It should be no surprise that a state known for beer, brats, and cheese produced some remarkably large individuals. But August Teitgen might have set the record.
He arrived in Wisconsin in about 1850 from northern Germany, and was said to come from an aristocratic family. He and his wife brought an indentured servant to America with them.
Teitgen settled at a fork in the road to Green Bay, about six miles outside Manitowoc. There he erected a huge log tavern that served for six decades as the area’s social center.
Teitgen’s place attracted attention not just for its food and drink but because of its landlord. “Measuring a fraction of an inch over six feet,” a local writer recalled, “he weighed 560 pounds and was said to be the heaviest man in Wisconsin.”
It was not all fat.
The 1850s were a politically contentious time, but order always reigned in Teitgen’s tavern. Once, when two men refused to stop arguing, he simply picked one up in each hand and marched them out the front door.
Teitgen was so big that special furniture had to be built for him. This included not just a special wagon but also, when he died in 1884, his coffin.
No commercially available casket could hold him. So his family had one custom-built, only to discover that it was too big to fit through the doorway of his house. Finally, by taking the door off its hinges and removing the moldings, he was carried out on his side.
— Wisconsin Historical Society