By David Schleper
In 1943, Shakopee Avenue stopped about one block west of the farm, and there was just a gravel road leading to the farm. To the north and east of the farm was a sand and clay pit, about 25 feet deep. The clay from this pit once was used by the Schroeder Brick Company for making brick for Shakopee.
Hiliary Drees purchased a farmstead which consisted of approximately 20 acres. He bought the farm from Mr. Turner, who was a rural mail carrier for Shakopee. The location is just north of Pearson Sixth Grade Center, near Prairie Street today.
Hilarius Antonius Drees was born June 4, 1903 in Wanda, Minnesota, and died April 18, 1974 in Shakopee. He married Agnes Nathalia Dorzinski, who was born August 1, 1904 in LeSueur County, and died July 1, 1978 in Shakopee. They married on November 24, 1925. Hiliary was a farmer, but also worked at Rahr Malting, as well as Pullman Club as a waiter. Agnes was a homemaker, but also worked as a clerk at M.J. Berens grocery and dry goods store, and was a waitress at Pullman Club. They had five children.
Because Drees Hog Farm was at the outskirts of Shakopee, there was no city water or sewer. A cow barn stood north of the house, with a chicken coop, outdoor well, smoke house, and outdoor privy making up the rest of the farmstead. The outdoor privy was used until 1951.
Along with the dairy cows and chickens, Hiliary Drees started to raise hogs. He built two hog barns east of the farm house and started his hog operation. At the peak of the hog operation, he raised as many as 300 or 400 hogs a year on 10 acres. The hog pasture went east and about 300 feet north of the house.
In the past, butchering was used using a big black iron kettle to heat the water and a wooden barrel to soak the pig until the hair came loose, noted Margaret Haas of Shakopee.
According to Margaret:
“We cooled the meat and then the hams and some side pork were put in dry salt for a while. Later came the task of smoking them. We would hang them on pipes with wire hooks and then a smoldering fire was built by using hard wood and some apple wood, covering it with damp sawdust.
“We had to watch this fire very closely for sometimes if the wind blew hard it would cause the fire to flare up and one had to add more sawdust. Sometimes one would wake up and see flames coming out of the smokehouse, and then quick steps were taken to add the sawdust.
“The rest of the pork was fried down and put in crock jars. We also butchered beef, so taking parts of beef and pork, we made sausage. We used the pig heads for head cheese, pickled the tongues and hearts, and also used the brains for a special food. We took the tallow and extra fat to make soap.”
LaVina Busacker noted that her father and two brothers butchered two beef animals, and they let their meat age in a sun porch for three weeks, as it was a large, enclosed, and unheated porch. After that, they butchered six hogs:
“That was about three days’ work – to cut up the meat, grind it up for sausage.… The hams and bacon were put in a brine (water with enough salt in it to float an egg). They made head cheese, liverwurst, summer sausage, pork sausage, gritwurst (oatmeal and lard cracklings) and blood sausage.”
At the smoke house, apple and hickory wood would be used to smoke the meat. According to LaVina Busacker, “When we got our smoked hams from the smoke house, we would bury them in the wheat bin as deep as possible, so they would stay cold, since we had no refrigeration in those days.”
Hiliary and Agnes Drees and their family continued the hog operation until 1952. At that time, hog cholera hit the farm. After the quarantine was lifted, Hiliary did not resume hog farming.
Many years later, the hog farm is gone, and houses and schools have taken over the area that used to be Drees’ Hog Farm. The original house is still there, on Shakopee Avenue and Prairie Street, right across from Pearson Sixth Grade Center in east Shakopee.
(Some information from Butchering Many Years Ago by LaVina Busacker; A New Type of Living by Margaret Haas, As I Remember Scott County, 1980 by Scott County Senior Citizens, edited by Marcia Spagnolo; and Scott County Historical Society.)