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RUSHING THE GROWLER

By Stephen R. Powell

Appendix B: "My Reminances" The Autobiography of Brewer Albert Ziegele

(Courtesy Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society)

 

I arrived at Buffalo on the 18th of June, 1849, and stopped at first with my cousin, Gottfried Raichle, who resided in German Alley, and with him I spent the summer. My first acquaintances were the Messrs. E. G. Gray and Jacob Schoellkopf, the latter carrying on a small leather business in Main Street between Mohawk and Court Streets. At that time the cholera made great havoc in the city. Snatching away a large percentage of the inhabitants. During the month of October I worked at first two weeks in brewer Schantzlin’s malthouse and entered later in the service of Jacob Scheu as laborer. Here I remained until May, 1850, and decided then to establish myself. At that time there was brewed here an upper-fermented beer, and for such a business my small capital was sufficient, as the beer could be sold after eight days. Previous to this I went to Chicago and Milwaukee to see if I could not find better business opportunities there. Chicago was at that time still small and unhealthy: the streets were unpaved, and the sidewalks, built of wood, were elevated above the causeway. The entire west was only sparsely populated. Cash was scarce, and in Chicago up to 30 per cent, interest was paid for loaned money. I told myself that the nearer I was to New York, where most of the money was, the better the chances would be to start in business. At that time Gottlieb Bodamer was building a brewery in Genesee Street, about where Fillmore Avenue now is. This brewery I rented for a period of five years and started to brew upper-fermented beer. Jefferson Street was at that time the boundary line of the city, and from there a so-called plank road passed the brewery towards Williamsville. Where Teutonia Park now is there was a small settlement, consisting of only a few housed, called "The German Village," where a German had a small saloon with a little garden, whither on Sundays the Germans wandered with their families to drink beer and to amuse themselves according to German custom. Between Jefferson Street and the toll-gate house, which was not far from my home, There were only a few houses: the rest consisted of farm land and building lots. The brewery which I had rented was, as I have said, new; previously I had bought a kettle in Chicago. The water was sulphureous. The lower rooms in the main building were covered with plaster of Paris, while upstairs one could see the bare brick walls. I fitted up the house. A small room at the entrance was turned into a saloon, with which was also connected a store where bread, candy, etc. could be bought. This store was attended to by my wife when I was busy in the brewery. The trade was small, but we learned thereby enough of the English language necessary for our business. The street was but sparsely settled. There were two saloons, a smith, a wagonbuilder, and two private houses. About 150 feet away from my house were the first tollgate house, a slaughterhouse, and a hotel. On the north side, where Humbolt Park is now situated, the woods started and extended almost to Bailey Avenue. Many hickory trees could be found there, and as there were still forests everywhere in the west, we were regularly visited by immense flocks of wild pigeons that flew low and used to settle in the woods. At that time I did a good business in powder and shot, which I kept for sale in my store. Not much profit was made by the sale of beer, because the beer was sold by the quart in the place: besides, glassed had to be furnished. Whiskey was also very cheap, and everybody used to drink a "horn." For the upper-fermented beer brewed by me I did not need many barrels, as the product could be sold in small kegs in eight days. It was very difficult to get customers. Now and then one could get rid of half a barrel, but store pay-assignments to other stores-had to be accepted. Pratt’s iron works gave out most of these assignments. We were then compelled to try to get rid of them to other business people. Cash money I saw but little of; but that I needed the most, because I had started with very small capital. The first summer was very poor. During the hot weather the beer soon became sour; besides, during the month of August typhoid fever kept me on a sick bed. When I arose, after eight weeks, I had to start anew. Hops were very expensive, and I was glad to get finally a bale on credit. I worked on until the second year, building now my own crushing mill, which was run by horse-power. Gradually I hot regular customers, amount them several at the hydraulics, where I delivered the beer myself even during the coldest weather. To get to the Hydraulics meant quite a distance, because only Michigan Street was paved., With my beer wagon I had to drive from the brewery through Genesee, Michigan, and Swan Streets to Seneca Street. From 1852 to 1853 the winter was bitter cold. And great snowdrifts were shaped up. Over which one had to drive. Only a few houses were between the Hydraulics and the iron bridge. But where Bailey Avenue now crosses Seneca Street several saloons could be found. Navigation on the lakes had to be closed much earlier, and as we had no railroad connection from Buffalo to Erie, all the immigrants had to remain here until the reopening of navigation…

