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Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph G. Bechaud

Today is the birthday of Adolph G. Bechaud (May 30, 1840-March 5, 1919). He was born in Rheinpflz, Germany, but emigrated with his parents in 1850, when he was ten, settling in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. In 1871, along with two of his brothers, Frank and Jean (a.k.a. John), founded the A.G. Bechaud Brewery, which was also known as the A.G. Bechaud & Bros. Brewery and later, beginning in 1875, traded under the Empire Brewery name, before returning to Bechaud Brewery when it reopened after prohibition ended, before closing for good in 1941.

Bechaud as a Captain in the U.S. Army.

This obituary is from Bechaud’s Find-a-Grave page, on originally ran on the front page of the Fond du Lac Daily Commonwealth, Wednesday, March 5, 1919:

 ADOLPH G. BECHAUD DEAD; LEADER IN BUSINESS CIRCLES. End Comes to Interesting and Active Life. WAS CAPTAIN IN CIVIL WAR. Fond du Lac Banker, Capitalist and Manufacturer Succumbs at Age of 79. Captain Adolph G. Bechaud; vice president of the Commercial National Bank since its organization, veteran of the Civil War, and a man whose business energy and integrity has left a deep impression upon the life of Fond du Lac, died at 4:30 o’clock this morning at the family residence 457 West Eleventh street. his illness has been of about four weeks’ duration, though for some months past there has been a noticeable lack of that interest and activity which has always been characteristic of him. Mr. Bechaud was born May 30, 1840, in Dirmstein, Germany, and came to the United States in 1853, settling in Fond du Lac with his parents. The outbreak of the Civil War found Mr. Bechaud, then a young man just turning his twenties, ready and willing to serve. On October 29, 1861, he volunteered at Chicago and was assigned to Company B of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. At the age of 23 he was advanced from rank of sergeant to that of first lieutenant. He was commissioned as such January 6, 1863. His command was detailed for duty in the western theater of the war, being engaged largely in scouting work in Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas. On Oct. 19, 1863, he was advanced to the rank of captain taking command of Company B, of the Thirteenth cavalry and serving as such in the later campaigns of the war, and being in command on his discharge from the service at the close of the war. Capt. Bechaud served under Generals Davis, Carr and Steel. In 1864 he took his discharge and came back home to take the duties of civil life. He became associated with Paul Hauser who conducted one of the pioneer breweries of the county on the ledge east of the city. Here Mr. Bechaud learned the fundamentals of the business which was later to become his life work. In 1871 he joined his brothers in the organization of the Bechaud Brewing company, taking the office of president which he has continuously held. On June 6, 1870 he was married to Miss Elizabeth Kramer, then of the town of Taycheedah. Mr. Bechaud leaves in addition to his wife, the following children: Mrs. F.W. Orth, Mrs. H.T. Schmidt, August Bechaud, Mrs. John P. Kalt, Adolph Bechaud, Jr., and Mrs. W.W. Petrie, also six grandchildren, Adolph V. Orth, Charlotte Venne, Robert Bechaud, Ross Petrie, Marcia Petrie and Audrey Bechaud. He is also survived by two brothers; J.B. Bechaud of this city and Armand Bechaud of Chehalis, Wash. Mr. Bechaud was a man of keen business judgment, an indefatigable worker, one who stood unflinchingly by the accepted honorable principles of business dealing. His energy interest and desire that everything should be attended to in a business like way was characteristic of him. He was one of the moving spirits in the organization of the Commercial National bank, and his counsel was often sought and always relied upon in matters requiring decision that would be unerring. In business and social circles he will be missed by a wide circle of friends. Socially he was a member of the Elks and Edwin A. Brown Post No. 130 G.A.R. While plans for the funeral are not fully determined, it is probable that the service will be held Friday afternoon at the residence.

