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History    > 1848-1873    History21873-1881     History3 >   1881-1907    History4 >   1907-1933    History5 >   1933-1969 History6 >   1969-1982   History7 >   Post-1982  JSBC History Index


Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. : A Chronological History

1873-1881

edited and written by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1995

Date of Last Revision 08/16/2015

   In 1873 sales had climbed to 49,623 barrels with Joseph Schlitz deciding to make the brewery a stock company called the "Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co., capitalized at $300,000. Schlitz became president, August , secretary, and Henry, superintendent. The Uihleins were also presented with some stock in the new enterprise. [See 1874 entry below]

    The stockholders of the Brewers' Insurance Company of America met at the office in the Second Ward Bank building on Wednesday evening to elect officers and directors for the ensuing year. Messrs. Conrad Seipp of Chicago, John Hauck, of Cincinnati, and Valentine Blatz of Milwaukee were named as Directors and afterward the full board elected the following officers; Jacob Obermann of Milwaukee, president, John A Huck of Chicago as vice-president, and Joseph Schlitz of Milwaukee, secretary. MS 1/10/1873 4/1.

    The Pfeifer Brewery located at 3rd and Walnut is purchased by JSBCo. in 1873. 1-83

    During the week of May 10, 1873, Blatz sent 800 kegs of lager beer to Chicago and during the next week will ship another 1,000 kegs. Schlitz also sent the Chicagoats a large supply of his particular brewage on the 9th. MS 5/10/1873 8/2.

    Daily shipments of beer are being sent to East Shore ports, towns and cities west of Milwaukee, and to Chicago by the three breweries, Blatz, Best & Co., and Schlitz. MS5/12/1873 8/3.

    Milwaukee Sentinel editorial - Best and Schlitz sent several carloads of beer to Chicago yesterday. The brewers of "Beerburg" are taxed to their utmost to supply Chicagoats with their favorite beverages. MS 7/3/1873 8/3.

    Milwaukee Sentinel article "Saloons of Milwaukee" - The list of saloons in this city covers nearly three pages of the new city directory. Five hundred and two establishments are accounted for. Allowing a fair average of $300 as the cost of each of these saloons, it will be seen that over $150,000 are invested in this business. These places employ about two thousand persons including the beer peddlers of our breweries, and at a fair average of three quarter-barrels a day, nearly four hundred barrels of beer are daily dealt out by the glass and by the measure. At ten dollars a barrel, the brewers receive a daily return of about $4,000 or about $28,000 a week. At a profit of three dollars a Quarter, about $3,000 are daily swept into the coffers of the keepers. As the profits on liquors equal that of beer, the sum of $10,000 is daily distributed in the way of profits by the bibulous portion of our community. In these estimates we have not included bottled beer and white-beer trade of the city. MS 8/2/1873 8/1.

    Brewer Schlitz has no fear of any considerable interruption of his business by the enforcement of the Graham law. He has just purchased half an acre of ground back of his large brewery on Third street, and will immediately erect a large ice-house upon the premises. MS 8/2/1873 8/1.

    Brewer Joseph Schlitz has purchased from W. H. Jacobs, Esq., lots 9, 12, 13, and 16, block 190, Second Ward, for $8,000. The property is located on the west side of Eleventh street, between State and Cedar, and, we understand, was acquired by Mr. Schlitz for the purpose of erecting for himself a handsome residence. MS 8/24/1873 8/1.

    A large part of Valentine Blatz brewery is in ashes due to fire, August 26th (?). Reference MS 9/30/1873 8/3.

    Joseph Schlitz has purchased one lot and a half adjoining his brewery on Third street for $5,000. MS 8/31/1873 8/3.

    Brewer Schlitz keeps 2,000 kegs of beer in reserve, from day to day, to meet unexpected calls for the amber-hued beverage. MS 9/21/1873 8/2.

    The fine residence of Joseph Schlitz, already under contract to be finished about May of next year, to cost $19,000. MS 9/30/1873.

    A car-load of Utah malt arrived here on Monday for the brewery of Mr. Joseph Schlitz. The shipment is said to be the finest ever received here, and those who inspected it expect a superior brewage of lager for the next season. The malt was the first of a shipment of 100,000 bushels to be furnished by the firm of L. C. Huck & Co. of Chicago, at $2.10 per bushel. Mr. Schlitz intends to convert the malt into Vienna beer for the thirsty multitude of May, 1874. MS 11/26/1873 8/1.

