Seven generations – one company / Chapter 2.
The first and second generations
Throughout the year, in this section we are going to present you with an overview of the previous seven generations of the Wüsthof family who have worked for the company.
Details about the early members of the Wüsthof family crop up in various records. In 1807, for example, the name of master knife grinder (Johann) Wilhelm Wüsthof can be found in the Höhscheid district tax register listed as the owner of the Winsberger Bach grinding mill.
Johann Wilhelm still carried out work as a so-called home-worker for other commercial companies. The shears that he sharpened were then finished off at a different location.
His son, Johann Abraham, however, decided that he no longer wanted simply to sharpen shears, instead he would finish them off at his own premises and then sell them himself. And so the following can be found on page 473 of the address book for the Duchy of Berg and the County of Mark, which was published by Friedrich Hyll in Barmen in 1814:
Mayor’s office of Höhscheid
Abr. Wüsthof, shear factory and steel- and
ironware. At Weinsberg.
Today, it is hard to imagine what living and working in a grinding mill must have been like. They were cramped, damp little places, with only candlelight to light up the darkness; grinding stones driven by the power of the water from a dammed pond. And perhaps one or two companions to work with. This is what they called a factory. But it was from these humble beginnings that the company grew, through hard work, diligence and thrift.
Johann Abraham married Johanna Maria Meis, who came from an old grinding family from Widdert. Their three sons all learned the trade of grinding shears. When in 1832 he had the chance to move away from the narrow wine-growing valley and buy a property at a good price up on the mountain side at Höfchen near Widdert, he jumped at the chance.
Johann Abraham’s work consisted of commission orders from well-reputed commercial companies in the county of Berg. It was customary to add the customer’s trademark to the goods. The company did not yet have its own trademark or stamp.
Johann Wilhelm Wüsthof died in 1839. In the next chapter, “The third generation”, you will find out how his son Eduard continued to develop the company.