Historic Beer Birthday: George F. Gund

Today is the birthday of George F. Gund (April 5, 1855-March 11, 1916). He was the son of John Gund, the founder of John Gund Brewing, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the brother of Henry Gund and John Gund Jr., who founded Lexington Brewing, in Lexington, Kentucky. George Frederick Gund founded Gund Brewing Co., of Cleveland, Ohio.


And here’s a short biography of George F. Gund:


This caricature of Gund is from the “Clevelanders “As We See ‘Em,” published in 1904.


Here’s a history of the brewery from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

The GUND BREWING CO. was a small independent brewery located at 1476 Davenport St. on the city’s near east side. It was known as the Jacob Mall Brewing Co. when Geo. F. Gund (1855-1916) purchased it in 1897. Born in La Crosse, WI, Gund served as president of the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. in Seattle, WA, from 1895-97 before moving to Cleveland and buying the Mall brewery, where he served as president and treasurer. On 1 Jan. 1900 the firm name was changed to the Gund Brewing Co. Geo. Gund also served as a trustee of the U.S. Brewers’ Assn. and as secretary of the Cleveland Brewers’ Board of Trade. In 1899 he testified before State Attorney General Frank S. Monnett against the combination created by the Cleveland-Sandusky Brewing Corp., charging that the combination loaned money without interest to saloon keepers who would take its product, and leased buildings and then turned out the customers of independent breweries. Prior to Prohibition, Gund Brewing brewed Gund’s “Finest” and Gund’s “Clevelander,” which it promoted with the slogan “A Wonderful City—A Wonderful Beer.” During Prohibition, the Gund interests turned toward previously established real estate and coffee businesses. The Gund Realty Co. (inc. 1922) and the Kaffee Hag Corp. (inc. 1914) were headed respectively by Anna M. Gund, Gund’s widow, and his son Geo. Gund both were based at the brewery address. After Prohibition, the brewery was operated by the Sunrise Brewing Co. (1933-39), then by the Tip Top Brewing Co. It closed in 1944.

The Jacob Mall Brewing Co. when George Gund bought it in 1897.




Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Pabst

Today is the birthday of Frederick Pabst (March 28, 1836–January 1, 1904). His full name was Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst. According to Wikipedia, he was born in the village of Nikolausrieth, which is in the Province of Saxony, in the Kingdom of Prussia,’ which today is part of Germany. “Friedrich was the second child of Gottlieb Pabst, a local farmer, and his wife, Johanna Friederike.”


Here’s his biography from Find a Grave:

Businessman. Beer magnate who founded the Pabst Breweries. Born in Nicholausreith, Bavaria, Germany, he immigrated with his parents to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1848, worked for a time as a cook in Chicago and later became captain and part owner of one of the Goodrich Steamship Lines’ ships, theHuron, on the Great Lakes. In Milwaukee, he met the prominent brewer, Phillip Best, son of Jacob Best, and before long married Phillip’s daughter Maria. After a December 1863 shipwreck near Milwaukee, Pabst bought a half interest in the Phillip Best Brewing Company so that his father-in-law could retire; at that time annual production was 5,000 barrels. Nine years later, the output was 100,000 barrels and he had become President of the company, was 37 years old and just hitting his stride. He went after the best brewmasters of his day, even traveling abroad hire the right men for his brewery. He increased its capacity by convincing the stockholders that the profits should be put into bigger and better equipment. He also traveled extensively, utilizing his personality and salesmanship to promote a nation-wide market by making the beer synonymous with fashionable people and places. Milwaukee’s German immigrant and second-generation population had more than doubled and this community was a ready market and skilled workforce for the lager breweries there. Eventually 40 distributing branches were established across the nation (12 of them in Wisconsin alone), with Chicago leading in sales, and the company’s export volume reached was nearly one-third of U.S. export sales. Under his leadership, the company became the largest national brewery in 1874; the name was changed to The Pabst Brewing Co. in 1889; and it became the largest lager brewery in the world, the first to produce over a million barrels of beer in a single year, 1892. The well-known “Pabst Blue Ribbon” label evolved from marketing and from a host of awards won at various fairs and expositions; his beer won gold medals at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 and the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. In 1882, the company began tying blue ribbons around the neck of each bottle of its “Select” beer to distinguish it from other brands and customers began asking for “blue ribbon” beer even before it became the official name after winning the blue ribbon at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Pabst was also prominent in civic affairs, and was noted for the establishment of Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater and he had also established a traveling library providing German language books for immigrants. Afflicted with both diabetes and emphysema, he attempted to regain his health in 1903 with a trip to California. After two strokes during his trip he returned to Milwaukee, soon transferred $4 million in stock to his children and died six months later.


Another account from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The WHS also has a “Historical Essay” entitled Frederick Pabst and the Pabst Brewing Company, with a deeper dive into the history of both.

Pabst, Frederick (Mar. 28, 1836-Jan. 1, 1904), brewer, business executive, b. Thuringia, Germany. He migrated with his parents to the U.S. and to Milwaukee in 1848, worked for a time as a cook in Chicago and later became captain and part owner of one of the Great Lakes ships of the Goodrich Lines. In Milwaukee, Pabst met the prominent brewer, Phillip Best, soon married Best’s daughter Maria, and invested his savings in his father-in-law’s brewing business. After Phillip Best retired, Pabst became co-manager of the company with Emil Schandein, and together they built it into one of the largest enterprises of its kind in the nation. Schandein handled the production end of the business, while Pabst traveled extensively, utilizing his personality and salesmanship to promote a nation-wide market by making beer synonymous with fashionable people and places. Eventually 40 or 50 distributing branches were established, with Chicago leading in sales, and the export volume of the company for a time was nearly one-third of U.S. export sales. In 1873 Pabst became president of the company, and in 1889 the firm name was changed to The Pabst Brewing Co. Pabst was also prominent in Milwaukee civic affairs, and was noted for the establishment of the Pabst Theater.

Fred as a younger man.

Pabst with his wife Maria Best.

Here’s yet another account, this one from the Pabst Mansion website, which today is a popular tourist attraction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Captain Pabst was born on March 28, 1836 in the small town of Nicholausreith, Saxony, Germany. In 1848, at the age of twelve, his parents, Gottlieb and Fredericka Pabst, made the momentous decision to immigrate to the United States and settled in Chicago. At the age of 14, young Frederick signed on as a cabin boy on a Great Lake steamer and by the age of 21, he became a Captain. Henceforth, until the day he died, he always retained the title of Captain.

Captain Pabst’s vessels plied the waters between Chicago, Milwaukee and Manitowoc. As Captain of a side-wheeler christened Comet, he found his future wife, Miss Maria Best. Maria, born on May 16, 1842, was the eldest daughter of Phillip Best, a brewer from Milwaukee. Frederick and Maria courted for two years and were married in Milwaukee on March 25, 1862. Two years later Captain Pabst took his father-in-law’s offer to buy a half-interest in the Phillip Best Brewing Company.

Captain and Mrs. Pabst would eventually have ten children from 1863-1875. However, only five survived to adulthood, a common occurrence during the nineteenth century.

Elizabeth 1865-1891 Gustave 1866-1943 Marie 1868-1947 Frederick, Jr. 1869-1958 Emma 1871-1943

They raised their new family in a home built in the shadow of the brewing company buildings. After the company’s name was changed in 1889 to the Pabst Brewing Company, Captain Pabst pursued the idea of building on property he had acquired some years earlier on Milwaukee’s prestigious Grand Avenue. During the summer of 1892, the Pabst family moved into their new home.

At the turn of the new century, Captain Pabst’s health started to deteriorate due to a number of ailments including pulmonary edema, diabetes and emphysema. In 1903, while traveling in California, he suffered two strokes before returning to Milwaukee. After his family rallied around him, Captain Pabst slipped away and died shortly after noon on New Year’s Day 1904. His funeral, which took place in the Music Room of the mansion, was meant to be a private affair, but the enormous crowds of mourners that surrounded the mansion made it all but impossible.


The Pabst website also has a time of brewery history they call the whole story.


Also, Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a more thorough account of both Captain Pabst and his brewery. This is relevant part about Frederick Pabst.