    The sales of beer by the three leading breweries of this city during the past two months amounted to 34,968 barrels. This amount was made up as follows:
October - Best Brewing Co., 9,763; Joseph Schlitz, 5,430; Valentine Blatz, 3,267.
November - Best Brewing Co., 7,572; Joseph Schlitz, 4,811; Valentine Blatz, 3,022. MS 12/15/1873 8/2.

    Joseph Schlitz attends the 14th U.S. Brewers Association in Boston on June 3, 4, 5 1874.

    In the 1870s, when common-law rules still governed employer liability, relatively large employers like Pabst and Schlitz brewing companies usually handled major injuries to their workers directly and on an individual basis. As late as 1909 Schlitz continued this practice because it thought this method to be cheaper than carrying liability insurance, and because it preferred not to have an insurance company standing between it and its employees. 10-71

    "[Joseph] Schlitz was, always, trying for the absolute best, and orders came in so quickly that it was impossible to fill them all. Business grew, despite the appearance of competition, and, on January 1, 1874, Mr. Schlitz founded the Jos. Schlitz & Company brewery with $400,000." (?) [See entry during 1873 above.] 23-2.

    1874, beer sales were up to 69,625 barrels. Also, by the mid-1870's, glass bottles were in wide use. Due to the pasteurization process, beer could be bottled with little chance of spoilage. Therefore, it is probable that sometime during these years, glass bottles were used by the Schlitz Brewery. At this time the Statutes of Wisconsin prohibited the bottling of beer on brewery premises, hence, the bottling was done by other outside enterprises. At first the beer bottles looked all the same from one brewery to another and because of the cost of producing many were pirated thus incurring large costs to the breweries. Embossing was added to the bottle and the beer that was bottled by outside interests can be identified by the word "Schlitz's" instead of Schlitz. This wasn't always the case, Schlitz became so popular that some bottles have the wording "Milwaukee Lager" on them, with the contents that being Schlitz (this was apparently not always the case, because at least one other brewery's agent used the same type of embossing).

    The Black Hawk Club, a hunting and fishing club, was started by wealthy sportsmen on Black Hawk Island on Lake Koshkonong in 1875 and incorporated in 1888. Canvasback duck hunters from across the country to the east joined the club. Great Wisconsin names such as Pabst, Case, Uihlein and Plankinton were on the membership list. -- 1945 article by Walter Frautschi.

    Brewer Schlitz is shipping beer to California in thirds and sixths of a barrel. The casks are constructed with as little curve as possible for convenience in transportation. MS 2/24/1875 8/4.

    1875, the company was producing 74,000 barrels (there was enough beer produced by the Schlitz at this time to provide each man, woman, and child in Milwaukee, in those days, with one barrel) and business was doing so well that Schlitz decided to visit his home in Germany [which he hadn't seen since 1856. Ref-23-2].

    In the April 27th 1875 issue of the Milwaukee Sentinel, is an article stating that Joseph Schlitz along with Messrs. Edward Aschermann, Hermann Haerter, Jacob Blum, F. Bergenthal, and J.P. Kissinger would be representing the Milwaukee Rifles association in a tournament to be held in Stuttgart, Germany during August of this year. MS 4/27/1875 8/5. This may have been the real reason for Schlitz to travel to Germany with an intended side trip to visit relatives. Before leaving, he made out his will and bequeathed to the Uihlein brothers enough company stock to give them sole control of the business. It is commonly said that he also specified that the name of the brewery could never be changed though Schlitz historian, Leonard Jurgensen, upon examination of Schlitz's will, states that no such entry exists. The most likely explanation is, "Why change a good thing?" New light has recently been shed on what happened after Schlitz died and later when his widow, Anna, passed on in 1887. Click her for important information about the Schlitz Wills

Photo of the bottom of the Schlitz memorial monument at Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. It is labeled Schlitz and has a ship carved on it that says Lost May 7, 1875.

