Local History Index: Business Index

Hop Growing History in Lisbon,

Waukesha County, and Wisconsin

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 07/07/2014

Note: Additional non-Wisconsin material supplemented to provide insight into hop growing industry.

    Why would James Weaver have brought hop plant roots to Lisbon in 1837? The first brewery in the area wasn't started until 1840 in Milwaukee (see below). Which means that if Weaver brought hop plants, then they were probably locally used in making small batches of ale, not lager beer.  Lager beer did arrive after the first ale brewery in 1840.

The early American colonists had many uses for hops. Wines and Beers of Old New England by Sanborn C. Brown (1978), notes:

"The hop cones used in the beer brewing were not the only part of the plant that the farmers found useful. It was a common vine in the settler's kitchen garden. The young shoots in the spring were eaten as a special treat in salads... a wax extracted from the tendrils was used as a reddish-brown vegetable dye, the fibers were used in textiles as a substitute for flax, the stalks were used for basket and wicker-work, and the leaves and spent hops were an especially excellent food for sheep."

    One source says that "Wisconsin began hop cultivation in the 1860's.", but Mr. Libby of Lisbon was showing his hops at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1852.

    So there may not have been a ready beer brewing market for hops, the early town of Lisbon residents surely put their hop crop to other uses.

Beaumont Hop House

Beaumont Hop House Marker Photo, Click for full size

Beaumont Hop House Marker Photo, Click for full size

Inscription. Growing of hops for commercial beer making purposes was important in Waukesha County agriculture during the 1860s and for several decades thereafter. They were introduced here from new York by James Weaver of Sussex in 1837.

The Beaumont hop house of fieldstone construction covered by mortar, circa 1875, is 18 feet square and 32 feet high. A stove on the first floor was used to create heat which would rise and pass through the slatted second floor on which hops were placed to dry.

Ephram Beaumont (1834-1918) was prominent in local & county government and the County Agricultural Society.
 
Erected 1974 by Waukesha County Historical Society. (Marker Number 16-01.)
 
Location. 43 7.819′ N, 88 20.129′ W. Marker is in Merton, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County. Marker is on Rybeck Road (County Road Ef) east of Creekside Court, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Located in the Woodfield Village subdivision park. Marker is at or near this postal address: W29681 Rybeck Rd, Hartland WI 53029, United States of America.

Source: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=44558&Result=1

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    But few hops were grown in Wisconsin, up to 1860, when owing to an increased demand by the breweries of the state, there was a gradual but healthful increase in hop culture. A few years later the advent of the hop louse, and other causes of failure at the east, so raised the price of hops as to make them a very profitable crop to grow. Many acres were planted in this state from 1863 to 1865, when the total product was valued at nearly $350,000. The success of those engaged in this new branch of farming, encouraged others to adopt it. The profits were large. Wheat growing had not for several years been remunerative, and in 1867 and 1868, the " hop fever " became an epidemic, almost a plague. The crop of Sauk county alone was estimated at over 4,000,000 pounds, worth over $2,000,000. The quality of the crop was excellent, the yield large, and the price unusually high. The secretary of the State Agricultural society says, in his report for that year, " Gases are numerous in which the first crop has paid for the land and all the improvements." To many farmers hop raising appeared to offer a sure and speedy course to Wealth. But a change came quickly. The hop louse ruined the crop, and low prices caused by over production, aided in bringing ruin to many farmers. In 1867, the price of hops was from 40 to 55 cents per pound, while in 1869 it was from lo to 15 cents, some of poor quality selling as low as 3 cents. Many hop yards were plowed up during 1869 and 1870. The area under cultivation to this crop in 1875, was, according to the " Report of the Secretary of State," 10,932 acres.

http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924028871627/cu31924028871627_djvu.txt

    Hops. The culture of hops, as an article af commerce, received but little attention prior to 1860. In 1865, 2,864 bales only were shipped from Milwaukee. In addition, a large amount was used by the brewers throughout the state. In 1866, the amount exported was increased, and 5,774 bales were shipped to eastern markets. The price, from forty-five to fifty-five cents per pound, stimulated production, and the article became one of the staple products of the counties of Sauk, Columbia, Adams and Juneau, besides being largely cultivated in parts oif some other counties. In 1867, 26,562 bales were received at Milwaukee, and the prices ranged from fifty to seventy cents per pound. The estimated crop of the state for 1867 was 35,000 bales, and brought over $4,200,000. In 1868, not less than 60,000 bales were grown, in the state. The crop everywhere was a large one, and in Wisconsin so very large that an over-supply was anticipated. But few, however, were prepared for the decline in prices, that far exceeded the worst apprehensions of those interested. The first sales were made at twenty-five to thirty-five cents per pound, and the prices were reluctantly accepted by the growers. The price continued to decline until the article was unsalable and unavailable in the, market. Probably the average price did not exceed ten cents per pound. Notwithstanding the severe check which hop-growing received in 1868, by the unprofitable result, growers were not discouraged, and the crop of 1869 was a large one. So much of the crop of 1868 remained in the hands of the growers, that it is impossible to estimate that of 1869. The new crop sold for from ten to fifteen cents, and the old for from three to five cents per pound. Hop-cultivation received a check ffom over-production in 1868, from which it did not soon recover. A large proportion of the yards were plowed under in 1870. The crop of 1869 was much of it marketed during 1870, at a price of about two and one-half to three and one- half cents per pound, while that of 1870 brought ten to twelve and a half cents. During the year 1871, a great advance in the price, caused by the partial failure of the crop in some of the eastern states, and the decrease in price causing a decrease in production, what was left over of the crop of 1870 more than doubled in value before the new reached the market. The latter opened at thirty cents, and steadily rose to fifty and fifty-five for prime