In Dunkirk I had a good customer, who could not get any beer during the winter. The sale of beer was dull, and I made up my mind to drive, upon a sleigh, with several barrels of beer, to Dunkirk. Well, I started upon my way. The Hamburg Turnpike, running along the lake, was at that time the main road: all farmers came over this road into the city. For those that came into the city there existed a one-tricked plank road, but my way led in the opposite direction, and I had continually to get out of the way of the many wooden sleighs I met, whereby it happened that the sleigh with the beer was upset three or four times, so that I had to load up anew. That continued until I was near Lake View, before I reached Silver Creek, where I had to stay overnight. The following day thaw-weather set in, and my way led most of the time through the softened sand, as the wind had swept away the snow. I was glad when I finally reached Dunkirk. I stayed there but a few hours and drove back to Buffalo….

II-The First Lager Beer

During this year I bought a building lot in Main Street, and started to dig a deep cellar, whereby I struck water and river-sand, so that I was forced to stop the digging. Then I dug my first well in the yard to find out how much water there was. During the fall the cellar was dug twenty feet deep. The following winter, 1853-1854. I brewed the first lager beer. Yeast and rubber hose I bought in Philadelphia. I had some large barrels made, and bought besides some large wine casks, rented a new cellar from Gerber in Main Street, brought the beer there in small barrels and let run into the barrels by means of the rubber hose. During This winter the first lager beer cellar was excavated, and also the cellar built upon my own it in main Street, and provided with a vaulted ceiling. Money I had little of, but opposite me there was henry Hellriegel’s grocery store, where the drivers of stone wagons used to buy their own provisions. Hellriegel offered to take all of my so-called store-pay orders assigned to him–which at that time were generally accepted–and which were given as payments for stone and men, while I paid him with beer in the barrel. So the first lacer beer cellar in Buffalo was built. After the cellar was completed up to the level of the street, and I intended to build a board roof over it as protection against rain and snow. Mr. Hellrigel again come to the rescue, telling me that it would be better to build a house over it. So, too, the house was built, in which I had ordered, to the new–my own–cellar. Behind the new house, which , however, was roofed in during the month of March. Was a walled-up shaft, twenty feet deep, with a new lift or elevator for the purpose of letting down the larger barrels, and later to draw up the kegs for the customers. The house received a gateway with gate in Main Street. I then brought the beer in small barrels with the help of a truck, sometimes as late as eight or nine o’clock in the evening, down to Main Street, and from the gateway the newly brewed and fermented beer was transferred by means of the rubber hose from the transport barrels into the lager barrels in the cellar. It is a matter of course that every time I had to take the hose used in the cellar from the barrel and put it up again; at this, I was most of the time alone. I had not built any stairs to the cellar; on the contrary, a long ladder was fastened in the shaft against the wall, and by means of this ladder I climbed up and down on every occasion, even with rests of beer from the emptied barrels, which beer I carried in a pail. With one hand I held fast on to the ladder , with the other I carried the pail.

The first truck I had made by the smith and wagonmaker Schmahl in Genesee Street. This man had no idea about a wagon of this kind, and I was compelled to made a drawing for him. As I did not have sufficient money, I had the truck built with semi-springs, and the smith, having doubts about the wagon turning out according to my wishes, made me pay some money in advance, Later all brewers adopted trucks with full springs.

It was quite difficult to get regular customers, but when during the summer, the first lager was offered for sale by me, I got more customers, even for bottled beer that I bottled myself. Through this increased save I received more money, and during the year 1855 had more large lager beer barrels constructed, so as to be able to meet the greater demand, Gradually the people got used, more and more, to the lager beer and as I established a saloon in my house, I also had guests during the evening. The summer passed favorably, and as I gave up the rented brewery, I built a brewery upon the same lot, towards Washington Street. The lot for the brewery was 40 by 200 feet, and extended to Washington Street. In the Brewery I set up a steam engine, the first one in Buffalo; I also dug a well, as the city had at that time no waterworks. A malt-kiln, too, was erected by me for the purpose of having self-made malt for brewing. During September I started to brew new lager beer in the new brewery, and new barrels were ordered so as to fill the cellars under the house. During the winter, from 1855 to 1856, the first beer for the following summer was brewed. Cash money to arrange everything, to by hops and barley, besides malt. I had none, but my credit was good.