Frederick (originally Johann Gottlieb Friedrich) Pabst was born on March 28, 1836, in the small village of Nikolausrieth, Kingdom of Prussia (today Mönchpfiffel-Nikolausrieth, Province of Saxony) and was the second child of the farmers Gottlieb Pabst (1800-1880) and Johanna Friederika (née Nauland) Pabst (1806-1849).[10] His older sister, Christine (1828-1905), remained in Prussia when the rest of the family migrated to the United States in 1848. The family’s migration was initiated by several promotional letters from relatives who had settled in Wisconsin. Shortly after his father arrived in New York from Hamburg, he booked a passage for the rest of the family. Reunited, they first joined their relatives in Milwaukee, and the following year they resettled in Chicago, where Frederick’s mother died in a cholera epidemic.

In some respects, Pabst’s family story reads like the archetypal “rags to riches” narrative of the era. Initially, Gottlieb and Frederick worked in hotels (Mansion House and New York House) as a waiter and a busboy earning $5 (approximately $156 in 2014$) per month. Around the age of twelve, Frederick found employment as a cabin boy abroad a Great Lakes steamer, the Sam Ward, of the Ward Line – a job in which he established a reputation for fairness, honesty, and determination as his 1904 obituary in the Milwaukee Sentinel attested. Stationed at the cabin door on day, his superiors instructed him not to allow passengers to leave the side-wheel steamer without showing a valid ticket. When the vessel’s owner attempted to pass without showing his ticket:

Young Pabst confronted and stopped him. Capt. Ward attempted to force his way out but was thrust back with considerable energy by the sturdy young German. The owner of the steamer stormed about and at last tried to bribe young Pabst to let him pass by offering him a dollar. This was indignantly refused, and Capt. Ward returned to the cabin in the worst temper possible. Then he began to think over the incident and as the integrity of the young man appealed to his better judgment, he not only relented, but from that time forward to the end of his life was one of Frederick Pabst’s best friends.

In 1857, Frederick Pabst received his maritime pilot’s license and “the Captain” was born – not only by occupation but also by personality. During the next six years, he navigated the ships of the Goodrich Transportation Line: theTraveler between Milwaukee and Chicago; the Huron between Milwaukee and Two Rivers; the Sea Bird between Milwaukee and Manitowoc; and the Comet between Milwaukee and Sheboygan, an important barley market that provided the key ingredient in beer. This last route brought him into contact with Phillip Best, who was a frequent passenger on his ships and sometimes took his eldest daughter Maria along with him. After two years of courtship, Frederick and Maria wed on March 25, 1862, and out of eleven children born to them, five survived to adulthood: Elizabeth Frederica (1865-1891), Gustav Phillip Gottlieb (1866-1943), Marie (1868-1947), Frederick Jr. (1869-1958), and Emma (1871-1943).

After marrying Maria, Frederick decided to remain a ship captain, but he changed his mind after the Sea Bird ran aground off the shore of Whitefish Bay on its way to Milwaukee during a winter storm in December 1863. Unable to pay for repairs to the vessel himself, he decided to join the brewing business of his father-in-law. Under the guidance of Phillip Best, “the Captain” learned the brewing business and served as an equal partner in the operation until his father-in-law retired in 1866 and sold his remaining stake in the business to his other son-in-law, Emil Schandein, a former travelling salesman who had migrated from the German lands to the U.S. in 1856 and had married Lisette Best.

Due to emphysema and pulmonary edema caused by years of smoking cigars, diabetes, and two strokes while on vacation in Southern California in 1903, Pabst’s health declined rapidly. When he died on January 1, 1904, newspapers around the world lamented his passing. At the height of his success, he passed on to his children and his eldest granddaughter, Emma (child of Elizabeth and Otto von Ernst), one million dollars’ (approximately $27.4 million in 2014$) worth of company stock (at a time when the average working class salary was about $600 per year or approximately $16,500 in 2014$) and his sons Gustav and Fred Jr. – both educated at military academies and trained as brewers at Arnold Schwarz’s United States Brewers’ Academy in New York – took over the business as president and vice president, respectively.



Historic Beer Birthday: John Land

Today is the birthday of John C. Land (March 16, 1853-January 15, 1943). He was born in Grand Island, New York, but somehow made his way to Wisconsin. There he apparently married Barbara Weber, the daughter of Stephen Weber, who owned the Weber Brewery in Waukesha, Wisconsin. On Thanksgiving Day in 1883, Stephen Weber gave his son William A. Weber and his son-in-law John Land ownership of the Weber Brewery. They renamed it the Weber & Land Brewery, and also traded under the name Bethseda Brewery. Land’s name was later removed it was more often known as the Weber Brewing Co., though the Bethseda named continued as well. It survived prohibition, and was known then as the Weber Waukesha Brewing Co. until closing for good in 1958.


How long Land was involved in the business is unknown, and I could not find a specific biographical information beyond the tidbits I uncovered, and of course no photographs of him either. Most of what I did find was mentioned in the context of the Weber family and the brewery.

This account of the Weber brewery is from “Breweries of Wisconsin,” by Jerold W. Apps;



Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Gund

Today is the birthday of Henry Gund (March 2, 1859-July 2, 1945). He was the son of John Gund, who co-founded what would become the The G. Heileman Brewing Company with Gottlieb Heileman. They formed a partnership in November 1858 to operate the City Brewery in La Crosse, but “after nearly fifteen years in business together, Heileman and Gund dissolved their partnership in 1872.” After leaving City Brewing, Gund immediately “established a new brewery on the southern edge of La Crosse that he named the Empire Brewery, and which was incorporated in 1880 as the John Gund Brewing Company.” Gund employed all three of his sons in his new venture, and eventually Henry Gund became president of the brewery after his father’s death.


There’s not much biographical information on Henry, and I couldn’t find a photo of him, either. But there was a short write-up in the Biographical History of La Crosse, Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties, Wisconsin, published in 1892, when Henry was still alive, and so was his father. This biography starts with John Gund, and then has limited information about each son.



Immigrant Entrepreneurship, under German-American Business Biographies, has a lengthy tale of both John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman

In May 1910, John Gund passed away a few months shy of his eightieth birthday. Fifty-one-year-old Henry Gund assumed control of the firm, which had expanded significantly to become the largest brewery in the Old Northwest outside Milwaukee. It employed 450 workers and owned numerous saloons throughout the region that carried Gund beer exclusively. Despite the firm’s success, the second decade of the twentieth century would be a trying time for Gund Brewing. The First World War fueled the prohibitionist movement in the United States and denunciations of German-American brewers became commonplace. In November 1918, shortly after the armistice ending the war had been signed, Congress passed the curiously misnamed Wartime Prohibition Act banning the production of intoxicating beverages starting in May 1919 and the sale of such beverages starting on July 1. Legal wrangling in the federal courts regarding the definition of “intoxicating beverages” occupied much of the spring of 1919. Many brewers including Gund held that beer with an alcohol content lower than 2.75 percent was non-intoxicating and resumed low-alcohol beer production. Later in the fall, Congress ratified the Volstead Act enacting national Prohibition and set January 16, 1920, as the start date.

The Gund Brewery in 1902.

Despite the enactment of national Prohibition in early 1920, Gund and many other breweries continued producing 2.75 percent beer as various lawsuits made their way through the federal courts challenging the legality of the law and the meaning of various provisions. While the officers of the Gund Brewery awaited the outcome of the national legal battles, they faced a more immediate crisis. Local 81 of the International Brotherhood of Brewery Workers went on strike against local La Crosse breweries to ban open shops. Henry Gund refused to negotiate with the strikers and instead hired replacement workers to fill the vacant positions. The situation remained unresolved when the United States Supreme Court upheld the Volstead Act in the summer of 1920 and reinforced the complete ban on sales of alcoholic beverages. The ongoing labor unrest combined with the ban on beer production eventually led Henry Gund and the other corporate officers of the company to shutter the brewery. The corporation was dissolved in 1938 and the Peerless trademark was sold to the Michel brothers who resumed production of the brand. The Heileman Brewery later purchased Gund’s brew house.


