Historic Beer Birthday: Leo Ebert

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Today is the birthday of Leo Ebert (June 28, 1837-February 22, 1908). Ebert was born in Bavaria into a family of brewers, and emigrated to the U.S. and opened the Leo Ebert Brewing Co. in 1863, which also traded under the name the Eagle Brewery, at least until prohibition, when it closed for good.

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Here’s a biography from Ohio Breweriana;

Leo Ebert, of Ironton, Ohio, founder and still president of the company of that name, was born in Klingenbergon-the-Main, Bavaria, June 28, 1837. The descendant of a family of brewers, he learned his trade at his father’s establishment, and began his career as a journeyman brewer in September, 1854. He worked at his trade in different places in Bavaria, Baden and Hanover, returning home in 1857, to accept a position as brewmaster in the plant of Jos. Amreihn, at Lohr, Bavaria. He remained there until May, 1859, and then left for the United States, arriving in New York July 16, of that year. He secured employment at Gillig’s brewery, remaining there until May, 1860, and then left for Cincinnati, Ohio. Unable to find work in a brewery, he labored in a brickyard at $1 per day. In the fall of 1860 he went to work at Joseph Schaller’s brewery, Cincinnati, being advanced in a short time to the position of cellarman. The foremanship of F. Beck’s brewery, in that city, being offered him, he accepted it and managed the plant until the Christmas of 1861, at which time a brewery at Ironton, Ohio, was offered for rent. Of this opportunity Mr. Ebert took advantage, and with the assistance promised and freely given by the big-hearted and generous Michael Goepper (the well-remembered father of Herman and Edward Goepper) he rented the little common-beer brewery at Ironton and started with a capital of $20; malt and hops, on credit, of Mr. Goepper.

Ironton being on the border of Kentucky and near the State of Virginia, became a very lively place during the war, and the brewery prospered. Beer was brewed Sunday and every day and sold when often not over three days old. The brewery not being well located, however, was abandoned and Mr. Ebert erected a new plant at the present site, in 1863, and began to brew lager beer. From time to time he enlarged his plant according to the wants of the trade in Ironton. He never meddled with the shipping trade, and to-day is glad that he did not, doing a nice business at home and fully enjoying the fruits of an active life.

Mr. Ebert has taken an active part in all questions pertaining to the welfare and protection of the brewing trade of the country. He joined the United States Brewers Association at the convention held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1863, and has been acquainted with all the old veterans of the trade. He was elected the first president of the Ohio State Brewers Association, serving from 1883 to 1887, and again after the reorganization in 1894. There has not been a legislature in session for the past thirty years in Ohio which has not found Mr. Ebert on hand whenever the trade was endangered or some relief wanted from obnoxious laws. In view of this record the United States Brewers Association did him the honor of electing him its president at the Milwaukee convention of 1895.

Mr. Ebert can say that he has been an active force in the development of the brewing industry of this country, from the so-called small or common beer for quick consumption, to the present export beers which are shipped all over the world. He remembers the time when the output of all the breweries in the United States did not equal the present output of some of our cities. He made beer in this country when there was no tax on it, while the 1900 tax on beer was three and one-half times the amount the United States paid Spain for the Philippine islands.

Mr. Ebert was married in Germany, in 1858, to Mathilde Uihlein, of Trennfurt, Bavaria. His family consists of six children five daughters, and one son (Otto) who is now manager of the brewery and is highly respected by the trade and community.

Mr. Ebert has always taken an active part in the development of the city of Ironton and has served in the capacity of president of the city council, member of the school board and board of health, his activities in this direction covering a period of seventeen years.

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Here’s Ebert’s obituary from “A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio” by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor, published in 1916

The late Leo Ebert, who died at his home in the City of Ironton, Lawrence County, on the 22d of February, 1908, was a man of strong and upright character and marked business ability, his influence having long been potent in connection with civic and material progress in Ironton and his prominence and enterprise in the business activities involved in the operation of the extensive and modern brewery that perpetuates his name having made him one of the leading business men of this section of the Buckeye State, even as he was a loyal and progressive citizen who held inviolable place in popular confidence and esteem.

Leo Ebert was born at Kingenberg, Kingdom of Bavaria, Germany, near the City of Frankfort, and the date of his nativity was June 28, 1837, so that he was nearly seventy-one years of age at the time of his death. He was a son of Theodore and Barbara (Krutzman) Ebert, and the family name has been identified with the representative brewing enterprise of Bavaria for many generations, Theodore Ebert, father of the subject of this memoir, having fully upheld the prestige of the patronymic in this field of industry, and both he and his wife having remained in Bavaria until their death. Leo Ebert, the eldest in a family of four children, attended the excellent schools of his home town until he had attained to the age of twelve years, when he was placed by his father in the latter’s brewery, to be initiated into the mysteries of the business. For several years he was acquiring scientific and practical experience in the brewing business,—at Mannheim, Bremen and other places,—and he finally returned to the parental home and stood his chances in the conscription for the army. He was successful, however, in drawing a high number and thus was relieved of the military service.

At the age of twenty-one years Mr. Ebert wedded Miss Mathilda Urhlein, and in 1859, shortly after this important event, he immigrated with his young wife to the United States. Landing in the port of New York City, he there worked at his trade of brewer for nine months, and at the expiration of this period he came to Ohio and established his residence in the City of Cincinnati. Not being able to find immediate employment at his trade, he was compelled to work one summer in a brick yard, and finally he obtained a position as laborer in a Cincinnati brewery, his ability and fine technical knowledge leading to his promotion from his humble capacity to that of foreman within the ensuing two months. After serving for foreman of the brewery for sixteen months Mr. Ebert came to Ironton, Lawrence County, in 1861. Here he established a brewery on a modest scale, and from that time forward his success became cumulative and substantial. He continued as the executive head of the Ebert Brewing Company until his death and was one of the thoroughly loyal and liberal citizens of the Lawrence County metropolis, to the development and upbuilding of which he contributed in generous measure. He became financially interested in various other local enterprises and was known and honored as one of the prominent and influential citizens of this section of the state.

