Fire ended long history of Washington Brewery

This building was built for the Washington Brewery sometime between 1870 and 1874 by Jacob Luther and Michael Durrstein, the proprietors. The building was used as a brewery until 1912 when owner Gottlieb Schanz had a fire in the malt room. The building was never used as a brewery again but was used by Illinois Stock Medicine Co. for many years. The structure was torn down in 1992. This photograph was taken by landscape photographer John Sanftleben. | Photo courtesey of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County  
Posted: Oct. 29, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Oct. 29, 2017 12:45 am

Part two of two parts

Washington Brewery was the second in Quincy; it was started by Casper Ruff in 1840.

Ruff and his partner, Theodor Brinckwirth, sold the brewery to Valentine Blank and Gustav Thies in 1852. Brinckwirth moved to St. Louis and purchased the large Lafayette Brewery while Ruff began setting up the Union Brewery at 12th and Adams.

Thies was a recent immigrant from Westphalia, Germany, and Blank came to Quincy from Baden, Germany, in 1848. When Blank died two years later, his widow, Salime, married Thies. In 1857, a fire in the brewery malt room caused $6,000 in damages, but business continued, and in 1859 Henry Grimm became Thies' partner. Grimm and his wife, Rosina, came from Alsace in 1835. Rosina was the sister of Casper Ruff, the brewery's original owner. In 1864, Thies and Grimm sold the brewery to Jacob Luther and his father-in-law, Michael Durrstein.

Durrstein was a stone cutter when he and his wife, Mary, first arrived from Alsace in 1840. They lived in a log cabin at Fifth and Washington and had three children, of which only the first survived to adulthood. This child was named after her mother Mary. Daughter Mary married Luther in 1862 when he was proprietor of the Bluff Brewery.

Durrstein's wife died sometime in the early 1850s, and in 1857, Catherine Ziegler became his second wife. He had seven children with Catherine, of which two sons became involved in the brewery business. Jacob Luther and his brother had previously run the Bluff Brewery before he and his father-in-law, Durrstein, purchased the Washington Brewery.

During the mid-1860s Henry L. Griesedieck was a brewer at their business. He came to Quincy in 1863 with his uncle Frank. Frank was a brewer for the Western Brewery at Seventh and York. Henry worked with his uncle before working for Luther and Durrstein. During the time he lived in Quincy, Henry married Anne Rinneberg, the daughter of a Quincy shoe merchant. They had one son.

Frank Griesedieck went to St. Louis and became a partner in the Lafayette Brewery with Brinckwirth, who was the previous partner of Casper Ruff. Henry, his father and two brothers started the National Brewery, which eventually became the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery. Henry also started a large distillery in St. Louis, as well as a brewery in East St. Louis that would evolve into the Belleville brewery that produced Stag beer. His younger brother, "Papa" Joe, started the Falstaff Brewing Corp. The Griesedieck family would become important in the brewing industry in St. Louis and the country. They began the American brewing legacy in Quincy.

In the 1870s, Luther and Durrstein built the three-story building at Sixth and State to house the growing business. In 1874, they had sales of $48,000, which was the second-largest gross sales in the city. The building remained on the corner until it was torn down in 1992.

Michael Durrstein died in 1877. His widow and their two sons took over his responsibilities in the partnership with Luther. In 1879 Jacob Luther died. The firm continued to do business as Durrstein and Co.

Catherine Durrstein, her two sons, and Mary Luther added a partner, Gottlieb Schanz. He had been brought to Quincy by Mathew Dick to work at his brewery. Another investor, fire chief John Steinbach, purchased an interest in 1880, which he sold a year later.

In 1881, Gottlieb Schanz left Durrstein and Co. to purchase the Harrison Brewery. His position was replaced by Mary's new husband, Christian Bubeck. Bubeck died of heart problems in 1884. At this time, the brewery was mortgaged to a St. Louis firm. Catherine Durrstein was illiterate, sometimes signing her name with an "X." This may have allowed the mortgage company to take advantage of her. Mary Bubeck sued to protect her dower rights after Christian's death, which resulted in a sale of the brewery at auction to Leo Goerres and Jacob Schill in 1885.

Schill was born in Baden, Germany, and came to Quincy in 1874. By 1875 he was a brewer for Ruff. Goerres was married to Louisa, Mary Bubeck's half-sister. The partnership with Goerres lasted two years when Schill left the firm. Goerres continued to operate the brewery on his own until 1891 when he sold out to Gottlieb Schanz. Sanborn insurance maps of 1888 show that under Goerres, yearly capacity was 4,000 barrels. Goerres, upon leaving the Washington Brewery, became the head brewer for Dick Brothers. He worked there until Prohibition.

Gottlieb Schanz was one of the most experienced brewers in Quincy when he took over the Washington Brewery in 1891. He made improvements and changed the name to Schanz Brewery. Schanz was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, where he apprenticed as a brewer. In 1865 he came to America and worked in Pennsylvania, Milwaukee and St. Louis breweries before Mathew Dick brought him to Quincy in 1875 to work in his establishment. Over the years Schanz was a brewer at four Quincy breweries. By the time he bought the Washington Brewery, he was well known in Quincy, having served three terms as alderman and once ran for mayor. In January 1912, Schanz had a fire in the malt house resulting in the closing of the brewery. Insurance was said to cover most of the loss, but attempts by Schanz to reopen failed. In 1914 the American Brewing Co. of Pekin took a lease on the property for a warehouse and distributing agency. In 1919 the brewery building was sold to the Illinois Stock Medicine Co., which operated from it for many years. The brewery started in 1840 by Casper Ruff, which had provided for so many German immigrant families, came to an end.

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



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Trolley tours

The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County will be hosting trolley tours on Saturday, Nov. 4. The 12:30 p.m. tour will cover Quincy breweries. The 4 p.m. tour will highlight Quincy taverns. To reserve a trolley seat, call the Historical Society at 217-222-1835 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. There are only 30 tickets available for each tour.