III the Year 1856

During this year occurred the founding of the Republican party; it began the great agitation against slavery in the Southern States. In May I opened the lager beer cellar for the sale of beer, and by doing this I expected a good retail sale in my place, so as to attract also saloonkeepers as regular customers because the beer was excellent. On Sundays I had to give up the upper living rooms and the malt loft to satisfy all, as well as possible, with seats upon beer kegs. My wife and I had plenty to do behind the bar, and working men from the brewery had to wait upon the people. Fortunately, my guests were mostly Germans, who were accustomed to the sale of the lager beer in the place. Different it was With those born Here, who were only used to the common saloons and who, if they wanted to eat a portion of Swiss cheese or ham, did not care to have the bread cut for them, but demanded the whole loaf. Further, nobody wanted to pay at once at the delivery of the beer; it was a continual struggle to get the people accustomed to this. In the afternoon, on Sundays, no seat could be found in the saloon. There were sold up to twenty quarters, a whole ham, and from ten to twelve pounds of Swiss cheese. All of the Republican policy was discussed, and on Monday morning the papers were filled with debates at Ziegele’s. During the summer there arrived for a visit with the small steamer my uncle, by benefactor, and when he saw that we did a good business, he promised to help me in buying the adjoining lot, with a width of forty feet, which I actually later bought….My beer was in great demand in other cities; but what I had in stock was just enough for the Buffalo customers until again cooler weather for brewing set in. At the end of August the beer was sold, but the weather was still warm: of ice-houses and of ice-coolers in the working-tun but little was known, and so the newly-brewed beer was now particularly good. My uncle stayed about six weeks and returned then with the small steamer ‘Herman,’ praised by everybody on account of his sacrificing for me.

IV —Hard Times

During the spring I bought the lot next to my house; but during this year occurred a general stagnation in business. Westerly, in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and other states, business was almost entirely at a standstill; in all these states many banks had been established. With a capital of $50,000 anybody could start a bank and issue as much paper money as he needed. This money was scattered over the entire Eastern States, and nobody knew which ones were good and which bad. I can not remember in which month the great crisis occurred. Many banks bought up the notes, but, in general, they could not be sold, and everybody tried as quick as possible to get rid, at any offer, of the paper money. Canadian money, which was prohibited, was now bought gladly with two per cent premium. Buffalo, too, had a "wild-cat" bank, as they were called at that time. It was the "farmers’ Joint Stock Bank," whose proprietor was compelled to run away after the crises. His house in Main Street, above Chippewa, had to be protected by the police against the fury of the cheated people, who threatened to destroy it. All this naturally brought about want of employment. The Buffalo ‘Turnverein," of which I was a member, and which took in quite a little money through social entertainment’s, especially theater performances, bought at this time a lot with frame house in Ellicott Street near Genesee Street, and built thereupon a theater, shares being taken by the members. This frame house was used as a saloon, and one of the members advanced the money, receiving a mortgage upon the property. The performances were very well attended until the year 1857, when half of the "Turners" were without employment and many left the city to look for work elsewhere. The theater had to be closed, the mortgage was foreclosed, and I bought the hall at sheriff’s sale. In this way I became the proprietor of the "Turnhall," the front building of which, standing today, I had built in the year 1861. Balls were also given in "Turnhall," and in the theater, upon the request of myself and some other "Turners," the first masquerade balls, from 1857 to 1866.

