When pork was king and pigs were prized in Sherwood
The Oregon Agricultural School (today's Oregon State University), started a new farming program using science and statistics around 1914. For the first time ever, data was collected county by county, around the topic of agricultural products.
The study took farming practices already popular and tried to make them better. One practice was pig farming. In the mountains and low-lands of the Coast Range, farmers ranched pigs, before 1914. These free-range pigs would root around in the forests and underbrush.
There were herders, aided by dogs, who watched the pigs and moved them around with staffs. We have records of pig herding going on near Bandon, Reedsport, Coos Bay, Alsea, Wren and Corvallis. There were big pig drives into all the port towns and railroad stations. Several hundred pigs would be driven into the nearest packing station, train, or ship. There was high demand for meat products during World War I.
By 1920, Dairy Farms were encouraged in all of Oregon and Sherwood had many of the best farms in the area. Oregon Agricultural School (OAS) produced farming bulletins and sent extension agents out to look at all kinds of farms.
There were train exhibits that would come through all the little towns with all kinds of agricultural information, lectures, and prize-winning animals.
There were many farmers of German heritage who at first made pork products for themselves. The Chapman Family were expert sausage makers who worked together to feed several families. The Muralt Family took over the Meat Market on Railroad Street and also produced many pork products.
In 1925, another family of German heritage moved to a farm near Sherwood on Elwert Road. They were Albert and Anna Kuehl. They bought the old subsistence farm to turn it into a pig farm and sausage factory. Albert was a good businessman who took in all the OAS recommendations so that he could leave a business for his two sons and daughter.
They took the existing barn and quickly made it into a maternity for brood sows. They built a butcher shop, smoke house, and cooler. Anna Kuehl gathered good recipes and instructions to produce cured hams, liverwurst, bacon, and sausages.
Soon the Kuehls were trucking in their products to the farmer's market in Portland on the corner of 4th and Yamhill streets. Every day Albert and his boys, George and Andy, would take a load to Portland. Albert did this every day until his death in 1938.
Meanwhile, the daughter, Mary Kuehl, herded the pigs from one open field to another. There were no fences and Mary would keep the pigs off of neighbors' farms. Mary was very musical and used her singing talent to amuse herself and calm the pigs to keep them going in the right direction.
One day, a farm boy heard her from across the county road. He walked over to see what she was doing and it was love at first sight. That farm boy was Leo Elwert. They married and started the Tualatin Valley Nursery, known nationwide for their tree stock, bulbs, and other mail order plants. The combined families of the Kuehls and Elwerts worked together on four sites with pig farming, hop raising, and nursery stock for many decades.
The Sherwood Heritage Center is waiting for direction from the state to reopen as a museum. Guidelines for school groups and day camps have been received. We can host 20 people or less at a time. There will be strict guidelines to follow, but nothing as different as what we had before COVID-19. As we await more direction, we will inform you all on our progress. As individuals, do all you can now so we can get on with our presentation of history to the public.
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