Historic Beer Birthday: William Peter Sr.

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Today is the birthday of William Peter Sr. (March 16, 1832-June 10, 1918) who was born Wilhelm Jacob Peter in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany, but anglicized his first name after coming to America in 1850. He worked at other breweries in both New York and Cincinnati before opening his own brewery in 1859, in what was then Union Hill, New Jersey, but today is Union City.

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Here’s his obituary from the Western Brewer from January 1918:

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And here’s another obituary from Find-a-Grave:

William Peter, founder of the great beer brewing plant of The William Peter Brewing Company Incorporated, of Union Hill now Union City, New Jersey, fled from Achern, Baden, Germany, where he was born, March 16, 1832, to escape the persecution he would have been subjected to as the son of one of the leaders of the Revolution of 1848-1849, against Prussian domination. He fled from Germany while serving his apprenticeship in the brewing trade. He then set sail to America with his mother Maria Antonia (Hof)Peter, four sisters and brother-in-law Max Frech, on the sailing vessel Gallia and arrived in New York on September 14, 1850. He then started a brewery in 1859 in West New York, New Jersey then moved to Union Hill, New Jersey. He developed his business rapidly and became the “best by test” beer in the country. He also had talent for painting, hundreds of landscapes and pictures in still life adorned his studio and the picture gallery of his home. The artist Max Eglau was his master, he had seen sketches and urged Mr. Peter to take up the brush in place of the pencil. William Peter died in 1918 and at that time had the largest funeral in New Jersey history, every famous brewer attended. William Peter married three times, his third wife having been Mrs. Sophia (Vogel) Bertram. Her daughter by her first husband married August Peter his son, his second wife was Mrs. Caroline (Appeli) Ohlenschlager and his first wife was Magdalena (Jaeger).

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The brewery workers with William Peter in the center of the first row, with possible his son to the right (his left).

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And here are some labels from the brewery.

Outside the library in Weehawken, New Jersey there’s a historical marker for William Peter that was put up in 2010.

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This is presumably Peter with his son, William Peter Jr., though I don’t which of his three wives this might be. It was taken in 1910.

And this clipping is from a book on New Jersey from around the turn of the last century.

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And lastly, William Peter was also apparently a prolific fine artist who painted numerous oil paintings. This one he did in 1898 of his brewery.

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