Sunday’s ad is for “Budweiser,” from 1959. This ad was made for Anheuser-Busch, and was part of their series using the tagline. “Where there’s Life … there’s Bud,” which ran from the 1950s into the 1960s, and this one features a man by a tree with a fishing pole in one hand and a cigarette and a beer in the other. But I don’t see any fish, so you know what comes next? The text begins: “Fish Story”
Today is the birthday of Philip Bissinger (January 24, 1842-November 11, 1926), though confusingly many sources list the spelling of his name as “Bessinger,” which has made researching him unusually difficult. He was born in Duerkheim, Bavaria, and came to the U.S. at age thirteen with his parents, who settled in Baltimore, Maryland. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Army, and was a captain when the war ended. “Captain” became his nickname, and that’s what people apparently called him for the rest of his life. He settled in Reading, Pennsylvania (which is where I grew up) and ran a cafe. He also founded the Reading Brewing Co. in 1886.
Here’s a biography of Bissinger from Find-a-Grave:
Undoubtedly one of the most influential, respected and powerful men in Reading during that period. He arrived from Germany with his parents at the age of 13. His father was George Bissinger who settled in Baltimore. Phillip arrived in Berks county in 1845. When the Civil War began he became a sergeant major in the 79th Pa. Vol. Infantry. He was later promoted to 1st Lieutenant and finally became captain of company F of the same infantry. He resigned his commission Sep 12 1864. After the war he returned to Reading and later opened the Café Bissinger which became a very prominent and prestigious establishment not only locally but throughout the region as a member of the Shriners he was instrumental in the organization and construction of the Rajah Temple in 1892. He was a talented musician, a composer and director of music. He organized the Philharmonic Society where he directed concerts.
There was horrible tragedy in his life however, apparently upset, suspecting her husband of infidelity,
Louisa Bissinger, nee Eban, age 39, pregnant with child, walked calmly down the Union Canal towpath one day, filling a basket with rocks as her three dutiful children followed along. They strolled casually for about two miles. As she passed the canal office she commented to the office manager “It is warm.” He replied “yes indeed.” She then said “We have to carry a basket and take the children with us.” The mother and children were very nicely dressed. It was thought she had the children help in filling the basket with rocks. As she neared the canal lock she tied the basket to her waist with a rope she brought along, intended to keep her and the children submerged. She then gathered the children in her arms and threw herself and the children into the canal. It was premeditated and calculated. A witness saw the event and viewed Phillip Jr. come to the surface struggling but was unable to save him as he could not swim. He ran for help. The bodies were recovered later that day. The children were Lillie age 9, Mollie age 6, and Phillip Jr. age 3, and the mother’s unborn fetus. They were often seen at their father’s dining establishment and were adored by all. The mother too was well liked and respected and no one suspected she had any emotional problems nor is there any documented reason for her actions. On her person when she was recovered was a note simply giving Capt. Bissingers name and address. There were no other messages from her.
Capt. Bissinger remarried Ida Sebald Rosenthal but had no other children. He was still tending bar in 1880.
The Brewers’ Journal and Barley, Malt and Hop Trades’ Reporter mentioned in their July 1917 issue that Bissinger retired, due to “owing to illness and advanced age,” and Ferdinand Winter replaced him as president of the brewery.
Here’s a fuller biography from the Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania, by Morton Montgomery, published in 1909:
Philip Bissinger, president and manager of the Reading Brewing Company and founder of the Bissinger Caf, was born Jan. 24, 1842, in Duerkheim, Germany, and received his preliminary education at that place, where he lived until he was thirteen years of age. He then accompanied his parents in their emigration to America, landing at the port of New York. He attended private schools at Lancaster, Pa., for several years, and then secured a position as clerk which he filled until he enlisted for service in the Civil war, on Sept. 19, 1861, for the term of three years. He became sergeant-major of the 79th Regiment, P. V. I.; was promoted to first lieutenant of Company F in January, 1863, and to captain in December, 1863, having command of the company until Sept. 12, 1864, when he resigned.
Shortly after returning home Captain Bissinger removed to Reading, and on Jan. 1, 1866, established a saloon and restaurant at No. 611 Penn street, which he soon developed into the most popular resort at Reading. His success was extraordinary from the start, and in 1882 he purchased the property, making extensive improvements to accommodate the increasing demands of his patronage; and in 1890 he erected a large four-story brick building for offices and halls and storage purposes on the rear of the lot at Court street. By this time the “Bissinger Caf” had a reputation for superiority and first-class catering which extended throughout the State and nation. Numerous banquets came to be held there in celebration of events in the history of societies of all kinds, more particularly of a fraternal, political and musical nature, and in honor of popular and prominent individuals; and visiting strangers and travelers from all parts of the world found satisfactory entertainment. After having operated the caf for thirty years, until 1895, he sold the business to a faithful employe and manger for many years, Wellington B. Krick, and then retired to enable him and his wife to take a long-anticipated trip to Europe, and for nearly a year they visited the prominent centers there.
In 1886 Captain Bissinger encouraged the establishment of another brewery at Reading, and with the aid of local capitalists succeeded in organizing the Reading Brewing Company. He became the first manger of the plant and filled the position for three years, having in this time secured a large patronage from the community and made the new enterprise a success. In 1897, upon his return from Europe, he resumed his active interest in this company as a director, and in 1898 became its president and general manager; and he has served the company in these responsible positions until the present time, having in the past ten years developed its annual production from 17,000 barrels to 75,000, remodeled the plant entirely, and made it one of the finest brewing establishments in the country in point of equipment and sanitation.
