Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brown & Kabernagle

Newspaper ad in 1879 issue of Pembina Pioneer.

Rather fun to see a real-life document backing up the basis in fact of Chuck Walker's novel we are serializing here...

Note: The image was made possible thanks to Chuck, who sent me copies of facsimiles published of the first issue of the first newspaper in Pembina, as well as a special issue published 25 years later in 1903. Each issue has many clues to events and persons of their times, which I will feature here over the next few weeks; as always, I will also see where these clues might lead!

From the impressive Ramsey County Historical Society website, comes this bit of Minnesota beer brewer trivia that puts the ad in better perspective; if you will note in the ad, it prominently states they serve the beer described below, which "...According to available beer production records for the years 1876-1879, Stahlmann was the number one beer maker in the state."

Do you have records pertaining to the Stahlmann Brewery, the family, the mansion etc.? Linda Murphy


Our Ramsey County History magazine carried a history of brewery families in a 1980 issue. The following is taken from the article "Beer Capital Of The State - St Paul's Historic Family Breweries" , Author Gary Bruggemann
The Christopher Stahlman's Cave brewery was located at the corner of Fort (West Seventh) & Oneida streets. Stahlmann's facility was officially opened on July 5, 1855, in what was then the western reaches of the city and a rural wilderness paved only by a wagon trail named Fort Road. What no doubt lured Stahlmann to this particular out-of-the-way spot was the existence of both cool natural springs and caves on the property. The caves, which still exist under West Seventh Street, were eventually excavated by Stahlmann (at a cost of $50,000) to reach three levels in depth and a mile in width. An 1883 business publication described the caverns as follows: "A perfect labyrinth of rooms and cellars and under cellars three deep, reminding one of the catacombs of Rome, for none unacquainted with these subterranean vaults, with-out a guide, could grope their way through them and find their way out to daylight.

Christopher Stahlmann, the founder and developer of Cave Brewery, was described by Newsom as "a large man, slow in his movements, yet a man with a good deal of business tact and sagacity and very generally known throughout the city."' He was born to an affluent family in Bavaria in 1829, but due to the bankruptcy of his father, he emigrated to America in 1846 with only "five dollars in his pocket!" After stays in Canada, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Iowa, Christopher and his Iowa bride, Katherine Paulas, moved to St. Paul in 1855 "with just a few dollars."' From these "few dollars" Stahlmann created an enterprise that quickly became the largest brewery in Minnesota. According to available beer production records for the years 1876-1879, Stahlmann was the number one beer maker in the state. (He averaged more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year.) Although Stahlmann lost his number one position in the mid-1880s, his brewery continued to increase production, reaching a high of 40,000 barrels a year by 1884. Cave Brewery, according to an ad in an 1883 city directory, made "the finest quality lager beer" in "the most extensive brewing establishment in the state or the Northwest."' IN ADDITION TO BREWING, Christopher Stahlmann was also engaged in a variety of other activities. He was a member of the statehouse of representatives (1871 and 1873), a Ramsey County commissioner (1871) and a director of St. Paul's National German American Bank (1883)." On December 3, 1883, at the height of his career, Christopher succumbed to tuberculosis. At the time of his death his brewing operation was taking in a quarter of a million dollars of business a year. His plant consisted of five three story buildings on sixty lots (valued at $150,000), two large steam engines, three boilers, a variety of smaller machinery, and a work force of forty-seven men." The inheritors of this thriving enterprise were his wife, Katherine, and their three sons, Christopher, Jr., Henry-Conrad-Gottlieb, and Bernard U. All three sons were mature, experienced brewery workers, quite capable of carrying on their father's work. Chris and Henry C.G. had each served as the firm's treasurer, while Bernard had experience in a variety of clerical jobs. Unfortunately, however, in a short period of time the same disease that killed their father would strike down everyone of the Stahlmann brothers. Thus, tuberculosis claimed the lives of 31 year old George and 26 yearly Bernard in 1887 and of Christopher A.J., Jr., in 1894. (Christopher resided in the large wooden house at 877 West Seventh.)" During this difficult disruptive decade of 1884 to 1894, the brewery's presidency fell into the hands of Henry C.G.'s father-in-law, George Mitsch, Sr. (1854-1895), a native of Germany and the founder of St. Paul's Catholic Aid Society, who lived at 395 Daly street. Mitsch, a blacksmith by trade and a druggist by desire (as well as a former legislator and councilman), was unable to lead the brewery through the disaster of losing four key executives." In 1897, the once great Stahlmann Brewing Company went bankrupt and its last president, Charles J. Dorniden, had to sell the plant to a new enterprise, The St. Paul Brewing Company. The company existed only three years, for in 1900 the entire facility, including the beautiful stone mansion of Christopher Stahlmann at 855 West Seventh street, was sold to the Jacob Schmidt Com-pony" (formerly the North Star Brewery).