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With Sadness

Dear family,

It is with sadness that I notify you of the death of Paul Lockhart’s (Kay) daughter, Paula McDonald Lockhart Hand.  The obituary is in the Courier Journal, May 21st.

A memorial service will be held 5pm, Tuesday at St. Luke’s Chapel in the Episcopal Church Home, 7504 Westport Rd, followed by a celebration of Paula’s life at the Indian Springs Clubhouse from 6 to 9pm., 3408 Indian Lake Dr.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Episcopal Church Home, the Alzheimer’s Association or the charity of your choice in lieu of flowers.

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Kurt Update

Final update…

Dad made it out of surgery (1.5 hours) with a glowing report from the surgeon.  The ball fit right into the socket and he should be better than new in no time.

He will spend another couple of days in the hospital and then off to rehab.  Why, oh why is this song stuck in my head?

Thanks for all your prayers and support,
O’Bryan, et al

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Kurt Update


They will schedule tomorrows surgeries about 5am tomorrow morning.  Mom will try and get an e-mail out.  If not, she’ll leave me a message and I’ll send one out around 7:30 am.

Dad is still in traction and doesn’t like it.  He’s actually getting a little grumpy 🙂 — I have to add a caveat, Dad grumpy is me on a good day.

The chair they gave Mom lies all the way back (I tried it) so she’s actually getting some sleep except for all the hospital coming and going.

More tomorrow,

P.S.  I’ll also be posting to FB if you would rather read stuff there.

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Kurt Update

More information.  IF they had identified the broken hip in Cancun, there would be much less damage and problem.  Oh well, we have to deal with what we have now.   Because the blood supply was not reaching the hip socket for 7 days, he is going to have to have a partial hip replacement.   That should last 5 years.  It is much less invasive that a total hip replacement.  They will  have him up walking the day after surgery.  Now to the surgery—he needs to have the blood thinner out of his system.  That should be 72 hours but they want to do this surgery as soon as possible (like yesterday).  We will either be an “add on” today (there are 10 ahead of us) or tomorrow.  So, just in case, he cannot have food.

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Long Awaited Update

Okay, so I haven’t been really good about updating the blog. Why might you ask? Well to be honest it was because my web server got hacked. So instead of spending days trying to fix it I moved to a different host. Good news is that many of the issues I was spending hours or even days on are now fixed.

So the move took a lot of time from one host to the other but then we hit my busy season at work and that took all my free time.

Good news is that I am back and going again. Hope all is well with all your family and we will see you next post!

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History of Armour-Klarer

HISTORY of Armour – Klarer

                Theodore Klarer was one of several thousand German immigrants to come to Louisville in the 19th Century.  He built his home at Amy and Market Streets in Louisville’s West End.  Beside the house was an outbuilding that became the first Klarer Plant in 1886.  In it, the immigrant butcher would slaughter Beef, Pork, make Sausage and sell products to neighborhood housewives.

Within a few years, and young man named Henry A. Broecker, and a handful of other employees, were turning out Sausage for Theodore Klarer in a mill powered by a horse, plodding in a circle.  Their meat cooler consisted of ice cut from ponds in winter and stored for summer use.

In this paternalistic environment, it was natural that Henry Broecker would marry Katherine, one of Klarer’s tow daughters.  When Theodore H., Leonard and Leo, the three sons of this marriage, grew to manhood, it was natural that they should enter the business.

Henry Broecker died in 1933 in the house where his father-in-law had begun the family business.  He had carried it on successfully, but he could not have envisioned over 40 years ago the heights to which this team of sons would carry the business.

The eldest, Ted, became President, the inspired and inspirational leader of the business.  Leonard was the operations expert who knew machinery, engineering and production.  Leo was the livestock procurement expert.  They operated the business with equal shares of stock, equal salaries and no doubt, equal contributions to the growth of Klarer.

To the rest of the industry, and to the business world, Ted Broecker was “Klarer of Kentucky”, because it was with him that people dealt.  He was dynamic yet gentle, a man on a first-name basis with the powers of his industry and with production workers in his plant.  Under Ted’s Leadership the business Grew.