For over forty years Captain Bissinger was prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity. He was chiefly instrumental in establishing Rajah Temple at Reading in 1892, and the plans for its unique and attractive hall, erected in 1904, were designed by him. He has also been prominently connected with the Grand Army of the Republic (Keim Post, No. 76), Loyal Legion, Veteran Legion, and Army of the Cumberland. In 1891 the city councils selected him as the park commissioner for the northeast division of the city and he officiated in this position until 1897, when he removed his residence to the southeast division, where he had erected a fine home on Mineral Spring road.
But it was in the musical culture of Reading that Captain Bissinger was especially influential and successful for a period of twenty years, from 1864-1883. Immediately after locating at Reading, he became a member of the Reading Maennerchor, and the society, appreciating his great talent and enthusiasm, selected him to be its assistant musical director. He filled this position with remarkable success for some years,and then the society united with the Harmonic Gesangverein, another and older musical organization at Reading. In the reorganization of the two societies, the name Harmononie Maennerchor was adopted and Captain Bissinger was selected as the musical director of the new society. His recognized ability as a leader, together with his popularity and sociability, soon won increasing support and encouragement, and the society’s concerts at Reading and other cities were highly appreciated and largely patronized. He continued to serve as the director until 1879, when he declined a re-election. During this time he was also interested in the Germania Orchestra and aided materially in its successful reorganization. In 1876, by special invitation, the Harmonie Maennerchor and the Germania Orchestra attended the United States Centennial at Philadelphia and rendered a program of classical selections in a superb manner, for which they were given high praise by leading musicians of this country and also foreign countries. In October, 1878, the society held a bazaar for a week in its commodious hall and evidenced the superior ability of its members and the efficiency and popularity of its members and the efficiency and popularity of its director. The numerous musical numbers were specially prepared by Captain Bissinger for the occasion, which involved extraordinary labors, patience and perseverance. In 1879, he organized the Philharmonic Society and directed its admirable concerts until 1883, when he was obliged to devote his entire attention to his own business affairs.
In 1880, Captain Bissinger married Ida Sebald Rosenthal (daughter of William Rosenthal, proprietor an publisher of German newspapers at Reading for forty years), who was graduated from the Reading Girls High School in 1865, and in 1871 taught the French and German languages there.
George Bissinger, his father, was a native of Germany, and after his emigration located at Baltimore, Md., about 1855, and there followed the teaching of music until his decease, in 1866.
Image from the collection of Chad Campbell, from his website Breweriana Aficionado.
Apparently the brewery name, at least, had been incorporated a few decades earlier, in 1868, by a group of businessmen, including Frederick Lauer, but it never came to fruition, and Bissinger seems to have snapped up the name twenty years later. Here’s the brewery entry from Wikipedia:
Reading produced a Pennsylvania Dutch Lager at a volume of 1,200 barrels a year. The brewery raised its production to approximately 50,000 barrels a year by 1891. Reading suffered from difficulties after Prohibition began in 1920. From 1928 to 1933, the brewery was closed down. The facility itself was almost dismantled, but U.S. Marshals had trouble breaking the padlock on the front door and eventually left the plant intact. After considerable litigation, Reading brewery reopened in 1934. From 1934 to 1951 Reading ran a ‘retro’ advertising campaign which played on the nostalgia for simpler times.
In 1958, due to flagging sales, Reading re-branded as “The Friendly Beer for Modern People.” The change proved successful in reversing the slump and Reading made strong sales that lasted into the 1970s.
In 1976, Reading ceased operations due to increasing pressure from larger macro brewers. The label was purchased shortly afterwards by C. Schmidt & Sons.
Image from the collection of Chad Campbell, from his website Breweriana Aficionado.
In 2006, the Label was revived by Legacy Brewing, which produced original Reading recipes. In 2009, the Reading label and its recipes were purchased by Ruckus Brewing, and they set up a new website for Reading Premium, though it’s hard to tell if it’s still being sold, since the website hasn’t been updated in a few years. But they did produce a short video of the history of Reading Brewing Co.
One final detail about his life that’s fairly odd. Well, it’s more about his wife and children, and how they died, a tale which you can find frequently on websites about ghost stories. Here’s one such re-telling of the stories, which they call “The Haunting of Lock 49 East.”
Late in the afternoon of Tuesday, August 17, 1875, following a trolley ride to near the Harrisburg (Penn Street) Bridge, Louisa Bissinger of Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania, walked with her three children, Lillie (age 9), Mollie (age 6), and Philip (age 3), across the bridge and then two miles down the Union Canal towpath to lock number 49 East (having told them they were going on a picnic). At the lock, she loaded the basket with rocks, some of which she had got the children to gather along the way. Then she tied the basket to her waist, held her unsuspecting children tightly to her, and plunged with them into the murky waters of the canal. Though Louisa, weighed down by the basket of stones, sank immediately, the children struggled to stay afloat.
A witness to the event, who could not swim, ran for a boat at nearby Gring’s Mill, across, on the west side of, Tulpehocken Creek, but ultimately he reached them too late. Louisa and her children were drowned.
