Today is the birthday of August Uihlein (August 25, 1842-October 11, 1911). He was born in Wertheim am Main, Baden, Germany. He came to the U.S. with his grandfather and August was educated as a brewer in the U.S., working initially for the Uhrig Brewery in St. Louis. In 1867, he returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his grandfather had settled, and “joined what was now the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, the same brewery that had been founded by his uncle August Krug in the 1840s (Krug’s widow, Anna Maria, had married Joseph Schlitz in 1858).”
On the death of Schlitz in 1875, control of the firm passed into the hands of Uihlein and his brothers. When Mrs. Schlitz died in 1887, the Uihlein brothers acquired complete ownership of the corporation. Uihlein was secretary and chairman of the board (1874–1911). He was also actively involved in banking, real estate, and many other Milwaukee businesses.
Here’s a biography of August Uihlein from Find-a-Grave:
Brewer and business executive. He was the first of the Uihlein dynasty that owned and operated Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. over the years. Born Georg Carl August Ühlein, son of Josef Benedikt Ühlein and Katherina Krug, in Wertheim am Main, Baden, Germany. At age eight he endured a rough immigration on the way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1850, traveling with his grandfather, Georg Krug. He survived the mid-Atlantic fire and sinking of the S.S. Helene Schlomann, during which his grandfather managed to save him and $800 in gold that was subsequently used to expand his uncle August Krug’s brewery and to hire a bookkeeper, Joseph Schlitz. He attended Milwaukee’s German-English Academy, then studied at St. Louis University in Missouri (1855 to 1857). His uncle, August Krug, died in 1856 and Schlitz became the manager of the brewery and two years later married Krug’s widow and changed the name to Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. In 1858, at age 16, Uihlein convinced Schlitz to hire him as a bookkeeper after only 60 days training in the subject in St. Louis. August proposed to take a company inventory and revamp the brewery’s accounting system from single to double-entry bookkeeping. While holding down a full-time job (age 17) at the Second Ward Savings Bank (now First Wisconsin) without salary, he applied this training to the brewery’s accounting during evenings. For his efforts at the bank, he received a gold pen from Valentine Blatz after a year of service. He then worked the Uhrig Brewery in 1860 in St. Louis (the Uhrig family had a summer home in Milwaukee) as a bookkeeper, collector, and shipping clerk for $20 a month and two years later, shortly before his 20th birthday, he was promoted to the position of general manager. Returning to Milwaukee in 1867, he became the bookkeeper for the Joseph Schlitz brewery, and on the death of Schlitz in 1875, management control of the firm passed into the hands of him and his brothers, all nephews of the brewery’s original founder, August Krug. Along with his brothers Henry and Edward, he continued the business strategies initiated by Schlitz. The company developed a system of agencies across the United States to sell beer, and developed its own vast rail distribution network. When Mrs. Schlitz died in 1887, the Uihlein brothers acquired complete ownership of the enterprise. From a ranking of tenth largest US brewer in 1877, their national marketing plan propelled the company to third by 1895. Sitting among the top three breweries was little comfort when prohibition came about. The company met the challenge as did others, restructuring the brewery as Joseph Schlitz Beverage Co. to produce near beer, yeast, soft drinks, malt syrup and a chocolate candy named “Eline” (a phonetic play on the family name). Returning to brewing in 1933, the company launched an acquisition plan and new construction that led them to second and then first place in US beer production. For the next 40 the years the company would remain near the top and at one point was ranked as the largest in the world. August Uihlein was Schlitz company secretary from 1874 and also chairman of the board from 1880 until his death in 1911, and was prominently identified with banking, real estate, and many other Milwaukee enterprises. Interested in racing horses, he maintained a large stock farm near Kenosha and was the owner of the famous trotting-horse champion, “Harvester.” Noted for his local philanthropy, he donated large sums to the German-English Academy and to the Milwaukee Public Library. He died while visiting in Germany.
Uihlein family photo, early 1880’s – bottom row, from left; Charles, superintendent of the bottling works; Edward, vice president in charge of developing the Chicago markets; Henry, president. Top row, from left; William J., assistant superintendent of the brewery; Alfred, superintendent and brewmaster; August, secretary and chief operating officer.