Tricounty News

Knaus Sausage House

From the Tri-County News, Centennial Edition Special Section Thursday, Aug. 7, 1986

Ole Knaus had a meat market in Watkins, which he sold to Joseph Leither.

Ole then proceeded to purchase a building in the town of Kimball, in the year 1912. Little did he realize this transaction would expand into the well-known and famous Knaus Sausage House.

Living accommodations were above the store, and Ole, his wife Theresa, and 10 children diligently shared the burden of work. His main source of transportation and communication was the horse and buggy. Ole slaughtered the animals on his land where he had built a slaughter house. Having no refrigeration, Ole had his sons cut ice in the winter and pack it in sawdust, a form of insulation, to prevent the rapid deterioration of the ice. The ice was then stored in an ice house Ole had built behind the butcher shop. It was then transported on top of coolers for the preservation of the meat. Theresa Knaus, not only raised her large family, but did her share of the work by mixing and grinding the meat for the sausage that gained the famous recognition through the years.

The second generation wheels began to roll when Ole sold his business to his son Aloys Knaus, better known as Butch. His wife Rena also helped in the store. They had one son, Al. Butch continued to make sausage from the recipe he obtained from his father. He proceeded to heed the call of progress and had electricity installed and refrigeration replaced the ice coolers making better accommodations and convenience for his customers. Lockers were installed and rented out enabling the farmers to take advantage of refrigeration. Their meat was packaged and labeled as to the contents making it possible for the customer to obtain the cuts of meat whenever he needed them. Butch, unlike his father, went to the individual farms to do the butchering.

Butch sold his business to his brother Carlyle and his wife LaVerne Knaus when Carlyle returned home from the Marine Corps on June 1, 1946. The business continued to be operated as Butch ran it for a couple of years. Then Carlyle began to remodel by tearing out the lockers in the store and had new lockers built next to the village hall. The coolers also were eliminated making more room in the meat market. Three large freezers were installed plus a curing room and two coolers for storage. Carl then bought
Dr. Sherwood’s building, south of the store, and added a grocery store. He proceeded to buy Shorty Baldwin’s grocery store and Ella Tufft’s restaurant, to the north, where another freezer and warehouse and sausage kitchen were added. He also added a slaughter house which is still in use.

Fifteen different kinds of sausages were introduced by Carlyle, plus pickled gizzards, turkey tails and pickled tongues.

Carlyle and LaVerne had seven children, two girls and five boys. All are presently active in the business except Diane.

In 1974, the business was incorporated and the third generation began to operate the business. Pat was elected president of the corporation. In 1976, a store in Maple Lake was purchased which Pat manages.

Suzette manages the grocery department, Ron the retail meat department, while Kurt and Doug do custom processing - cutting meat for the farmers. Ken is the sausage manager and Kurt assists in making the sausage.

LaVerne went to Wisconsin to learn the art of making bakery products and a small bakery department was installed. A Deli, which features homemade beans, potato salad, and other salads, also was added plus a section for various cheeses.

The production of sausage has grown to a ton a day. New modern equipment had to be added as the store prospered to enable them to keep up with the changing times. Everything has been upgraded from mechanical to electronic equipment. For example, the smoke house is now electric, instead of the old-fashioned method of coal and sawdust, to produce the smoke. A refrigerator truck was added and they go directly to the farmer’s home to do the butchering. The truck is fully equipped with a power hoist, water for sanitation and convenience. The meat is then taken to the store to be packaged and labeled. Carlyle retired in 1980.

Deer processing has increased to 800 a year and tons of venison sausage is produced.

The specialities they offer are barbecued ribs and broasted chicken.

The building has been remodeled inside and out, while the life-sized bull, the symbol of the market, has been elevated to a more prominent position on top of the building.

The fourth generation is already getting into the business by doing work assigned to them and the pride and love of their customers continues to flourish.

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Congratulations to Knaus Sausage House on the 100th Anniversary of their 1912 Kimball beginnings at its same Hazel Avenue and Main Street location, and if not the oldest operating business in Kimball, is one of the oldest with the above history.

Great gift idea: For that hard-to-shop-for friend or relative, All-School  Reunion Yearbooks are still available. Membership or renewal of membership for the Kimball Area Historical Society, other gifts from $2 to $10 are super buys also. Call soon.

Keep a close eye on this column to discover better-than-ever special-speaker events in February, April, June, August, September, October, and November 2013.

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Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!