Oswald Jaeger Baking Company: Home of Butter-Nut Bread

posted in: Building Histories | 22

Razed_Jaeger_Main Image

Razed_Jaeger_Facts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden away amidst the Hillside housing development at North 9th and Somers, the former home and bakery of Austrian native, Oswald Jaeger, is barely discernable from neighboring thoroughfares. Just a glimpse of the turret can be seen while traveling northbound on Interstate 43. My curiosity has long been piqued by the blue spire that can narrowly be seen, for just a moment, shortly after the McKinley/Fond du Lac exit. The character and context of Oswald Jaeger’s bakery buildings have been significantly altered—the facades painted an all-encompassing shade of white save for the bright blue roofline of the original two buildings—and the surrounding neighborhood condemned by the City of Milwaukee in the 1950s and replaced with the present labyrinth of apartment buildings.1 However, the Oswald Jaeger Baking Company complex stands and continues to imbue the story of a “one-horse baker” and his company’s growth into a Wisconsin baking giant.

Jaeger_post_1920 addition

Oswald Jaeger Bakery Company

A cooper by trade in his native Austria, Oswald Jaeger arrived to Milwaukee in 1856 and learned the art of baking working as an apprentice in several bakeries. In 1879, Jaeger opened his own establishment at North 4th and Cherry Streets.2] Here, his shop was described as emitting …”the rich, hearty aroma of bread…something for a man to savor” noting that …”the good burghers of Milwaukee. These robust folks know good food” and found it veritable reward to frequent the Jaeger bakery.3

 

In 1881, Jaeger purchased the gabled building at what is now 918 West Somers.4 The 1870s bakery building, formerly that of another baker, located in the heart of the German-American neighborhood occupying much of Milwaukee’s northwest side, housed Oswald Jaeger’s bakery as well as the Jaeger family and a handful of employees.5 The turreted corner piece of the bakery, which initially drew my attention, was constructed in 1894 and marks the beginning of the Jaeger Bakery expansion from a neighborhood mom-and-pop shop to a baking giant shipping its products throughout Wisconsin and beyond.6

 

Jaeger_post_Cake Plant garage

In 1905, Oswald’s son, Armin took over the bakery and continued the familyowned operation as Oswald Jaeger Baking Company. Under Armin’s direction, the family enterprise continued to grow into the early 20th century with an office building addition in 1920, a new cake plant and garage building between 1923 and 1924 and finally a large $300,000 addition facing onto N. 9th Street in 1927.7 From this time into the 1960s, the fleet of Oswald Jaeger Baking Company trucks could be seen delivering Jaeger’s Peter Pan long loaf, Butter-Nut Bread and Sichling Rye to area retailers.

 

Armin remained with the company until his retirement in 1968 at which time Oswald Jaeger Baking Company was sold to Beatrice Foods in Chicago.8 The baking company has since been purchased and merged into a number of the nations largest packaged bread and bakery manufacturers including Metz Baking Company, Earthgrains, and Sara Lee Bakery Group.9

 

1 “Historic Designation Study Report: St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Complex” (City of Milwaukee, Department of City Development, Historic Preservation Commission, Fall 1990), 4.
2 Frank Flower.History of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1881), 1213; “One Horse Baker is Giant Now”. Milwaukee Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) November 17, 1965.
3 “One Horse Baker is Giant Now”. Milwaukee Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) November 17, 1965.
4 “Real Estate Transfers, “ Milwaukee Daily Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), September 16, 1881.
5 “Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” 1876. Rascher Fire Insurance Maps, Wisconsin. Volume 1, Sheet 94.
6 “New Stores Built, “ Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, WI), October 21, 1894.
7 Advertisement, Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, WI), May 13, 1927.
8 “Deaths: Armin F. Jaeger, “ Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, WI), June 15, 1979.
9 “Sara Lee to Add Lots More Ovens With Deal, “ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), July 3, 2001.

22 Responses

  1. wwinkler

    I remember going with our mother to buy Hostess products for a reduced price somewhere around there. What a treat.

  2. Years back, we had a neighbor that worked at a bakery somewhere in that area. I don’t know if if was the same, but they would bake sample sized “HOSTESS TWINKIES” and he would bring the “seconds” that they could not use to us. As kids, you can imagine our delight. Does anyone know is this is the same bakery, or did “HOSTESS” have it’s own bakery there?

  3. Gerry Vans

    Kerri,
    I was a classmate, neighbor, and pal of Oswald “Buddy” Jaeger at MUHS. I lived a couple of blocks up from the Jaegers on Washington Circle in the Washington Highlands. We graduated in 1970. Through the alumni network I had heard that he died perhaps twenty or so years ago. You and I had met during high school when you dated Buddy. I must have been with him when we visited your home then in the vicinity of 68th & Wisconsin Ave. I don’t have much to add about him as we lost touch after high school and I moved to the east coast after college. I recall he attended Regis College, a Jesuit school in Colorado, but beyond that, I know little although I have many great memories from our high school years and his band “The Timeless Watch Band.” He was a pretty good drummer but a lousy singer. You are welcome to contact me at gerry@gerryvans.com or through my LinkedIn.com page. Gerry Vans.