In 1947, the Company acquired the Louisville Provision Company, which produced and marketed the “Southern Star” brand of meat products.  Three years later, the C. F. Vissman Company and its “Derby” brand became part of the Klarer Empire.  In 1957, the Emmart Packing Company and its “Magnolia” brand were acquired.

Like Klarer, each of these Companies was a family business that had grown and prospered.  Unlike Klarer, each had reached the end of its business life as an independent operation for different reasons – lack of capital for continued growth, absence of heirs to carry on the business.

At the time, there was no omen for Klarer of Kentucky because these were golden years.  Klarer was big and had aggressive plans.  In the mid 1960’s, annual sales soared to above $75 million and profits moved close to the million dollar mark.

In 1959, Klarer began to consolidate and reorganize its acquisitions under the Southern Star brand name.  Along with this reorganization came plans for expansion.  In December of 1964, the time had arrived to share these expansion plans with the stockholders.

The plans for expansion were based in large part on a study conducted for the Company by Arthur D. Little, a Cambridge, Massachusetts Research Firm, retained to determine the feasibility of expansion.  The study noted:

  1. Louisville geography is right for shipping and receiving.
  2. There are adequate supplies of water, gas and electricity at favorable rates.
  3. Transportation facilities are good and steadily improving.
  4. Labor quality and attitude are favorable.
  5. The area has “almost unlimited” potential for increased livestock production.
  6. Bourbon Stock Yards is a major marketing center for better grades of cattle and hogs.

These were reasons enough for the Klarer Directors to report to shareholders:

“On December 7, 1964, your Board of Directors approved plans for construction of an enlarged plant.  This facility will be situated on 14 acres of land served by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and will extend from Story Avenue to Main Street, and will be within three blocks of the Interstate Highway system.  It will be the most modern manufacturing and processing installation for meat products in the United States.  Many new applications for engineering innovations and installation of newly developed processing equipment will make this plant highly productive.  Financing of this new plant is being sponsored through Institutional Monetary Corporation of New York City with the cooperation of the Louisville Trust Company….”

The message did not convey how long the dream of this new facility had burned in the minds of the Broecker brothers.  It did not mention how the marketing program had been steeped up to sell meat in the volume this plant was designed to produce.  It didn’t mention how Ted Broecker negotiated agreements for substantial financing through a series of face-to-face executive suite meetings in New York’s financial district.

The public announcement of these plans in August, 1965, was with little more flourish.  Klarer executives referred to the project as “… the largest and most modern, fully integrated plant built in the United States for the past several decades.”

They estimated that within about 30 months, “Klarer of Kentucky will be prepared to serve a much larger segment of the American consumer’s meat food needs.”  The dream was close to reality!

Rather than progress, those 30 months were to bring a staggering array of problems, most of which were beyond the Company’s control.

The first came in 1964, when Leonard Broecker died while undergoing heart surgery.  A year later, Ted Broecker, Vice-Chairman and a Director of the American Meat Institute, went off to the organization’s New York Convention in good spirits and good health.  He suffered a stroke at the Convention Luncheon and died within hours in a New York Hospital.

These events left the youngest brother, Leo, as the only surviving member of the strong family team that had brought Grandpa Klarer’s neighborhood butcher shop to a prominent place in the industry.

Although sales continued to grow in the next two years, earnings never again approached the 1964 peak.  A shortage of hogs hampered 1965 production.  Costs in 1966 included a quarter of a million dollars to demolish an old plant facility for a new construction.  The cost of livestock increased substantially that year.

Earnings in 1967 slumped to a fraction of the 1964 profits.  Sales slipped substantially.  Labor problems, lower meat prices, costs associated with new construction, and the need to curtail some production to accommodate construction were major factors.

The following summer brought a general strike of craftsmen in the Louisville area, which set back new plant construction six months.

Sales continued to slump.  A tense labor situation, which had existed since Union units from the former Louisville Provision, Vissman and Emmart Plants were thrown together with the Klarer Unit, began to erupt.

On October 2, 1967, the Union walked out.  The wheels would not begin to turn again at Klarer of Kentucky until November 14.  In the interim, competitors who previously could not penetrate Klarer’s market area swept in to fill the product vacuum.

