Oscar C. Koehler (1857-1902)

Oscar C. Koehler was the pivot point in a large family of brewers who, over the course of two generations, built up successful businesses in a portion of the Midwest that extended from St. Louis, Missouri, to Davenport, Iowa. In the St. Louis and Davenport metropolitan areas, the Koehlers achieved great social prestige and influence, both within the German-American community and in society as a whole. Their elite status and their ability to leverage capital eventually helped the Koehlers attain even greater business success.

Updated: November 14, 2013

Introduction

Oscar C. Koehler (born December 25, 1857 in Fort Madison, IA; died August 16, 1902 in St. Louis, MO) was the pivot point in a large family of brewers who, over the course of two generations, built up successful businesses in a portion of the Midwest that extended from St. Louis, Missouri, to Davenport, Iowa. Oscar Koehler’s father, Heinrich (later Henry) Koehler, and three of his uncles – Casper Koehler, Ignatz Huber, and Rudolph Lange – represented the first generation of family brewers. All four had emigrated from the German lands as young men, and at least two – Heinrich Koehler and Huber – arrived in the United States with specialized knowledge of the brewing industry. In time, Oscar Koehler and his younger brothers Henry, Jr., and Hugo built upon the foundations laid by their father and uncles and achieved new levels of business success.

By the end of the U.S. Civil War, the Koehler family name was well known within the St. Louis metropolitan area, where Henry and Casper Koehler operated the profitable Excelsior Brewery. Approximately ten years later, Henry Koehler moved upriver to Davenport, Iowa, where he purchased a brewery with his brother-in-law Rudolph Lange. In the St. Louis and Davenport metropolitan areas, the Koehlers achieved great social prestige and influence, both within the German-American community and in society as a whole. Their elite status and their ability to leverage capital eventually helped the Koehlers attain even greater business success.

Family and Ethnic Background: Henry Koehler and the First Generation

Oscar’s father Heinrich Koehler (1828-1909) was part of the first wave of successful nineteenth-century German-American entrepreneurs in the cities of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. He came from Satzbach, Hesse, where, according to one source, his family members were landed proprietors.[1] In 1843, after completing his public school education, fifteen-year-old Heinrich was apprenticed to a master brewer in the famous “Zum Wolf” brewery in Mainz.[2] In 1846, he became a brewmaster there. He remained in that position for three years before sailing on the S.S. Jane E. Williams from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York City, where he landed on November 9, 1849.[3] Upon arrival, he already had enough capital to investigate brewery opportunities in Lyons (near Syracuse) in upstate New York; he continued his job search by moving westward to cities with larger German populations, such as Cincinnati, Louisville, and finally St. Louis.[4]

By the time Heinrich Koehler arrived in St. Louis, the old French river town was well on its way to becoming a modern commercial hub. The city’s commercial growth had been accompanied by a demographic boom: by 1850, St. Louis had 77,860 residents, nearly 24,000 of whom were German.[5] With Germans accounting for approximately one-third of the population, St. Louis boasted numerous German newspapers, social clubs, and musical groups. Churches catered to the growing German population, and city directories listed hundreds of German-owned businesses. The presence, or even omnipresence, of Germans and German culture in St. Louis surely eased Koehler’s transition into American social life. Moreover, the influx of Germans into St. Louis had given the local brewing industry a boost in the 1840s, making it easier for Koehler, as a trained brewer, to find work. Shortly after his arrival, he found a job at a brewery owned by fellow German immigrant Adam J. Lemp,[6] who, in or around 1840, had become the first St. Louisan to brew lager beer [Lagerbier], a light beer that was still relatively unknown in America but loved by newcomers from the German lands.[7] Heinrich Koehler’s training in Mainz and his familiarity with the Bavarian yeast basis for lager beer left him well prepared for employment at the Lemp brewery, where he was eventually promoted to foreman. 

Koehler remained with Lemp for two years. By 1851, he had saved up enough money to start his own brewery, and he moved approximately 224 miles upriver to Fort Madison, Iowa, a small town of about 1,509 inhabitants. Fort Madison was advantageous insofar as it promised lower operating expenses and excellent steamboat connections for purchasing supplies. There, Heinrich Koehler, who now went by Henry, purchased a small but established brewery from August Trenschel and proceeded to introduce lager beer to Fort Madison and the surrounding areas of Lee County.[8]

The following year, Henry welcomed the arrival of his younger sister Catherine (1832-1917).[9] In 1854, she married the Bavarian-born brewer Ignatz Huber (1826-1910), who was himself a fairly recent immigrant. In many respects, Huber’s biography mirrored Henry Koehler’s: Huber had trained as a brewer in Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1849, and immediately found work in breweries in Midwestern cities with a preponderance of German-Americans (e.g. Columbus and Cincinnati). In 1851, he moved to yet another German population center, Rock Island, Illinois, which was located directly across the Mississippi River from Davenport, Iowa. Again, he quickly found work in a brewery. After working there for a month, he purchased an interest in the brewery, and by the time he married Catherine Koehler in 1854, he was the sole owner of the concern.[10] After their marriage, Catherine joined Ignatz in Rock Island. Over the years, the Hubers and their children became influential members of the community.

Henry Koehler’s activities during his early Fort Madison years are difficult to reconstruct. An entry from the 1856 Iowa State Census has him living in a boarding house that was presumably owned by Maria Seifert, a forty-year-old widow who appears to have been a fairly recent immigrant from the German lands. He listed his profession as “brewer” and indicated that he was a naturalized voter and a member of the militia.[11] The following year, Henry followed his sister’s lead and married a German compatriot. On February 3, 1857, he married Ottilie Schlapp (1834-1908), who had emigrated with her parents, George E. (c. 1811-1891) and Eliza Schlapp, during the Revolution of 1848.[12] The two were wed on George Schlapp’s farm in Pleasant Grove, Iowa.[13] Like Henry, Ottilie seems to have come from Hesse.[14] She came from a learned family, for back at home, Ottilie’s father had been a university professor of pedagogy.[15] Henry and Ottilie Koehler went on to have seven surviving children: Oscar (1857-1902), Ida (1859-1943), Herman (1861-1899), Henry, Jr. (1863-1912), Hugo (1868-1939), Paula (1872-1957), and Max (1875-1929).