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    Last year I sold my hops the heist price that eny was sold at in the town. I pick some pretty erly and sold at 19 dollars per hundred weaigh and when I carried them to the man I contracted the rest of mine at 16 dollars per hundred and some keep and sold at 15 so I think I did the best. I never got over 11 dollars per hundred till last year. I do not exspect to get more than that this year for hops are come down some excepted a firing market . I growed about I ton last year. This year I think I shall grow about 15 hundread . I think I cleared 150 dollarsby my hops last year and I are able to keep my family well much better than I cold if I was in England for living I can grow . I made 120 weaigh of stager this spring and Rebaker as two.

James Weaver to cousin Richard Hardeman, Augusta, New York July 20 1834

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I add a good crops of hops but was unlocky in selling of them for I sold to soon like maney more of my neighbours. I add 1,066 and sold at 11 dollars per cart wich if I add kept a nother mounth or 2 I mite got twice 11 but it was not my luck. I only wish I add but known if hops ware but a shorte crop in England that would made a difference hear. I now by your letter that hops were short in England but I add now thought that would make eny difference heare till was to late.

Now dear friend if you will be so good as for to send me a letter so as for me to receive it in September I will be verry much a blich to you. I think you better send it a way by the first of August and I want you to give me the pertickler account of the state of hops and what the price is and how the crops is like to be so that I may now better what to do with mine if I grow eny.

James Weaver to cousin Richard Hardeman, Augusta, New York, March 30 1833

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We shall almost see thing grow and our wheat harvest will be about as earley as yours about the last of July or the first of August and you must tell Henry that our hops in this state are badly winter killed that his old yard and hops are a going to be pruty well use up this year in this country so we look for a good price this year agine if there his a good crop as the Germans bead the English I think drinking began bear you would be surprise to see what brewers we have in Milwaukee one thing more and that his I am glad that your blessing increases and I hope you will all do well I have left all politics out but we have corruption a nuf but I am glad the Aliman Claim his settled so nicely

James Weaver to Richard Lisbon May 2/1873

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First Lisbon Turkey Shoot Was Held in Lisbon, and Without Beer (excerpt)
Although the beer for the event went astray, what was probably the first turkey-shoot in Waukesha county was a great success. It was held at Lisbon in 1839.
Turkeys for the "shoot" were obtained by David Bonham, one of the township's first settlers. Men came from far and near and everyone enjoyed himself.
The blame for the missing beer lies on the poor roads of those days. Among his other preparations, Bonham had gone to Milwaukee with Thomas Redford, Lisbon's first settler, for beer. Rattling back home over the rough roads, the beer was so shaken up it burst out the bung in the keg.
Whatever the turkey-shooters drank that day, it wasn't Milwaukee beer. [Editor's note: It would seem that Bonham may be still in the "public house" business if he was one of those to obtain the beer.]

Source: Waukesha Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 16, 1948, page 10.

Where did Bonham and Redford find the beer (ale most likely)? Were the Welshmen already in business in Milwaukee, it certainly wasn't lager beer they went after!

 

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"Tinged with gold: hop culture in the United States"

by Michael A. Tomlan, 1992, page 23.

"Although a number of farmers in Illinois and Iowa experimented with the crop, when Midwesterners began to look for expertise in hop growing, invariably they turned to the growers in Wisconsin. Hops had been discovered growing wild by the first settlers in that area of the country. Those who had traveled near Racine in the mid-1830s remembered that they had found "many varieties of wild onion, plum, and crab apple, and among them the hop". The writer further noted that in 1852 or 1854 he had planted one of the wild hop roots in his garden and allowed it to grow "in regular old-fashioned New-England style." It first climbed up two fence posts and then crept along over the lattice of one of the hennery yards into the field.