These competitors were difficult to dislodge when Klarer products again became available.  Fiscal 1968 brought an intense marketing effort without substantial success.  There were management shifts in an effort to regain the momentum lost during the strike.

Five days after Christmas in 1968, the Company reported to its shareholders that it was losing money.  An influential member of the Board began discreet inquiries regarding the possible acquisition of Klarer by a larger Company.

At the invitation of Klarer Management, representatives of Armour and Company visited the virtually completed new meat processing facility in Louisville.  They liked what they saw.  On January 3, 1969, Louisville newspapers reported that Armour had made an offer to purchase Klarer.

Two developments seemed likely to scuttle this proposed acquisition:  The last quarter of that disastrous fiscal year had been profitable for Klarer, and Senior Vice-President Leo Broecker became reluctant to relinquish the reins of this 75-year old family business.

At the same time, Armou’s attention was diverted from buying Klarer by the fact that two large companies where interested in buying Armour.  On April5, 1969, Klarer’s Board announced negotiations with Armour had been suspended.

Acquisition of Klarer remained in the minds of some Armour Management officials.  They showed Greyhound their predictions of profitability for Klarer.  Management of Greyhound agreed with Armour management and Armour made another offer to buy Klarer at the price above the market value of the stock.

In September, 1969, Klarer of Kentucky became a wholly owned Subsidiary of Armour and Company.  The new parent soon discovered financial results were not meeting the promises made to Armour’s new parent Company, Greyhound.  The purchase was beginning to look like a bad one.

With a hug effort on Armour-Louisville’s management, the operation began to turn around.  Production was good, labor relations improved and plant morale lifted after years of depressing mishaps.  Under its new corporate influence, the plant reached their top profit projection mapped out for it when Armour acquisition was first recommended.

Louisville’s Management was tested again in 1976 when the Louisville Plant was awarded the “Rusty Thorn Award”.  This Award represents the lowest achievement in the Cactus Itch Contest measuring plant effectiveness in most operating areas.  A vow was made never to repeat the humiliation of the “Rusty Thorn” again.

Fiscal 1977 brought renewed enthusiasm to Louisville’s Management with the Golden Cactus as the goal for Operations.  The Golden Cactus proved to be too lofty a goal in 1977, but Louisville did receive the “Sliver Cactus” Award for the most improved plant.  Fiscal 1978 was, however, a Golden Year.

With 1979 rapidly becoming the past, and the threshold of the 1980’s upon us, Armour in Louisville is anxiously awaiting the new challenges which lay before it.  Louisville plans to keep the future year Golden and drive for improvement in all areas.

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Armour of Louisville, Kentucky is located in an interesting area of the city known as Butchertown.  Butchertown is where the meat packing industry first began in Louisville, and where it still thrives.  Armour of Louisville would like to share those beginnings.

Linden Hill is the oldest house in Butchertown, dating back to approximately 1815.  It was built by Colonel Frederick Geiger as a country house out on Frankfort Pike, (now Main Street).  Much of Butchertown was once Geiger’s farmland.

Frankfort Pike and Beargrass Creek built Butchertown, It took booth, plus the Ohio River.  Over the Pike came great droves of cattle and hogs, staple products of the bluegrass (today’s Thoroughbred Horse country).  Bound for market in the South, they were driven to Louisville, where the river provided easy transportation to the cotton states.  Although some of the animals were shipped live, it was more practical to butcher them in Louisville.  The pork was then salted, the beef pickled and packed in barrels for shipment.

The packing business began early in Louisville.  Louisville’s first city directory, published in 1832, shows twelve (12) butchers served the city’s tables and the packing business as well.  Two (2) butchers were already located up on the east end of Main Street, (near what is now Bourbon Stock Yard).  The location was probably chosen to get the first choice of the animals coming in Frankfort Pike.   Beargrass Creek was also there to provide the water necessary for butchering process and serving as a handy drain.

Louisville’s butcher business was eventually to be dominated by the Germans.  The Germans began arriving in the U.S. by the thousands after the failure of the 1848 Revolution in their homeland.  The two most prominent butchers in Louisville, as early as the 1830’s, were two Germans: Fredrick Bremaker and Peter Kliessendorf.