At some point in the mid-to-late 1850s, Henry’s younger brother Casper (1835-1910) immigrated to the United States. According to a family chronicle penned by Casper Koehler’s great-grandson Charles F. Limberg, Casper arrived in New Jersey in 1858 and reached St. Louis in early 1859.[16] The 1856 Iowa State Census, however, shows a “Kasper Koehler” living in the same Fort Madison house as Henry. His age is listed as twenty-two, which would have been approximately correct.[17] Thus, there is some evidence that Casper may have emigrated slightly earlier and spent time in Fort Madison before moving to St. Louis. Additionally, a biographical entry on Casper Koehler in The Book of St. Louisans states that he spent time working in his brother’s brewery.[18] In the end, the narrative is unclear. What can be established, however, is that Casper had moved to St. Louis by 1859, for he was listed in Kennedy’s 1860 St. Louis City Directory as the owner of Koehler & Co., a brewery on the east side of Seventh St. and Lane. The brewery, which Casper had purchased from C. Hoelzle, was known both as Koehler & Co. and by its original name, the Excelsior Brewery.[19]   

Casper Koehler became a naturalized U.S. citizen in September of 1860.[20] Before immigrating to the United States, Casper had spent a year in the Hessian army, and in April 1861, he responded to Abraham Lincoln’s call for 60,000 volunteers by joining the 3rd Missouri Militia as a 1st Lieutenant in Company H. He served from May 7, 1861, until August 20, 1861.[21] Upon his discharge, Casper returned to the brewery business and began enjoying his first successes. In or around 1863, Henry Koehler leased his own brewery to his father-in-law[22] and moved to St. Louis to join his brother. Henry secured a stake in Casper’s brewery[23] and, together, the two brothers aimed to increase beer production in order to sell more to the thirsty Federal troops who were stationed in and around the city.

The 1860s were a time of prosperity and growth for St. Louis, which, with its more than 300,000 residents, had become the fifth largest city in the nation.[24] On the South Side of the expanding city, German immigrants lived in small neighborhoods where they enjoyed their lager beer and beer gardens, dances, and Continental Sundays with family picnics.[25] The city’s large German population offered Henry and Casper Koehler a readymade customer base, and their establishment, now known as either the Excelsior Brewery or as H. Koehler & Bro., flourished. But if the brewery was doing well, the brothers’ relationship was not – the 1860s marked the start of conflicts between the two that would last for the next forty years.

By 1866, it seemed that the only solution was for Casper to move back to Europe for a time to study new brewery techniques. On February 18, 1867, Casper Koehler submitted a handwritten request for a U.S. passport. The request was authorized by a notary public in St. Louis.[26] Presumably, he left shortly after receiving his passport. During Casper’s absence, Henry seems to have taken on two new temporary business partners: first Philip Hehner and then Jacob Hiemenz.[27] When Casper returned to St. Louis in 1871, the two brothers divided up the profits from the brewery. To avoid further sibling conflicts, Henry moved his family upriver to Davenport, Iowa. [28] Casper remained in St. Louis, where he operated the profitable Excelsior Brewery as sole owner until 1890.

Davenport, Iowa, the new home of the Henry Koehler family, is part of a larger urban area that was once known as the Tri-Cities.[29] As the name suggests, the region consisted of three cites –Davenport, Rock Island, Illinois (where Henry’s brother-in-law Ignatz Huber ran his brewery), and neighboring Moline, Illinois. From 1860 to 1880, the population of the Tri-Cities more than doubled, going from 18,425 to 41,290.[30] The economy grew alongside the population, with factories creating more and more industrial jobs. The lumber industry, whose gigantic log rafts floated down the river all day, was another robust source of local jobs, and this fueled continued migration, primarily from the German Empire.[31]

In 1872, a year after moving to Davenport, Henry bought a brewery with his brother-in-law Rudolph Lange (1821-1897), who was the husband of Ottilie (Schlapp) Koehler’s younger sister Caroline. Like Henry, Lange had spent time living in Fort Madison, Iowa, where he had run a grocery store until the late 1860s. Similarly, he had also spent a few years in St. Louis before moving to Davenport in 1870.[32] The two entered the local beer industry by purchasing the Arsenal Brewery from Friedrich Knepper and his partner, George Schlapp, who also happened to be their father-in-law. The brewery, which had been founded in the early 1860s by a German immigrant named Scheily, had already changed ownership several times during its decade-long existence: it was first run by Scheily, then by Scheily and Knepper. Starting in 1867, it was operated by Knepper and Schlapp, and after 1872 by Koehler and Lange.[33] From that point on, the brewery was known both as the Arsenal Brewery, its original name, and as Koehler and Lange. The Koehler and Lange families lived on the same block as the brewery for the next decade, which was typical in the nineteenth century.

As a business location, Davenport had many advantages for a German-American brewer: first, heavy migration from Germany guaranteed a large customer base with a taste for lager beer; and second, like St. Louis, Davenport offered river caves where this beer could be inexpensively stored. Moreover, by 1872 a railroad trestle extension had been completed, and it went right by Koehler and Lange’s brewery. This made it considerably cheaper for them to transport kegs of beer to regional distributors.

While their location conferred significant advantages, Koehler and Lange still faced obstacles, not least the rise of the prohibition movement, which, in the coming decades, would make business increasingly difficult for brewers, not just in Davenport but throughout the nation. According to a Koehler family history, Henry Koehler had already had his first brush with temperance advocates back in Fort Madison in the 1850s. As the story goes, at one point during his first years in business, Henry had to sell his beer himself from the end of his delivery wagons because all of the local saloon keepers were in jail.[34]

During the U.S. Civil War, tensions between German-American brewers and temperance advocates subsided a bit, as the two groups found common cause in their support for Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party and the Union’s struggle against the Confederacy. Once the war was over, however, members of the temperance movement refocused their attention on the evils of alcohol and supported the passage of various prohibition amendments. By 1869, the movement had gained enough strength and momentum on a national level to found the Prohibition Party.

The following year, the Arsenal Brewery, then under the ownership of Knepper & Schlapp, was sabotaged by “one or more villains” who entered their beer vaults, drilled holes in the caskets and vats, and let the entire stock of beer spill out onto the floor. The combined loss stood at 1,180 barrels of beer valued at $10,000 (approximately $172,000 in 2010).[35] The crime was reported in an article in TheDaily Davenport Democrat on February 26, 1870. According to the article, it was not the first time that Knepper & Schlapp had been vandalized: a couple of months earlier, the two had discovered that someone had entered their premises and dropped pieces of soap into their beer barrels. In his Koehler family history, Charles Limberg suggested that prohibition activists were behind both crimes.[36] The newspaper, however, ventured no guess as to the identity of the “villainous scoundrels” who made such “malicious waste of people’s property.” Likewise, Knepper & Schlapp apparently had “not the least idea” as to who had committed these acts.       