John Gund’s vision of his brewery evolving into a major shipping brewery did not come to pass, and La Crosse did not emerge as a major rival to Milwaukee, St. Louis, or Cincinnati. Nevertheless, Gund had a major economic impact on the community and he influenced the entrepreneurial path of his sons. All three pursued careers in brewing: George in Washington and Ohio, John Jr. in Illinois and Kentucky, and Henry in Wisconsin. They also diversified their business activities into other fields. George entered the financial and mining sectors and earned a fortune through banking and real estate. John Jr. operated a malting facility in Chicago, the Lexington Brewery in Lexington, Kentucky, eventually became head of the Swiss Oil Company and the president of the First National Bank of Lexington. Henry stayed in La Crosse and became a director and later president of the National Bank of La Crosse (later the First National Bank La Crosse) and the president of the Pioneer Real Estate Company, a holding company for the defunct Gund Brewery’s real estate.


Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick C. Miller

Today is the birthday of Frederick C. Miller (February 26, 1906–December 17, 1954). Fred was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “the son of Carl A. Miller of Germany, and Clara Miller (no relation), a daughter of Miller Brewing Company founder Frederick Miller.


Succeeding his younger cousin Harry John (1919–1992), Miller became the president of the family brewing company in 1947 at age 41 and had a major role in bringing Major League Baseball to Wisconsin, moving the Braves from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953. He coaxed Lou Perini into moving them into the new County Stadium and the Braves later played in consecutive World Series in 1957 and 1958, both against the New York Yankees. Both series went the full seven games with Milwaukee winning the former and New York the latter.


Fred Miller was also notably a college football player, an All-American tackle under head coach Knute Rockne at the University of Notre Dame, posthumously elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He later served as an unpaid assistant coach for the Irish, flying in from Milwaukee several times a week.


He also “volunteered as a coach for the Green Bay Packers and, during a difficult financial period, even helped fund the team. Miller Brewing remains the largest stockholder of the Green Bay Packers,” which probably explains why they played half of their home games in Milwaukee before Lambeau Field was refurbished.


Here’s his biography from the College Football Hall of Fame:

A native of Milwaukee, Fred Miller was the grandson of the founder of the Miller Brewing Company. The qualities which later made Fred a great business executive were already evident when he entered Notre Dame in 1925, and they were quickly recognized by the immortal Knute Rockne. It was under Rockne’s tutelage that the 6-1, 195-pounder came to his gridiron peak, earning All-America mention in 1927, and again in 1928, and achieving the ultimate Notre Dame football honor by being named captain of the 1928 team. His quest for perfection was not limited to the gridiron. During his years at Notre Dame he coupled athletic prowess with academic proficiency and established the highest scholastic average of any monogram winner. Miller was involved in real estate, lumber, and investments before becoming president of the Miller Brewing Company. In 1954, he and his son, Fred Jr., were killed in an airplane crash. Miller was 48 years old. He was survived by his wife, six daughters and a son.

Miller at Milwaukee’s County stadium, where he helped moved the Boston Braves to in 1953, along with paying $75,000 for the County Stadium scoreboard in the background.

But beyond his sports accomplishments, he was an effective leader of his family’s brewery, as detailed by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Remembering Frederick C. Miller, Milwaukee brewing’s 1st rock star:

Frederick C. Miller was the first brewery rock star.

Industry types praised Miller in the 1940s and early ’50s in the same way they gush over leading craft brewers today.

Frederick J. Miller was the builder of the brewery that is marking its 160th anniversary this year. Frederick’s son, Ernest, who took over after his father’s death, was a caretaker for the brewery keeping the status quo.

But Frederick C. Miller, part of the focus of a monthlong celebration of the company’s history that wrapped up last weekend, was the innovator who sparked new relationships, new buildings, put new ideas in motion and marched the family brewery past regional dominance to become the nation’s fifth-ranked brewery.

When you sip a beer at Miller Park or Lambeau Field it’s because of Fred C. He identified the relationship between beer and sports, and ran with it like the all-American football player he was.

“Fred was iconic,” said David S. Ryder, MillerCoors vice president for brewing, research, innovation and quality. “He was named as president of Miller Brewing in 1947, and from the day that he was named president, Miller Brewing started to grow.”

Frederick C. died when his plane crashed on takeoff at what is now Mitchell International Airport on Dec. 17, 1954. He was 48. His son Fred Jr., 20, and two pilots on the Miller Brewing payroll were killed on impact in the crash; Frederick C. was thrown clear of the crash but died hours later in the hospital.

A crowd of 3,000 mourners attended the funeral services, and the overflow was described by The Milwaukee Journal as “everyday folks — men in overalls and other rough work clothes, mothers carrying babies, young people and old.”

During Frederick C.’s time, Miller’s brewery expanded and sales grew from 653,000 barrels in 1947 to more than 3 million in 1952. He added buildings, including a new brewhouse and a new office building. He turned the former ice caves into The Caves Museum, a place where brewers could assemble for lunch or special occasions.

Liberace, a West Allis native, cut the ribbon for The Caves in 1953, according to John Gurda’s book “Miller Time: A History of Miller Brewing Company.”


Here’s a newspaper account of the tragic death of Fred and his son in 1954.



And lastly, here’s some interesting speculation from my friend, historian Maureen Ogle, that Miller Brewing might have done considerably better against their rival, Anheuser-Busch, if Fred Miller had not died prematurely in that place crash when he was only 48 years old.

It’s rare that the presence or absence of one person makes a historical difference (I said “rare,” not impossible). But I think that the death of Fred C. Miller in 1954 altered the course of American brewing. Miller was aggressive, ambitious, smart — all on a grand scale. He was the first beermaker to come along in decades who showed the potential to go head-to-head with the Busch family, particularly Gus Busch, who ran A-B from the late 1940s until the mid-1970s.

Miller became company president in 1947, and over the next few years, he shoved, pushed, prodded, and otherwise steered his family’s brewing company not-much-of-anything into the ranks of the top ten. But in late 1954, he died (in a plane crash) — and Miller Brewing lost its way.

As Miller faltered, A-B solidified its position as the dominant player in American brewing. Had Fred Miller not died, I believe the course of American brewing would have turned out differently: Fred Miller would have transformed his family’s company into a formidable powerhouse. He would have challenged A-B’s dominance. He would have been able to command-and-direct in a way that, for example, Bob Uihlein was not able to do at Schlitz during the same period.

Put another way, in the 1950s, Gus Busch met his match in Fred C. Miller. Things might have turned out differently had Miller lived

I can’t prove that, of course, but hey — what’s all that research good for if I can’t express an informed opinion.

And lastly, the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame created a short video of Miller’s life that’s a nice over view of him.

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph F. Hausmann

Today is the birthday of Joseph F. Hausmann (February 20, 1887-November 30, 1916). I couldn’t find much of anything about Hausmann, apart from this. He was the brewmaster of Capital Brewery in Madison, Wisconsin, which was founded in 1854. In 1891 it changed its name to the Hausmann Brewing Co. when, presumably, he bought the brewery.


This is a short obituary from the 1917 American Brewers’ Review.


This is what his brewery looked like.



Historic Beer Birthday: Alvin M. Hemrich

Today is the birthday of Alvin M. Hemrich (February 14, 1870-February 25, 1935). He was born in Wisconsin, of German-born parents, and from age 18 began working in breweries. In 1891, he moved to the Seattle, Washington area, and began working for breweries there and in Canada, including the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. His brother Andrew bought the Bay View Brewery in Seattle, and later Alvin bought the North Pacific Brewery (also known as the old Slorah brewery), and renamed it the Alvin Hemrich Brewing Co. in 1897. Two of his brothers soon joined him in the enterprise, and it was renamed again, this time to Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company. They did well enough that he began buying out other area breweries. When prohibition closed the brewery, they were ready, having retooled their plants for near-beer and also having divested into some other businesses. They reopened when prohibition was repealed, and two of Alvin’s sons went into the family business, too, but their father died just two years later.

Alvin M. Hemrich and his eldest son, Elmer, around 1910.

As is typical for Pacific Northwest breweries, Gary Flynn has a thorough biography culled from numerous sources at his Brewery Gems website.

Hemrich Brothers Brewing around 1900.

Here’s some more history of the Hemrichs in Seattle from History Link:

Bay View Brewery

It was in 1883 that Andrew Hemrich (b. 1856) and John Kopp arrived in Seattle where they acquired a parcel of land right below Seattle’s Beacon Hill that boasted a cool, freshwater spring. It was there — just south of Seattle’s downtown (at Hanford Street — and 9th Avenue S, today’s Airport Way S) — that they constructed a small brewing facility.