 

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V–Business Expands

During the year 1857 I bought the second lot, of forty feet width, next to the house. This lot extended also to Washington Street. Now, adjoining the first two cellars, two new cellars were dug and vaulted, being the same as the former ones, twenty feet deep. For these cellars, too, new large barrels were ordered, and during the winter of 1857-1858 filled with lager beer. During the winter the cellars remained protected against rain and snow through a board roof, and in the middle of 1857 I contracted for the building of a three story house with large rooms for a veer saloon, which was already finished within with plaster of Paris and otherwise completed during the winter. in the old saloon in the first building a painter by the name of Braeunig associated much with the Germans. He proposed to me to have the walls decorated with oil paintings. I made up my mind to enter into cheap contract with this man, who was without employment. Mr. Breunig was a good and skillful painter; he had plenty of time for the work, and so he decorated the walls with landscapes, which up to this very day may be seen, but, I am sorry to say, most the time are hidden behind the saloon furniture, as the bar, etc. (is the present saloon of Domser, near Virginia Street). Braeunig was a great lover of good eating and drinking, at the same time most generous, and when he had finished his work he received, according to contract, but little money; the largest part had been spent in eating and drinking.

My wife and I enjoyed the best of health, and so we started with the furnishing of the saloon in the new and large place. In the middle of the hall was a large reservoir of water with a fountain. The Kitchen was enlarged and completed through a brick oven. As there was beside the saloon a hall up-stairs, balls and banquets were also accepted. Now a lively time began for us, and my wife, who was known as a good cook, had to work with me all the time. The small saloon in the first house was abandoned and rented to the "Niagara Baseball Club," who used to play upon the open lot between Main, Virginia and North Pearl Streets. But that ceased when, at the beginning of the war, most of the members enlisted.

VI —An Unpleasant Neighbor

During 1860 I had bought the third lot in Main Street, which extended to Virginia Street, and now we started again with digging and building of cellars on the second lot in Main Street. I had to go to law with the neighbor whose place I later bought, as he maintained that–at a certain depth–I had built upon his property, because, at the excavating on the boundary line of my lot, they had struck an old walled-up well, which, in a depth of about twelve feet, as it seemed to be, was underpinned below the mason work with large, round whacking stones. But these were loose and not mured, and the earth around them tumbled down on the side of the neighbor, so that there existed quite a cavity, which, to give to the vaulted cellar the best support, was filled up with these stones on the neighbor’s premises, but without immuring the stones. The unpleasant neighbor sued me and asserted that I had built upon his lot, whereas my contractor and his men took an oath saying that the stones, to be sure, were put into the cavity, but without being cemented, and, therefore, at any time could be taken out. I was condemned to six cents damages, while plaintiff had to pay the costs. For no price was this man willing to sell me this house and lot but I later on bought the property through my friend Spitzmiller.

My horse-stable was erected on Washington Street, upon the first lot which I had bought and was up to this time sufficient; but as now four cellars were filled with lager-beer and the number of customers increased more and more I had to have increased space for more horses. The brewery, too, was gradually getting too small, and as I had more confidence in self-made malt than in bought malt, we had to look for more room for malting. And so I started to increase the brewery towards Washington Street, and built a malt-house upon the second lot on Washington Street. Back of the new saloon building I allowed for an entrance next to malt-house and brewery, which were both connected with the kiln-drying.

The Stable I had to put across the street, and bought therefor the first lot on the eastern side of Washington Street, above the corner house on Burton Alley. Later I bought the whole row of houses up to fifty feet north of Virginia Street, which at that time was not yet deeded to the city, so that I was compelled to buy even the thirty-three feet on Virginia Street from Gibson T. Williams. As later the city took title to the street, it paid me twenty-five cents for these thirty-three feet. Today Virginia Street, east of Main Street, is only thirty-three feet wide, and at various times petitions were submitted to the Common Council for the widening of the street. The first time I protested, as the city had paid me so little for the 33 feet and had burdened me with high taxes for the opening of the street. Later nobody wanted to pay anything, and so Virginia Street remained the narrow street it is today. Then complaints were made that my building at the corner was built 28 inches too far into the street. That was indeed the case, because the surveyors had measured two feet less in the block between Chippewa and Tupper Streets, and so the boundary lines of the lots were from there pushed out so many feet.

