Petzold Smoke House

The Petzold Log Smoke House, built in 1896, was originally located at 16010 Lax Chapel Road in the town of Schleswig in southwestern Manitowoc County. At the time the smoke house was built, the property was owned by Gustave and Pauline Petzold who purchased the farm in 1885. The smoke house was built of log because wood was plentiful on the property and therefore cost nothing to the owner. The property was sold to their son and daughter-in-law, William and Katherine Petzold, in 1913. The Petzold’s only used the smoke house for smoking their own meats.

The farm and smoke house were later purchased by the Stephen and Catherine Klich family in 1945 or 1946. The Klich family did not use the building as a smoke house, but instead used it for storage of gardening tools. According to Mrs. George (Clara Klich) Lang, she and her brothers played in a sand hill near the smoke house and used it to store their toys.

The Petzold Log Smoke House was donated by Clara Klich Lang, with full approval from her brothers James and William Klich, and was moved to the Village in August of 1985. Red Arrow Products of Manitowoc paid the moving expenses. The building was initially located on the east side of the Village, behind the Law Office, but was moved to become part of the Kunze homestead in the spring of 1995.

In the days before refrigerators, freezers or even ice boxes, food was preserved by smoking or drying. Carrots often were stored in sand and placed in a crawl space or cellar. Green beans were strung on thread and hung from the ceiling to dry. Spring houses were used to preserve fresh meat and dairy products. A spring house was a storehouse or shed built over a spring or part of a brook. Milk pails, crocks and wooden buckets were placed in the cool water.

Meat was kept either by frying the meat and packing it in crocks covered with fat then storing the crocks in a cool cellar or by smoking it.

After slaughtering, an animal was bled and the carcass dipped in hot water to help scrape off the hair. After this process the animal was ready to be butchered. Butchering usually took place in December or January when the meat would cool naturally. The hams and bacon would be cured in salt brine for six to eight weeks and then smoked for one week. Summer sausage was also made at butchering time. Usually hickory or maple wood was used for smoking the meat. Great care had to be taken to keep a slow fire going continuously for too much heat would cause spoilage. Children often skipped school on butchering day and would wait for the animal’s bladder to use as a balloon. Animal intestines were used for sausage casings.