Hemrich was the son of a German brewmaster who’d run a brewery in Wisconsin in the 1850s and he’d opened his own brewery in Glendale, Montana, where he met Kopp, a local baker. Once settled in Seattle, the Kopp & Hemrich company began brewing a “steam” beer and soon branched out with a lager style. Business was good: More than 2,600 barrels of beer were sold that debut year.

Increasingly impressed by the beautiful view of Elliott Bay seen from the brewery, the men renamed their operation the Bay View Brewing Company in 1885. Steady growth in business caused the firm to construct a new and vastly larger plant in 1887. At that time the waters of Duwamish delta still lapped the slopes of Beacon Hill, and the narrow-gauge Grant Street Railway (Seattle’s first “interurban” line) rode above the tideflats on a trestle along the future route of Airport Way. Hemrich erected his mansion above the brewery, in the middle of the future right-of-way for I-5.


Here’s a short biography from “Sketches of Washingtonians: Containing Brief Histories of Men of the State,” published in 1907:


The brew crew at Hemrich Brothers, with Alvin front left.

And this biography is from “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington,” from 1903:

Practical industry wisely and vigorously applied never fails of success. It carries a man onward and upward, brings out his individual character and powerfully stimulates the actions of others. It is this unflagging spirit of industry that has laid the foundations and built the commercial greatness of the northwest, and the career of him whose name initiates this paragraph illustrates most forcibly the possibilities that are open to a young man who possesses sterling business qualifications, and it proves that ambitious perseverance, steadfast purpose and indefatigable industry, as combined with the observance of sound business principles, will eventuate in the attaining of a definite and worthy success. Mr. Hemrich, who is president and manager of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, an important industrial enterprise in the city of Seattle, is a young man of singular force of character and one who stands representative of that insistent and well directed energy which has brought about the development of the magnificent metropolis of the northwest. That he should be accorded specific mention in a work of this nature needs not be said.

Alvin M. Hemrich was born in the town of Alma, Buffalo county, Wisconsin, on the 14th of February, 1870, a son of John and Catherine (Koeppel) Hemrich, both of whom were born in Germany. The father was for many years engaged in the brewing business at Alma, Wisconsin, and he was seventy-three years old when he died, while his wife is still living. Alvin passed his boyhood days in Wisconsin and secured his early educational discipline in the public schools. At the age of sixteen he assumed charge of the business founded by his father in Alma and conducted the same for two years, becoming thoroughly familiar with all details pertaining thereto. At the expiration of the period noted he engaged in the brewing business on his own responsibility in the town of Durand, Wisconsin, and there he successfully continued operations until the year 1890, when he disposed of his interests and came to Seattle, where his parents had located some time previously. After his arrival in Washington Mr. Hemrich proceeded to Victoria, British Columbia, where for two years he held the position of manager of the Victoria Brewing Company. He then returned to Seattle and became foreman for the Albert Braun Brewing Association, retaining this incumbency one year, when the business was closed out, and he then took a similar position with the Bay View Brewing Association, in whose employ he continued for four years, being finally compelled to resign by reason of failing health, and he then passed some time in travel, principally in California. After recuperating his energies through this period of rest and recreation Mr. Hemrich returned to Seattle and here purchased the plant and business of the old Slorah brewery, located on Howard avenue, between Republican and Mercer streets, and there he conducted business for six months, at the expiration of which he became associated with his brother Louis of whom mention is made on another page, and with Julius Damus, in the organization of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, which was duly incorporated under the laws of the state on the 4th of February, 1899, and under the effective management of these interested principals the business has been built up to a most successful standpoint, the equipment of the plant being of the most approved modern type, while every detail of manufacture receives the most careful and discriminating attention of the part of our subject and his brother, both of whom are experts in this line of industry. The result is that the products of the brewery, including lager and porter, are of exceptional excellence, thus gaining a popularity which augurs for the increasing expansion and growth of the business. From the brewery are sent forth each year about thirty-five thousand barrels, and in the prosecution of the business in its various departments employment is afforded to a corps of about seventy-five capable workmen. None but the best material is utilized in the process of manufacture, the malt being secured from Wisconsin and California, and the hops being the most select products from Bohemia and from the state of Washington, whose prestige in this line is well known. The present company have made important changes in the equipment of the plant, having installed the latest improved accessories and having greatly augmented the productive capacity.
Alvin M. Hemrich has been president of the company from the time of its organization, and the success of the enterprise is in large measure due to his able and well directed efforts. In November, 1901, Mr. Hemrich effected the purchase of the property of the Aberdeen Brewing Company at Aberdeen, this state, and he began the operation of the plant shortly afterward, having organized a stock company, which was incorporated with a capital stock of sixty thousand dollars, he himself being president of the company.

Mr. Hemrich is well and most favorably known in connection with the business activities of the city of Seattle, and is esteemed as a straightforward, capable business man. He has made judicious investments in local real estate and is one of the most loyal admirers and enthusiastic citizens of his adopted city. His beautiful residence, which he erected in 1898, is located at 503 Melrose avenue, and is one of the most attractive of the many fine homes for which Seattle is justly noted. Fraternally Mr. Hemrich is identified with the Sons of Hermann, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Red Men, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, while his wife is a member of the Rebekah lodge of the Odd Fellows. Mr. Hemrich enjoys marked popularity in both business and social circles, being a man of genial presence and unfailing courtesy in all the relations of life, and his home is one in which a refined hospitality is ever in distinctive evidence. On the 8th of May, 1890, Mr. Hemrich was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Rutschow, who was born in Germany, being the daughter of Charles and Minnie (Benecke) Rutschow, both of whom were born in Prussia. Mr. and Mrs. Hemrich have two sons, Elmer E. and Andrew L.



Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Uihlein II

Today is the birthday of Henry Uihlein II (February 3, 1896-June 8, 1997). He was the grandson of Henry Uihlein, who for many years was the president of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company early in the 20th century. Henry II was also a director of the family business for several decades until its sale in 1982.


This paid death notice was printed in the New York Times in 1997:

UIHLEIN-Henry II. Of Lake Placid, NY. Died June 8, 1997, at his winter home in Indian Wells, CA, at the age of 101. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne M. Uihlein, and by his nephews, Robert and August Rohe. Mr. Uihlein was preceded in death by his first wife, Mildred Anthony Uihlein, who died on July 9, 1990. He was a grandson of Henry Uihlein who was a longtime president of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company early in this century, and was himself a director of the company for several decades until its sale in 1982 to the Stroh Brewing Company. Mr. Uihlein was born in New York City on February 3, 1896, and attended public and private schools there. A promising collegiate career was cut short by tuberculosis and resulted in his spending several years in Lake Placid, NY, where he was restored to health by the altitude and climate. He married Mildred Anthony of South Orange, NJ, on June 10, 1927, and after an extended European honeymoon, they settled in Montclair, NJ, where he founded a real estate corporation. Summers were spent in Lake Placid. In 1933, the Uihleins moved to New York City where Mr. Uihlein attended to his father’s affairs until he died in 1939. In 1941, the Uihleins made Lake Placid their permanent residence, purchasing farm land from the Lake Placid Club which became known as Heaven Hill Farm. Over the succeeding decades, Mr. Uihlein developed a blue ribbon pure-breed Jersey cattle herd, a prize maple syrup operation, and a first class seed potato farm. Stock from his Jersey herd consistently took top prizes at American Jersey Club Shows. Several years ago, the Jersey herd was donated to the Miner Institute of Chazy, NY, where they continue breeding under the Heaven Hill name. Also several years ago, the maple syrup and potato operations were donated to the College of Agriculture of Cornell University under which auspices they continue to be operated as demonstration and research facilities (and in the case of the potato operation, as a disease-free source of seed potatos.) In addition to his interests in fishing, hunting, stamp collecting, and skeet shooting, Mr. Uihlein supported the sport of speed skating in Lake Placid by sponsoring a number of contestants and events, thus contributing to to Lake Placid’s reputation as a winter sports resort. He was an official timer at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and an active supporter of the 1980 Winter Olympics for which he was made an honorary member. In 1983, he was named to the Lake Placid Hall of Fame. Henry Uihlein also liked classic automobiles and undertook the restoration of 2 1939 DeLage automobiles. These automobiles, one a coupe and the other a convertible, are one of a kind and were the stars of the French Pavillion at the 1939 World’s Fair. More recently, they have taken top honors at the Concourse D’Legance at Pebble Beach, CA, and other national competitions. Mr. Uihlein has also been actively involved in philanthropy. In addition to funding the Cornell College of Agriculture gifts noted above, he played a major role in the creation of the Uihlein Mercy Center, a geriatric hospital and home located not far from Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid. He also has an administration building named after him at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Desert and has served as an honorary Trustee of the Center. He has also actively supported the work of the Mayo Clinic. He will be missed by his many relatives, friends and all those whose lives he touched during his many years. Services will be held on Saturday, June 14th at 11:00 a.m. at the Uihlein Mercy Center Chapel in Lake Placid, interment to follow at North Elba Cemetery, Lake Placid, NY. Memorials may be made to Cornell University College of Agriculture, Uihlein Mercy Center, Lake Placid, NY, Eisenhower Medical Center, Palm Desert, CA, and the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. For information, call the Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid, NY.