Immigrants to the region brought a considerable amount of agricultural knowledge with them, so that hops were introduced in a number of areas. Generally speaking, the culture was introduced by settlers who migrated from the Empire State. For example, James Weaver, who had been a hop farmer in New York, settled near Sussex, in what became Waukesha County, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1837. Weaver apparently brought a number of roots with him and began a hop yard. Indeed the census returns for 1850 show that Waukesha County had a virtual monopoly on hop culture, producing 13,119 pounds of the total of 15,930 pounds harvested in the state.

Sauk county, Wisconsin, also had its pioneers and eventually claimed to have become the center of hop production. In 1842-43 "the distinguished Hungarian political refugee," Count Agostin Haraszthy, "founded what is now Sauk City, where he planted the first hop yard in our State, and encouraged others to do likewise." Apparently unaware of Weaver's efforts and earlier work of Waukesha growers, by the late 1860s most agriculturalists believed that commercial hop growing in Wisconsin began in Sauk County."

"Pioneer America: Volume 9", Pioneer America Society, 1977

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"New York was the source area for the hop plant introduced to Waukesha County in 1837 by James Weaver, patriarch of the family that was eventually to dominate the industry in southeastern Wisconsin."

Note: The Weavers most likely brought root or seed stock with them from New York State, but the N.Y. stock probably came from their homelands in Kent and Sussex Counties, England. The Weavers and other English transplants all lived in prime hop growing regions in England: Kent and Sussex Cos.. Their hop raising roots are evidenced within the following letters James Weaver wrote to his English cousin.

    "I add a good crops of hops but was unlocky in selling of them for I sold to soon like maney more of my neighbours. I add 1,066 and sold at 11 dollars per cart wich if I add kept a nother mounth or 2 I mite got twice 11 but it was not my luck. I only wish I add but known if hops ware but a shorte crop in England that would made a difference hear. I now by your letter that hops were short in England but I add now thought that would make eny difference heare till was to late.

Now dear friend if you will be so good as for to send me a letter so as for me to receive it in September I will be verry much a blich to you. I think you better send it a way by the first of August and I want you to give me the pertickler account of the state of hops and what the price is and how the crops is like to be so that I may now better what to do with mine if I grow eny."

James Weaver to cousin Richard Hardeman, Augusta, New York, March 30 1833

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    "Last year I sold my hops the heist price that eny was sold at in the town. I pick some pretty erly and sold at 19 dollars per hundred weaigh and when I carried them to the man I contracted the rest of mine at 16 dollars per hundred and some keep and sold at 15 so I think I did the best. I never got over 11 dollars per hundred till last year. I do not exspect to get more than that this year for hops are come down some excepted a firing market . I growed about I ton last year. This year I think I shall grow about 15 hundread . I think I cleared 150 dollarsby my hops last year and I are able to keep my family well much better than I cold if I was in England for living I can grow . I made 120 weaigh of stager this spring and Rebaker as two."

James Weaver to cousin Richard Hardeman, Augusta, New York July 20 1834

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    "we shall almost see thing grow and our wheat harvest will be about as earley as yours about the last of July or the first of August and you must tell Henry that our hops in this state are badly winter killed that his old yard and hops are a going to be pruty well use up this year in this country so we look for a good price this year agine if there his a good crop as the Germans bead the English I think drinking began bear you would be surprise to see what brewers we have in Milwaukee one thing more and that his I am glad that your blessing increases and I hope you will all do well I have left all politics out but we have corruption a nuf but I am glad the Aliman Claim his settled so nicely

James Weaver to Richard Lisbon May 2/1873


    James Weaver's brother in law, David Bonham, had his "public house" going in the Spring of 1837. David couldn't have used Weaver's hops that year to supply the thirsty with ale, and with no brewery yet in the area, David must have brewed his own in small batches using English or Eastern hops he probably purchased in Milwaukee.

First Lisbon Turkey Shoot Was Held in Lisbon, and Without Beer (excerpt)
Although the beer for the event went astray, what was probably the first turkey-shoot in Waukesha county was a great success. It was held at Lisbon in 1839.
Turkeys for the "shoot" were obtained by David Bonham, one of the township's first settlers. Men came from far and near and everyone enjoyed himself.
The blame for the missing beer lies on the poor roads of those days. Among his other preparations, Bonham had gone to Milwaukee with Thomas Redford, Lisbon's first settler, for beer. Rattling back home over the rough roads, the beer was so shaken up it burst out the bung in the keg.
Whatever the turkey-shooters drank that day, it wasn't Milwaukee beer. [Editor's note: It would seem that Bonham may be still in the "public house" business if he was one of those to obtain the beer.]

Source: Waukesha Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 16, 1948, page 10.

Where did Bonham and Redford find the beer (ale most likely)? Were the Welshmen already in business in Milwaukee, it certainly wasn't lager beer they went after!

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    It's interesting to note here that although the Weavers had a million dollar business, as written in Fred Keller's articles, no mention can be found (so far) of their hop business dealings in the local newspapers.


