Tell Me Something I Don’t Know About… HAMBURG

Written by Jim Servi

You probably already know that Fromm Brothers, Inc., was an internationally known silver fox fur and ginseng farm in Hamburg. And, you may know that Marth Companies is headquartered in Hamburg or that Bletsoe’s Cheese of Hamburg uses milk from local farms to make their award-winning cheese found in area grocery stores.

But you might be surprised to learn these 5 fun facts about Hamburg


1. Any student of Maple Grove Elementary School in Hamburg can RECEIVE A SIZABLE SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND A WISCONSIN COLLEGE!

Maple Grove Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Mark Seliger.)

With over 100 years of history, Maple Grove (part of the Merrill Area Public School District) provides quality education to area elementary school students. The school prides itself on offering a unique Expeditionary Learning (EL) education and has recently become a charter school. Surrounded by a portion of the Merrill School Forest, the school produces maple syrup, raises chickens, composts, and tends to a garden.

The Fromm family legacy is intertwined with Maple Grove… One of the Fromm brothers — Walter — along with his wife Mabel, set up an endowment for the school allowing Maple Grove graduates to receive a very generous scholarship to attend a college in the state of Wisconsin. With open enrollment, students have been pouring in from the surrounding communities to be part of our exceptional EL charter school.


2. DISTEMPER VACCINES for dogs were originally discovered in Hamburg.

Fromm Fox Farm. (Photo courtesy of Harry Pfohl.)

The Fromm Brothers began in ginseng, but their international fame was in the development of fur farming — specifically raising silver foxes. In their quest for producing the best fur in the world, the brothers made many discoveries, one of which is used throughout the world today. Nearly every dog is vaccinated against distemper, and that vaccine was first created right here in Hamburg as a means to protect the foxes.

Relatives of the Fromm brothers recently purchased their property and are working on renovating, restoring, and promoting the Fromm brothers’ legacy here in Hamburg, so stay tuned for more to come!


3. Hamburg is a HUB FOR 4 COMMUNITIES.

Hamburg Landscape. (Photo courtesy of Mark Seliger.)

The Town of Hamburg is uniquely located between the communities of Merrill, Wausau, Marathon City, and Athens and has ties to each. Being at this unique intersection, we have telephone numbers from 4 different communities and are part of 3 different school districts.

The landscape is also unique in Hamburg. To the south is predominantly farm country, with a mix of vast fields and small wooded lots. Lincoln County makes up the border to the north. Here you will find mostly wooded areas, with large tracts of hardwood that stretch for miles. In between is Hamburg, which contains an ideal mix of both farms and forest.


4. Hamburg is a MAPLE SYRUP & GINSENG mecca — plus, JADE was recently found here, too.

Fromm Brothers Fur and Ginseng Farm certificate noting its inclusion on the Wisconsin State Registrar of Historic Places. (Photo courtesy of the Wausau / Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

As with much of Wisconsin, Hamburg began as an agricultural community, and that culture still exists today. Driving through Hamburg, you’ll see small family dairy farms still thriving, but there are also some larger scale farming operations. Many farmers also partake in crop farming as a means to keep the land in production, and local farm-to-fridge operations have recently taken hold.

Each spring, you’ll see smoke rising from dozens of small buildings as they turn the maple sap collected here into delicious syrup. Most are hobby operations, producing maple syrup for family and friends, and maybe to sell locally if there’s some left over. Others are large-scale operations that produce hundreds of gallons of maple syrup every year that are sold around the country. Many of the local farmers support these larger operations with their maple sap.

Another crop also reigns supreme in Hamburg: ginseng. Marathon County produces the vast majority of the ginseng throughout the United States, and within Marathon County, Hamburg is considered a ginseng mecca to many. It was here that the Fromm brothers got their start in 1904 with ginseng. This location is still visited by people throughout the world, as it is one of the birthplaces of ginseng production here in the United States.

What you may not know, though, is that recently ornamental jade was discovered in Hamburg. In partnership with Black Rock Ready Mix and Custom Stone Cutting (in Athens), you can have decorative Wisconsin jade items produced that come directly from the ground here in Hamburg. Jade is a semi-precious stone often used in healing and feng shui practices as it’s gentle energy is believed to enhance your luck and to promote peace, balance, and wealth.


5. SERVICE & VOLUNTEER WORK in Hamburg are prevalent.

Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department responding to a collapsed roof. (Photo courtesy of Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department.)

Snowmobile trails wind throughout Hamburg, and all of the town roads are open to ATVs and UTVs, which has been very popular with residents and visitors. Volunteers of the Hamburg Snowmobile Club do an amazing job grooming the trails for the public to enjoy.

Many other volunteer and service organizations are prominent in Hamburg… We support two 4-H clubs — the Hamburg Hawks and the Hamburg Happy Hearts — as well as house the headquarters for Mar-Lin VFW Post #10203.

The Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department supports not only Hamburg, but also the surrounding communities and is very active in the community. Volunteer firefighters host a “Fired Up to Read” program at Maple Grove Elementary School each year, as well as Truck or Treat at Halloween. In addition, each summer, they host a tractor pull that brings in competitors from around the state. This year’s tractor pull will be on June 23, 2018. It’s a great event to attend if you’ve never been to Hamburg. I hope you’ll come by for a visit!

* * *

Personally, I can attest that the best part of Hamburg — by far — is its people

There are deep roots from the founding of Hamburg in 1876, and many of our family names exist in the community to this day. Past residents that I speak with often share fond memories of their time in Hamburg, and what they long for most are its people and a place where they say they’ve never felt like a stranger.

Jim_ServiJim Servi

Chair  |  Town of Hamburg

As the town Chair, Jim Servi is passionate about telling the story of the citizens of Hamburg. Jim is currently serving in the United States Army Reserves and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea. He also teaches at Northcentral Technical College, owns JAMPS Strategic Development, a local consulting and training firm, and writes for several publications. His free time is spent with his wife and their 3 boys, and you will likely find them outdoors with family and friends.  Email Jim Servi.

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