In 1878, six years after Koehler and Lange purchased their brewery, members of the temperance movement began securing support for an absolute, state-wide ban on all liquor production in Iowa. (By that time, the Iowa legislature had already enacted a local law, but supervisors in Scott County and its environs ignored it.[37]) Within Davenport, the Blue Ribbon News, a local temperance newspaper, supported a state-wide ban, whereas the city’s German-language press was vehemently opposed to it.[38] On June 27, 1882, a Prohibition Amendment to the Iowa State Constitution passed by a 56% majority. The following year, in a famous Iowa Supreme Court ruling, the amendment was declared invalid after Henry Koehler and Rudolph Lange brought a case against John Hill, a saloon keeper who owed them $100 (approximately $2,250 in 2010). Koehler and Lange sued for payment before the Scott County District Court. Hill argued in his defense that he could not be lawfully compelled to pay for beer sold in violation of the constitution.[39] In the context of the trial, Koehler and Lange also raised the larger issue of the constitutionality of the amendment, arguing that it had not been passed and ratified in the manner stipulated by the Iowa Constitution.[40] Judge Walter I. Hayes of the Scott County District Court ruled in favor of Koehler and Lange, rejected an appeal on the part of Hill, and ultimately declared the amendment invalid on January 18, 1883 (Koehler and Lange vs. Hill, 60 Iowa 543).

In 1884, Eastern Iowa saloon owners were aided by the passage of the Mulct Law, which allowed brewers to continue selling alcoholic beverages in exchange for the payment of a fine of $600 ($13,800 in 2010). That same year, Koehler and Lange introduced a new product called Mumm, a non-alcoholic beverage. In their advertising, they claimed that the name came from the German word Mumme. The choice of name was a pun geared toward German-speaking Iowans. While the word was most commonly understood as the name for strong Brunswick beer, it also had a second meaning: a disguise or a mask. In other words, the drink was hiding its true nature. The beer became a hit within the Tri-Cities area, and Koehler praised his product in the local press, explaining that it was “thoroughly non-intoxicating” and contained, in place of the usual alcohol percentage, “different ingredients of a most excellent nature.” He continued: “With a pleasant pungency of flavor, and the quality of satisfying natural thirst, it is perfectly pure and thus become[s], from a sanitary view, especially commendable.”[41]

By introducing a non-alcoholic beverage as early as the 1880s, Koehler and Lange established themselves as industry forerunners. Anheuser-Busch first introduced its “near beer,” Bevo, in 1908, and two other leading St. Louis brewing families, the Griesediecks and Lemps, introduced their non-alcoholic beers, Hek and Cerva (respectively), only after the passage of the Prohibition Act in 1919. While their early introduction of Mumm set them apart from other local – and even national – brewers, Koehler and Lange also sold products and engaged in practices that were typical for the industry. By the late 1880s, Koehler and Lange, like many of their competitors, manufactured malt liquor (an admixture of malt, oatmeal, and ground beans), which they sold selectively to a network of local druggists for “medicinal purposes.”

Through a combination of innovation and conservatism, Koehler and Lange’s Arsenal Brewery achieved financial success and earned the patronage and respect of the Davenport community. Over the years, the business was known for being “carefully conducted along systematic lines,” and its founders were praised for their enterprise and diligence.[42] The brewery was run by Koehler and Lange until 1894, at which point it was taken over by Henry Koehler’s son Oscar.     

Oscar Koehler and the Second Generation

When Henry Koehler moved his family from St. Louis to Davenport in 1871, his oldest child, Oscar Koehler, was thirteen years old. According to some sources, Oscar spent the next four years studying in Davenport public schools.[43] In July 1875, Oscar, then seventeen, applied for a passport to travel to Germany to advance his education. His application was witnessed and signed by his uncle Rudolph Lange.[44] The fact that Oscar pursued further education in Germany strongly suggests that German was spoken in the Koehler home when he was growing up.

Upon arriving in Germany, Oscar enrolled in the Academy of Brewing in Worms and then entered the University of Leipzig, where he remained for four years and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry.[45] He returned to the United States with a highly specialized knowledge of chemistry that made him ideally suited for work in the brewing industry. After a brief stint at his father’s brewery in Davenport, Oscar moved to St. Louis, where he served as secretary of the Henry Koehler Brewing Association, a business established by his father in 1880 on the former site of the Excelsior Brewery (2814 South Seventh St., or Seventh between Lynch and Lane). Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1881 lists Oscar C. Koehler as secretary of the Henry Koehler Brewing Association. Henry is listed as president, but his address is given as Davenport. Casper Koehler is listed several lines above Henry as president of the Excelsior Brewery, whose address is given as 1804 Market Street.[46] The following year, Oscar was joined in St. Louis by his younger brother Henry Koehler, Jr., who is listed in the 1882 city directory as the bookkeeper of the family brewing association.[47] The 1883 city directory makes no mention of the association, which, according to One Hundred Years of Brewing (1903), was sold to the St. Louis Brewing Association.[48]

As the Henry Koehler Brewing Association was winding down, the Koehlers were busy setting up a successor business on the very same site. According to one contemporary source, John E. Land’s St. Louis: Her Trade, Commerce, and Industries, 1882-83, the Koehlers’ next venture, the Sect Wine Company, had already been established “in its preparatory status in 1881” by Henry and Oscar Koehler, together with one Dr. J.W. Scholer, the former manager of the American Wine Company.[49] The “purpose and determination” of the men, as Land remarked, was “to deal in nothing but strictly pure wines, recognizing that he who appreciates a fair article will willingly pay a fair price to obtain it.” Land noted that the company had started off with a stock of about $135,000 (approximately $3.34 million in 2010), which would be put on the market when it was “fully ripe and mature.”[50] According to another contemporary observer, J.W. Leonard, the Koehlers’ ripening, fermentation, and production process required three to four years – which explains why the Sect Wine Company was first listed in the St. Louis city directory only in 1884.[51] The directory from that year identified Henry Koehler as the president of the company, but listed him as residing in Davenport. Thus, it is likely that he functioned mostly as a figurehead and that the real, day-to-day operations of the company were overseen by Oscar, who served as superintendent, and Henry, Jr., who served as secretary.