WILLIAM WEAVER, 2d., hop-grower and dealer, Sec. 26; P. O. Sussex; was born in County Sussex, England, Oct. 2, 1824; in 1830 came with his parents, James and Elizabeth Weaver, to this country; lived in Oneida Co., N. Y., until 1837, then came to Wisconsin, settled in the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., where he married Miss Mary Howitt; they have four children living-Jane, Jeannette, George H. and Mary. Mr. Weaver has filled various local offices. Himself and wife are leading members of the Episcopal Church. Mr. Weaver is extensively engaged in dealing in hops, and is largely engaged in hop-growing.

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JAMES STONE, farmer and hop-grower, Sec. 34; P. O. Sussex; is a native of Sussex County, England; born Feb. 14, 1814; is the son of James and Maria Stone, natives of Sussex Co., England, who came to this country in 1840, living in Cleveland, Ohio, until 1842, then coming to Wisconsin, and locating in the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., where they resided during their lives. He has been twice married; first wife was Frances Sisley; were married in Sussex Co., England, her native place; she died in Lisbon, Oct. 27, 1853, aged 41 years. His present wife was Lucy Chester, widow of Thomas Chester, and daughter of John Fielder, an old settler of Lisbon. Mr. Stone's children were seven, viz.: William, who resides in this town; he married Hannah Bowers; Elizabeth, wife of Hiram Hinds, Andrew Co., Mo.; Henry J., died Aug. 2, 1848; Annie M., died March 27, 1859; David F., died Aug. 22, 1850; Frank S., died April 20, 1852; Phoebe C., died Nov. 12, 1853. Mr. Stone's farm is well improved, and consists of 80 acres of land. Himself and wife are members of the Episcopal Church.

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A. S. WEAVER, farmer, Sec. 26; P. O. Sussex; son of James and Elizabeth Weaver; was born in the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., Wis., on the 24th of July, 1839. During the war of the rebellion, he enlisted in Co. B, 28th W. V. I.; he was enrolled in August, 1862; participated in every skirmish, siege and battle that his command was in until August, 1865, when he was honorably discharged. He married, in Lisbon, on the 19th of December, 1866, Sarah A. Howard, daughter of Charles and Harriet Howard, early settlers of Lisbon; Mr. Weaver and wife are members of the Episcopal Church; they have two children, Harriet E. and Ada R. Mr. Weaver is engaged in farming and hop-growing; owns a well-improved farm.

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HON. JAMES WEAVER, Sussex; is a native of County Kent, Eng.; was born Oct. 17, 1800. In 1820, he married, in Sussex Co., Eng., Elizabeth Fielder, a native of that county, born in 1801; in 1830, they came to this country, settled in Oneida Co., N. Y., where they lived until 1837, in the summer of which year they came to Wisconsin and located in the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., where she died, March 17, 1867; their children were James, born March 30, 1821, died in Oneida Co., N. Y., March 14, 1835; Thomas, born Oct. 1, 1822, was a member of the Assembly in 1865; William, born Oct. 3, 1824; Mary, born Feb. 5, 1826, is the wife of James Craven; Richard, born Aug. 25, 1827, was a member of the Assembly in 1878, and State Senator in 1880; Jane R., born Aug. 14, 1829, died Dec. 13, 1844; Elizabeth A., born Dec. 27, 1831, is the wife of James Howitt, Andrew Co., Mo.; John, born March 30, 1833, lives in Oregon; Caroline L., born Nov. 30, 1834; Edward J., born July 11, 1836; Ruth, born Nov. 24, 1837, died July 28, 1838; Alfred S., born July 24, 1839, was a soldier in the 28th W. V. I. during the rebellion; Emily, born May 11, 1841, is the wife of Robert Frost; Lydia, born July 30, 1842, is the wife of John Russell; Stephen, born Sept. 28, 1843, died Dec. 2, 1869; Richmond T., born Nov. 24, 1845. Mr. Weaver has passed the most of his active life as a hop-grower and farmer; he was the first to introduce the former industry in the State of Wisconsin; he has been selected at various times by his fellow-citizens to fill offices of honor and trust, and has been a number of times elected Chairman of the Town Board of Supervisors, and other town offices; he was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly in 1856, a position he filled with credit to himself and satisfaction to the people; he has accumulated a handsome fortune, and now lives in the enjoyment of peace and competence.

Editor Note: John Weaver also raised a hop crop back on his "hired farm" in Augusta, Oneida, New York per his wife diary story: "My husband sold his crops on then ground [1836], except wheat and barley, which were harvested. There were potatoes, hops, and corn not harvested, besides a good, large and fine vegetable garden and some fruit."

James Weaver:

Occupation 2: 1831, Farmer, raised hops, Oneida County, New York
Occupation 3: 1882, By this year, James and sons built a hop-growing
business worth $600,000.