  4. I meant Bruno’s DAUGHTER Helen, my grandfather’s sister….sorry for the error.

  5. My grandfather’s name was William Henry Oswald Jaeger. He was the son of Bruno Jaeger, who was the brother of Oswald Jaeger of the Milwaukee Bakery. Bruno owned a bakery in Menominee, WI. It was prosperous, and his five children worked in the business with him. When he died, the Menominee bakery passed to Bruno’s sister Helen and her husband, Erv Greuel. The Jaeger family was large, and there were many branches. I can be reached at Pamela Browning Author on Facebook, use private message to contact me. This family info is so interesting!

  6. Hello Valerie, I had a boyfriend in high school named Oswald Jaeger. We called him Buddy. We were great friends all through middle school and high school. He went to Marquette HS in Milwaukee and I lost track of him when we graduated in 1971. He may have been a year older. Can you tell me what happened to him? I thought I heard that he died. Is that true? Can you tell me more?

    Thanks,
    Kerri

  7. Does anyone know where butter – nut bread recipe came from?
    My grand mothers father and his 3 brothers came to Fostoria ohio 1892 and 94 ,2 brothers were bakers and advertised in the 1920s of the bakery was ” Home of the Butter- nut Bread. They were from area of Germany and France border

  8. I have 2 Jaeger’s butter nut bread nail files that I would be willing to talk to a family member about if someone has an interest in them

  9. Valerie P. Jaeger

    Sue, the Wausau Jaegers are, I believe, cousins of the Milwaukee Jaegers.
    Ben Ruppel, you are the great-grandson of Oswald Jaeger. Armin was his brother and he and Aunt Agnes had no children. Your line starts with the first Oswald who is your great-great grandfather, then my grandpa Oswald who is your great-grandpa, then my dad, your grandpa.

  10. Sue Smith

    My father, Myron “Mike” Morrow used to work for Jaeger Bakery in Wausau, WI when I was young. I still have a picure of him standing in front of his Jaeger Bakery delivery truck on the street in front of my childhood home. As a child he would deliver bakery in Wausau, Merrill & Tomahawk Wisconsin., I was allowed to ride with him once in a while to deliver bakery to the little corner-grocery stores that existed back in the 1950’s. What wonderful memories of those early days!. ~ Sue (Morrow) Smith

  11. Joyce Chiasson

    Very interesting , the Jaeger are a part of our family thru a great, great etc aunt Helen Kretchmer from Engelsberg Bohemia.
    She married Franz Jaeger -brother of Oswald Jaeger. They raised a large family in Milwaukee
    Joyce
    joyc@olypen.com

  12. Gail Jones

    I have an old Oswald Jaeger Baking Company wooden shipping crate that has 409 on the end with 5 Bu. 36 Lbs. and would like to know about how old it is.

  13. Mary Hillen

    I was wondering what had happened to The Jaeger Bakery ,My mother, Louise Hayden (Steinbach) worked there for many years when I was a child ,she was a floor lady ,or supervisor at that time ,We would go with her on Saturdays when she would go in to pick up her check, and while us kids waited you could smell the delicious aroma of fresh baked breads and donuts coming from the cooling area just after they came out of the ovens. Oh my goodness there was never a smell like fresh bakery ,all warm and mouth watering. Somehow because we were well behaved my mother would magically appear with the most scumptous jelly dounts ,one for each of us. And they were so tasty. tons of jelly nestled inside of this soft sugar coated donut. That was my most memorable outing every week was to go with her to Jaegers ,like so many things in our world today they are cast aside for new and innovative methods ,but nothing will ever replace that old world German bakery done by hand and those lovely outings with my mother .

  14. Does anyone have any Jaeger Bakery memorabilia they might want to sell? Many thanks!

  15. Ben Ruppel

    Dear Gil Birnbaum,

    I am the great-grandson of Armin Jaeger, and I just came across your post. Do you still have the breadbox? Feel free to email me at . Thank you for your time!

  16. I am wondering if you still want to sell the Jaeger breadbox?

  17. I found an older picture of the building group from the late 1920’s. The corner building has some interesting ornamentation and windows, hidden behind plywood.

    http://oldmilwaukee.net/blog/?p=1294

  18. My mother was born and raised across the street, circa 1915.

  19. […] year and a half ago, there was a short article on the Razed in Milwaukee blog about the Oswald Jaeger Bakery buildings which still exist hidden away on 9th & Somers. Megan Daniels gives a great history of the […]

  20. gil birnbaum

    I have a breadbox (the size of a trunk) that says oswald jagger baking co. On it and have wondered as to its age. I also would like to know if anyone is interested in buying it…

  21. Gary Rebholz

    Milwaukee’s Jaeger family is well represented in Milwaukee’s German newspapers and the index under construction from those papers includes both the Jaeger and Jäger spellings. An outdated printed version of the index is cataloged and shelved at Milwaukee Public Library. Tne important early German papers in the Salzmann Library collection (St. Francis de Sales Seminiary, St. Francis) are also indexed, but not duplicated at MPL.

Leave a Reply