VII–Stirring Times

…Most of the young men went to war as volunteers, but many also served as substitutes for others at the price of from $300 to $500. Through this a large amount of money came into circulation, but laborers became scarce; and on account of this scarcity they acted in a most overbearing way. The government needed much money, and new taxes had to be devised. So a tax upon beer was discussed, and for the purpose of avoiding the unpleasantness of a tax upon malt, of finding out the easiest way for the collection of the tax upon beer, and of avoiding the continued presence of government officers in the breweries, the government, upon the advice of the brewers, gave permission to send three prominent elder brewers to Europe, to inquire from the different governments in what way beer was taxed by them. The expenses had to be paid by the brewers themselves. They recommended then a plan by which revenue stamps had to be pasted upon the barrels; this was later approved by the officers and Congress. From beginning this matter of the revenue stamps was loosely conducted by many brewers. But as soon as the revenue officers go information from the books which the brewers had to keep in regard to the sale of beer in small kegs and the purchase of revenue stamps, they found that in the books which had to be submitted at any time to the revenue officers the sale of the beer did not agree with the purchase of the revenue stamps. Now a very strict control was kept as it was found out that many brewers used the old revenue stamps over again and thereby cheated . According to the discretion of the revenue officers notice was sent to various brewers to appear before them with their books, and they then examined the brewers, which examination lasted always a few days. Also the dealers in tobacco and cigars were put under strict control and heavily fined if their books did not agree. Being one of the largest producers of beer, I was also examined, for more than a week, but they could not prove anything wrong I also had a distilling apparatus for the manufacturing of whiskey from the refuse of malt, but the government put a tax of $100 upon the manufacture, which was too much for me, wherefore I had to move the whole apparatus out of the brewery.

"Those were quite stirring times." Here, there was one who put himself at the head of a company of soldiers to be formed; at other places or other houses there were again others; there were also a great number of recruiting bureaus where common soldiers could report for duty or those who enlisted for money as substitutes. This all lasted until the end of the war. There was much beer drunk, but the breweries were still small and the use of ice was not yet known, much less the ice machine. One had to depend on the lager beer cellar, and if the lager beer was exhausted or consumed we had a very bad taste. The prices of the beer was raised, but here we had several of the larger breweries which, in spite of the price of beer elsewhere being from $2 to $4 higher, raised their price only one dollar a barrel. The laborers became very insolent and one could not think of reproving them for not doing their work.

VIII-- The Period After the War

In the year 1865 I learned the brewing of the so-called patentbeer. It was a very good process, but we were instructed by the person who taught us this process to take only a certain amount of malt: so we brewed the lager beer too light and the product was a very pale beer to which the people were not yet accustomed. This was made use of against me by the other brewers; they spread the rumor that I only intended to save money, while my intention had been to improve the beer. Well, the lager beer was good during the whole summer and was only too soon consumed. I was forced to brew again according to the old style.

At the end of August of the year 1866 my wife left for New York with my youngest son William, who was hurt by the explosion of a percussion-cap, a splinter of copper having entered one of his eyes. An unsuccessful operation was performed by a New York physician. I built at tat time on the west side of Washington Street and addition to the malt cellar whereby the old building should have underpinned. The was completed, but the cellar still open towards the street. On the 31st of August we had the finest weather, but during the night a thunderstorm arose, the rain poured down and changed Washington Street into a raging river whose floods overflowed the substruction, and the next morning my entire building was in ruins, For a number of days the weather was so cold that my wife wrote from New York for warm clothes. During this year I sent my two sons in company with my wife to Stuttgart where the boys were to attend school. Drink the summer of 1867 I again went to Europe. The winter from 1866 to 1867 was not very cold, and the lager beer cellars did not cool enough: I therefore looked out that my ice-house was filled (at that time we did not yet have the arrangement to keep the ice above the beer--the cellars were too deep). I had two excellent laborers, and before I started for Europe I set myself for a few days to work with these men to get every morning two wagon loads of ice from the ice-house and put the ice upon the barrels in the cellar, so as to keep at least the temperature in the cellars. Then I told the men to do this every day . But when I had started, the men considered themselves smarter than I and omitted to bring the ice in he cellar, advancing the opinion that the beer would be cooled off too quick by the ice and therefore become poor, and in this way I lost many customers and my good reputation. When I returned there was no money, and I to satisfy the customers who remained with me the best I could.