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HON. RICHARD WEAVER, Sussex; was born in Sussex Co., Eng., Aug. 25, 1827; received a liberal education in early life; crossed the Atlantic in 1830; lived in Oneida Co., N. Y., until 1837, in which year he came to Wisconsin and settled in the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., where he has since resided. Nov. 22, 1848, he married, in Sussex, Waukesha Co., Wis., Rhoda Stone; they have one daughter, Serena J., the wife of D. P. Topping, a merchant in Sussex. Mr. Weaver has held various town offices; he was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly in 1878, and was elected State Senator in 1879; Mr. Weaver is extensively engaged in hop-dealing; is an active business man, and heartily co-operates in all matters pertaining to the growth and prosperity of the county; he is a man of excellent qualities, and has always maintained an adherence to those principles of honor and fair dealing that have secured to him the confidence and esteem of all with whom he has had to do.

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HON. THOMAS WEAVER, a leading farmer and hop-grower; P. O. Lisbon; was born in Sussex, England, Oct. 1, 1822; he emigrated with his parents, James and Elizabeth Weaver, to Oneida Co., N. Y., in 1830, thence to the town of Lisbon, Waukesha Co., Wis., in 1837, where he married, April 8, 1847, Miss Betty Craven, daughter of Richard and Rachel Craven, now deceased, who were early settlers and esteemed citizens of Lisbon; she was born in Yorkshire, England, Sept. 16, 1826; they have had thirteen children, eight of whom are living, viz: James T., of this town; he married Jane Haskins; John F. married Annie Bennett; Julia E., wife of Robert Hardy; Betty A., Jane E., Lucy C., Alfred S. and Elmer W. Mr. Weaver was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly in 1865; he has also filled various local offices in the town of Lisbon. He owns over 400 acres of land and is very extensively engaged in farming and in hop-growing. Mr. Weaver never had any important advantages in early life, but has hewed his own way, by honest effort and good management, to his present affluent position. He is enterprising and public spirited as a citizen, and is deservedly very popular.


FOR SALE by the Subscribers,
1000 Lbs. Pressed Hops
S. D. Cowles & Co.
August 1, 1836
Source: Milwaukee Advertiser, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 11, 1836
Question - Did Mr. Cowles ever sell his hops, were they used to make ale? He was still advertising 1000 Lbs. Pressed Hops in January 28, 1837; same 1000 Lbs.?
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    In the late 1830's to early 1840's, the equivalent of our neighborhood taverns - although on a less reputable social footing - were the "rum holes" which dotted the banks of the Milwaukee River in 1843, when 138 were counted. These dirty and unsightly dives got their name from one of the liquids dispensed, and from their being dug back into the hillside. They were boarded up in front and had crude bars, over which was served rum, low grade home-brew, essig whisky heimer and challet. The last named was a potent mess containing fermented wild berries, watercress, rum and limestone. "Essig whiskey heimer" was a drink concocted by the first German settlers in Milwaukee around the spring of 1839. Since no beer was available, they mixed whiskey and vinegar with a little limestone thrown in to put a "head" on it; it was noted that its devastating effects prompted the founding of the first brewery here. The rum holes had "back rooms" - subterranean tunnels - where the owner could store his beer. Some of these passages were provided with cots and straw ticks where men, women, and children who had just gotten off the boat - 200 or 300 immigrants were arriving daily - could lodge temporarily. Despite its bad name, the rum hole became quite an institution in its day, serving as a social center, bank for short term credit, travelers' aid society, forum and lovers' rendezvous. The rum holes eventually died a natural death, as they were replaced by more modern taverns and hotels.
    Most new colonists left Europe around early March for the 6 to 8 week ocean voyage to usually New York, from there the typical immigrant traveled by steamship up the Hudson River to Albany through the Erie Canal to Lake Erie (canal boats were generally overcrowded and the worst part of the journey) then took a lake steamer to a Wisconsin port, Milwaukee.

Source: "Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. : A Chronological History": 1848-1873edited and written by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1995

First Milwaukee Brewery

    The Middle Europeans brought with them a taste for beer, a beverage which had not been much admired in Milwaukee before their arrival. A combination brewery and distillery, the "Milwaukee brewery", had been established by Welshmen Richard G. Owens, William Pawlett [Pollett] and John Davis at the foot of Huron (Clybourne) Street in 1840.
From the Milwaukee Sentinel November 29, 1869:
    "The first brewery in this city was erected on the south side of the foot of Huron St. in the spring of 1840 by Messrs. Owens, Pawlett and Davis, natives of Wales. It formed the nucleus of what is now known as the "Lake Brewery". It was a small frame building which until within a few years stood on the original site in the rear of the present dilapidated structure. For upward of two years this small establishment furnished a sufficient quantity of ale and beer to quench the thirst of all lovers of malt liquor in Eastern Wisconsin. In 1845 the proprietors were obliged to enlarge the premises and during the past year a large brick addition has been built. Richard Owens, Esq., one of the original owners is now sole proprietor, the lesser being Messrs. Powell & Co.