J.W. Leonard’sThe Industries of St. Louis (1887) is another rare source of information about the Koehlers’ enterprise. Leonard, who dated the founding of the company to 1880, stressed the size of the Koehlers’ facility, which apparently boasted two stories of cellars at 40,000 square feet each. According to Leonard, the company employed thirty men on site, as well as a staff of travelling salesmen. In addition to the size of the plant, Leonard emphasized the quality of the products manufactured there. Production of “Koehler’s Sect,” the company’s “widely and favorably known” brand of champagne, was overseen by several experienced winemakers from Rheims, France, who carefully monitored the champagne during its three-to-four-year production process. “Koehler’s Sect,” as Leonard explained, enjoyed “an enviable reputation” and could be found “on the wine lists of all first-class hotels, restaurants and saloons in the land.”[52] Additionally, the Koehlers’ still wines were described as “celebrated for their great purity, and general excellence,” which Leonard attributed to the brothers’ decision to press all of their grapes at their own press houses in St. Louis.[53]  

Oscar and Henry Koehler, Jr., remained in the wine business until 1890. In 1887, they were joined by their younger brother, Hugo, who had originally moved to the city to attend St. Louis Medical College. The Koehlers’ foray into the wine business, and particularly their association with Koehler’s Sect, helped them cultivate an elite image within the city’s business community – one that they would eventually capitalize on in their brewing ventures.

The Koehler brothers’ marriages and social activities further reinforced their elite status within St. Louis society. On August 15, 1886, Oscar married Matilda Lange, who was a member of one of the oldest and most prominent families in St. Louis.”[54] Her father, William Lange, was president of the National Bank in St. Louis,[55] and her mother, Matilda Follenius Lange, was the daughter of Paul Follenius (or Follen) (1799-1844), one of the co-founders (with Friedrich Muench) of the Giessen Emigration Society, an early settlement group in Warren County, Missouri.[56] Paul Follenius’ brother (and Matilda Lange Koehler’s great-uncle) Charles Follenius (or Follen) was the first professor of German language and literature at Harvard University. Over time, Matilda and Oscar Koehler had six children: Hugo (1886-1941), Elise (1888-unknown), Herbert (1890-1945), Ottilie (1894-1975), Ida (1901-unknown), and Hildegaard (1901-unknown). In 1888, two years after his marriage to Matilda, Oscar joined the Germania Club, an exclusive club open only to St. Louis residents who had graduated from German universities. Oscar was one of only sixty-one members.[57] 

Like his older brother Oscar, Henry Kohler, Jr., entered into a marriage that boosted his public standing. On September 6, 1897, he married the former actress Margaret Craven in a glamorous society wedding.[58] A notice regarding the couple’s intentions – “Margaret Craven to be Married” – was published in the New York Times on June 6, 1897. A week before the wedding, another brief note – “Margaret to Marry” – ran in the Los Angeles Herald. The notice described Henry Koehler, Jr., as “35 years old and a millionaire.” Margaret Craven was referred to as a “professional actress” who was “noted for her beauty.”[59] After the marriage, Margaret remained popular and excelled in amateur dramatics in St. Louis. Henry and Margaret Koehler had one child, a daughter named Dorothy May.

One venture that aided Henry, Oscar, and Hugo Koehler in the amassing of their millions was the American Brewing Company, which the three of them organized in January 1890. According to an 1896 article in the St. Louis Republic, the company was incorporated that year with $300,000 ($7.42 million in 2010) in capital.[60] One contemporary source, George Washington Orear’s Commercial and Architectural St. Louis (1891), explained that the stock of the company was owned exclusively by the citizens of St. Louis.[61] Orear’s entry on the American Brewing Company, which included a detailed, full-page illustration of the plant, described the business as “the latest addition to our already vast brewing industry” and as a “local concern of such importance that it is deemed worthy of special notice.”[62] Orear did not include the address of the plant, but Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1891 listed it as 2814 to 2824 South Seventh St., which would have been the former site of the Sect Wine Company and other Koehler family businesses.[63]

In Orear’s estimation, the company’s plant, designed by architect E.C. Janssen, was a “model of architectural consideration and the acme of perfection in detail.” On the inside, it was outfitted with “the very best modern apparatus known to the art of brewing,” including the largest copper brew kettles ever made. These had been supplied by the Seibel-Suesdorf Manufacturing Company, a St. Louis firm under German-American ownership. The building of the Koehler brothers’ plant must have provided a boon to local German-American businesses: the stone base of the building was constructed by Geisel & Co., the remaining brick portions were built by Fr. Wm. Koenig & Sons, and all the “fine machinery” in the brew house was supplied by the Febler Machine Works.[64]

Constructing such a spacious and sophisticated production plant would have been exceedingly costly, and the Koehlers’ ability to raise the necessary capital speaks to the reputation they enjoyed within the city’s business community. Here again, the elite patina they had developed as winemakers and their personal and social ties contributed to their standing. Interestingly, in their work as brewers, the brothers aimed at the same upper-class consumers they had targeted during their winemaking days, for, as Orear notes, it was the brothers’ intention “to produce beers of the highest class only, and to obtain patronage by furnishing only such an article.”[65] By focusing on a higher-end market, the Koehlers attempted to carve out a niche for themselves in a city that was already crowded with brewers who competed against each other for control of a much broader market for beer sales to the German-American community and the non-German public.

After starting operations, the brewery manufactured three brands of beer: “American Standard,” “A.B.C. Muenchener” (thick mash), and “A.B.C. Bohemian” (a sparkling pale).[66] In 1890, it also started producing a bock beer (a dark beer), called A.B.C. bock. Before long, the Koehlers’ beer, particularly their A.B.C. Bohemian was available through wholesale distributors (typically German-Americans) in locations as far away as Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Birmingham, Alabama. For example, the local wholesale distributors Lowenthal & Myers took out the following advertisement for A.B.C. Bohemian on the front page of the Albuquerque Morning Democrat (July 12, 1894): “Of a beautiful amber color with a pungent hop of flavor the St. Louis A.B.C. Bohemian bottled beer brewed by the American Brewing company is healthy and bracing. Lowenthal & Meyers, wholesale distributors.” On September 9, 1894, the wholesale distributors Meyer-Marx Company took out their own advertisement for A.B.C. Bohemian in the Birmingham Age-Herald: “The St. Louis A.B.C. Bohemian Beer is the beer to drink if you wish to be healthy. It is made from the best hops and barely and nothing else. The American Brewing company are the makers and challenge the competition. Meyer-Marx company, wholesale distributors.” The advertising copy stressed the health benefits of the beer, a common theme in contemporary beer marketing, particularly to more upscale consumers.

In 1894, Oscar Koehler left both the American Brewing Company and St. Louis, and moved back to Davenport, where he took over his father’s interest in the Koehler & Lange brewery. The change was prompted by the elder Koehler’s decision to retire and take an extended trip to Europe, where he planned to stay for as long as two years.[67] The Davenport Daily Leader, which reported on the succession, greeted the arrival – or rather return – of Oscar Koehler with great enthusiasm. “The young man,” the paper explained, “is a graduate of the best schools and is a practical expert in every branch of the business, therefore in every way competent to succeed his father in the business.”[68] “For some years,” the paper continued, “Oscar has been connected with some of the larger brewing concerns in St. Louis, where he gained valuable experience.”