IX--Ziegele’s Garden

I began now to borrow money and bought a lot on BOAC Avenue now Lafayette Avenue). For the purpose of building cellars, as I was convinced that I had to have still better cellars. These cellars were completed during the winter, but in order to reach the place with a wagon load, I had to have the street covered with stones, from Main Street had to build a sewer under the street; in short, I had to improve the entire street. Upon this spot there stood a dwelling house, and to be able to do all the work I had to but a horse and wagon which were kept only for this place so I was also compelled to build a stable. All this required a large amount of money. However the following summer brought good beer and that restored my good name. This place was also The beginning of the beautiful garden with the greenhouses which I later kept there ad where thousands of people enjoyed themselves. It was considered one of the sights of the town to which the attention of strangers was called by the carriage drivers.

X-- the Year

...From 1870 to 1871 I built a new ice-house, containing also fermenting-house and lager beer cellars; steam kettles and patent cool apparatus, too, were installed, My daughter Bertha married Herman Grau, who later learned the brewer’s trade; I also sent Albert to a brewery in St. Louis and later William to Moerlein’s brewery in Cincinnati. There was no end to building. I had to have more room, and I bought gradually the entire eastern part of Washington Street between Burton Alley and Virginia Street to erect there stables and malt-house, the walls of which were filled pu with slag wood.

XI-- The First Ice Machine

From 1870 to 1880 there was a complete change in the brewing business. One invention followed the other, and by degrees also electricity was applied. The ice house was so arranged that the beer could there ferment as well as lager or be stored. The ice was put by the bulk above, and below was a compartment with fermenting vats; a story below the fermenting cellar were stored the larger barrels. The ice had to keep both rooms cool. But that was Still not enough, and so gradually the ice machine came in vogue. At the World’s Fair held in P Paris in 1867 the first machine was exhibited which produced the ice and the process was also employed with chemicals in small apparatus. It was necessary to lower by means of the ice machine the temperature of the air in the entire building to a temperature of the air in the entire building to a temperature close to the freezing point which was accomplished by having strongly compressed ammonia expand in pipes where it would cool off so much that the pipes were covered with a thick layer of ice. The cold was considerably more intense than could be produced by common ice. It was a difficult problem to keep the lager beer in the barrels cold. Deep cellars warmed up, especially if the winter was not cold. In spite of the ice being in direct contact with the beer or lager, he temperature rose always through the working, the burning of gas, the coming and going, and reached a degree higher than the ice and even sometimes so high that it was injurious to the beer. Several ice machines were patented, but no brewer ventured to defray the large expenses which the purchase of an ice machine caused.

In the year 1877 the architect employed by me proposed that I should took at a small machine in Cleveland. I convinced myself in regard to the advantages of such a method of cooling and ordered one which was large enough for the room in which we drew off the beer. Pipes were laid, through which the ammonia was pumped by a steam-engine, and these by covering themselves with ice kept this room pretty cold. But it was a difficult beginning. We had to make the ammonia strong enough ourselves, because at that time it could not yet be bought in steel cylinders. The values of the machine could not be made gas-tight, so that naturally a great deal of ammonia was wasted. To tighten the valves someone with a sponge in front of mouth and nose had to work continually at the machine so that not all of the gas was lost. My first trial was successful, and from all cities the brewers arrived at Buffalo to look at my ice machine plant. So I was again the first brewer establish this machine. The use of the ice machine brought about a great revolution in the brewing business. During the next year magnificent machines were offered for sale from all sides, even from Germany, and all brewers were compelled to provide for colder beer. The ice machines and the employment of trained chemists for breweries have helped more than anything else that today, no matter what weather prevails, it is possible to brew a uniformly good beer.

Concluding Words

Herewith we close the reminiscences of Mr. Ziegele. His brewery was later on taken over by his sons while he traveled extensively and settled finally in Sacramento, California, where his daughter Bertha resides. Since 1887, the brewery is in the hands of a joint stock company who, after a fire, had erected and entirely new building. Mr. Ziegele, who still considers Buffalo his home, even after he had moved to California, visits here regularly, and since the beginning of last summer he sojourns again in our midst, mentally and physically as vigorous or active as a many of sixty. We hope that he will be still with us for a large number of years.

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