Today is the birthday of Michael Karl Goetz (January 16, 1833-August 11, 1901), who was born in Ingenheim, Alsace, in what today is Germany. He founded the
M. K. Goetz & Co. in 1859, which was located at 603 Albemarle Street (at 6th Street), in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was later known as simply the M. K. Goetz Brewing Co. before prohibition closed it down. The brewery was granted permit L-15 allowing the production of de-alcoholized beer.
They came out of prohibition intact and resumed brewing there until 1961, when they merged with and became a division of Pearl Brewing Co. of San Antonio, Texas. In 1936, the opened a second facility in Kansas City, which operated for twenty years before closing in 1956. In 1976, Pearl closed the St. Joseph brewery and shifted production to Texas.
Business owner of The M.K. Goetz Brewery, Michael Karl Goetz was a German immigrant who stopped in St. Joseph, Mo., on the way to the California gold fields and decided to stay. He established his own brewery in a small frame building after working a few months for another brewer. When he died in 1901 his four sons carried on. The company, organized in 1859, was 101 years under the management of the Goetz family.
The company started making plans for its Kansas City plant immediately after prohibition. Cost of the building was $750,000.
At its peak the brewery, specializing in draught beer, turned out over 150,000 barrels annually. When the demand for bottled, canned and packaged beer products increased, Goetz shifted its operations in KC in the 1960s.
Goetz merged with the Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Tex., in the 1960s. Today the old Goetz building is gone. The site is now used as a parking facility for the Catalogue Distribution Center of Sears Roebuck & Company.
Vintage Kansas City has a number of great views of both Goetz breweries.
Michael Karl Goetz. A large and distinctive contribution to the manufacturing and business prosperity of St. Joseph was made by the late M. K. Goetz, founder and for many years president of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, an enterprise which was built up from very small beginnings and which represented in its extent and in its standards of excellence for its productiveness the thoroughness and worthy character of its founder.
The late Michael Karl Goetz was born in Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, but then a province of France, January 16, 1833, a son of Michael K. and Mary C. (Koel) Goetz. The father died at the age of twenty-eight in the same year of the birth of the son. The mother also lived out her life in Germany, and she had two children, the daughter also spending her life in the old country.
The late St. Joseph brewer and citizen during his youth attended school steadily, and was well prepared for a career of usefulness. As his mother earnestly desired him not to join the army, as soon as he became of military age he left Germany, and on June 24, 1854, embarked on a sailing vessel, named the Connecticut, at Havre, France, and at the end of sixty days was landed in New York City. From there he proceeded to Buffalo, New York, where he had a cousin in the grocery business. Under his employ he not only learned the details of the grocery trade, but also acquired a familiarity with the customs and language of the new world, and remained in Buffalo until 1857.
When he started west in that year it was his intention to continue to the Pacific coast and seek his fortunes in the great mining section of California. By railroad and by steamboat he got as far as St. Joseph, which was then a small but flourishing frontier city, and its advantages appealed to him so strongly that he determined to stay, and that was the beginning of a continued residence of more than forty years. Henry Nunning was at that time proprietor of a small brewery in St. Joseph, and Mr. Goetz took a position in the plant and worked there ten months. He was industrious and observing and quickly learned the details of the business, and in 1859 was prepared for an independent venture along the same lines. With J. J. Max he erected a small frame building at the corner of Sixth and Albemarle streets, and there on a small scale, but with infinite care and with close supervision over the character and excellence of products, the first Goetz beer was brewed. While the business was started on a small scale, Mr. Goetz employed scientific principles and is said to have been one of the first really scientific brewers in the West.
He manufactured a beer which by its very excellence quickly became popular, and needed little exploitation to increase the trade. The plant now occupies several blocks of ground, and is equipped with all the most modern machinery and appliances. Mr. Max continued in partnership with Mr. Goetz until 1881, and the latter then became sole proprietor. In 1895 the business was incorporated under the name of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and the founder of the business became president of the corporation, and continued its active direction until his death on August 11, 1901. In 1885 an ice plant was installed, and the Goetz Brewing Company was one of the first in the West to undertake the manufacture of artificial ice. His success as a brewer was also extended to his investments and interests in other affairs, and he acquired a large amount of city real estate, including both business and residence property.
At St. Joseph the late Mr. Goetz married Caroline Wilhelmina Klink. She was born in Leutenbach, Wuertemberg, in March, 1844. Christian T. Klink, her father, also a native of Wuertemberg, in 1853 brought his family to America, coming by sail vessel and, after a voyage lasting several weeks, landing at New Orleans. Thence they came up the river to St. Joseph. At that time St. Joseph was without railroad communication, and comparatively speaking the country was still in the state of a wilderness. Christian Klink bought a tract of land in township 56, range 35, situated about ten miles south of the St. Joseph courthouse. The only improvements on the land when he bought it were a log house and a few acres of cleared ground. He established his family in that home, bent his efforts towards increasing the area of plowed fields, and remained one of the substantial and practical farmers of Buchanan County until his death. There were eleven children in the Klink family. Mrs. Goetz, who was nine years old when she came to America, had a good memory for scenes and events in the old country home, and also recalled many incidents concerning the struggles and hardships of the early settlers in Buchanan County. She died about six months after her husband, in March, 1902.
The valuable business interests built up and founded by the late Mr. Goetz are now continued and managed by his children. There are six children, namely: Emma, William L., Frank L., Albert R., Henry E., and Anna L. Emma is the wife of Theodore Benkendorf, and has one son, Theodore. William L., who is a graduate of the American Brewing Academy, is president of the M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and by his marriage to Anna L. Pate has two sons, Wilfred L. and Horace Raymond. Frank L., who graduated from Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, learned the trade of machinist at St. Louis, is now vice president of the company, and has charge of the mechanical department. He married Lena Meierhoefer, and their three children are Mildred, Michael K. and Ernestine Frances. The son Albert, also a graduate of Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, is secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Flora Widmeier. Henry is assistant secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Inez Moore. Anna, the youngest, married E. A. Sunderlin, and they have four children—Caroline, Eugene, Robert and Van Roesler. The late Michael K. Goetz was an active member of the St. Joseph Turnverein, and both he and his wife worshiped in the German Evangelical church and reared their children in the same religious belief and practices.
Goetz’s most famous beer, especially in the 1959s was Country Club, which was a malt liquor.