After taking his father’s place at Koehler & Lange, Oscar Koehler began planning a major consolidation of eastern Iowa beer production. Here, Koehler’s goal must be viewed within the context of a larger movement toward corporate consolidation that began in the late nineteenth-century. At first, trusts and syndicates were organized to control basic commodities such as sugar. Within a short period of time, trusts for beer and other manufactured goods were being formed as well. Soon after Oscar’s departure from St. Louis, the cities’ breweries began organizing themselves into competing syndicates, initiating what was known in the press as the beer war.

When placed within the context of the 1890s beer industry, Koehler’s consolidation plans were in no way unique. This does not mean, however, that they were unambitious. Fortunately, Koehler possessed several advantages: first, Davenport beer production was not controlled by a single interest; secondly, he was already known in Davenport and his successes in St. Louis were also viewed with respect. Lastly, despite his name recognition and strong Davenport ties, he benefitted from being perceived as something of an outsider. At the time, most Davenport beer production was controlled by German immigrants from Schleswig-Holstein, and Koehler, whose roots lay in Hesse, had not been involved in decades of infighting among Davenport’s Norddeutschen (North Germans).

Oscar Koehler’s consolidation plans materialized in October 1894, when Koehler & Lange (also known as the Arsenal Brewery) merged with the City Brewery (Mathias Frahm), the Eagle Brewery (Mengel & Klindt), the Lehrkind Brewery (Julius Lehrkind), and the Black Hawk Breweries (A. Zoller & Bros.) into a single firm, the Davenport Malting Company, of which he became president.[69] The remaining offices were filled by George Mengel (vice-president), George Klindt (secretary and treasurer), and Hermann Wulf (manager).[70]  

According to the Western Brewer, which reported on the merger, the consolidation allowed the breweries to put their product on the market at a price that would bar outside competition.[71] In 1895, the Davenport Malting Company built an entirely new brewery with modern equipment and expansive storage facilities on the site of the former Lehrkind Brewery on West Second Street.[72] The company manufactured Davenport Malt Standard (keg beer), Muenchener (both keg and bottled), and Pale Export (bottled). Brisk sales of Pale Export and the Muenchener beers allowed for the addition of a state-of-the-art ice plant in 1896. An article in the Davenport Daily Leader (February 13, 1896) reported on the construction of the ice plant and stressed the success of the company thus far, emphasizing its national reputation and praising the farsighted managerial skills of both Koehler and Mengel.[73] In the spring of 1897, the company expanded its facilities once again, adding a new racking room, wash house, and hop storage area.”[74] By 1898 sales were so strong that the company “increased its capital stock from $50,000 to $150,000 ($1.36 million to $4.07 million in 2010) which … [resulted in a] new malt house.”[75]

In 1899, the company managers took out a one-quarter-page advertisement in the Davenport Daily Republican (April 23, 1899) in order to boast of their successes: according to their own figures, sales of Pale Export alone reached 1,000,000 bottles in 1898.[76] By the turn of the century, the Davenport Malting Company was also receiving lavish praise from individuals outside the company, mainly from the local press, for whom the brewery was a source of community pride. In 1900, for example, the Davenport Times ran an article on the company under the lead “Davenport beer, wherever known is liked. No better beer is made anywhere than in old German Davenport.”[77] According to the article, the Davenport Malting Company was the second largest in the state of Iowa; it was also described as “the most complete in this city and well worthy of a visit of inspection.” At the time, the company apparently employed sixty men, and had fifteen distribution agencies scattered throughout the state. The plant had a capacity of 100,000 barrels, and in 1899 it reportedly sold over 50,000 barrels.[78]

The success of the Davenport Malting Company was largely attributed to Oscar Koehler, who, particularly after his early and untimely death, was described by the local press in almost hagiographical tones. Unfortunately, Koehler would not live to see his business flourish in the twentieth century: he died of Bright’s disease (kidney disease) on August 16, 1902, in St. Louis. He was only forty-four at the time. The first sentence of his obituary in the Davenport Times referred to the “universal expression of sympathy” that could be heard throughout the city in response to the news.[79] Another city newspaper, the Davenport Daily Republican, praised him as “an energetic and up-to-date business man, who took a large view of affairs, and was devoted to the development of his native city.”[80] 

Koehler was buried on August 19, 1902. Though private, his funeral was well attended and reported on in the local press.[81] His will was filed for probate three days later. According to the Davenport Daily Republican (August 22, 1902), it had been witnessed by Dr. Gustav Hoepfner and Dr. Karl Vollmer. Hoepfner, a first generation German-American (1834-1905) and a close friend of Henry Koehler, Sr., was a prominent allopathic doctor; Vollmer, also a physician, was Oscar Koehler’s son-in-law (the husband of his daughter Ottilie). Under the terms of the will, the Koehler homestead at Twelfth and Brady Streets was to be given to Matilda Koehler; the remainder of the estate was to be held in trust by the executors, who were to invest the money and pay the interest to Matilda, on a semi-annual basis, for the rest of her life, or as long as she remained unmarried. In the event of her remarriage, she was to be given one-third of the estate outright, and the remaining two-thirds was to be divided equally among the children when they came of age.[82]     

After Koehler’s death, manager Hermann Wulf took over the presidency of the shareholder-owned Davenport Malting Company. In 1903, the company’s board of directors included George Mengel, Wulf, and George Klindt, as well as the following Koehler family members: Henry Koehler, Hugo Koehler, Adolph Priester (Oscar’s son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Ida), and Emil Lange.[83] In the subsequent decade, the Davenport Malting Company weathered various setbacks, such as fires and labor strikes, but none was insurmountable. The real threat came from the steady rise of the prohibition movement, both within Iowa and nationwide. In 1915, the local press mentioned the possibility of the Davenport Malting Company moving across the river to Rock Island, Illinois, to avoid the effects of state-wide prohibition in Iowa, which was scheduled to take effect in 1916.[84] In the end, however, the institution of prohibition in 1916 saw the closure of the company entirely.   

