Hauser’s Superior View Farm – John Hauser

John Frederik Hauser Photo Superior View Farms Hauser Family

John Frederik Hauser
Photo: Superior View Farms Hauser Family

John Hauser with his Sons Dawson - William - John Sr - John and James Hauser ca 1957

Raising Mums with his Sons
Dawson, William, John Sr., John and James Hauser ca 1957
Photo: Family of Dawson and Opal Hauser

A BRIEF HISTORY – HAUSER’S SUPERIOR VIEW FARM

Emanuel Hauser, a book binder from a city near a Rhine River tributary in Switzerland, brought his wife and four boys (Fred, John, Robert, and Theodore) to Wisconsin’s Mississippi river frontier, LaCrosse, in 1851.  They went by stage to the Swiss border, then by train to Le Havre, France, where they sailed on the “Nicholas Beeth” on the Atlantic for 30 days.  He shaped a 120-acre farm at the area called Fruit Acres, Medary Township near La Crosse.  And, so, began the Wisconsin Hauser farming legacy…  

One of the boys, John Emanuel, took over the farm when his father died in 1881.  He married Elizabeth Keinholz and they had 13 children.  Their oldest son was John Frederic Hauser.

John F. Hauser spent his youth on his father’s farm, graduated from the university of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in agriculture, and became employed by the Salzer Seed Co.  From 1904 to 1908 he spent his college summers in Bayfield, managing a 22 acres strawberry farm for Karl Vollenweider.  He married Lydia Dawson in 1902 and moved his wife and four-year old son, John Dawson, to Bayfield in 1908.  John F. bought additional land in 1911 from Henry Fiege, Sr., which is the site of the present farm, where they moved permanently in 1912.  They had a bit of everything on that farm—dairy cows, potatoes, [1]  strawberries, and the start of a few perennials.  He became an expert in potatoes and often exhibited these at fairs.   John and his only child, John Dawson (known best as Dawson), received honors at several state conventions of the Potato Growers’ Association.  In 1917, John F. secured a first, two thirds, and a sixth.  Dawson, however, outshone his father with three firsts, a second, and a fifth.  Some of these ribbons are still on display at the farm.

In 1916, John began selling some of the perennial flower plants he had always grown.  When the United States placed an embargo on plant imports from Holland, John F. predicted there would be a good market for American grown plants because the Bayfield climate, like the Netherlands, is cool and humid in the summer.  He started by planting a half-acre; however, business grew rapidly and to this day acres of plants are produced each year, shipped throughout the United States, and available at the farm.

Using his education and his farmer’s intuition to guide him, John F. discovered what crops grow best in northern Wisconsin’s rugged climate, what can be marketed, and passed that knowledge on to his descendents who still farm in Bayfield. The Wisconsin Horticulturist magazine describes Mr. Hauser as a “pioneer horticulturist in northern Wisconsin who discovered the adaptability of that section for the propagation of herbaceous perennials.”  In 1944, John F. was recognized by the University of Wisconsin as one of the outstanding men and women who have enriched rural life in the State.  The recognition cited his work in the victory garden program of 1943 and as especially active in the promotion of better seeds, cow testing association work, and development of small fruits, flowers, orchards, and home gardens.  In 1962, the Minnesota Fruit Growers Association presented him with “The Golden Apple Award” in recognition of his accomplishments in the horticultural development of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

His son Dawson graduated in 1924 from Lacrosse County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy and then attended Northland College.  In 1928, Dawson married Opal Bender and purchased an additional 20 acres of land from Joe O’Malley (at the cost of $200).  In 1930, he bought the William Knight orchard, the first commercial orchard in Bayfield, by negotiating with the Bayfield bank for a mortgage of $2000 with a $1 down payment.    Dawson started the expansion of the orchards which today have over 2000 apple trees.  During WWII, Dawson was one of the farmers in the area to have German POWs, who were housed in Bayfield, pick and grade apples.  Because of his success in the apple industry, in 1950, Dawson was elected president of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association.  In 1962, Dawson was one of a group of Bayfield apple growers who decided to expand their market by bringing apple trucks downtown and advertising the special days for the sales of apples.  The next year, 1962, at a meeting of the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce, the directors Julian Nelson, Jim Erickson, George Mitchell, Dawson Hauser, Mel Sandstrom, Dan Brummer, and Chick Norwell, decided to hold it the first weekend in October, advertise the event, and call it “Apple Festival,”  which is now one of the premier festivals in the State of Wisconsin.