Louisville developed into the pantry of the Cotton Kingdom that lay South.  The droves of cattle and hogs became immense.  Sometimes as many as 50,000 hogs arrived at once to meet the demand for Salt Pork.  Special inns sprang up in Louisville offering accommodations for the drovers, and pens where the stock could be kept until sold.  The first was the Bourbon House built in 1834.  The Bourbon House was built on Frankfort Pike, (now the corner of Story and Cabel Street).  It was the beginning of the Bourbon Stock Yard, which opened it its present location in 1869.

Skilled German butchers were attracted to Louisville as the butchering and pork-packing business grew.  They settled along Frankfort Pike, (the area that is Story Avenue today).  Their homes were built facing the streets, their slaughtering sheds in the rear, along the Creek.  It was these independent “Boss Butchers” who caused the area to be tagged “Butchertown”.  They supplied Louisville’s hoem tables, hotels and steamboats with Salt and Fresh Pork.

There were nearly 200 butchers in Louisville at the end of the Civil War.  The 200 Butchers employed approximately 250 journeymen butchers and apprentices.  About 80% of the butchers were in Butchertown.  The meat packing business, though it suffered with the opening of the western grazing lands and the rise of the Chicago Packers, was still important.  The “Boss Butchers” where growing affluent and continued to build big brick houses in Butchertown.  In 1869, the Germans organized the Metzer Verein, (Butcher’s Society), at Ehrmann’s Halle, still standing at 1653 Story Avenue.  The Butcher’s Society sponsored gala annual balls, parades and picnics, and Butchertown continued to grow.

The 40 year period after the Civil War was Butchertown’s economic high water mark.  In addition to the butchers, the packing houses, tanners, coopers and soap makers, other enterprises began moving in.  A woolen mill opened in 1864 at Storey and Frankfort Avenues.  (The site where this mill stood is now where the Oktoberfest is held).  A furniture factory opened in 1870 at Washington and Webster Streets.  (Today it is Bakery Square).  Two breweries opened in the late 1860’s.

Those were the years when beer flowed freely at tree shaded Woodland Garden, which occupied the whole block between Wenzel and Johnson, Main and Market Streets.  Famed Courier-Journal Editor, Henry Watterson, had fond memories of Woodland Garden in the late 1860’s:  “…..good music, good beer, good Sausage, good cheese and a pretzel.”

It was in the late 1860’s that a young Western Union telegrapher, Thomas A. Edison, boarded in a house at 729 East Washington.  His Louisville stay was cut short when he was fired because one of his innumerable experiments ruined his boss’s office rug.

Today’s Butchertown is showing its age, but slowly being renewed and face-lifted in a way that saves the buildings and keeps the old-time look.  The old time butchers are gone, but Butchertown remains proud and solid.

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New Pictures Added

So we just posted up some new photos.  After going through the Attic looking for some old paperwork we found a box of old slides.  We called around and MotoPhoto was the only place that do anything with them.  These slides are over 40 years old and many have faded in color, but we were surprised with what they were able to get.  Check out the digital files at the site:

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Google Yourself

Have you ever googled yourself.  I recently googled our last name, leaving out my first name.  What did I get.  Surprisingly not much until I included our state.  There is lots when it comes to that.  Our involvement in the community, the work time we spend.  Our businesses and best yet the history of what we have attempted.  I tried to run for office and the number 1 link on google is the facebook fan page we setup.

One of the weird things that stood out is addresses.  I knew that there was a street named Broecker Blvd but I didn’t think they would show up with the search.  I guess that is one nice thing about having a weird spelled last name.

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We have recently had a break down in our family history research.  I would have to guess that it has to do with the TV Show “Who do you think you are?”.  Once my wife started watching that she was in full research mode.  Now if we could just get her back into it.

We have to thank those of you who have written in.  Believe it or not some have.  We received a wonderful letter from a former employee’s daughter of my Grandfather.  Yes that was a little confusing.  The neat thing is that she found us through the Photos section of the old Klarer Plant pictures.  Please feel free to look around the pictures.  Send us a comment if you see something that looks familiar.

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