The Koehlers: Personalities, Social Status, Community

By the 1890s, Henry Koehler, Sr., and his children had achieved high social status in the two metropolitan areas in which they lived, Davenport and St. Louis. The comings and goings of Henry, Sr., and his sons Oscar, Henry, Jr., Hugo, and Max were regularly reported on in Davenport’s local press. A note in the Davenport Daily Leader from February 10, 1896, for instance, mentioned that Henry Koehler, Jr., who was then residing in St. Louis, had paid a visit to Davenport with his friend and competitor Edward Anheuser of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company.[85] On December 26, 1899, the “City Briefs” column of the same newspaper reported that Oscar Koehler had celebrated his forty-second birthday on Christmas Day, that one “Hugo A. Koehler of St. Louis” was spending the holidays with friends and relatives in the city, and that “Mr. and Mrs. Max Koehler and their child” were spending the holidays with Mr. and Mrs. Koehler, Sr.[86] The Koehlers’ European vacations appear to have been a subject of public interest, and the local press reported on the various excursions of Henry, Sr.[87] 

In 1895, Henry commissioned the well-known Davenport architect Friedrich Clausen to build a Victorian mansion in the city’s “Gold Coast” neighborhood, which was home to many prominent German-American families. For the Koehlers, Clausen constructed a stunning Queen Anne Victorian mansion overlooking the bluffs of the Mississippi River.[88] Koehler’s lavish home was the site of many festive gatherings filled with friends, conversation, wine, and cigars. Within town, Henry became known as a wine collector, and an invitation to his house was highly prized. According P.J. Capelotti, the biographer of Henry’s grandson (and Oscar’s son) Hugo William Koehler, Henry Koehler liked to organize wine-tasting dinners for his friends, who enjoyed tasting and identifying the vintage and origin of the various wines served.[89]

Henry and his family were members of Davenport’s prestigious Outing Club, which included a minority contingent of German-American families. The club, which was founded in the early 1890s, was a gathering place for the city’s social elite. It was there that they hosted their parties, played tennis, bowled, and presided over the formal acceptance of their daughters into Davenport social life. Henry and his wife Ottilie celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at the club on February 3, 1907. Among the forty-five friends and family members in attendance that night was Henry’s brother Casper, whose presence was considered somewhat remarkable as the two had had a “hell of a fight” some years back. Apparently, the celebration marked the advent of peace between the two brothers.[90]

By the time of the Koehler’s fiftieth anniversary, Ottilie Koehler was in poor health; she died a year later, on March 20, 1908. On February 3, 1909, eighty-year-old Henry Koehler died suddenly at home. According to an obituary in the Western Brewer, he was apparently “in the best of health up to the moment of his death.”[91] In addition to other gifts and designations, his will provided for a $1,000 bequest ($24,700 in 2010) for the construction of a trolley car station in Davenport’s Schuetzen Park.[92] His brother Casper passed away a year later at age seventy-five. He died while dining at a fashionable Berlin café on July 7, 1910.[93]

As the leader of the second generation of Koehlers, Oscar Koehler was active and well liked within the Davenport community. Among other affiliations, he was a leading member of the Davenport Turner society, a gymnastics and physical education club. In 1898, he was elected president or toastmaster of the society, which boasted 500 members, almost all of whom were German-American.[94] Turner societies [Turnvereine or Turngemeinden] had their roots in mid-nineteenth-century Germany and were exported to America by German immigrants. The Turner movement was particularly strong in the Midwest, with its high percentage of German-Americans. In addition to opportunities for sports and recreation, Turner societies offered cultural and educational programs to their members, and they often played a significant political and social role within Midwestern communities. The prominence of the Davenport Turner society, for example, was evidenced by the scale and grandeur of its former headquarters, known as Turner Hall. Built in 1888 by Friedrich Clausen (the same architect who designed Henry Koehler’s home), the imposing neo-Romanesque structure was torn down in 1959.

Within Davenport society, Oscar Koehler was perhaps best known as the president of the 1898 Saengerfest, which drew upwards of 3,000 German-American singing club members to Davenport for a gala festival in the summer of 1898.[95] Club members from Chicago, Milwaukee, and throughout the Midwest converged on Davenport for concerts, festivities, and general merriment. Among other guests, the event drew music critics from the country’s leading German-language newspapers.[96] Interestingly, in his opening address at the Saengerfest, Koehler sounded a patriotic note – but not on behalf of the country of his ancestry, whose culture so dominated the event. Rather, he spoke out on behalf of the country of his birth. According to the Davenport Daily Leader, Koehler explained that “if the almost impossible should occur and Germany be arrayed against the United States in warfare,” then “the German-Americans would rally around the stars and stripes.”[97] Koehler’s statement, the paper continued, “voiced the sentiments of all his fellow-countrymen, whose love and devotion to the land of their adoption has been amply proven on the battlefields of this great republic.” 

While Oscar Koehler had strong ties to Germany, where he lived and studied as a young man, and to the German community in the U.S., he was clearly devoted to the American half of his German-American identity. In this regard, he was a typical second generation German immigrant. Within his family, he mediated between the first generation of Koehlers, who had grown up in the German lands, and the third generation, whose ties to Germany and the German-American communities in St. Louis and Davenport had begun to fade by the 1920s. By that time, the Koehlers were regarded less as German-Americans than as Americans of German descent.      

Conclusion

In his History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa, Harry Downer begins his biography of Oscar Koehler with the following words: “The building of cities begins with the work of a few men who lay the foundations, but the superstructure comes as a result of the marked expertise and business ability of those who recognize in the complexity of interests the opportunity for the establishment and successful control of large undertakings.”[98] He continues, “It was because of his powers in this direction that Oscar C. Koehler became one of the conspicuous figures in the business life of Davenport and in the brewery interest in the middle west.”

While Downer’s biography of Koehler is excessively adulatory in nature – as are all of the biographies in his compendium – his assessment of his business strengths is not incorrect. It was the first generation of Koehlers (Oscar’s father Henry Koehler, and his uncles Casper Koehler, Ignatz Huber, and Rudolph Lange) who laid the foundations for the family’s involvement in the brewery industry in St. Louis and metropolitan Davenport. When Oscar first got his start in the industry, he relied on many of the strategies that had helped his relatives succeed: for example, partnering with family members or other German-American brewers, building up a customer base within the German-American community, and taking a generally restrained and conservative approach to business matters. What helped set him apart from the first generation, however, was his tenacity in pursuing opportunities for consolidation, not merely as a partner in the process, but rather as the leader thereof. By spearheading the merger of Davenport’s independent breweries into the Davenport Malting Company, Koehler assumed a leading position among the city’s brewers. As president of the company from its founding in 1894 until his death in 1902, Koehler oversaw a dynamic growth period during which the company increased its capital stock, expanded its facilities, increased its production capacity, and made a name for itself both within the community and throughout the Midwest.