In politics Mr. Ebert originally was aligned with the republican party, but in 1872 he followed his sincere convictions and transferred his allegiance to the democratic party, with which he continued to In actively allied during the residue of his long and useful life. He was influential in the councils of his party and, as a convincing and effective public speaker, he “took the stump” in numerous campaigns. For more than seventeen years Mr. Ebert held official preferment in Ironton, where he served as a member of the city council, the board of education and the board of health. The fine intellectual ken and practical ability of Mr. Ebert marked him as eligible for office of distinguished order, and twice he received the democratic nomination for representative of his district in the United States Congress. While he was unable to overcome the large and normal republican majorities in the district, he brought out the full vote of his party and greatly reduced the natural majority of his opponents.

In the most significant and worthy interpretation of the expression, Mr. Ebert was essentially a self-made man, and he had the sagacity and judgment to make the best of the opportunities afforded in the land of his adoption, with the result that he won large and substantial success, the while he so ordered his course as to merit and receive the high esteem of all who knew him. He was a man of commanding presence, brilliant intellect and broad human tolerance and sympathy. His kindliness and generosity were unfailing, but he never permitted his benevolences to come into publicity if this could be avoided, having been one of those who “do good by stealth and blush to find it fame.” Genial and companionable, Mr. Ebert was not only an interesting conversationalist but also had remarkable gifts as an orator. For eight years Mr. Ebert served as president of the Ohio Brewers’ Association, and for two years was president of the national organization of brewers. He was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias. The death of Mr. Ebert caused deep and sincere sorrow in his home city, and both business and social circles manifested their sense of irreparable loss. The noble character of Mr. Ebert found its most perfect exemplification in the relations of his ideal home life, and his widow and children find their greatest measure of consolation and compensation in the memory of his devotion and abiding love and tenderness,—the gentleness of a strong and loyal nature.

Of the six children of Leo and Mathilda (Urhlein) Ebert the eldest is Fannie, who is now the wife of Henry Geiger, identified with the brewing business in Ironton, and they have seven children,—Mathilda, Leo, Henry. Frederick, Charles, Otto, and Bertha. Gretchen, the second daughter, first wedded Michael Rauch, who is survived by two children, Otto and Walter. After the death of her first husband Mr. Rauch became the wife of August Ebert, a brewer by vocation, and they now reside in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, no children having been born of this union. Tillie is the wife of Charles Jones, engaged in the undertaking business in Ironton; Otto N., the only son, is more specifically mentioned on other pages of this publication. Emma is the wife of Frederick Wagner, a representative farmer near Pedro, Lawrence County, and they have eight children,—Leona, Frederick, Walter, Henrietta, Harold, Ironton, Roy, and Franklin. Bertha is the wife of Dr. William C. Miller, engaged in the practice of dentistry in Ironton, and they have one son, William C, Jr.

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Comments

  1. Linda Crane says

    Jay: This was just sent to me by a friend, so my reply is a little late. Thank you so much for printing this, Leo Ebert was my great grandfather. My grandfather was Frederick Geiger, son of Fannie (Leo and Matilda’s oldest child) and Henry Geiger. I have been to Ironton to see what is left of the old brewery and search for additional information on my family. I have also been searching for a bottle from the brewery. Any additional information you might have on Leo, or where I might mind an Ebert Brewery bottle would be greatly appreciated!
    Sincerely,
    Linda Crane

    • Larry Traffis says

      Hi,
      My great grandfather was August Uehlein. His sister, Mathilda Uehlein, was the wife of Leo Ebert. My grandmother, Mathilda, and her sister, Anna, we’re August Uehlein’s daughters. The two sisters married two brothers with the last name of Wirtz. My mother, Marcella, was Mathilda’s daughter. So my great grandfather, August, came to America at the age of 36, I believe and resided in Cleveland Ohio. He was a partner in Diebolt Brewery for three to four years. With Prohibition in its infancy, he had a bottling company and during the Prohibition, he sold a product called Annheiser Maltonic. My sister has a picture of a horse drawn cart outside one of August’s residences. Both my mom and sister did an outstanding job doing genealogy on the Wirtz, Uehlien, Colombara families..

      Through their efforts, the genealogy shows a link to an August Uehlein that owned Schlitz.

      Whew! My sister, Mary Lou, has the geneology, etc.and it may also be online.

      If interested in more info, please contact me. Larry Traffis

  2. Elaine Geiger Cardinal says

    As a great grand daughter of Leo Ebert, I was pleased to see this article posted. Linda Crane and I share Leo Ebert as our great grand father. While Linda’s grandfather was Frederick Geiger, his brother Henry F. Geiger was my grandfather and their parents were Fannie Ebert, Leo’s daughter and Henry Geiger.
    Thank you for this wonderful acknowledgement of our family.

    Kindest Regards

    Elaine Geiger Cardinal

  3. Larry Traffis says

    Hi Elaine,

    Please see my post to Linda Crane. When my mom, Marcella, and sister, Mary Lou, did the geneology, they talked to someone from the Ebert side. It may have been a Gieger.

    I’m so glad that I saw this info on Leo Ebert.

    Larry Traffis.
    Brunswick, Ohio

  4. Bev Kelly says

    Leo and Matilda were my 2x great grandparents. My Great grandmother was the second daughter, Gretchen, married to Michael Rauck (not Rauch). She was married a third time to Gus Winning in St. Louis, MO.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting history with us!

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