This biography was written in 1982, when Uihlein was inducted into The Potato Association of America:

Henry Uihlein II, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 3, 1896, is a member of the family that owned and operated the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company for over 100 years.

Soon after Henry was born, his family moved to New York City, where his father continued the family tradition of engaging in the brewery business. He attended public schools and then the Horace Mann Preparatory School in New York City, a part of Teachers College, which was affiliated with Columbia University. As a youth he was active in athletics, participating in baseball, ice hockey and track.

Henry aspired to a career in medicine and with that in mind enrolled at Cornell University. However, misfortune struck. He became seriously ill with tuberculosis and his father was advised that it was unlikely that Henry would live more than six months. So in 1916, in an effort to regain his health, Henry went to Lake Placid, New York, which was famous for its health sanatoria. There he gradually regained his health and as soon as he was able, resumed his interest in amateur athletics. He focused his energies and support behind speed skating, bringing national and international meets to the tiny Adirondack village. His efforts to promote winter sports in Lake Placid continued through the ’20′s, in spite of being involved in a very serious auto accident. Mr. Uihlein played a significant role in bringing the winter Olympics to Lake Placid in 1932.

In 1927, Mr. Uihlein married Mildred Anthony, whom he had met two years earlier at the Lake Placid Club. They recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. After a number of years actively engaged in business in New York City, the Uihleins returned to Lake Placid in 1940, bought Heaven Hill Farm and directed their energies toward farming. Their first Jersey cattle were acquired in 1942, the beginning of a champion show herd which eventually numbered 250 head. Their sire, Brownys Masterman Jester, bred at Heaven Hill Farm, set an unprecedented record by winning five Grand Championships at the National Jersey Show. Seven head of their cattle achieved “Hall of Fame” records. Their love of Jersey cattle continues today and Heaven Hill enjoys an international reputation for their premier breeding stock.

Concurrently with the development of their Jersey herd, the Uihtein’s entered the seed potato business in order to help the war effort. Their annual production eventually reached 30,000 bushels of top quality certified seed. In 1961 Cornell University approached the Uihleins seeking to lease or purchase their Tableland Farm to establish an official seed potato farm for New York State. The Uihleins countered with an extraordinary offer–they had decided to give Cornell approximately 300 acres of prime potato land. This, along with subsequent gifts of land, became known as the Uihlein Farm of Cornell University.

In 1975 Cornell again approached Mr. Uihlein seeking his support for building a laboratory and greenhouse on the Cornell-Uihlein Farm for the specific purpose of producing pathogen-free potato seed stocks by meristem and shoot tip culture. Having always maintained a keen interest in all aspects of the research program and the production of disease-free seed stocks, Mr. Uihlein very generously agreed to fund this facility. Ground was broken in 1977; the Henry Uihlein II Laboratory was dedicated in June of 1979. Maple syrup production on Heaven Hill was an annual affair since the 1940′s, Heaven Hill having many thousands of mature sugar maples. In 1964 Henry Uihlein conceived the idea of starting a demonstration and research project under the direction of Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources for the production of maple syrup. In addition to funding the construction of the sugar house, equipment and deeding 165 acres of maple forest to Cornell, he has continued to subsidize this project.

The Uihlein’s, in a further demonstration of community spirit, donated 35 acres of land and partial funding for a $4,500,000 nursing home for the aged and chronically ill. This facility, known as the Uihlein Mercy Center, is widely known for its beauty and excellent care. Among his many other activities and interests, Mr. Uihlein served as a Director of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. for 32 years, then as Director Emeritus and Lifetime Honorary Director. He has also served as Director of the Jos. Schlitz Foundation and as a trustee and president of the Lake Placid Educational Foundation. Mr. Uihlein was honored by the American Jersey Cattle Club in 1968 and was designated “Master Breeder of the Year.” He was on the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1980 Winter Olympics and has been active in numerous other organizations.

Very few individuals outside the research community have contributed so much to support the development of a basic aspect of the potato industry. Mr. Uihlein’s contributions of land and buildings have made possible a foundation seed farm of unique quality. For over twenty years, scientists, farmers, and consumers in New York State and beyond have benefitted from his personal interest in and active support for research to produce disease-free potatoes.

For his vision and enthusiasm, his high level of interest and unstinting generosity to seed potato research, it is most appropriate that we honor Mr. Henry Uihlein II with an Honorary Life Membership in The Potato Association of America.

And thanks to his contribution of bringing the Olympics to Lake Placid, he was inducted into the Lack Placid Hall of Fame.


Historic Beer Birthday: Gottlieb Heileman

Today is the birthday of Gottlieb Heileman (January 6, 1824-February 19, 1878). He was born “in Kirchheim unter Teck, Württemberg, Germany” and the founder of the G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1858


Here’s how the brewery was described in “100 Years of Brewing,” published in 1903.



And here’s a biography from Find-a-Grave:

Brewer. He founded the brewery that became the huge G. Heileman Brewing Co. Born in Kirchheim, Wurttemberg (Germany), he emigrated to the USA in 1852, working first in Philadelphia and then went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1853 where he helped Gottlieb Maier found a bakery. In 1857 he moved to La Crosse and was employed in Nicolai brewery and the C&J Michel Brewery until he formed a partnership with Johan Gund in 1858 and they established the City Brewing Co. He became sole owner in 1872 upon Gund’s retirement when production had increased to 3,000 from 500 barrels in 1860; then renamed the firm the G. Heileman Brewing Co. When Heileman died in 1878 his wife assumed ownership becoming the first chief executive of a brewery in the nation. By 1881 production increased to over 7,100 barrels. The commitment to quality paid off well and by 1902 over 160,000 barrels were brewed annually. In 1890 the sole proprietorship was incorporated making his widow, Johanna, one of the first female presidents of a corporation; she remained active until her death in 1917. Until the 1880’s, the brewery sold its beer in oak kegs but began selling in glass bottles for home consumption; as a result, production tripled in the years between 1902, when “Old Style Lager” was introduced, and 1912. Prohibition in 1920 caused the brewery to temporarily switch production to near beer, sodas and malt extract. With Repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the brewery was swamped with beer orders, recapitalized as a public company and by 1953 produced over one-half million barrels of beer. In 1959, G. Heileman Brewing Company began acquiring breweries around the country including Blatz (1969) and Schlitz (1981) and culminated with total production exceeding 17 million barrels of beer annually including 5 million barrels at the La Crosse brewery. The company was acquired by Bond Corporation of Australia in 1987. Subsequently ownership changed hands a number of times until its name and brands, but not its breweries, were sold to Pabst Brewing Company in 1999. Coming full circle to the original 1858 name, former employees and investors acquired the Lacrosse brewing facilities, returned to the City Brewery name and again use Heileman’s 1870 residence on Third Street, directly across from the original brewery, as headquarters. The largest brewery in the United States not owned by industry leaders Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors, its capacity is 5 million barrels annually.

The G, Heileman Brewery in 1889.