Notes

[1] The information on their place of birth comes from various passport applications filed by Henry Koehler, as well as federal census records. See, for example, Henry Koehler’s passport application from August 20, 1894. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1905, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll: 429; accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], on September 10, 2013. Likewise, an obituary for Henry Koehler also lists “Obersatzbach” as his place of birth. See “Henry Koehler, Sr., Deceased,” The Western Brewer: and Journal of the Barley, Malt, and Hop Trades, vol. 35 (February 1909): 83. The information on his family background comes from Walter B. Stevens, St. Louis, The History of the Fourth City, 1764-1909, vol. 2 (Chicago, IL, and St. Louis, MO: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), 1079.     

[2] “Henry Koehler, Sr., Deceased,” 83.

[3] Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1850-1897, edited by Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filby (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1994), Series II, vol. 7, 336.

[4] Charles F. Limberg, “Life with the Koehler Family on the Mississippi (From Davenport to Memphis).”  Privately printed, 1979, 1.

[5] Robyn Burnett and Ken Leubbering, German Settlement in Missouri: New Land, Old Ways (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1996), 22.

[6] Limberg, “Life with the Koehler Family on the Mississippi,” 1.

[7] Ronald Jan Plavchan, A History of Anheuser-Busch, 1852-1933 (Ph.D. dissertation: Saint Louis University, 1969), 6-8.

[8] The History of Lee County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns, etc. (Chicago, IL: Western Historical Company, 1897), 615.

[9] According to one source, Catherine Koehler had immigrated to the United States with their parents. See Augustana College, Collection on the Huber Family, 1897-1986. Last accessed on September 3, 2013. Corroborating sources have not been found.

[10] Historic Rock Island County. History of the Settlement of Rock Island County from the Earliest Known Period to the Present Time (Rock Island, IL: Kramer & Company, 1908), 42.

[11] See 1856 Iowa State Census, Residence county: Lee, Locality: Madison, Roll: IA_58, Line: 35, Family number: 96, accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], on September 24, 2013.   

[12] The names of Ottilie’s parents are listed in the 1856 Iowa State Census. See the 1856 Iowa State Census, Residence county: Des Moines, Locality: Pleasant Grove, Roll: IA_53, Line: 24, Family number: 72; accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], on September 10, 2013. 

[13] Entry on the Henry and Ottilie Koehler home in “‘Homes for the Holiday’: The Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District Association Home Tour” (December 2006), 8. Last accessed on September 5, 2013.

[14] The 1880 U.S. Federal Census lists “Hess.” (short for Hesse) as the birthplace of Ottilie’s parents; thus, it is likely that she was born and grew up there. See 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Davenport, Scott, Iowa; Roll: 364; Family History Film: 1254364; Page: 657C; Enumeration District: 279; Image: 0194; accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], September 10, 2013. 

[15] Stevens, St. Louis, The History of the Fourth City, 1764-1909, vol. 2, 1079.

[16] Limberg, “Life with the Koehler Family on the Mississippi,” 11.

[17] See 1856 Iowa State Census, Residence county: Lee, Locality: Madison, Roll: IA_58, Line: 35, Family number: 96; accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], on September 24, 2013.   

[18] The Book of St. Louisans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of St. Louis, edited by John W. Leonard (St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Republic, 1906), 334.

[19] The German Element in St. Louis, a translation from German of Ernst D. Kargau’s St. Louis in Former Years: A Commemorative History of the German Element (1893), edited by Don Heinrich Tolzmann, translated by William G. Bek (Reprint: Baltimore, MD: Clearfield Company, 2001), 146.

[20] Naturalization Records, 1816-1955, St. Louis City Circuit Court-Criminal Court-CCCC, 1839-1896, Series: Second and Minors Papers, Sub Series: Naturalization Cards, County: St. Louis City, Reel Number: C 25807, Volume: 03, Page: 400, available through Missouri Digital Heritage, last accessed on September 24, 2013.

[21] National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, accessed on March 2, 2012; and Soldiers’ Records: War of 1812-World War I, Record Group: Office of Adjutant General, Series Title: Record of Service Card, Civil War, 1861-1865, Box: 48, Reel: s00869, available through Missouri Digital Heritage, last accessed on September 24, 2013.

[22] The History of Lee County, Iowa, 615.

[23] In the 1864 St. Louis City Directory, the brewery is listed as C. Koehler & Co. Although Henry Koehler appeared in the directory and was affiliated with C. Koehler & Co., his residence was still listed as Fort Madison, Iowa. The brewery was also listed as Excelsior Brewery (p. 337). In the 1865 St. Louis City Directory, the brewery was listed both as H. Koehler & Bro. and Excelsior Brewery. Henry Koehler was still listed as a resident of Fort Madison, Iowa (p. 447). 

[24] Plavchan, A History of Anheuser-Busch, 1852-1933, 31.

[25] Ibid., 44.

[26] U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1905, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; NARA Series: M1372; Roll: 0145; Volume: 310; Date Range Year Begin: 1867; accessed through fold.3. [database on-line], on September 10, 2013.

[27] The St. Louis city directories for 1869 and 1870 show him in business with Philip Hehner, and the 1871 city directory lists his partner as Jacob Hiemenz

[28] William Roba, The River and the Prairie: A History of the Quad-Cities, 1812-1960 (Quad-Cities:  Hesperian Press, 1986), 75.

[29] This name was used until the 1950s. The Tri-Cities are now part of a larger area known as the Quad-Cities.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Harry E. Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa. Illustrated. Volume II (Chicago, IL: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910), 102, 105.

[33] See the 1977 historic preservation report entitled “A Community Preservation & Revitalization Study for the Village of East Davenport,” (West Chester, PA.: John Milner Associates, 1977); see also History of the brewing industry and brewing science in America, prepared as part of a memorial to the pioneers of American brewing science, Dr. John E. Siebel and Anton Schwarz, begun by the late John P. Arnold, completed by Frank Penman (Chicago, IL: n.p., 1933), 218, and Root’s Davenport City Directory for 1867, by O.E. Root (Davenport, IA: Luse & Griggs, 1866), 8.    

[34] Limberg, 2.

[35] “Outrageous. Knepper & Schlapp’s Beer Vaults Entered and 1180 Barrels of Beer Destroyed,” Daily Davenport Democrat, February 26, 1870. The current and subsequent figures citing 2010 dollar values relative to the original money amount have been calculated in terms of the annual Consumer Price Index for the United States, via MeasuringWorth, accessed on September 25, 2013.

[36] Limberg, “Life with the Koehler Family on the Mississippi,” 2.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Marlys A. Svendsen, Davenport: A Pictorial History (St. Louis, MO: G. Bradley Pub., 1987), 42.

