History of Ballhorn Chapels

Ballhorn Chapels Funeral & Cremation Care Center





Johann E. Ballhorn       

John E. (Johann) Balhorn was born January 9, 1843 in Angermude, Germany to Michael and Caroline (Woelle) Balhorn.  In May of 1856 he and parents and three sisters departed from Hamburg, Germany to Quebec City, Canada on the Phonix. Eventually moving to Sheboygan County. In 1862, age 19, he volunteered, joining Co. H, 26th Wisconsin Volunteers. He mustered out June 30, 1865, with a rank of Corporal. He returned to Glenbulah and married Louisa Suckow of Cascade on May 30, 1867.They had two sons:  John F. and Henry, five daughters: Sophie, Helena, Minnie, Lydia, and Louise. Also an infant Agnes C. was lost soon afterbirth. They lived in Glenbulah for 14 years where John conducted a furniture business. Legend has it that they moved to Sheboygan where lumber was being brought in by lake boat.  They opened their store at 8th Street and St. Clair Avenue. The property was purchased from the German Bank and was 25 feet of frontage on 8th Street.  The deed dated August 24, 1885, indicates the purchase price of $1550.  John died on February 14, 1899 after a one week illness of pneumonia. 





John F. Ballhorn        

John F. Ballhorn, the second child of John E. & Louisa (Suckow) Ballhorn was born September 7, 1873 at Glenbulah, WI. In 1885 he came to Sheboygan with the family and attended Trinity Lutheran School and was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church. John learned the cabinetry trade from his father and helped in the undertaking part of the business. The family consisted of two sons and five daughters living above the furniture store located at 8thStreet and St. Clair Avenue. On July 19, 1902 John married Lillie Gotter, a daughter of Gottlieb and Abbie Gotter, a farm family in the Town of Wilson, Sheboygan County. They had a son Milton F. and a daughter Estella.  On February 16, 1909, John purchased the brick two story home at 722 St. Clair Avenue from John Kroeten. The undertaking business flourished and in 1928 a new funeral temple was built on the corner replacing the old wooden store building. The new Ballhorn Funeral Temple was opened for inspection February 12th and 13th and was viewed by an estimated 15,000 people.  By this time his son Milton had been associated with the business for four years. On November 14, 1932, John was stricken with heart failure. Lillie continued to live at 722 St. Clair Avenue.  When the East Chapel was added in the early 1940’s she resided in the “Grandmas”apartment, the second floor of the 722 St. Clair residence.  




Milton F. Ballhorn        

Milton F. Ballhorn, born October 17, 1904. He married Hildegarde M. and together they had children John William Ballhorn and Shirley Ballhorn. The last Will and Testament of John F. Ballhorn, dated December 23, 1929, stated that Milton F. Ballhorn, his son, should become sole owner of the said business and he was appointed the executor of the estate. Early on Hildegarde and Milt recognized that living in an apartment was convenient for Milt’s work, but it wasn’t a home with a yard, etc.  This was compensated by a summer cottage, first a three room cabin at the mouth of the Black River and then a cottage at Elkhart Lake. Milton passed away May 6, 1962.  


















John W. Ballhorn        

John William Ballhorn, the fourth generation, was born March 20, 1932 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. John, along with older sister Shirley and their parents resided in the Directors apartment located at 1201 N. 8thStreet. John volunteered for the draft and was top on the list and entered the Army for a two year period beginning in September, 1952. He then graduated from the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science in Milwaukee and received his Funeral Director and Embalmers license in June 1955. In 1968 John and Deloris M. Wolter were married. With the sudden death of Milton Ballhorn, John becomes the manager of the Ballhorn Chapels and one of his first priorities as operator was to hire Funeral Directors.  A local area Clergyman indicated that he was going to be doing the marriage of a graduating mortuary student.  John contacted this student and then hired Thomas J. Smith, graduate of W.I.M.S.  Tom was a faithful employee until the Corporation was sold in 1999. He then continued on as manager of Ballhorn Chapels until his retirement in 2013.  Tom’s wife Sue was also an employee acting as Chapel Organist and Office Manager until 1999.   

In 1965, with the furniture store being closed, John began the complete conversion of the buildings to the use as the Ballhorn Chapels with the theme of three chapels under one roof with ample parking and the ability to conduct three services and visitations at the same time.  This, along with our central location, was the message for public consumption. The first building project was the enclosure of the back corner where the buildings lined up. This enclosure made room for a receiving area and a new crematory furnace to be installed. In 1965 John enclosed the north parking under a steel canopy extending to the rear parking and garage area.   Several years later the two garages were removed for a parking area under a canopy.  The large garage formed was adjacent to the buildings.  A canopy was also erected along the east building thereby surrounding the buildings.  In the early 1970’s a permit was secured from the City to cover the St. Clair Avenue sidewalk with a canopy and a heated sidewalk to the east parking lot.


Mark Zimmer

Mark Zimmer graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1977.  He began his career in funeral service in Davenport, Iowa as a licensed funeral director until acquiring the Ahrens Funeral Home in Howards Grove, WI in 1983.  John Haberman sold his interest in the Gerend-Habermann Funeral Home to Mark in 1996.  Mark commissioned the design and building of the Westview Funeral and Cremation Care Center in 2003, offering Sheboygan's first and only Funeral center built in the 21st century, serving both traditional and contemporary funeral families.  In 2010, the downtown Sheboygan funeral home was consolidated into the Westview Funeral & Cremation Care Center.  In July of 2014, Mark purchased Ballhorn Chapels Funeral & Cremation Care Center, bringing back local ownership of this heritage business.  After the purhcase, Mark and his staff began an extensive remodeling project of the historic Ballhorn building, installing the latest technologies to enhance family's comfort and funeral experience.  Ballhorn has a state-of-the-art crematory on site, being a pioneer as the first registered crematory in the state of Wisconsin in the early 1950's.

Mark and his staff sustain the traditiosl started by the Jacob Gerend & John Ballhorn families in Sheboygan by continuing to provide residents with the highest standards of service that only an independently owned funeral home can give.  They are proud to be one of Wisconsin's oldest and largest firms.