Louisa’s commission of this her final desperate act came about as the culmination to her husband’s longtime “undo respect” toward her and his open courtship of another woman whom he eventually brought into their home. A newspaper story, date-lined “Reading, Pa., August 21,” explained that an argument had led to Louisa being ordered from the house and told to take the two girls, but to leave their brother, who was the youngest. Expecting her fourth child, a fact not known to most others until after the tragedy, and determined that she would not let another woman raise her children, Louisa decided to kill herself as well as her offspring.
Captain Philip Bissinger, the husband, long a respected, prominent, and prosperous member of the community nonetheless had to be placed under police protection soon after the drownings and was nearly killed by members of the procession of about a thousand persons who had attended the funeral. “When the bodies were lowered into the graves,” the newspaper reported, “the people hooted Bissinger, and made a rush for him.” Only the quick action by policemen assigned for the occasion saved his life. He was hurriedly placed into a carriage and taken away. A shot had been fired before then and yet another was fired as the vehicle reached the cemetery gate. Later, in an attempt to defend himself from public calumny, Bissinger wrote the newspaper that it was his wife who was to blame for listening to what he said were baseless rumors concerning extramarital affairs. Fred Eben, Captain Bissinger’s former brother-in-law, answered Bissinger’s remarks to the press, calling him “the murderer of my sister and your four children.”
Louisa and the three children she drowned that sad summer day are buried in Reading in the Charles Evans Cemetery, next to the graves of two of her three other children who died before the tragic murder-suicide. Philip Bissinger remarried, and he and his second wife are buried in the row of graves adjacent to the graves of his first wife and children.
It is said that the ghosts of Louisa and her children haunt the towpath near the lock. The legend states that since the time of the tragedy, people walking the towpath have sometimes seen Louisa and her children gathering stones. The spirits vanish as the viewer watches them. Others have reported hearing children’s voices in the vicinity of the lock, as well as cries for help which cease when they approach near the site of the drownings. Charles J. Adams III, an Exeter Township author who has written much about ghosts in Berks County and environs, writing in Ghost Stories of Berks County (1982), related his attempt to try to investigate the presence of ghosts at the lock. Disappointed by the lack of spectral evidence, he and several reporters who had accompanied him were leaving the area when suddenly one reporter clutched his chest and was unable to breathe or speak. Adams conjectured that the event could have been the result of a spirit attempting to enter the reporter’s body.
Today the Union Canal is dry; however, the Berks County Parks Department maintains the towpath as part of its facilities for jogging and cycling. The park would be an interesting and enjoyable place to visit. Who knows, it may also be a place where you can see a ghost!
And also the “Steuebenville Daily Herald And News” on August 21, 1875, covered the story in “The Bissinger Tragedy – Funeral of the Victims – Attempt to Mob The Husband.”
Reading, Pa., August 21 – There was great excitement here at the funeral of Mrs. Bissinger and her children, drowned Tuesday last. It seems from stories of the people that the woman had lived unhappily with her husband, owing to the introduction by him of another woman in to the house, and that unhappiness resulted in a quarrel Monday, when the husband ordered his wife to leave the house and take the the two girls with her, while he would retain the boy. The next day she went to the canal with the children and after filling a basket with stones, in which operation the children assisted, she bound the basket securely to her body, and taking the children in her arms, leaped in to the canal, and all were drowned. As soon as the bodies were recovered and taken to their former home, the police had to guard the house to save the husband from assault, and at the funeral procession to-day, which included about one thousand persons on foot, surrounded his carriage. When the bodies were lowered into the graves, the people hooted Bissinger, and made a rush for him. In the confusion one shot was fired, when the police hurriedly placed him in a carriage and drove off, on passing the cemetery gates, another, which , it is thought, wounded him, as he was carried into the house. The police are still on guard, and the people, including many women, continue their threats.”
One last bit of trivia. I once visited the Reading Brewery when I was a kid. One of the employees there apparently owed by stepfather some money (probably for car repairs, he owned a garage near downtown Reading) and we went to visit this man, with me in tow. I wish I’d paid more attention, but I was only around fourteen at the time, which would have made it 1973, just three years before they closed. Probably because they’re local to me, I love their breweriana, and especially the new brewery slogan they started using in the late 1950s, to try to boost sales and not make themselves seem so old-fashioned. It’s hands down my favorite brewery slogan by any brewery. “The Friendly Beer For Modern People.”
Today is the birthday of Gottlieb Muhlhauser (January 24, 1836-February 9, 1905), who co-founded the Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had two partners in the venture, his brother-in-law Conrad Windisch and his brother Heinrich Muhlhauser.
Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:
Beer Baron. A native of Muggendorf, Bavaria in Germany, he came to America in 1840 with his father, Frederick Muhlhauser, and settled on a farm near Portsmouth, Ohio. They moved to Cincinnati in 1845. After his father’s death in 1849 when he was 13 years old, he assumed the responsibility of the family as the oldest child and left school to work at a pottery. He then entered the mineral water business and became the plant’s foreman in 1852 when he was 16 years old. Muhlhauser went into the same business for himself in 1854. Business was very successful and he branched out to Chillicothe in 1855 and to Hamilton, Ohio in 1857. He also was married in 1857, to Christina Windisch, the sister of his future business partner. In 1858, he erected a mill for crushing malt and another for steam flouring with the aid of his brother, Henry Muhlhauser. During the Civil War, he supplied flour to the Union Army and the Cincinnati Home Guard. Around this time he suffered from a gunshot wound, but it was not severe enough to keep him from operating his businesses. In 1866, he organized the Lion Brewery with his brother Henry and his brother-in-law, Conrad Windisch. The million dollar beer company became the Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company in 1882 and Muhlhauser was the president and general manager. He died in 1905 in Cincinnati when he was 69 years old.