Schlitz never returned to Germany. His ship, the S.S. Schiller, hit a rock near Land's End, England (the cliffs of Scilly Islands, on the southwest coast of England) on May 7,1875 and he drowned (several books list his wife Anna as drowning with him, this was not the case, she hadn't accompanied him on the journey). The control of the company was turned over to the Uihlein brothers. Henry became president, Alfred, superintendent and brewmaster, Edward, vice-president, and August, who was awarded the largest block of stock, held the title of secretary and chairman of the board. Soon after the Uihleins were running the brewery the three remaining brothers came to Milwaukee from Germany. William became assistant superintendent, and, Charles, superintendent of the Schlitz bottling works (this may not have been until 1877 when the company hired its own bottling works plant). The youngest third brother died shortly after arriving, not marrying and leaving any descendants. William and Charles arrived too late to get stock in the brewery, something their descendants wished they had. 9-1

    The Schlitz Burial Estate is on the Northeast corner of Section 37 in an area of Forest Home known as "Beer Barons' Hill", facing the estates of brewers Blatz and Pabst.


    According to a Milwaukee Sentinel report on the Schiller disaster dated May 10, 1875, Joseph Schlitz was the president of the Brewers' Insurance Company. Note in a later MS report dated June 18, 1875, it is stated that Schlitz is the Secretary of the Brewers' Fire Insurance Company of America (same company ?).

    Yesterday, President Vankirk, of the Chamber of Commerce, announced that it was probable that two members of the Board had lost their lives by the Schiller disaster, and suggested that suitable action be taken to place the sentiment of the Chamber on record. Mr. Everingham alluded to Messrs. Schlitz and Zinkelsen in terms indicative of feelings and said the members felt as if the losses were their own. The lamented ranked high in the esteem of their associates and it was due to their memory that proper expression of regret be engrossed upon the minutes of the Chamber. MS 5/15/1875 8/3.

    The Brewers' Fire Insurance Company of America met on June 16, 1875 at their general office and paid tribute to Joseph Schlitz their company Secretary. MS 6/18/1875 8/5.

    Was announced that the Joseph Schlitz family is to be given a memorial by the U.S. Brewers' Congress. MS 7/7/1875. Presented to Mrs. Schlitz on or about 7/19/1875. MS 7/19/1875.

    Mr. Carl Marr, a young artist about to travel to Germany to study there, has just completed an excellent portrait of Joseph Schlitz. MS 8/9/1875 4/6.

    The Schlitz product was pushed even harder by the Uihleins, who bought up corners here, in Chicago and other sizable cities for saloon sites, purchasing all four corners at each location in order to keep out competitors. Some of this real estate increased enormously in value ( one such property in Chicago was bought for $10,000 and later sold for at least 50 times that amount. 9-1), and added as much to the wealth of the Uihlein heirs as did the huge brewing business. 7-84

    Comments from August's youngest son, Erwin, about his father's life style - "The old man was a tireless worker. My mother brought up eight children at 4th and Galena, where the Schlitz garage is now, and she had no help. The old man was away from home every night. Wednesday night he went to the German theater and the other nights he would be visiting business districts all over the city. He would talk to neighborhood merchants, druggists, repairmen and find just how their business was going. Every night he was out judging property and he became one of the best real estate judges in the country." 9-1

    Most of the time August may have been a very good businessman but there is a story told by a grandson of Grandpa and the man with the big gold chain (who is this man?). August held a considerable amount of stock in a company which sold tobacco products. The man with the gold watch chain across his big belly told him that tobacco was going to be outlawed. Well August wasn't going to get mixed up with a potentially losing proposition so he sold it to the man. This is why the Uihleins' holdings never included a large amount of stock in the American Tobacco Co.. 9-2

    The Uihleins as well as Schlitz have always followed the policy of the founders, "to make always the best beer they knew how." In the short quarter of a century which followed, the Uihlein family fortune was conservatively estimated at $100,000,000 in 1907.

    Schlitz hired its first bottling works in 1877 (thru 1884) under the firm name of Voechting, Shape, and Co. at the corner of Third and Galena Streets. The first year they put up over 1,000,000 bottles of beer and that number steadily increased, necessitating new quarters, in the 1880's, consisting of eleven acres on South Bay St. between the tracks of the C.M. & St. P.Ry. and the C.& N.W. Ry (Bay View).

    According to the "The Brewer's Handbook" 1877, for the year ending May, 1877, the JSBCo. sold 79,538 barrels of malt liquors.