Here’s a much more thorough account of not only Heileman, but also his wife and business partner, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship, entitled The Best of Partners – The Best of Rivals: Gottlieb Heileman, John Gund, and the Rise of the La Crosse Brewing Industry:

The G. Heileman Brewing Company achieved national recognition in the 1960s and 1970s when it aggressively acquired a number of well-known breweries and brands including the Blatz Brewing Company, the Rainier Brewery in Seattle, and the Grain Belt brand (now owned by August Schell Brewing Company). For much of its existence, however, the La Crosse, Wisconsin, firm operated in a conservative manner by brewing for local and regional markets only. This business strategy reflected the vision of one of the firm’s German founders, Gottlieb Heileman (born January 6, 1824, in Kirchheim unter Teck, Kingdom of Württemberg; died February 19, 1878, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), who was content to grow the firm slowly and focus on quality over quantity. John Gund (born October 3, 1830, in Schwetzingen, Grand Duchy of Baden; died May 7, 1910, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), the firm’s co-founder, eventually decided that Heileman’s business practices were too restrictive and ended the partnership in 1872 in order to build a new brewery in La Crosse that could compete with cross-state rivals such as Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller. The G. Heileman Brewing Company and the John Gund Brewing Company continued to pursue separate business strategies until national Prohibition was implemented fully in 1920. Gund’s large brewery collapsed, whereas Heileman’s smaller firm subsisted by producing non-alcoholic beer and malt products until the Twenty-First Amendment was passed in 1933.

Gund’s and Heileman’s different approaches to brewing in the post-Civil War era illustrate the diversity of business strategies employed by brewers during this period. Not all ambitious German immigrant brewers sought to create national – or even large regional – shipping breweries as did the Schlitz-Uihlein family, Adolphus Busch, and a number of other German immigrant brewers. Instead, some focused on serving local and regional markets and utilized technological advances such as artificial refrigeration and pasteurization to refine their products rather than expand their markets and market share. Furthermore, following Heileman’s death in 1878, his wife, Johanna (born August 31, 1831, in the Kingdom of Württemberg; died January 5, 1917, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), served as one of the firm’s main officers until her death in 1917. As the first known female head of a brewery in the United States and as one of the first female corporate executives in any business sector, Johanna Heileman (née Bandel) put her own unique stamp on the firm founded by her husband and his business partner.

John Gund’s vision of La Crosse emerging as the brewing center of the Midwest did not come to pass, but the city’s breweries did briefly outproduce their rivals in Milwaukee during the mid-1880s. This demonstrates that Milwaukee’s emergence as the preeminent brewing center of the Midwest was far from inevitable, and, instead, was contingent on a variety of historical factors that set it apart from other Midwestern brewery cities such as La Crosse, Minneapolis, and Duluth.

Gottlieb Heileman, Johanna Heileman, and John Gund each contributed to the development of the brewing industry in La Crosse, and any study of the G. Heileman Brewing Company’s early history must take into account the commercial, social, and cultural milieu that influenced these three immigrant entrepreneurs’ decision-making after they settled in the United States in the 1850s. Their success partially reflected the growing strength of the American brewing industry after the Civil War – made possible by the waves of German settlers who arrived in the U.S. during the mid- to late nineteenth century and who served as both producers and consumers of lager beer and other malt beverages. Nevertheless, the Heilemans and Gund were ultimately responsible for their individual successes and failures during this era as this study will demonstrate.

Family and Ethnic Background

Gottlieb Heileman (originally Gottlieb Heilemann), Johanna Bandel, and John Gund (originally Johann Gund) all hailed from the southwestern German lands. Gottlieb Heileman was one of eight children born to Caspar and Frederika Heilemann (née Meyer). He was born on January 6, 1824, in Kirchheim unter Teck, a small upland community southeast of Stuttgart in the Kingdom of Württemberg. Johanna Bandel, who also hailed from Württemberg, was born to Johann Ludwig and Kathrina Bandel (née Sigel) on August 31, 1831. She had a number of brothers who later immigrated to the United States. John Gund, on the other hand, was born approximately seventy-five miles northwest of Kirchheim in the community of Schwetzingen in the Grand Duchy of Baden on October 3, 1830. Schwetzingen lay in the rich, alluvial farmland between the Rhine and Neckar Rivers approximately six miles southwest of Heidelberg. Gund was the second of eight children born to Georg Michael and Sophia Elizabeth Gund (née Eder or Edes).

Both Heileman and Gund came from established families within their respective communities. Heileman’s father and maternal grandfather were bakers and Gottlieb Heileman received training as a baker and brewer during his youth. Gund’s father was a farmer who grew hops and tobacco, but John Gund served a two-year apprenticeship as a cooper and brewer following the end of his common school education at age fifteen. He worked an additional year as a journeyman brewer after his apprenticeship ended. The two men immigrated to the United States within four years of each other. Gund arrived in New York City in May 1848 at the age of eighteen, having traveled from Schwetzingen down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and then on to Le Havre and New York. Heileman reached Philadelphia in 1852 at the age of twenty-eight. Johanna Bandel settled in New York City in either 1852 or 1855 at the age of either twenty-one or twenty-four, respectively, and lived with her brothers for a number of years.

All three Germans followed a similar migration trajectory and made their way westward to Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin during the 1850s along with tens of thousands of other German immigrants, primarily from Baden, Württemberg, and the Palatinate. Gund’s parents settled in Freeport, Illinois, in the northwestern part of the state. John Gund found employment sixty miles to the west in Dubuque, Iowa, a commercial center situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He worked in a brewery operated by a German named Anton Heeb for two years. In June 1850, he relocated to nearby Galena, Illinois, to operate a brewery with a German named Witzel, possibly twenty-year-old Sebastian Witzel, who may have been an old friend. John Gund’s parents died of cholera the following month. After less than a year, he sold his share in the Galena brewery operation and rented another brewery in the community, known as the Cedar Brewery. About this time, he married fellow German immigrant Louise Hottman, a resident of Galena, with whom he eventually had five children. Two years after renting the Cedar Brewery, Gund decided to relocate to a larger and more prosperous community that would provide a better market for his beer. He and his wife moved approximately 180 miles northwest to the Mississippi River settlement of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

La Crosse had a population of approximately 2,000 residents in the mid-1850s. Situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, the community had experienced rapid growth during the 1850s as settlers arrived to take advantage of the surrounding farmland and forests. The lumber industry flourished, facilitated by the community’s access to steamboats that plied the Mississippi River from St. Paul down to St. Louis and New Orleans. The city was incorporated in 1856 and benefitted further when a cross-state railroad connection was completed between La Crosse and Milwaukee in 1858

John Gund founded a brewery in La Crosse in August 1854. The small operation was located in a log cabin near the community’s waterfront. A number of other German immigrants founded breweries in the city in the months and years that followed. Gustavus Nicolai and Jacob Franz founded the Nicolai Brewery shortly after Gund founded his brewery. Due to production problems with Gund’s initial batch of beer, Nicolai and Franz were first to bring their beer to market. Charles and John Michel founded the La Crosse Brewery in 1857 after a failed attempt to strike it rich in the California gold fields in the early 1850s. After returning from the West Coast, they attempted to settle in Chicago but soon grew to dislike the community and made their way north to St. Paul. Ice on the Mississippi delayed their river journey and they eventually settled in La Crosse instead. After noting that existing breweries in the community could not meet local demand, they founded their own brewery.

Gottlieb Heileman reached La Crosse via Milwaukee the same year that the Nicolai brothers arrived in the city. He had worked for a year in Philadelphia after arriving in 1852. He then moved west to Milwaukee around 1854 and established a bakery with Gottlieb Maier in March 1856. The two men took out a $2,550 (approximately $70,000 in 2011$), three-year mortgage on the property, but paid off the balance within a year. Heileman was apparently less interested in baking than brewing, because he sold his share in the bakery for $1,525 (approximately $40,500 in 2011$) and moved west to La Crosse in October 1857. He found employment briefly as a foreman in the Nicolai Brewery but lost his job when Nicolai and Franz ended their partnership shortly thereafter. Heileman found a new position in the Michel brother’s La Crosse Brewery. In June 1858, he married Johanna Bandel, whom he had met during his three-year stay in Milwaukee. She had worked as a domestic servant in the midwestern city after leaving New York. Gottlieb Helieman returned to La Crosse with his bride and soon entered a new phase in his professional brewing career.