And this is him in another portrait, when he was a little older.
Their brewery became known as the “Lion Brewery” because of the two lions that rested atop the brewery’s gables and many of their beer names used a lion in the name and on the labels.
The History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio has a short history of the Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company:
A label from Lion Lager (date unknown).
Today is the 64th birthday of Ted Vivatson, founder of Eel River Brewing. I first met Ted a bunch of years ago, when he was still making one of my favorite porters, their Ravensbrau Porter. Now it’s Organic Porter, and while it’s still a good porter, I really loved the Ravensbrau. Not the first time I’ve been in the minority. Ted’s a great brewer and has many other beers I still love, plus he’s a terrific person, too. Join me in wishing Ted a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Franz Sales Reisch (January 24, 1809-August 18, 1875), who founded the Reisch Brewing Co. in 1849, in the city of Springfield, Illinois. According to Wikipedia, “the brewery operated until 1920 when it was forced to close because of Prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and stayed open until it shut its doors permanently in 1966.” During that time it changed names seven times.
The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County has an entry for Franz Reisch:
The 1910 book 100 Years of Brewing has a short entry about the brewery:
George Reisch is currently the Brewmaster and Director of Brewmaster Outreach at Anheuser-Busch, and has been there since 1979. He’s a fifth generation with Franz Sales Resich being first. His 96-year old father Edward is 4th generation (and will be 97 on March 1). His son Patrick Reisch brews for Goose Island and is 6th Generation.
There’s also some additional information and photos at the entry for his son’s birthday, Frank Reisch.
Saturday’s ad is for “Budweiser,” from 1959. This ad was made for Anheuser-Busch, and was part of their series using the tagline. “Where there’s Life … there’s Bud,” which ran from the 1950s into the 1960s, and this one features a man apparently trying to fix something electronic … with a hammer. Not necessarily the best tool for delicate electronic part repairs. Luckily, a woman behind him comes to the rescue and is pouring him a beer. The text begins: “The King’s Credentials.”
This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:
Sir John Carling of the Carling Brewery was a prominent politician and businessman from London, Ontario, Canada. The Carling family and its descendents later resided in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Brockville, London, Toronto, and Windsor, in Canada, as well as Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
He was the son of farmer Thomas Carling, who emigrated from Etton in Yorkshire, England to Canada in 1818. In 1839, the family moved to London, where Thomas founded the Carling Brewery in 1843, using a recipe from his native Yorkshire. In 1849, the brewery was turned over to John and his brother William.
John’s political career began in municipal government, and in 1858, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. After Confederation in 1867, he represented London in both provincial and federal governments until such a practice was made illegal in 1872. In the 1871 provincial election, he defeated former London mayor Francis Evans Cornish. From 1872 to 1891, he served in the House of Commons as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), holding the position as the 7th Postmaster General from 1882 to 1885, and Minister of Agriculture from 1885 to 1891. In this position, he established the Ontario Agricultural College and the Central Experimental Farm near Ottawa. In 1888, he briefly simultaneously held the title of Postmaster General for a second time.
After losing the 1891 election to Charles Hyman, he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. However, the election was disputed and declared void, and Carling resigned from the Senate in order to run in a by-election in 1892, which he won. He served in the House of Commons until just before the 1896 election, when he resigned and was re-appointed to the Senate.
Meanwhile, Carling remained active in London affairs, using his positions in the federal government to influence politics and business. In 1875, John and his brother William built a new Carling Brewery, and an even larger one was built after the first burned down in 1879. The brewery was one of the largest in Canada and rivaled the production of fellow London brewery Labatt.
He also ensured that the Great Western Railway, the London and Port Stanley Railway, and the London, Huron and Bruce Railway passed through the city. Due to his influence, the Grand Trunk Railway began to manufacture their cars in London. In 1878, he established a water commission to provide a water supply to the city. He also established the Ontario Hospital for the Insane in London, and in 1885 he provided the land on which Wolseley Barracks was established, now the Home Station of The Royal Canadian Regiment and the garrison of the Regiment’s 4th Battalion. Carling also facilitated the establishment of Victoria Park.
He was knighted in 1893, and served in the Senate until his death in 1911.
And this lengthier biography is from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:
CARLING, Sir JOHN, businessman and politician; b. 23 Jan. 1828 in London Township, Upper Canada, youngest son of Thomas Carling and Margaret Routledge; m. 4 Sept. 1849 Hannah Dalton in London, Upper Canada, and they had four daughters and four sons; d. there 6 Nov. 1911.
John Carling was born and raised on the prosperous farm of his father, where he acquired a reverence for the agrarian way of life. As the three Carling boys approached adolescence, their parents became concerned about the lack of educational opportunity in the township and in 1839 the family relocated in the village of London. John attended the common school there. His parents hoped that he would eventually practise law, but John was not inclined to book learning; he later admitted that he had read only a single book in its entirety.