And this obituary ran on page 1 of the Fond du Lac Daily Reporter, Wednesday, March 5, 1919:

CAPT. A.G. Bechaud. Born May 30, 1840 Died March 5, 1919. CAPT. BECHAUD EXPIRES AFTER LONG ILLNESS. Brewing Co. Head and Bank Officer Dies at Home on West Eleventh St. VETERAN OF THE CIVIL WAR. Captain Adolph G. Bechaud, aged 79, president and one of the founders of the Bechaud Brewing company, vice-president and director of the Commercial National bank and one of the city’s most prominent residents died at 4:30 o’clock this morning at his home, 457 West Eleventh street, after a lingering illness. Mr. Bechaud was taken seriously ill about four weeks ago and since then has been confined to his bed. His condition gradually grew worse until this morning, when the end came peacefully. The deceased was born in Dirmstein Germany, on May 30, 1840, and when thirteen years of age came to the United States with his parents. The family settled in Fond du Lac county in 1853 and Mr. Bechaud had resided in this vicinity practically ever since. When the civil war broke out, Adolph G. Bechaud was one of the first Fond du Lac county young men to join forces. He enlisted as a private in the Thirteenth company of the Illinois Cavalry at Chicago, Ill., on October 29, 1861. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant on January 6, 1863 and on October 19, 1863, was promoted to rank of captain. He commanded the Thirteenth company and did scouting work under Generals Davis, Carr and Steele in the states of Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. He was mustered out of the service December 31, 1864. After the war Captain Bechaud returned to Fond du Lac county and for sometime was employed at the Hauser Brewery at Taycheedah. When the Hauser Brewery burned, Mr. Bechaud came to this city and was one of the founders of the Bechaud Brewing company. The present brewery on West Eleventh was built in 1872 and has been in operation since that time under the direction of Captain Bechaud and his brothers. He served as president of the brewing company for many years. The deceased had been a director of the Commercial National bank for several years and a few years ago was chosen vice-president of the institution. he was a member of the Fond du Lac lodge N. 57 B.P. O. E. and also the G.A.R. Although he never held a public office, Mr. Bechaud has always taken an active interest in public affairs. Mr. Bechaud was married to Miss Elizabeth Kraemer in Taycheedah on June 16, 1870. Besides a widow, Mr. Bechaud leaves four daughters, Mrs. F.W. Orth, Mrs. A.H.T. Schmidt, Mrs. P. Kalt, and Mrs. W.W. Petrie, all of this city, two sons, August Bechaud and Adolph Bechaud, Jr., and six grandchildren, Adolph Orth, Charlotte Venne, Robert Bechaud, Ross Petrie, Marcia Petrie and Audrey Bechaud. he also leaves two brothers, J.B. Bechaud of this city and Armand Bechaud of Washington, D.C. The funeral will be held at 2 o’clock Friday afternoon from the residence, 457 West Eleventh street and interment will be held at Rienzi cemetery.

Adolph and his wife, Elizabeth Kraemer Bechaud.

This history of the Bechaud Brewery is from Oshkosh Beer’s post “An Illustrated History of the Brewing Industry in Fond du Lac.”

In 1871, Fond du Lac’s most successful brewery was opened at 515 Main Street by the brothers Frank, John and Capt. A.G. Bechaud. Formed during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, their brewing company also set the standard for longevity among Fond du Lac beer makers, surviving until 1941, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his third term in office.

The Bechaud brothers, all born in Bavaria, started brewing at their Main Street location but they also bought lakeshore property on Lake Winnebago just northwest of the city limits, where they envisioned locating their permanent brewing empire. However, the beachfront brew-house was not to be. Instead, in 1873, the Bechauds opened their new large brewery on Eleventh Street, just west of Hickory Street.

The Bechauds also maintained a Main Street address. Their “sample room” gave people a chance to enjoy the freshest beer the company had to offer. The most popular brand produced by Bechaud, “Empire” was bottled and sold in various cities. Their other beers included “Műnchner” and “Pilsener.” In all, the company sold an average of 15,000 barrels of their beers annually.

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