Business Development

Gottlieb Heileman and John Gund formed a partnership in November 1858 to operate the City Brewery in La Crosse. Their timing was propitious since the city of La Crosse continued to experience significant population growth, particularly among Northern European settlers, and the first outside railway connection had been completed to Milwaukee the previous month. The structures comprising the City Brewery were constructed at 1018 South Third Street. The location was south of the city’s commercial center near the Mississippi River waterfront. Early production figures for the brewery were modest. During the first decade of operation, production averaged around 500 barrels of lager beer per year (approximately 15,750 gallons). Originally, lager beer production had been limited to the winter months, but during the 1860s local brewers began using ice harvested from the Mississippi River to chill the beer during the critical lagering stage, which could last between six to eight weeks and produced a translucent and highly-carbonated final product. Heileman and Gund produced beer primarily for the local market and sold casks to hotels, taverns, and occasionally individuals. The partners constructed a hotel in downtown La Crosse in 1867 and named it the International Hotel. The facility likely offered an additional source of income for the partners and also provided a venue in which to sell their beer.

After nearly fifteen years in business together, Heileman and Gund dissolved their partnership in 1872. Heileman seems to have been content brewing beer primarily for the local market and this was reflected in the brewery’s modest output of approximately 3,000 barrels per year by the 1870s. By comparison, Eberhardt Anheuser and Adolphus Busch’s Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis produced approximately 100,000 barrels of beer per year during the same decade and the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee produced 121,000 barrels annually. John Gund was far more ambitious than his partner and wished to establish La Crosse as a major center of brewing that would rival Milwaukee and St. Louis. Supposedly, the partners flipped a coin to determine which partner would receive the brewery and which would receive the International Hotel. Heileman won the City Brewery and Gund gained control of the hotel.


The G. Heileman Brewing Company

Gottlieb Heileman continued operating the City Brewery, now renamed the G. Heileman Brewing Company, following John Gund’s departure in 1872. The firm continued to produce a moderate volume of beer for local and regional consumption through the decade. Heileman died young in February 1878 at the age of fifty-four. Since his son, Henry, was only ten years old at the time, control of the enterprise passed to his forty-six-year-old widow, Johanna. She was assisted by Reinhard Wäcker (sometimes spelled Reinhart Wicker), who served as brewery foreman and dealt with technical matters. As president of the enterprise, Johanna Heileman became the first female head of a brewery in the United States, and after the business was incorporated in 1890, possibly the first female corporate executive in the nation. Of note, on the 1880 federal census, she listed her occupation as “keeping house,” whereas on the 1900 census she listed it as “owner of brewery.”

Other members of the Heileman family also participated in managing the business during the 1880s and 1890s. Emil Traugott Mueller, the husband of Johanna Heileman’s eldest daughter, Louisa, was hired in 1884 as a bookkeeper and assistant manager. As an adult, Henry Heileman served as vice president and assistant manager of the firm until his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1895 at the age of twenty-six.

Under Johanna Heileman’s oversight, the G. Heileman Brewing Company gradually expanded its production and market reach. In 1880, the brewery produced 7,170 barrels of beer, which put it in a distant third place compared to the Gund Brewing Company and the Michel brother’s La Crosse Brewery. Five years later, the brewery produced 12,000 barrels and employed roughly thirty-five men. The firm produced a number of different beers during this period including a Vienna lager and a dark lager named Hofbrau. They also began bottling beer for regional distribution. They opened their first distribution agency in Glencoe, Minnesota, a city approximately fifty miles west of Minneapolis in 1885 and gradually expanded their reach to the Dakotas and Illinois over the next two decades. The firm also established tied houses, taverns that sold Heileman beer exclusively (i.e. they were tied to a particular producer), in various cities. One was located in downtown La Crosse and another was situated approximately thirty miles east in Cashton, Wisconsin.

The firm sought to maintain good relations with the other breweries in the community and avoid ruinous price wars. In May 1898, the major breweries of La Crosse, including Heileman, Gund, Michel, and a number of smaller facilities agreed to establish uniform prices for kegged and bottled beer. They set the rate for kegged beer at eight dollars per barrel (approximately $224 per barrel in 2011$). For bottled beer, the rate was $2.20 for two dozen quarts of export-strength lager and $1.90 for two dozen quarts of regular-strength lager. At the same time, Heileman and three other La Crosse breweries began quietly investigating the possibility of forming a trust in order to compete against Gund locally and the major Milwaukee shipping breweries regionally. The impetus for the proposed trust was Chicago accountant Otto W. Heibig. After overseeing the installation of brewing equipment at the Gund Brewery following the destructive 1897 fire, Heibig grew interested in pooling the financial resources and physical plants of the other La Crosse breweries. Heibig estimated a combined value for the Heileman, Michel, Franz Bartl, and Zeisler breweries at $930,000 (approximately $26 million dollars in 2011$). In September 1900, the brewers and Heibig filed incorporation papers for the La Crosse Brewing Company and prepared to offer $700,000 in capital stock and $500,000 in bonds. They proposed constructing a new brewery with the capacity to produce 400,000 barrels annually, which was twice Gund’s output of approximately 200,000 barrels per year. Industrial architect Otto C. Wolf of Philadelphia designed the new brewery at a proposed cost of $300,000 (approximately $8.4 million dollars in 2011$). The existing breweries of the members of the trust would be adapted to other purposes with the Heileman facility being converted into a malting plant and the other breweries becoming storehouses and a dedicated ale brewery. Despite the great potential of the project, it never progressed beyond the planning stages. Shortly after the trust was incorporated in September 1900, a brewer in Cincinnati purchased the equipment intended for the proposed facility in La Crosse. The following January, the trust announced its new slate of corporate officers, which included Emil T. Mueller of the G. Heileman Brewing Company as treasurer. Little further action occurred over the next two years and eventually the trust collapsed in 1902, apparently due to resistance from officials at the Heileman Brewery.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, G. Heileman Brewing introduced their best-known beer brand and went through a reorganization. The firm had acquired the trademark for a light lager, Golden Leaf, from a Milwaukee brewery in 1899 and a year later introduced a new heavier lager, Old Times Lager. In 1902, they renamed the beer Old Style Lager following a complaint from another brewery producing a similarly named beer. They also ended production of Golden Leaf to free up capacity for Old Style, which the firm produced exclusively in bottled format, as it was intended for distribution to regional markets. Emil T. Mueller played a key role in promoting the beer brand extensively over the following decade. Johanna Heilemann and the other brewery executives also expanded the firm’s capitalization to $350,000 from the original capitalization of $75,000 and used the funds to increase production to approximately 175,000 barrels per year. The firm’s brewery workers organized themselves around the same time and the firm signed a contract with Local 81 of the International Brotherhood of Brewery Workers, thus avoiding labor conflict.

By the 1910s, Heileman was shipping cases of bottled Old Style Lager to thirty-four states and had entered the lucrative Chicago market with more than fifty saloons and a number of distribution agents. Firm president Johanna Heileman passed away in January 1917, setting in motion a gradual transition from family to professional management at the firm. Johanna Heileman’s son-in-law, Emil T. Mueller, assumed the presidency of the firm, a position he held until his death in 1929. After Mueller died, another son-in-law, George Zeisler Jr., took over as president of G. Heileman Brewing until 1933, when the firm was reincorporated and non-family members assumed the presidency and key positions on the board of directors.

Unlike Gund Brewing, Heileman weathered the storm of Prohibition. Rather than risk producing low alcohol beer in 1919 and 1920, the firm began brewing a new, non-alcoholic beer called New Style Lager in May 1919 when the Wartime Prohibition Act went into effect. Like other breweries around the nation, the firm also produced a variety of hopped malt syrups and extracts that could be used by home brewers to produce beer and a line of soft drinks. Such measures helped the firm eke out an existence during the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1931, a major fire destroyed a number of warehouses and nearly bankrupted the firm, since the brewery had not insured the structures. Brewery officials warned that the firm was unlikely to survive much longer given the prohibition on alcohol sales and the general business disruption caused by the Great Depression. Fortunately, the gradual repeal of Prohibition beginning on April 7, 1933, gave G. Heileman Brewing a second lease on life. In the weeks leading up to April 7, the firm began brewing 3.2 percent beer permitted under the repeal act around the clock and released truck- and trainloads of the beer shortly after midnight on the seventh. Demand was so great that the firm could not fill all its orders and was forced to return numerous checks uncashed. Following the firm’s reincorporation, professional managers sought to update the brewery’s physical plant, improve quality control, which had slipped during the 1930s and 1940s, and expand production and distribution. This process continued into the 1950s and 1960s.


