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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Growing up in Naperville – Sausage making


In mid-October my granddaughter, my wife and I continued a family tradition that was brought to Naperville from Germany in 1851!

My great-grandfather, Adam Keller, came to Naperville that year and received his American citizenship in 1857. He married Barbara Weigand in 1860 and began farming on River Road south of what is now McDowell Forest Preserve. He brought with him the family tradition of making sausage.

The recipe dates back at least eight or nine generations!

My great-grandfather Keller taught his son, Frank Keller (my grandfather) how to make the sausage and he farmed on a 100-acre farm on Ogden Avenue between Naperville and Lisle.

My grandfather Keller grew his own hogs, chickens and cows, and had four work horses. They would butcher two hogs every October and every March for sausage making. They had to make it then as there was no modern refrigeration. With only ice boxes, they had to wait for cooler weather.

They usually made about 60 pounds of pork sausage and 30 pounds of liver sausage.

When my dad got old enough, he also learned to do the cutting of the meat while my dad’s brother, Frank, and my grandfather put in the seasoning and ground the meat.

Then came the task of stuffing the casings. My grandmother, Nora Keller, helped clean the casing and made it ready to stuff.

The whole process usually took two days, so they began cutting meat on Friday followed by grinding and stuffing the casings on Saturday.

By the time I was in high school, I was old enough to begin helping.

After my dad and uncle had passed away, my cousins said, “Well, that’s the end of sausage making.”

I said, “Nope. I make it!”

Now I have passed that tradition on to my granddaughter who really loves to make it and now has the recipe.

And we made 40 pounds of Keller sausage last month!

The photo shows Grandma Keller; my dad, Adam Keller; Uncle Frank Keller and Aunt Mary, all making sausage in the mid-1950s.

Ron Keller
Ron Keller
Ron Keller is a lifelong Naperville resident, tuba enthusiast and has been conducting the Naperville Municipal Band for over 50 years.