Peter Eckrich (January 2, 1864 – March 30, 1942)

By Barbara Selig and Mary Selig

Founder of a prepared meat company, Peter Eckrich was born to Ignatz Eckrich and Marie Elisabeth Spindler Eckrich in Waldsee, just north of Lake Constance in Baden Württemberg. Little is known of his life in Germany, but Eckrich came to the U.S. in 1881 at the age of 17. He settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he started his own meat market in 1894. He married Barnadine Hilker in January 1888, and together they had eleven children. All of the children worked for the family business and helped deliver meat to customers. He later started a second meat market in Fort Wayne. Prior to the development of refrigerated railroad cars, packaged meat was a product that had to be created and distributed locally. Expanding the business, Peter opened a plant in 1907 so his product could be sold wholesale, incorporated the business in 1925 as Peter Eckrich and Sons, and by 1932 it became wholesale only. Peter retired about five years prior to his death. His brother Henry led the company after Peter retired, and his grandson Donal P. Eckrich took over when it became part of the Beatrice Company in 1972. It is currently owned by Smithfield Foods, but still carries the Eckrich label.

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