    Delegates to the 1877 U.S.B.A convention in Milwaukee were August, Henry, Alfred Uihlein from Milwaukee and Edward G. Uihlein from Chicago.

    In 1878 beer production reached 102,538 barrels, or over 2,000,000 bottles per year. Because of the volume, a second bottling house was opened in 1878 on the corner of Second and Galena.

    1879 marked the first 5 years of Uihlein management of the brewery, producing more than doubled, to a level of 139,154 barrels. Beer was being shipped all over the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and Brazil in barrels and bottles. The brewery used 65,000 tons of ice annually (twelve ice-houses), 550,000 bushels of malt, 550,000 pounds of hops each year. 300 hundred men and 38 double teams of horses were employed to operate the plant. The buildings covered two full city blocks and the business was worth about $1.5 million. The company also owned Schlitz Park which was worth about $100,000.

    Improved bottling facilities were installed in the later seventies to accommodate the new method of marketing the brew. At Schlitz, a crude bottle-washing apparatus was operated by young women, after which the beer was pumped from kegs and the bottles corked, wired, labeled, and packed in barrels preparatory to horse-drawn delivery.

    It was reported about this time that the average brewery workers in the New York area were receiving $40 - $55 a month as wages (and only $35 - $40 in other parts of the country), but also adds that in some cases the brewery boss deducted $5 per week for room and board from those figures. Not only was a working day of fourteen to eighteen hours considered normal in breweries, but a certain amount of work time on Sundays was expected of the workers.

    The Best and the Schlitz Brewing Companies elevate their ice by means of steam machinery of the Knickerbocker Ice Company, New York. These elevators raise sixteen blocks of ice a minute, each block weighing 250 pounds. The average height from the wagons to the stowing place is about 35 feet. MS 1/9/1879 8/3.

    The Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company loses a judgment suit to Herman Wallraff in the sum of $67.96 . MS 2/13/1879 1/5.

    Schlitz Brewing Co. is building a large ice-house on the northeast corner of Third and Galena streets. MS 3/3/1879 8/2.

    July, 1879 - Schlitz buys Quentin Park, and shortly reopens it complete with a theater, zoo, and fountains. Later as Schlitz Park, it accommodates up to 20,000 patrons. 8-39

    The beautiful public resort known as Quentin's Park, so recently offered to the city, has been transferred to the Schlitz Brewing Company by Ferdinand Kuehn, the agent of the Quentin estate, and will as now be conducted by a manager or lessee. The negotiations were made by August Uihlein in the name of the Schlitz Brewing Company, and the price paid was $17,500. It will be remembered that the previous offer by Mr. Kuehn was for $20,000 or for $25,000 in case the purchaser should wish to include the line of lots on the Ninth street front. The right of way to the Walnut street entrance is embraced in the transfer. It is said to be the intention of the Schlitz Company to purchase the lots on the Ninth street front which are present partially encumbered. Paul Schuengel, who at present manages the grounds under a sub-lease from Valentine Blatz, will retire early next spring.

     The new owners will at once set out to improve and add to the natural beauties of the place. The old weather-beaten dining hall on the crown of the knoll, will be torn down and a new and more elegant building will be erected in its stead. All the pavilions will give way to more attractive structures and the miniature lake will be cleared of its cheap willow surroundings, extended and graveled. The grounds have a frontage of 345 feet on Walnut street or rather in the rear of the lots fronting on that street, and a frontage of 473 feet on Germania street, the latter avenue cutting diagonally on the north. The depth of the park is ample as all will affirm who have strolled from the Walnut street entrance to the Germania street front. MS 7/8/1879 8/1.

    Next day follow-up news article - It appears that the Schlitz Brewing Company paid $23,000 for Quentin's Park not the $17,000 as reported in yesterday's issue of the Sentinel. The transfer includes lot 16 of the subdivision which will afford and entrance from Ninth street. Also a lot 61 x 100 feet off the southeast corner which enable the proprietors to build sheds for teams. Beside, a triangular plat in the northeast corner, is included in the transfer. The consideration that led Mr. Kuehn to sell below the figures at which he had offered the grounds to the city, was one of convenience. The cash sale would not involve the loss of time and other detriments that a sale to the city would have involved. Had not Mr. Kuehn been anxious to have the place continued as a public resort, he could have realized about $35,000 out of it. The plat is about 7 acres in extent. The lease .... . MS 7/9/1879 8/3


    The following comes from .Source: History of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1881, The Western Historical Company, Chicago, A.T. Andreas, Proprietor, on page 431, a additional information on Schlitz's Park.