Personality and Social Standing

Both the Gund and Heileman families participated in the German institutions of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as in the local and regional brewing community. Little information survives about their specific involvement in the secular and religious institutions of La Crosse, but records show that John Gund’s eldest son, George, was a member of the local Turnverein in the 1870s. The physical education society had its origins in the post-Napoleonic German lands and was first introduced unsuccessfully to the United States in the 1820s. German 48rs reintroduced the Turner movement at the end of the 1840s and within a few years, Turner societies had emerged in major American cities with German populations. The La Crosse Turnverein was organized in October 1855 and John Gund granted the group permission to practice in the yard of his small brewery in 1856. They may have continued using the space through 1858, when Gund sold the property following his partnership with Heileman.

Gund and Heileman were members of the Lutheran Church and Heileman’s 1878 funeral at the local Lutheran church in La Crosse was considered to be one of the largest funerals in the history of the city to that date. More than 160 carriages belonging to mourners participated in the funeral procession from the church to the nearby Oak Grove Cemetery. Six prominent brewers in the community served as Heileman’s pallbearers, however, John Gund was not among them. This may have reflected lingering animosity between the former partners. When Gund died in 1910, members of the local Liederkranz Society, which was affiliated with the Turnverein as part of the local Deutscher Verein von La Crosse, attended his funeral along with members of the Brewer’s Union.

Politically, John Gund’s party affiliation reflected broader shifts in German immigrant political participation during the second half of the nineteenth century. He supported the Whig ticket shortly after his arrival in the United States and voted Republican in the 1860s and 1870s, but his allegiance shifted to the Democratic Party in his later years. This may have been linked to the Democrats’ opposition to the growing prohibitionist movement in the United States and the support they enjoyed from populist, agrarian elements in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. No information exists on Gottlieb Heileman’s political views.


Members of both families were active in professional and personal networks of largely German-American composition both at the local and national levels. These networks often overlapped, particularly in the case of marriage. John Gund’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Louisa, married La Crosse brewer Charles Michel in 1872. This cemented a bond between the two families who operated the largest and second largest breweries in La Crosse, respectively, throughout the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Similarly, Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman’s daughters married men who would later play key roles in the management of their family firm in the twentieth century.

Family members also participated in professional associations related to the brewing industry. The Heileman family joined the United States Brewers’ Association in 1886 and members of the Gund family participated in the association’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the American brewing industry. The Heileman’s son-in-law, Emil T. Mueller, served as secretary of the Personal Liberty League’s La Crosse chapter. Supported by the U.S. Brewer’s Association, the League lobbied against prohibitionist policies at the local and state levels and worked to protect the business interests of breweries in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Lastly, family members were active in local civic associations and enterprises in La Crosse. John Gund’s eldest son, George, served on the city’s Board of Trade as its first treasurer. Later, he was selected as president of the La Crosse Baseball Association in the late 1880s. He was also among the original investors in the city’s Street Railway Company in 1879, a position that gave him influence over the city’s economic development.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

John Gund and Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman participated in the introduction of European lager beer and German beer culture to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. They initially served kegged beer to a largely German local clientele. Advertisements for their products appeared in German in local periodicals such as the Nord Stern. Labels for their early bottled products also contained German phrases and in the Heileman’s case listed the producer as “Heilemann City Brauerei.” Over time, though, John Gund and later Johanna Heileman expanded the scope of their respective breweries’ operations in order to provide bottled beer to a broader, regional consumer market that was less directly tied to German ethnicity. Their success in the lucrative Chicago market through tied houses helped to make both Peerless and Old Style well known among regional beer brands, and their advertising and bottle art embraced European iconography but typically avoided explicitly German references.

John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman acquired knowledge and experience in German brewing practices through apprenticeships, and they brought this knowledge with them to the United States. Both men entered the brewing trade on a limited scale after they immigrated and settled in the Midwest. No evidence exists that either man received remittances from family members in the German lands, so they likely had to accumulate slowly the necessary capital in order to open their brewery in 1858. Gund worked in a number of breweries in Iowa and Illinois before moving to La Crosse. Similarly, Heileman worked as a baker in Milwaukee before gaining experience as a foreman at two breweries in La Crosse. Once the partners founded the City Brewery, they pursued a conservative business strategy and likely reinvested their profits in the operation. Rather than trying to grow the business quickly and expand into distant markets, they found plenty of consumers in La Crosse and its hinterlands during the 1860s and 1870s.

Gund returned to Germany in 1873, shortly after he ended his partnership with Heileman. The purpose of the visit was social, but it is likely that he also surveyed the brewing landscape in Germany and brought back knowledge with him that he employed in founding the John Gund Brewery. It is unknown if Heileman returned to German at any point before his death in 1878.


The firms founded by German immigrants John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman reflected the broader fate of the American brewing industry in the twentieth century. Like hundreds of other breweries, the John Gund Brewing Company did not survive Prohibition. The family shut down the operation and eventually sold off the firm’s assets piecemeal over the next two decades. G. Heileman Brewing survived the turmoil of Prohibition and its professional managers eventually determined that the firm had to expand or fall victim to industry consolidation in the 1960s. Consequently, the corporation purchased breweries across the nation during the 1970s, while also fending off challenges from the other major brewing firms of the era, including Pabst, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch. At the same time, publicly-traded Heileman stock became a target for speculators. The firm fended off hostile takeover attempts successfully in the 1980s, but eventually sunk into bankruptcy and was acquired by Stroh in 1996.

La Crosse, Wisconsin, failed to emerge as a major center of brewing comparable to Milwaukee. It simply lacked the population and financial resources of its cross-state rival. By the beginning of the 1960s, Heileman was the only brewery left in the city, whereas Milwaukee was home to major national shipping breweries including Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. These firms had the financial resources that Heileman lacked and were better able to weather the storm of industry consolidation in the 1970s.

Over multiple generations, the Gund and Heileman families left their mark on the economic and physical landscape of La Crosse. Both Heileman and Gund’s names remain part of the city fabric. One of the old Gund Brewery buildings now houses loft apartments and the former G. Heileman Brewery is currently operated as a contract brewery for a number of brands. Surrounded by busy brewery buildings, Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman’s large brick home still reflects the conservative values of the company’s German immigrant founder.

John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman found success by selling beer to their fellow immigrants. Over time, this success translated into greater business opportunities. Though neither firm exists today, both left a legacy that is felt within the local La Crosse community and the national brewing industry.


Historic Beer Birthday: Philipp Jung

Today is the birthday of Philipp Jung (December 23, 1845–July 10, 1911). He was born “in Dorn-Assenheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, which today is a part of Reichelsheim in Wetteraukreis, Hesse, Germany,” but came to the U.S. when he was 25, in 1870. He came first to New York City, then Cincinnati before settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Jung married Anna D. Best, daughter of the brewer Jacob Best, and they had six children.”


Here’s a history of his career, from his Wikipedia page:

After his arrival in the United States, Jung was employed by Rogge and Feigenhaln Brewing Company in New York. He also worked as the maltster for the Foss, Schneider and Bremer Brewing Company in Cincinnati. After moving to Milwaukee in 1873, Jung became second foreman for the Phillip Best Brewing Company, then first foreman, and finally superintendent of the company’s south side plant. In 1879, he left Best to form a partnership with Ernst Borchert, founding the Jung & Borchert Brewing Company. In 1888 this became the Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Company in one of the earliest mergers involving Milwaukee breweries. The company became a rival to the Philip Best Brewery, which was operated by Frederick Pabst and later became the Pabst Brewing Company. Jung was considered “an important factor both as a manufacturer of large quantities and also as one who gave a distinctive quality to the goods sent out from his plant.”

In 1896, Jung purchased the Obermann Brewing Company at Fifth and Cherry Streets in Milwaukee, where he established The Jung Brewing Company. This firm grew and outlived its founder, finally closing because of Prohibition.

The Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Company.

This biography is from 100 Years of Brewing, published in 1903.


MJS Jung employees - compressed.jpg
I think this is the Jung Brewing Co. employees, but it’s hard to tell. There were actually at least four Jung’s who brewed commercially in the U.S. One in Ohio, one in Texas, and two in Wisconsin. But seated in front, second from our left looks like Philipp’s mustache, so think this is the right one.