[39] Dan Elbert Clark, “The History of Liquor Legislation in Iowa, 1878-1908,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 6, no. 4 (January 1908): 55-87.

[41] The Davenport Democrat, July 2, 1884.

[42] Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa, vol. II, 105.

[43] See, for instance, Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa, vol. II, 724, and various obituaries, including “Oscar C. Koehler Dies in St. Louis,” Davenport Democrat, August 17, 1902, 6. The author of this article, however, looked through Davenport public school records for the relevant period and could not find any evidence of Koehler’s enrollment.

[44] U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1905, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; NARA Series: M1372; Roll: 0209; Applicant surname: Koehler; accessed through fold.3. [database on-line], on September 10, 2013.

[45] One Hundred Years of Brewing: A Complete History of the Progress Made in the Art, Science and Industry of Brewing in the World, Particularly During the Nineteenth Century (Chicago, IL: H.S. Rich & Company, 1903), 518.

[46] Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1881 (St. Louis, MO: David B. Gould, 1881), 635.

[47] Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1882 (St. Louis, MO: David B. Gould, 1882), 654.

[48] One Hundred Years of Brewing, 518.

[49] John E. Land, St. Louis: Her Trade, Commerce, and Industries, 1882-83 (St. Louis, MO: John E. Land, 1882), 212.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1884 (St. Louis, MO: David B. Gould, 1884), 631.

[52] J.W. Leonard, The industries of Saint Louis. Her relations as a center of trade, manufacturing establishments and business houses (St. Louis, MO: J.M. Elstner & Co., 1887), 179.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa, vol. II, 725. 

[55] Ibid., and 1880 United States Federal Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Saint Louis, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Roll: 735; Family History Film: 1254735; Page: 183B; Enumeration District: 406; Image: 0189, accessed through Ancestry.com [database on-line], on September 24, 2013.

[56] Dolf Schroeder, “Follenius, Paul (1799-1844),” Dictionary of Missouri Biography (Columbia, MO:  University of Missouri Press, 1999), 310-11.

[57] St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 13, 1880.

[58] The Book of St. Louisans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of St. Louis, edited by Leonard, 334.

[59] “Margaret to Marry,” Los Angeles Herald, vol. 26, no. 336, September 1, 1897, 1.

[60] St. Louis Republic, January 1, 1896, p. 8.

[61] George Washington Orear, Commercial and Architectural St. Louis (St. Louis, MO: D. Jones & Co., 1891), 131.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Gould’s St. Louis Directory for 1891 (St. Louis, MO: David B. Gould, 1891), 1562.

[64] Ibid, 132; on the role of German-American brewers in the local German-American economy, see Eoghan P. Miller, “St. Louis’s German Brewing Industry: Its Rise and Fall” (M.A. thesis: University of Missouri, 2008), 152.  

[65] Orear, Commercial and Architectural St. Louis, 132.

[66] St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 22, 1891.

[67] “Retires from Business. Henry Koehler Retires from Active Business,” Davenport Daily Leader, September 3, 1894, 5.

[68] Ibid.

[69] One Hundred Years of Brewing, 518; “Davenport Malting Company,” Davenport Times, November 24, 1900.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin, “Brewing in the Quad Cities; Part 3: Brewing in Davenport after Prohibition,” The Breweriana Collector (Spring 2008): 20.

[72] “Davenport Malting Company,” Davenport Times, November 24, 1900.

[73] “New Ice Plant,” Davenport Daily Leader, February 13, 1896.

[74] Kious and Roussin, “Brewing in the Quad Cities; Part 3: Brewing in Davenport after Prohibition,” 21

[75] Ibid.

[76] Davenport Malting Company advertisement, Davenport Daily Republican, April 23, 1899, p. 11.  

[77] “Davenport Malting Company,” Davenport Times, November 24, 1900.

[78] Ibid.

[79] “Oscar Koehler Dies,” Davenport Times, August 16, 1902, 6.

[80] “Oscar Koehler Dead,” Davenport Daily Republican, August 17, 1902, 6.

[81] “The Funeral of Oscar Koehler Held Yesterday,” Davenport Daily Republican, August 20, 1902, 7.

[82] “Will of Oscar Koehler is Filed for Probate,” Davenport Daily Republican, August 22, 1902, 5.

[83] “Davenport Malting Company Stockholders,” Davenport Daily Republican, January 9, 1903, 8.

[84] “Breweries to Move,” Renwick Times (Renwick, Iowa), April 1, 1915.

[85] Davenport Daily Leader, February 10, 1896, 5.

[86] Davenport Daily Leader, December 26, 1999, 6.

[87] See, for instance, “Henry Koehler and Party Start for Home Sept. 8,” Davenport Daily Leader, August 26, 1901.

[88] Entry on the Henry and Ottilie Koehler home in “‘Homes for the Holiday’: The Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District Association Home Tour,” 9.

[89] P.J. Capelotti, Our Man in the Crimea: Commander Hugo Koehler and the Russian Civil War (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991), 3.

[90] St. Louis Globe, July 8, 1910.

[90] “The Davenport Saengerfest of 1898,” Musical Iowana, 1838–1938 (Des Moines, IA: Iowa Federation of Music Clubs): 19.

[91] “Henry Koehler, Sr., Deceased,” 83.

[92] Alma Gaul, “Historic Trolley Station Gets New Roof,” Quad-City Times, November 25, 2011, last accessed on October 2, 2013.

[93] St. Louis Globe, July 8, 1910.

[94] “‘Gut Heil! Gut Heil!,’ Davenport’s Five Hundred Have a Grand Celebration,” Davenport Daily Leader, May 20, 1898, 2.

[95] “Correspondence – Davenport,” The Musical Critic (Chicago), volume 1, August 1898, no. 10, 12. 

[96] “The Davenport Saengerfest of 1898,” 20.

[97] Davenport Daily Leader, July 29, 1898.

[98] Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa, vol. II, 724. 

 

Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Oscar C. Koehler." (2018) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved February 21, 2018, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=73

Chicago Style

Roba, William. "Oscar C. Koehler." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified November 14, 2013. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=73

MLA Style

"Oscar C. Koehler," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2018, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 21 Feb 2018 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=73>

Portrait of Oscar C. Koehler, n.d.

  • The Turnhalle and Opera House, Davenport, Iowa, ca. 1890
  • Sect Wine Company, St. Louis, Missouri, ca. 1887
  • The American Brewing Company, St. Louis, Missouri, ca. 1891
  • Portrait of Henry Koehler, Sr., n.d.

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