Carling would be regarded by his daughter Louisa Maria as one of those men “who are natural born contractors . . . at home with large plans and enterprises.” He began his business career by becoming an apprentice at the Hyman and Leonard Tannery in London. Soon he had formed a partnership with his brother Isaac to operate their own tannery in Exeter, some 30 miles away. In 1843 their father opened a brewery in London, producing a beer based on a recipe from his native Yorkshire. The brewery flourished and in 1849 Thomas Carling passed the firm on to his sons William and John. The W. and J. Carling Company was the first of John’s large enterprises and the foundation of his subsequent economic and political success. In addition, he became a large landowner in London and he disposed of various properties for gain. For example, in 1856, for the considerable sum of $8,640, his firm sold the land on which London’s post office would be erected.
A devout capitalist, Carling viewed life in competitive terms: “The game of checkers is like the game of life. Everybody is trying to win and everybody is trying to checkmate him.” He was handsome and affable, and he put these qualities to good use in looking after the public relations of his firm while William handled everyday operations. Carling acquired a reputation for integrity and the epithet Honest John enhanced his business dealings. The brewery fared well and in 1875 Carling’s son Thomas Henry and Joshua D. Dalton entered the business as partners. That same year a new building was opened on the banks of the Thames River. In February 1879 this state-of-the-art structure burned down, and William died of pneumonia contracted while fighting the blaze. John took command of the company’s reconstruction.
The recovery was little short of miraculous. Between 29 April and 29 May 1879 the new plant produced 150,000 gallons of ale, lager, and porter. In 1882 more investors were brought into the enterprise, which became a joint-stock corporation, the Carling Brewing and Malting Company of London Limited. By 1889 it was manufacturing 32,000 barrels of ale, lager, and porter per annum; by 1898 it controlled a “large share” of the Canadian trade. Carling himself never drank beer because it disagreed with his system.
Carling Brewing and Malting was not the only large business enterprise with which Carling was associated. He recognized that its growth depended on an expanding railway network in the London area. Carling’s products were marketed throughout the United States as well as Canada, and massive quantities of barley, malt, and hops had to be brought to the factory. He became a director of the Great Western Railway, a major line in southwest Ontario. His influence with it was evident shortly after confederation when he persuaded the railway to locate its car works in suburban London East, bringing employment to about 300 workmen. Later, when fire destroyed these shops, he used his considerable power within both the federal government and the railway to have them restored, even though there was significant support for their relocation in Brantford. Carling also used his influence to promote the London and Port Stanley Railway and the London and Lake Huron Railway, serving both lines as a director.
There were direct links between Carling’s early entrepreneurial pursuits and his move into politics. He represented Ward 6 on city council in 1855–57 and was a founding member of London’s Board of Trade in 1857. Three years earlier he had impressed two government ministers, in London to work out a land deal with him, with his political and business shrewdness. At a meeting of GWR directors in 1856, the leader of the Liberal-Conservatives, John A. Macdonald*, persuaded Carling to uphold the party standard in London at the next opportunity. In the election of 1857–58 Carling was returned to the Legislative Assembly and he would retain his seat until confederation; in 1862 he served briefly as receiver general in the Macdonald-Cartier ministry.
Thus began Carling’s lengthy parliamentary career and long friendship with Macdonald. Before his initial election, Carling had promised to support the constitutional remedy of representation by population. But when the Grits made a series of “rep by pop” motions in 1861, an embarrassed Carling voted against them. They were, he declared, “mere buscombe motions designed, not to attain the object, but to defeat the Government.” On this occasion loyalty to Macdonald proved stronger than loyalty to principle. Nevertheless, the following year Carling and two other new ministers, John Beverley Robinson* and James Patton, demanded that rep by pop be an open question within the Tory caucus.
Later, Grit leader George Brown* reportedly suggested to Carling on a train ride that he should approach his leader with a proposal for a bipartisan combination dedicated to creating a federal union. The “Great Coalition” eventually resulted from Brown’s initiatives, and in his later years Carling was fond of recollecting their conversation. Though not a Father of Confederation, he might be considered an uncle. His polite manner, coupled with his trustworthy character, often caused him to be cast in an avuncular role. To the extent, however, that he was a political force in the London region, this characterization of him as benign is deceptive. Carling’s brewery, railway investments, and land deals all yielded handsome returns and he undoubtedly used some of the profits to finance his electioneering. Bribes and free drinks were common political tools, and newspaper accounts tell of Tory agents marching prospective voters to the Carling plant just before balloting. It would be naïve to assume that Honest John was not aware of the salient advantage of owning a brewery at election time.
After confederation Carling sat for London in both the dominion and the Ontario legislatures. In John Sandfield Macdonald*’s provincial government of 1867–71 he served as commissioner of agriculture and public works. He had entered the administration at Sir John A. Macdonald’s suggestion and with the government’s defeat in 1871 he was “very glad to get out of office.” Carling was obviously weary of being the peacemaker between the Macdonalds, a function he had assumed mainly out of his regard for the federal leader. When dual representation was abolished in 1872, he stayed in the federal arena. Defeated in 1874, he was re-elected four years later.
In Ottawa London’s mp continued to provide loyal and valuable service to his chieftain. As postmaster general (1882–85) he was responsible for a good deal of the Macdonald government’s patronage. In the House of Commons Carling was quite candid about the political nature of the assignments in his department: “Of course in the appointment of a postmaster the Government’s friends will be consulted as has always been done by hon. gentlemen opposite.”
