Archived Story

German goodies at the HHH

Published 4:50pm Saturday, August 17, 2013

By Holly Johnson

Hormel Historic Home

Kekse, kekse, kekse.

That is what I have been thinking about this week as we prepare for a tour group from Rochester making their second visit for a Holiday German Cookie Bake.

The group will gather in December to make six varieties of kekse, the German word for cookies. They will have a German lunch and then enjoy a short musical program before touring the Historic Home.

As I have mentioned, the Hormel, Heiser and Decker families all emigrated from Germany, so we hope to offer an event that fits their rich heritage.

Both of George’s grandparents, Christian and Elizabeth (Heiser) Hormel, were from the village of Schwalbach, near Frankfort-on-the-Main in the Hesse region of West Central Germany and carried their German traditions with them to Buffalo, N.Y., in 1933.

George’s father, John, married Susanna Decker whose family came to America in 1852 from the Rhine River Valley near Koblenz, in the Neuwied district of Germany.

William Henry Hormel (George’s brother) describes Susannah’s family voyage across the sea in his manuscript One Generation Under the American flag and tells of a “large, strong, and iron-bound trunk, which was one of many used to carry baggage as well as provisions for their comfort during their long journey on the storm-tossed ship.

The old trunk was familiarly known in our childhood home as die alte Kist (loosely translated ‘the old box’). Again and again we were reminded by mother of its faithful service during the weary weeks upon the stormy waters.  Often when something seemed to be lost about the house our last resort was to go to the old “Kist” and there find it carefully tucked away.

Then mother usually had an interesting item to relate about the voyage across the great Atlantic Ocean.  These stories always made us grateful that we were Americans and were enjoying the privileges of freedom.”

I truly wish we had that trunk on display in the Hormel Historic Home, but there are no records of its whereabouts. Susanna and John did live in Austin so maybe it came with them but we may never know what ultimately happened to it.

Although making dozens and dozens of German cookies in one day may present a few challenges for the Hormel Historic Home kitchen, we are happy to host such an event and share the family history with others.

Board of Directors

Monday, 8:30 a.m.

Second annual 4th Avenue Arts Triathlon

Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m.

No registration required for this fun free arts activity which takes place at three locations: The Paramount, The Public Library, and the Hormel Historic Home.  Thisis a great kick-off to the Austin ArtWorks Festival.  A banner created by the kids will be on display at the festival.

 21st Italian Murder Mystery Dinner

Saturday, Sept. 6 p.m.

Tickets are $30 per person or $200 for a table of 8.  Order online at or by calling the HHH, 507-433-4243.


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