   The second brewery in the city, and the first one to brew lager beer, was appropriately started by a German, Hermann Reuthlisberger (Reutelshofer), in the spring of 1841. This plant was at Walker's Point, at the corner of Hanover and Virginia Streets (S. 3rd and W. Virginia). Reuthlisberger's beer proved very popular, but he was without capital enough to operate, and soon sold his little plant to John B. Meyer, a baker.

    In 1844 Meyer sold out to his father-in-law, Francis Neukirch, who carried on the business under the Neukirch name. In 1848 Neukirch took into partnership another son-in-law, Charles T. Melms, and the plant was moved to old 1st Ave. (S. 6th St.), end of the 6th St. bridge.
    Shortly after the establishment of the Lake Brewery, several others were built, one, the Eagle Brewery* under the hill south of Chestnut St. by Levi Blossom, Esq., and another in the same neighborhood by the late General Phillip Best.
*Editor's note - According to another source, this ale brewery was originally started by "Frederick Miller" [of Miller Brewery fame] and William Pawlett in 1843 and taken over by Levi Blossom. More likely the brewery was started by "William Miller", which was later advertised as for sale by Levi Blossom; then Blossom went into business with Miller [brewery was operated by "Miller & Co." for a short time]. Later it became the Eagle Brewery under Blossom's ownership.

Source: "A History of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Breweries", Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1996



EASTERN HOPS for sale by the bale or less quantity, just rec'd at CUNNINGHAM'S Drug Store (East Water St., Milwaukee)
Source: Daily Sentinel and Gazette, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 19, 1846, page 1.
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HOPS, HOPS - Growth of 1846, of the best quality, for sale by the bale at the Eagle Brewery. Milwaukee, Nov. 18, 1846.
L. Blossom
Source: Daily Sentinel and Gazette, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 10, 1847, page 4.
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CASH....and the highest price paid for Staves and Heading Barley and Hops, at the Eagle Brewery, by
L. Blossom
Source: Daily Sentinel and Gazette, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 3, 1847, page 4.

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Bran Beer
Good bran, one bushel; water, 18 gallons; hops, a quarter of a pound, mash with hot water, and ferment in the usual way. This beer will cost about three pence per gallon. two or three pounds of sugar will greatly improve it. Source: Waukesha Democrat, Waukesha, Wisconsin, January 2, 1849

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List of Entries
At the Wisconsin State Fair

List of entries for exhibition at the second annual Cattle Show and Fair, to be held at the city of Milwaukee, on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th days of October, 1852.

Class B
By William Libby, Lisbon
25lbs. hops.

Source: Weekly Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 13, 1852 Note: Mr. Libby is the only town of Lisbon resident to exhibit at this fair.
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ARE HOPS RUNNING OUT?
The comparative failure of the crop in portions of Otsego and other counties, says the Albany (N. Y.) Journal, has led to some fear that hops are running out. For three or four years the vines have been covered with small white insects. They are called lice; are very annoying to pickers, and, in many instances, destroy the bulb, causing the leaves to have black and blasted appearance. They are rather more numerous and destructive this year than usual. Various efforts to exterminate them have been made, but hitherto without success. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 19, 1865
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An Eastern market report: "Hops are on the decline, especially since the breaking up at Saratoga and Newport. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, October 17, 1865
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Hops and their Culture
In evidence of the great profit made in raising hops, the little town of Kilbourn City, in Wisconsin, took last season about $1,000,000 for hops; and that throughout the State of Wisconsin not less than $2,000,000 more were received for this product in 1865.