In carrying out the responsibilities of this office and subsequently as minister of agriculture (1885–92), Carling often deferred to his prime minister. On 22 June 1885, for instance, he eloquently defended the government’s use of subsidies to help the Allan Line of Canadian steamships [see Sir Hugh Allan*] compete with American rivals for transoceanic mail contracts. But once Macdonald intervened in the debate Carling slipped into the background. He emerged at the end to declare: “As the Prime Minister has stated, I think all Canadians are proud of the way the Allan line of steamers is managed.” Carling was, in many respects, an ideal cabinet minister. He was competent and convincing, respected by the opposition, and, above all, generally submissive to the party leader.
It would be wrong, however, to portray Carling as little more than an obsequious follower of Macdonald. He had his own principles and interests to advocate and he consistently did so. Especially prominent on his agenda were the promotion of a progressive brand of conservatism and the advancement of big business, agriculture, and London.
Carling and Macdonald both revered tradition, but they both recognized that it had to accommodate change. As a public school trustee in London (1850–64), Carling had become noteworthy for his support of free public schools. His progressivism was more sharply defined when he entered the Legislative Assembly, where he was committed to the democratic design of rep by pop. By 1866 Carling was arguing further for lower property qualifications for voters and office holders. When, in the first session of the House of Commons in 1867, he pressed for a reduction in the qualifications for Ontario voters in the federal franchise, his liberal stand brought him into brief conflict with his leader. A distressed Macdonald lamely replied that he “did not wish to enter on the discussion of that.”
As Ontario’s first commissioner of agriculture and public works, Carling continued to define his progressive image. The creation of much of the province’s social infrastructure became his responsibility. He directed the construction of the Asylum for the Insane in London (on land he had sold to the government in 1870), the Ontario Institution for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville, and the Ontario Institution for the Education and Instruction of the Blind in Brantford. Carling appropriated provincial funds for mechanics’ institutes which encouraged working-class Ontarians to develop a variety of self-help plans. Later, as postmaster general, he ensured that an expansion of postal services followed the westward construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. All of these measures were forward-looking, as were many of the changes that Carling introduced in agriculture on the provincial and national levels.
Carling’s progressivism, however, simply modified his essential conservatism, which was reflected in his political support for capitalism and large enterprises. It was only natural that Carling, an important brewer, should defend the interests of big business. In 1863, in the assembly, he strenuously called for an end to the province’s usury laws. They were, he maintained, outmoded and hindered capital formation.
Following confederation Carling became one of the main spokespersons in the federal sphere for capitalism, including his own interests. In the first session of the commons, in 1867, his suggestion that licence fees for brewers be lowered caused conflict with Macdonald and finance minister John Rose*. In parliament Carling constantly defended the interests of the GWR and the other railways with which he was associated. He believed uncritically that such large corporate entities ought to be encouraged by Ottawa and, if necessary, supported by public funds. So, in 1885, he pushed as postmaster general for federal money for the well-established Allan Line to allow it “to build larger vessels and to dispose of those of smaller tonnage.” The creation of bigger and better capitalist enterprises was, for Carling, a high priority. Like Macdonald, he promoted a close alliance between political and economic élites.
Some of the large private enterprises which Carling sponsored in the commons were truly visionary. In 1870, for example, he brought before the house a corporate charter to build a tunnel underneath the Detroit River and thus connect Canada with the United States. This ambitious design would not be fulfilled until 1910. His last major initiative in parliament was also aimed at encouraging business development in the dominion. In 1898 Carling, then a senator, urged the Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier to construct a road between Edmonton and the Yukon so that the intervening territory could be opened to mining interests.
Unlike other members of the corporate élite, Carling did not see a conflict between the interests of capital and those of agriculture. For him, they were complementary, as was the case in the brewing industry. From his youth he had come to love the agrarian lifestyle. He delighted in seeing things grow and later in life he purchased a large farm on the outskirts of London. But farming was more than a hobby. Carling saw it as Canada’s most important economic activity, and some of his most significant and progressive achievements occurred in agriculture.
Carling did much as commissioner of public works and agriculture to promote Ontario’s agrarian sector. Public funds were given to the Fruit Growers’ Association of Ontario, which boosted agriculture in the Niagara area. Through an elaborate drainage scheme a considerable amount of land in the province’s southwestern peninsula was redeemed, especially in the Chatham region. A liberal emigration plan, coupled with generous land grants, helped in the rapid development of the Muskoka district [see Alexander Peter Cockburn*]. In 1870 Carling boasted that “greater advantages” were offered there than in the western United States. Port Carling, on Lake Muskoka, was appropriately named after the minister who did so much to foster the area. The following year he secured funds for the founding of an agricultural college and experimental farm, later established at Guelph [see William Fletcher Clarke*]. When he departed from the provincial scene in 1872 he left behind an impressive record as a friend of agriculture.
Carling’s reputation was enhanced when he served as the federal minister of agriculture, from 1885 to 1892. Seeking to raise the profile of agriculture within the dominion and abroad, he placed Canadian produce on display at international gatherings such as the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886. Carling is credited with developing, at a time when more and more stock was being imported, the first effective quarantine system to prevent diseased animals from entering the country. He also moved to settle the vast lands in the North-West Territories, just as he had opened up the Muskoka region. Again large land grants were offered and Carling introduced policies to draw settlers. Agents were dispatched overseas, translators were hired to help foreign immigrants, and promotional pamphlets were issued throughout Great Britain and Europe. The depressed economic conditions in Canada were not propitious for a massive influx of homesteaders, but in the late 1890s the Laurier government would use the means initially employed by Carling to populate the prairie region.