Dawson was interviewed in 1988 at age 84 by filmmaker John Hanson and said, “My dad was a self-made man.  I guess I moved in some of his footsteps because my knowledge came from growing up in the garden.”  Dawson said his dad was a good mathematician and “could figure things out very rapidly in his head.”  He figured out quickly that since everybody else was growing strawberries in 1908, it was time to get out of the berry business and move on to something else, so he moved on to potatoes and other crops.  Through the years, John and Dawson spoke about agriculture to many organizations and contributed scientific methods to the State as well as local growers and served as judges for horticulture and floriculture exhibits.

Dawson and Opal had five children, John, James, William, Nancy, and Sally.  All three of Dawson’s sons engaged in the farm with their father (the daughters both became teachers).  By 1988, son James and Marilyn (Weborg) and children (Cheri, Lori, James Jr., Becki, Scott, Kristi, Clint, Cory) moved back to the site to run the farm, adding more buildings and eventually two greenhouses to meet the perennial demand.  In the 1980s and 1990s, Hausers shipped perennials to almost every state.

In 1996, Jim & Marilyn’s son and wife, Scott and Renate (Hintz), began the Bayfield Winery, which produces apple-based wines that are sold at the farm store.  In 2001, the farm was transferred to oldest son James Jr. & Ellen (Riely) who continues to expand the farming and retail operations including tart cherries and greenhouses for wholesaling annuals which both complement and diversify markets.  Dane Hauser, son of James Jr. has joined his father and grandfather as the fifth generation to cultivate the soil.

The blend of tradition and change is ongoing at Hauser’s Superior View Farm.  It is common to still see relatives of many of the branches of the family tree visiting or helping out at Hausers.  Founder John F., who lived until the age of 96 (1965) and Dawson who lived until 84 (1988), would be proud of how the original farm has kept the tradition of family farming, while still following in their footsteps by adapting to modern techniques and markets.  

The farm was named Superior View Farm because it sits on the hill above the city with views of Lake Superior and the surrounding hills and valleys in this region.  The historic gothic roof barn was purchased from a 1928 Sears Roebuck catalog, arrived in Bayfield by train, and was brought up the hill to the farm by horse and wagon.  The barn still stands and there is an overlook where they invite guests to take in a panoramic view of the lake and islands and see all the artifacts that have been collected over the years.  The Hauser’s love to share the beauty of the Bayfield peninsula and the story of their family; so when you visit Hauser’s Superior View Farm, you will visit a bit of history and learn about some of the people who made the Bayfield area what it is today.   Each generation has its story, each decade its challenges and rewards, each season its harvest. Ellen Reily-Hauser, September 2015

[1]   Local Spuds Get Prizes, Bayfield County Press– December 7, 1917:  John Hauser and Son Dawson Carry Away Honors in Exhibit Presented at the State Convention of Potato Growers Association. Madison Meeting of the Society Was a Large Affair and the Securing of the Prizes by Local “Spuds” Attracts Attention of Potato Enthusiasts in All Sections of the Country read the headlines on this date.

Although Bayfield County did not have any booth exhibit at the convention of the Wisconsin potato growers Association held at Madison recently, to individuals in this County secured prizes on select stock. In the standard variety classes, John F. Hauser, Bayfield, whose potatoes have already won recognition at local shows, made a remarkable showing. Mr. Hauser secured the following prizes for Bayfield County in this class: first prize on Green Mountains, third on Burbank’s, third on Early Ohio’s and sixth on a Rural New Yorkers.

No less entertaining than his father, but just a bit more successful, Dawson Hauser of Bayfield made some good records in the boys and girls club division. Young Hauser secured fifth on Rurals, second on Green Mountain’s, first on Early Rose, first on Triumphs and first on Russet’s.  

This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.