Throwback Thursday: Sechler’s Pickle Factory

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Today is the first day of St. Joe’s 19th annual Pickle Festival! To kick things off, we’re brushing up on the early history of Sechler’s Pickle Factory.Truck

DeKalb County native Ralph Sechler got his start with pickles working for the D. M. Sears Company, which opened a salting and pickle receiving company in St. Joe in 1915. In 1920, he was leasing three similar stations from Sears, and by 1923, he had official ownership of the stations, severed his ties with Sears, and started his own pickle-making business.

Aerial View

In 1930, Ralph Sechler was selling his pickles to restaurants, delivering them via an old Model T Ford. At the time, the only pickles the company made were Genuine Dill Pickles—all the sweet varieties were shipped in from Chicago. The pickle operation was moved into the Sechlers’ barn in 1931, which had been remodeled for that purpose. Unfortunately, a new building had to be constructed in 1937, after the barn was destroyed in a fire.

Sechlers

Over the years, Sechler’s has had several strong supporters from its community. In A History of Sechler Pickles, Ralph Sechler’s son Franklyn mentions several of these individuals. One story he tells is of Carl Carpenter, a local farmer who not only ran deliveries for Sechler’s, but who also did a lot of advertising for them through word of mouth. According to Franklyn, Carl once took a gift assortment of pickles with him to Washington D. C. for a conference—a few weeks later, Sechler’s received a signed letter from President Eisenhower thanking them for the pickles!

Want to learn more? Stop by the Willennar Genealogy Center to take a look at A History of Sechler Pickles, or click here to search our online photo database. If you want to see this historic factory in person, you can also join in on a free tour this Saturday, according to the DeKalb County Visitor’s Bureau.

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About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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