W. C. Hanford, Esq., of Rockford, Ill., who is a successful cultivator of hops, says there are two distinct varieties, the "Early Cluster" and the "English Mammoth", and he prefers the latter. .....Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, April 17, 1865, page 1.
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Thomas & Rhoades' Self-Acting Cheese Press
Our attention has been called to this new invention, patented Dec. 11th, 1866, by the above proprietors, who reside at Mukwonago. It is a cheap, simple structure, which has been attested by ten or fifteen of the best farmers in that vicinity, who unite in pronouncing it the best and most perfect cheese press ever invented...
"This press, constructed on a larger scale, from its self-producing and self-acting power, will be found of great value in many other branches of business besides that of pressing cheese, such as the pressing of hops, cotton, paper, &c., &c. And from its great power, will, in many cases, superseded the expensive use of steam. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, February 19, 1867, page 3.
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Hops
The first bale of new hops from the state of New York was received in New York City on Friday last, and sold at $1 per pound. The hops were from the yard of C. D. Palmer, of Waterville, Oneida county. This bale, says the World, was perfectly mature, very rich, and of fine flavor. They are, as we noted last season when the first bale came into market, a little earlier than this, a seeding hop of unusually robust and vigorous habit of growth, enabling them with their uniform and early maturity to effectively and perfectly resist the destructive ravages of lice. In common with others the present season the vines were covered with vermin from an early period...[Article continues about nearly utter crop devastation in Utica and Oneida counties, in New York state. Old yards seem to be worse off than new ones: and vines located upon high ground are the least troubled by vermin, which we suppose is accounted for by the fact that they receive the benefit of of more wind than those upon low lands.]. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 27, 1867, page 2.
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About 40 acres of hops have been set this spring. [Town of Eagle]. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 9, 1868, page 3.
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Oconomowoc - Hops in this vicinity look well, and if they get through the next two weeks all right, there will be a good yield. In and around Hartland, the hop yards do not look thrifty, and the yield must necessarily be very light. Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 11, 1868, page 3.
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Mapleton - We have an excellent crop. The hops are large and the picking good. We have nearly three hundred pickers here, I doubt whether Kilbourn City, with its coll 5,000, are having as merry times as we are. The girls all vie with each other to see who will pick the most while in the field, and in the evening to see who will look prettiest, as they "trip the light fantastic toe." [Article continues about some dangers in young male proprietors and the girl pickers.] Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 29, 1868, page 3.
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The Hop Fever - Its "Rise and Fall" . Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, January 5, 1869, page 1.
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Poetry
Only One Year Ago
Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, May 25, 1869, page 1.
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Hops in Wisconsin

    The Kilbourn City Mirror, published in one of the principal hop growing regions of Wisconsin, says, under date of August 18, that recent rains and cool weather have had an almost magical effect on the hop yards, and has caused the editor to replace his former estimate of half last year's crop, with an estimate, "that at least three-fourths the amount of last year will be realized, providing there is no serious drawback in the way of blight, lice or mildew." With the present prospect the price is expected to decline to 15 or 18 cents. A correspondent of the same paper has lately visited 127 yards in Sauk, Juneau and Vernon counties, and found most of them poor. He says, "I think there is a might small show for a good crop of hops. Lice were plenty in most yards."
    English Hop Crop
    It would appear notwithstanding the drought which has been severe, that the prospect for a hop crop in England is good. The fields are spoken of as very clean and neither insect nor blight has troubled the plants. The vine is considerably shorter than it usually is at this time in the year, but it is hardy and vigorous, and the rains that have recently fallen have had the effect to greatly stimulate its growth.

Source: Waukesha Plaindealer, Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 6, 1870, page 3.

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Hop Poles - William N. Lannon, at Lannon Springs, will furnish any quantity of hop poles at a low price.

source: Waukesha Plaindealer May 21, 1872, page 3 of 4
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Summit - The "hopers" are here, that is to say hops are "coming down", pickers lively at from 30 to 40 cts. per box. Source: Waukesha County Democrat, Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 4, 1875, page 3 of 4.
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Milwaukee Market
Hops - Are dull and quiet at 10-15 cents per lb.
Source: Waukesha County Democrat, Waukesha, Wisconsin, October 9, 1875, page 2 of 6.

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A RECIPE for cough syrup appears in the Cincinnati Gazette, from "A Farmer's Wife," "Take a small handful of hops and some old field balsam, and some hoarhound, and make a strong tea; strain and put as much molasses as tea, boil down to about one-half. To be taken before eating and before going to bed. My husband had a very bad cough this spring, and this is what cured him." Source: Stevens Point Journal, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, September 30, 1876


Advice to Hop Growers

Sussex, Wis., August 10th, 1875

Ed. Democrat: ---If not trespassing too much on your columns, we would like to impress on the hop growers through this section of the country of the manner of picking and curing their hop crop this fall, as you have the world to compete with. In Germany where the prospects are good for a large crop, not a leaf can be found when on the market; the same may be said of England. New York hops are almost free from mould and their samples are good. Now we will have to compete with these crops as we are shippers and clean picking is very essential, and in many cases adds 2 to 5 cents per pound profit to the grower. Every grower should see to it that they are clean picked, and afterwards, when in sacks, that they do not allow their hops to heat before being put on kilns, which should be avoided. We find very many who put on too large a force when they commence picking, and consequently overload their kilns. Not over three-fourths of a load should be put on the first two to four days, as the hops are green, full of sap and much harder to dry. Only brimstone enough should be used to clear the hop leaf. We find many are afraid of giving enough cold air or draft in the lower part of the kiln and therefore find it difficult to get the heat to pass through but let reak or steam settle back and spoil their samples. Growers, remember always, it is poor samples that are hard to sell and at a reduced price, but good samples can always be sold while poor sometimes cannot at any price. Growers through this State, to-day say prospects are good for a fair crop and good quality. Now make good samples and then you can sell them for all they are worth.

R. Weaver & Bro.

source: Waukesha County Democrat August 21, 1875, page 3 of 4.
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Crop acreage for hops in Waukesha County for 1883 was reported by County Clerk Chas. F. Hepp, as 97 acres.
Source: Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 14, 1883.

