Once Upon a Time

Eber Brothers Brewery thrived, died, then revived

The Eber Brewery at Sixth and Chestnut streets was built along a ravine that was filled in by the city in 1880. | Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County
Posted: Jun. 25, 2017 12:01 am

A group of glass-plate negatives taken by landscape photographer John Sanftleben were given to the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County a few years ago. Among the photos were a few images of Quincy breweries from the 1870s. One of the photos was an early photograph of the Eber Brothers Brewery located at Sixth and Chestnut streets. The photo shows Sixth Street with a large deep ravine in the lower margin of the image. Chestnut Street is on the right, and only the rear top view of the buildings that face Chestnut is visible from the upper portion of the photo.

The brewery was started sometime during or before 1868 by four Bavarian immigrants who came to Quincy at the height of the German transmigration. Brothers Henry, Rudolph and William Eber settled in Quincy in 1856. They were soon joined by a fourth partner, Leonard Hoerring. Leonard arrived in Quincy about 1860. In 1861 he married the daughter of brewer William Gasser, who worked for Anton Delabar, an early Quincy brewery owner. Hoerring remained with the business until 1870 when he sold his interest back to the brothers. He soon ran a saloon and grocery on Oak Street.

The three brothers continued the business, and in 1874 the brewery reported an output of 2,000 barrels valued of $20,000. The Herald in 1876 reported a yearly output of 1,583 barrels. By 1880 the brothers admitted another partner to the firm as a probable influx of both capital and business expertise. Jacob Hiemenz came from St. Louis where he had been both partner and superintendent of the Excelsior Brewery as well as president of the brewery's bottling subsidiary. The Excelsior Brewery had a large bottling division that contributed to an output of 16,000 barrels in 1877.

In 1879 and 1880 the company built several buildings to replace most of the structures in this photo with a more modern complex. The replacement buildings included a new malting house on Sixth Street. On Cherry Street, the company erected a large stable next to a new building for the bottling department. At the rear or northeast side of the lot an immense ice house was built. Beneath the buildings several cellars were excavated, running from Chestnut on the south end of the brewery as far north as Cherry Street. The city filled in the ravine along Sixth street in 1880 at a cost of $847. These new facilities more than doubled the capacity of the brewery and gave it the ability to bottle beer for home use.

The debt from the modernization eventually caused the brewery to go into receivership in August 1884. Seven months later the largest creditor Ed Levy purchased the brewery for $12,042 at a court sale using his delinquent note for payment. In May 1886, he sold the property to Gottieb Schanz for $17,000. In August, Schanz formed the Schanz-Wahl brewing company with Frederic Wahl. Work began putting the brewery back in shape and after being shut down for more than two years, the first run of product was made Jan. 4, 1887. In 1888 the Sanborn insurance maps listed the output at 12,000 barrels per year.

Gottlieb Schanz was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, in 1845. When he was 17 he became a brewers apprentice, and in 1865 he came to America where he worked in Pennsylvania and Milwaukee before coming to St. Louis in 1870. While in St. Louis he worked for the Excelsior and Cherokee breweries, and in 1874 he became a foreman at the Samuel Wainwright Brewery.

In 1875, Schanz was brought to Quincy to be a head brewer by Mathew Dick at his brewery. Three years later he became partners with Jacob Luther in the Washington Brewery located at Sixth and State streets. He was there for two years when he left to take over the Harrison Brewery on Ninth Street from the firm Yeck and Becker. Schanz ran the Harrison Brewery for five years when the Chestnut location became available in the spring of 1886.

In 1855, Frederic Wahl also began his brewing career in Wurttemberg. He came to St. Louis to pursue his trade in 1858, and in 1879 he was made manager of Joseph Schnaider's Chouteau Avenue Brewery. In St. Louis, Wahl gained a reputation as being an expert in the manufacturing of lager beer, and the Schnaider brewery produced 25,000 barrels a year. In the new Quincy company, Wahl was to use his brewing expertise to run the company as president, and Schanz was to take on financial matters as treasurer.

In December 1891, a lawsuit between the partners was entered in circuit court. Schanz had purchased back the Washington Brewery in December 1890 and was attempting to sell his shares of stock to William Govert, a local lawyer and capitalist. The outcome of the litigation saw Wahl purchasing the Schanz stock and becoming the sole owner of the corporation. Schanz then continued his profession at the Washington Brewery at Sixth and State for many years. Wahl resumed operations at the Chestnut Street brewery, and the Sanborn insurance map of 1898 listed the annual output at 18,000 barrels. He worked in the business until Oct. 7, 1906, when the brewery that the Eber brothers started 38 years earlier closed for good.

The Chestnut Street facility sat unused for 10 years until the Kalo Stock Remedy Co. turned it in to a stock-food factory in 1916. Today the only building that is left from the brewery complex is used by Stroot Heating and Air Conditioning. The Eber brothers Rudolph and William turned their efforts to a successful catalog seed business that lasted into the 1940s. The lawsuit between the two friends from Wurttemberg did not interfere with their friendship. Frederic Wahl died in 1910, and Gottlieb Schanz was one of his pallbearers.

Dave Dulaney is a local historian and a member of several history-related organizations. He is a speaker, author and a collector of memorabilia pertaining to local history, steamboats and breweries.


"$20,000 The Brewery Case Settled." Quincy Daily Journal, Dec. 22, 1891, p. 7.

 "Beer." Quincy Daily Herald, Dec. 30, 1876, p. 5.

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 Reprinted: Quincy, Illinois, 2013. Published by the Great River Genealogical Society.

 "Brewing Industry Has Flourished In Quincy Since 1839 But Has Been Made A Thing of the Past By War," Quincy Daily Whig, Dec. 15, 1918, p. 14.

 Cray, Marcia Kuhlman. undated, Breweries of Quincy, Illinois: 834-1950. Self-published, Quincy, Ill.

 Edward's Saint Louis City Directory, 1870, p. 249.

 Edward's Saint Louis City Directory, 1872, p. 245.

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"Eighty-two Years of Brewing in Quincy." Quincy Daily Herald, July 14, 1919, p. 6.

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"Made an Assignment." Quincy Daily Journal, Aug. 29, 1884, p. 4.

"Manufactures." Quincy Daily Whig, Jan. 7, 1875, p. 1.

 Quincy Daily Herald, Dec. 17, 1910, p. 12.

 Quincy Daily Herald, June 4, 1907, p. 8.

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 "The Eber Brewery." Quincy Daily Whig, May 16, 1886, p. 3.

Brewery trolley tour

The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County is sponsoring a trolley tour of early Quincy breweries on Saturday, July 1. The tour begins at the History Museum. Tickets may be purchased by calling the society at 217-222-1835. The tour includes stories about the breweries and free tastings with stops at the sites of Quincy Brewery, Bluff Brewery, Eber Brewery, Washington Brewery, Ruff Brewery and Dick Bros. Brewery.

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