Macdonald’s minister of agriculture was more immediately successful in his formation of a network of experimental farms throughout the dominion. What was to become Carling’s single greatest accomplishment was described by him in the commons when the project was launched in 1886: “It is the intention to establish an experimental farm or station in the neighborhood of the capital. . . . Tests, &c., will be made here of all the different seeds, and experiments made as to the raising of cattle, tree planting and fruit culture, and the analysing of different kinds of artificial manures; and the results of such experiments will be made known by monthly bulletins through the press or otherwise.” Later branch farms were established in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, the North-West Territories, and British Columbia to accommodate regional needs. The program was an instant success, and some far-reaching effects flowed from the research at these government stations [see William Saunders]. In 1893, shortly after Carling had relinquished the agriculture portfolio, Liberals as well as Conservatives on the commons committee on agriculture and colonization joined together in an extraordinary bipartisan gesture to pass a resolution thanking him for his services to the farming community. Later that year, on 3 June, Carling received a kcmg, ostensibly for his assistance to Canada’s farmers.
During his parliamentary career Carling also secured important gains for his home city. He had always viewed service to the community as a public duty. Like many wealthy persons, he regarded philanthropy as an appropriate recompense for his good fortune. In 1859, for example, he had subscribed $100 to a recently created soup-kitchen in London and in 1888 he became a trustee of the Protestant Home for Orphans, Aged, and Friendless. A further contribution to London’s progress came with his election in 1878 as a municipal water commissioner; the next year he oversaw the construction of a structure for the city’s first hydraulic pumps.
Dedicated to bringing government contracts to London, Carling took full advantage of his privileged place within provincial and federal ministries. In 1870 he obtained the incorporation of the insane asylum at Amherstburg into the new regional asylum in London. In 1883, at the federal level, the member for London procured his government’s commitment to establish a military school in his riding. It would be built on property acquired from Carling, whose sense of integrity clearly did not prevent him from profiting at government expense. A federal grant was extended to London’s council in 1886 to help it stage a public exhibition, a project that led to Carling’s sale of additional land to the city. Carling certainly saw to it that London received its fair share of patronage, which aided in turn his repeated re-election. By the 1880s Carling was unquestionably the most powerful political figure in the key Conservative constituency of London.
By the early 1890s, however, this situation had begun to change. Defeated in the general election of 1891, Carling was promptly appointed to the Senate, in April, and thus enabled to continue as minister of agriculture. In February 1892 he resigned from the Senate in order to contest London in a by-election, which he won. That spring Carling refused the lieutenant governorship of Ontario because he and the Tory prime minister, John Joseph Caldwell Abbott* (Macdonald had died in 1891), thought the Liberals might well win the by-election that would have ensued. Later in 1892 Abbott’s successor, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson*, moved to drop Carling from his ministry as part of an attempt to rejuvenate the Tories, who were still reeling from Macdonald’s passing. Even though his popularity in parliament and influence in cabinet had lessened, Carling was stunned.
After prolonged negotiations a face-saving formula was worked out. Carling would receive a knighthood and would remain in the cabinet but without a portfolio. In December 1892 he gave up the agriculture ministry, with which he was so closely linked in the public’s mind. It was rather shabby treatment of a veteran who had faithfully served his party for 35 years. Carling stayed in Thompson’s administration until the latter’s death led to the formation of a new government under Mackenzie Bowell in 1894. Although Carling was re-appointed to the Senate two years later, his political career had effectively ended with the shuffle in 1892. He had little to say in either the commons or the Senate after that humiliating experience.
Sir John spent most of his remaining time in London. He resumed control of his brewery, which had been effectively run during his years in Ottawa by his son Thomas, his eventual successor. In the late 19th century temperance legislation and increased duties on malt caused the London brewer political and commercial discomfort. In public presentations before city council in 1876 over the province’s liquor licensing act, he “spoke in the liquor interest.” By 1895 Carling Brewing had applied to council for a tax reduction to compensate for the “injury” suffered from what industry lobbyist Louis P. Kribs* called the “great teetotal craze.” From his position of semiretirement, Carling fondly recalled the good old days and filled a number of largely honorary positions. In 1899 he became colonel of the 7th Battalion of Fusiliers in London, and in 1904 he was made president of the Ontario Brewers’ and Maltsters’ Association. A Methodist, he was also honorary president of both the Yorkshire Society in Ontario and the Sons of England. He died of pneumonia at his Cedar Grove estate in London on 6 Nov. 1911, and was survived by three sons and three daughters.
Sir John Carling was never a major figure in Canada’s history, but he was significant. He had been instrumental in making his brewery one of the largest in the dominion. In a long career in parliament he served as a direct link between the country’s political and economic élites. During that career Carling consistently fought for a progressive type of conservativism as well as for the interests of big business, the agrarian community, and London.