"He made me mad as hops." Question - How did this phrase originate?


    Plant to get historical marker

by Fred H. Keller, Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, September 10, 1996, page 27.

    The Mech family of Sussex shares its home with a living fossil, a plant that goes back over a hundred years. It is something of a clinging vine and is growing and growing until each year it completely shrouds and strangles the fence line that it claims as its own. It doesn't allow anything else to live in its area without being completely covered over.

    Don and Barbara Mech moved to W238 N6766 Laurie Ln., Sussex, in 1974. IN 1975, Barbara and her mother were out surveying the lot on the dead end road in the Hamilton Heights subdivision when her mother noticed the vine at the property's east property line, and thought it was a hop plant. The hop plant [Humulus Lupulus] is a clinging vine-type plant that will send runners up and over 15 foot poles if allowed to. The plant will produce cones in late August that are harvested to produce sharp taste in beer. The Mech's plant attracts visitors each year.

    When James Weaver came to Sussex in 1837, he brought with him hop roots from New York. The roots started an agricultural business in the Town of Lisbon that eventually became a million dollar business for Waukesha County. In 1860, James and his son, Richard, became a partnership in growing, buying and selling hops. Three years later, James retired and another son, William II, entered the business, known far and wide as ". Weaver and Bros., Brokers in Fancy Hops." The business lasted from 1860 to 1896 and made Richard Weaver a millionaire and William II, a very rich man.

    The main crop of the early pioneers was raising  and selling wheat and Wisconsin was a bread basket of the United States with Milwaukee being dotted with many flour mills. Farmers were looking for an additional crop and began raising barley and hops for the emerging brewery business, Hops was a high labor industry that needed only a few acres of ground space.

    In addition, there was a need for a specialized hop-drying tower building, a two-story plus structure with a stove on the first floor and drying racks on the second floor. The smoke and steam from the drying hops rose through the roof vents. Northwestern Waukesha County had sixteen of these peculiar buildings in the late 1800s. The town of Lisbon had the most of any township with six of them owned by the five Weaver brothers and a brother-in-law, James Craven.

    Richard Weaver owned the farm that was the future Hamilton Heights subdivision site and one of his main crops was hops. A 10-acre spread of hops was big business. Tamarack poles up to 15 feet long were put up in teepee fashion with hop roots planted at the base of each pole. The vines went up the poles time and again to form a thick foliage a couple of feet thick.

    the final week of August and the first two weeks of September were picking time, a time to harvest the hop cones about two inches long, process and ship them to market. The poles and their vines would be cut free and hauled by wagonloads to a hop picking year, usually outdoors, but if need be on rainy days, inside a barn.

    Four huge boxes would be set up below the loaded hop poles and nimble fingers would strip the hop cones into the boxes. Lots of labor was needed. Especially prized for this work were women and kids. The farmer had to race frost to get the hop picking completed by mid-September.

    Farmers would run wagons into the nearby villages and pick up wagon loads of pickers. For a days labor, an 1860's advertisement said, a good picker could earn $1.50 per day if they got three boxes full.

    Both farmers and field hands looked forward with pleasure to harvesting the hops. Every evening there was dancing in the barn. A local fiddler played a lively tune. It was accentuated and the vigorous "hop step" became the fashion of the day. The term "hop" meaning social dance owes its origin to these lively stomps.

    The fortunes of hop raising had ups and downs. Some great fortunes were made in the 1860s until the hop louse. It devastated the New York crop and then it came to the Midwest. The intensity of it was great and small depending on the year., and fortunes were at the mercy of the bug. In 1882, Richard Weaver had a business of $600,000. He heard over the telegraph of the devastation in other areas, and bought hops for 15 cents a pound. When the world found out there was going to be a crop failure that year he sold his small corner for $1 a pound.

    However, the great Weaver business went into an eclipse after 1882 and 14 years later it was history since hops could no longer be raised in the Town of Lisbon because of the hop louse. Diversified dairy farming replaced hop growing as a way to earn money.

    It is surmised that the particular hop plant that the Mechs have is a survivor of Weaver's crops, a plant that escaped the hop louse. It lives 100 years after he dissolved his brokerage business.

    The Mechs have asked that a historical marker be put up by their living fossil of hop vines. The Village of Sussex has a series of such historical signs, but the Waukesha County Historical Society has heard about the plant and is considering putting a county historical marker on the site.

    Right now Laurie Lane is a dead end road, but within a year it will be a throughway from Maple Avenue to Waukesha Avenue and will be a place of great exposure, both for the now secluded plant, the Mech property, and the proposed historical marker.

    Who says a historical marker has to be by a building, a formation or a famous piece of land? Now a living plant will get a historical marker.


Also read RETURN OF MATERIAL TO THE ROOT OF THE HOP