    Located at the north end of Seventh street. It is owned and managed by the Schlitz Brewing Company. This park, formerly known as "Quentin's Park, was arranged and occupied by Mr. Quentin [Born 1811 in Prussia, came to Milwaukee in 1851, died May 9, 1862] as a family residence, until his death, in May, 1862, when the grounds were fitted for public use. Up to a year ago the park was managed by the heirs of Mr. Quentin. In July, 1879, the Schlitz Brewing Company purchased this ground and christened it Schlitz's Park. 

    It has an area of about seven acres, nicely arranged for park purposes. In the center of the grounds is what is termed "Lookout Hill", an elevated plateau, forty feet high, and ascended by means of stairways at the north and south sides. It contains also a pavilion and seats of rustic beauty. In the park, at the entrance and near the concert hall, are located two elegant fountains, which the three hundred and fifty gas lamps of different colors, make Schlitz's Park the most attractive place for Summer amusement in the city.

    The main building, situated near the north end of the park, 150 x 150 feet, is very attractive, and consists of three departments. The main floor , used for concerts, theaters, and balls, has a seating capacity of five thousand. There is also a dining room, kitchen, and ice house. East of the main building is a pavilion, built in the Turkish style, used as a confectionary stand. On the ground are gymnastic apparatus for the various societies, and seats for one thousand people.

    Inside the main gate and outside the park are located the stables for horses and carriages, none being allowed in the park. To the right of the entrance is the Schlitz's Park menagerie, containing various wild animals.

    The Schlitz's Park Hotel, a large establishment near the main gate, is run in connection with the park by Mr. Otto Osthoff, who is also manager of the park. It's cost [the entire park], including buildings and improvements, is estimated at $150,000, and during the Summer months, the park is frequented by many classes of people. Schlitz's Park has accommodations for twenty thousand people.


    By the propeller Lake Erie, yesterday, Henry Uihlein, president of the Schlitz Brewing Company, received a handsome dapple-gray stallion from Canada. MS 7/9/1879 8/4.

    The Schlitz Brewing Co. is building beyond the square they now occupy, having purchased property east of Second street. They are fast acquiring all the property eastward to the railway and it is their intention to secure a spur connection with the railroad. At present, they are building a large cooper shop to front on Second street and extend back about 150 feet. The shop will be one of the largest in the city. The Company is also increasing their motive power by building an addition to their steam boiler house. Two boilers are to be added to the three or four now in use. A brick smokestack 130 feet high is being built. The workman have dug to a depth of fourteen feet for a foundation without touching the original soil. The site of the brewery was once a deep ravine, and on the north side of this, against the hillside, the old Pfeifer establishment had a place. Mr. Schlitz, after operating for a time the old Krug brewery on Chestnut street, bought the Third street brewery, filled the ravine, and founded the present business. It is highly probable that the diggers for a foundation for that stack will be obliged to shovel down thirty feet to find solid base. The Company has also partially outlined their plans to improve Quentin's Park. This season the walks are to be graveled, water is to be introduced, rows of closets are to be built, the upper hall is to be torn down and a new one put up in its place, and other necessary changes are to be made. MS 7/21/1879 8/2.

     Production figures for the following years; 1880-195,119 barrels, 1881-253,371,1882-277,307,1883-330,597, and 1884-345,554 barrels. In 1880, two men corked all the bottles used; driving in the corks at a rate of 70 to 80 per minute.1880- Internal Revenue Department records indicate 2830 ale and lager breweries in operation.

    On September 6, 1881 an new exposition building was opened on the current site of the Milwaukee Auditorium to hold annual Industrial Expositions. The original officers of the newly formed Industrial Exposition association that was formed to finance and build this new hall were John Plankinton, president, and as officers, Frederick Pabst and August Uihlein. 7-134  (To the right - the Water Bung Apparatus offered by the Otto Zwietusch of Milwaukee.--->)

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