring for the family sheep – late 1920s.

The sled in the background behind the sheep was used to transport the family in winter, e.g., to birthday and card parties and to church.  It was a two horse sled.  Hot bricks were used to keep the feet warm.

The Lueders kept four or five sheep for wool and mutton, butchering one each fall along with some lambs. Lueder’s woolen quilts from the 1920s, with new coverings, are now going through their third and fourth generation of use and remain wonderfully comfortable.

Viola: “in March when the days were warm and sunny pot would leave the ewes with the lambs outdoors. The lambs would frolic about. We like to watch them. In the spring the sheep had to be sheared. Pa had only a hand sheep shearing scissor. The sheep were put on a table and Poppa and Edgar would do the shearing. A household scissors was also used.… We kids at times had to take hold of the legs. It made the shearing easier. The sheep never fought back but lay quietly.”


L-R – Harold and Elda with a sheep, Viola with a lamb.  Early 1920s. – Source – family photo


Harold and a friend, Richard Cashman, bottle feeding a lamb. – Source – family photo


Renata with two lambs – Source – family photo


Snookums – a runt lamb bottle fed and raised by sixteen year old Cordelia in 1926. – Source – family photo


Snookums, the runt lamb, and Cordelia Lueder – 1926 – Source – family photo

Cordelia loved animals (with the exception of cats and squirrels). Snookums was a runt lamb and couldn’t compete with its twin for milk. Sixteen-year-old Cordelia bottle-fed him, and he became quite attached to her.  One of her favorite memories of growing up on the farm was Snookums, running across the pasture when she called. Snookums eventually grew up and was butchered. Cordelia hated mutton.

She would tease the sheep buck until it would charge and then she would jump over the fence.

Some of the dietary knowledge that we now have was missing back then. The fat had to be eaten along with the lean. Cordelia and Viola hated fat and, as small children managed to hide the scraps on a little shelf protruding underneath the dining table. This was practiced successfully for a time until William and Augusta had a party, decided to expand the table, opened it and there were all of the scraps!






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