This short brewery history is from the Carling website:
Carling’s British roots trace all the way back to the Yorkshire village of Etton, little known, but forever in the hearts of Carling as the birthplace of our namesakes, William Carling and his son Thomas. Inheriting his father’s passion and skill for brewing, a 21-year-old Thomas emigrated to Canada taking his father’s Yorkshire beer recipe, which on arrival in Canada he used to brew privately for admiring family and friends. The township Thomas settled in soon became an Imperial Army post where the thirsty soldiers became fans of the Carling family’s Yorkshire brew. In 1843 he built his first commercial brewery, only for his sons William and John to take up the baton soon after, and begin producing lager for the first time in 1869, sewing the first seeds of Carling’s refreshingly perfect pint.
The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in Upper Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.
In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-story brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.
William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O’Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.
Today is the birthday of Leopold F. Schmidt (January 23, 1846-September 24, 1914) who founded the Olympia Brewing Co. in Tumwater, Washington in 1896. Although it was originally called the Capital Brewing Company, but changed it in 1902 to reflect its flagship Olympia Beer, and also began using the slogan “It’s the Water.”
Gary Flynn from Brewery Gems has the best biography of Schmidt. He also has a shorter piece about Schmidt’s first brewery in Montana, the Centennial Brewing Co., which he sold in 1896, before moving to Washington to scout locations for his next venture. He settled on Tumwater, and built a brewery “at Tumwater Falls on the Deschutes River, near the south end of Puget Sound. He built a four-story wooden brewhouse, a five-story cellar building, a one-story ice factory powered by the lower falls, and a bottling and keg plant and in 1896, began brewing and selling Olympia Beer.”
The Schmidt House, set high on a wooded bluff at the mouth of the Deschutes River, was built at the turn of the 20th Century for local brewery owner Leopold Schmidt and his wife Johanna. Mr. Schmidt already owned a successful brewing operation in Montana when a business trip first brought him to the Tumwater area in the early 1890s. Discovering that the artesian springs here were perfect for brewing beer, Schmidt sold his Montana holdings and built a new brewery at the foot of Tumwater Falls which shipped its first beer in 1896.
At first the Schmidt’s moved into an existing house on the slope above the brewery, a home that the family affectionately nicknamed “Hillside Inn.” As his brewing business prospered, Mr. Schmidt began planning a larger, more elegant residence that would stand at the top of the hill. In 1904 the couple moved into the new house with their daughter, the youngest of six children. Their five sons continued to live at Hillside Inn and work in the family business. For reasons lost to posterity, the Schmidt’s called the new house “Three Meter.”
Here’s more on Olympia, again from Flynn:
In October 1896, after issuing $125,000 in capital stock, he established the Capital Brewing Company, nucleus of what would become the highly successful Olympia Brewing Company. The brewery was an unqualified success, its product outselling competing beers from Seattle and Tacoma. The pure artesian water and Schmidt’s brewing skills were a perfect match. The enterprise steadily grew in production in the following years, reaching peak production of 100,000 barrels of beer in 1914, just in time for statewide prohibition. This not only shut down the Olympia plant but also the other two plants in the state, the Bellingham Bay Brewery and the Port Townsend Brewery. Oregon also voted to go “dry” in 1914, five years before national prohibition, which ended the Salem Brewery Association. Only the two Acme Brewery plants in San Francisco were spared, albeit temporarily.
After prohibition was repealed, Leopold’s son Peter Schmidt ordered the construction of larger brewery buildings upriver from the 1906 building, rather than repurchasing and retrofitting the aging structure.
There’s quite a lot on the history of Olympia Brewing, and here are a few good sources. The Cooperpoint Journal has Water to Beer: A Timeline of Industry and Drinking and the Seattle Weekly wrote Olympia Beer: The Water and the History. But Brewery Gems again has a thorough History of the Olympia Brewing Company, and the Olympia Tumwater Foundation had a concise history. Even cooler, the Foundation has some great old photos online, in Images of the Old Brewhouse : A Pictorial Exhibit from the Archives of the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.
And here is a portion of Schmidt’s obituary in the Olympia Daily Recorder:
Today is the 72nd birthday of Charlie Papazian, one of the most influential persons in modern brewing. Charlie founded the AHA, the AOB and the IBS back in 1978 (which today is the Brewers Association) and organized the first Great American Beer Festival. His book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing was one of the seminal works on the subject, and is now in its fourth edition. Recently, Charlie retired two years ago, on his 70th birthday. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.
Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne (of Meantime Brewing), Charlie, Mark Dorber (formerly of the White Horse on Parson’s Green but now at the Anchor Pub), Garrett Oliver, and Steve Hindy (both from Brooklyn Brewing), Dave Alexander (from the Brickskeller), and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie Jurado (with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Friday’s ad is for “Budweiser,” from 1958. This ad was made for Anheuser-Busch, and was part of their series using the tagline. “Where there’s Life … there’s Bud,” which ran from the 1950s into the 1960s, and this one features a woman lying on the floor, cigarette in hand, next to a speaker with her head practically on an LP. She watches as someone is pouring her a beer. The text begins: “Have You Heard.” The album by her head, unlike yesterday’s, is from Columbia and appears to be Serenade, by Sammy Kaye. I think they made another actual album of Budweiser music, using the same model and set from this ad, too. See below for more about that.
This appears to be an album cover although there’s no information on the cover apart from the Budweiser tagline. Given the LP depicted is on Columbia Records, I presume that’s who made this one, but I haven’t been able to find any additional information so I can’t be sure. But at least she managed to get off the floor.