C. T. Melms, Milwaukee’s First Beer Baron

Charles/Carl Theodore Frederick “C.T.” Melms

Born August 18, 1819 in Prussia

Died February 19, 1869 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

C.T. Melms was born in Prussia and immigrated to the United States in 1843, and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Melms married Maria Neukirch and went into the beer-making business with his new bride’s father, Franz, at the Menomonee Brewery.  They ran brewery together until 1853 when Melms became the sole owner.  By 1860, Melms was the largest beer producer in the Milwaukee and many consider him to be the city’s very first beer baron.

At age 49 Melms had a mishap.  He either sat on or had his hand pierced by a needle.  The wound became infected and on February 19, 1869, Melms died at his home of complications from tetanus.  He was survived by his widow, Maria, and their seven children: Franz, who was the oldest at 19 years old; Carl; Johanna; Elise; Richard; Gustav, and 4-year old Hertha, their youngest.  Within two years, Maria had sold the company her father and husband had built to the Philip Best Brewery Company which eventually became the Pabst Brewery.

Fast forward 194 years to Sunday, August 18, 2013, on the anniversary Melm’s birthday a ceremony was held to replace the tiny cast iron marker that had been placed on C.T. Melm’s grave.   A group of 25 families and organizations donated to have the new marker made and dozens gathered to unveil the new gravestone erected in the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee to honor Melms.  The slant-faced monument is a polished granite gravestone with an etched image of Melms.



AUG. 18, 1819

FEB. 19, 1869


To the right of the new gravestone is a bronze plaque:


1828 – 1899


1855 – 1938


1998 – 1995

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Adolphus Busch, Beer Baron

Adolphus Busch

Born July 10, 1839, Kastel, Grand Duchy of Hesse (now Germany)

Died October 10, 1913, Lindschied, Germany

Certain foods go together like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, or salt and pepper. There are pairs of names like that, too, in the entertainment world like Laurel and Hardy, Rowan and Martin, and Penn and Teller—that don’t seem quite complete without the other.  In the world of beer the pair that came together to create “the King of Beers” was Anheuser and Busch.

Adolphus Busch, a German-born brewer, teamed up with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser to found the Anheuser Busch Brewing Company.  Adolphus was the second child of twenty-two children born to Ulrich and Barbara (Pfeiffer) Busch.  Not expecting to inherit much of his father’s estate, Busch immigrated to the United States and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1857.  Adolphus worked several different jobs.  In 1861, he met and married Lilly Anheuser, Eberhard’s daughter.  When the Civil War broke out—he joined the Union Army and served for six months.  Adolphus went to work in his father-in-law’s brewery business.  In 1879, Adolphus became a partner in the business and the name was changed to Anheuser Busch.

Even though, Busch himself preferred wine to drink over beer, he was keen to produce the best beer possible—adopting the latest technologies, including pasteurization and refrigeration, to not only brew the best but get the best to market.  Busch built a large network of brew houses, ice houses, and bottling factories to build his local brand into a national brand.  Pasteurization allowed Busch to ship beer cross country and keep it fresh.  In 1882, Busch bought the brand name and trademark for Budweiser—the beer that is synonymous with Anheuser Busch.

All the while Busch worked at building his brewery, his family grew.  Adolphus and Lilly had thirteen children—eight sons and five daughters.

While on vacation in his home country of Germany, Adolphus died on October 10, 1913.  His body was returned to St. Louis in 1915 where he was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery.  His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in that city with thousands of people lining the streets to catch a glimpse of his funeral cortege.  Busch’s wife, Lilly, had the family mausoleum torn down and the “inhabitants,” including her parents, reburied in the lot the new mausoleum was to be built.  The building resembling a church was designed by Thomas Barnett from the architectural firm of Barnett, Haynes, and Barnett, widely known for their classical designs.  The Gothic revival-style tomb is constructed with unpolished red granite quarried in Missouri.  The slate roof is topped with a copper spire.  In the cartouche in the arch above the doorway is carved the famous words of Julius Caesar, “”Veni, Vidi, Vici,” or “I came, I saw, I conquered”.

The mausoleum is befitting a beer baron, except for the grapevines decorating the building.  The grapevines are not only a nod to the German wine producing area Adolphus grew up in but also to his favorite drink—wine.

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Frederick Miller, Beer Baron

Frederick Edward John Miller

November 24, 1824, Riedlingen, Wurttemberg, Germany

May 11, 1888, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Many beers have slogans that are memorable—Schlitz with “The beer that made Milwaukee famous!”  Or Budweiser, “the King of Beers.” St. Pauli’s Girl, “You Never Forget Your First Girl!”  Sapporo, “Drink in the world.”  Hamm’s, “The Land of Sky Blue Waters.”

Beer companies were lucky to have ONE slogan that stuck in drinkers’ minds.  But Miller had several.  Who can forget the sound of a can being opened, then hearing the tag line, “It’s Miller Time!”  Or “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.” Or during the introduction of “lite” beers, “Everything you always wanted in a beer.  And less.”  But the one stuck on the label says it all, “The Champagne of Bottled Beers.”

The founder of the Miller Brewing company was a German-born brewer named Friedrich Eduard Johannes Müller —anglicized his name became Frederick Edward John Miller.  Miller was born in Riedlingen, a small city in southwest Germany.  Miller learned the brewing trade from his uncle.  In 1854, Miller moved with his wife, Josephine, and their son, Joseph.  The family moved to Milwaukee and Miller founded his iconic brewing company at the Plank Road Brewery which had been built by Jacob Best.  Miller proved to be a brewer of uncompromising quality which was a hallmark of the beer he brewed.

Only five years after the Miller family settled in Milwaukee, Josephine died.  None of their six children lived to adulthood which haunted him for the rest of his life.  Frederick did remarry.  He and his second wife, Lisette, had several children die in infancy and five children who lived to adulthood—Ernst, Emil, Frederick II, Clara, and Elise.

In 1888, Miller died of cancer.  His sons took over the business.  Frederick Miller is buried in the Calvary Cemetery at Milwaukee.  His gravestone is a tall ornamented light gray granite obelisk that rests on an ornate plinth with three bases.

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Jacob Best, Beer Baron

Jacob Best

May 1, 1786 – Jan. 26, 1861


Eva Maria Schmidt

Apr. 29, 1790 – Sept. 1867



Oct. 20, 1826 – Dec. 29, 1853


Jacob Best Brewing Company Founded


Name Changed to Pabst Brewing Company

Jacob & Eva Best’s Granddaughter Maria Best Married Captain Frederick Pabst

Also Buried Here

Jacob Muth

Eva Best

Philip Schmidt

Eight Infant children

The first gravestone on the beer baron trail that winds through the Forest Home Cemetery at Milwaukee is the Jacob and Eva Maria Best gravestone.  The large black granite polished slab is a monument to the Best Family but also to the Best Brewing Company which is depicted on the face of the stone, along with a portrait of its founder, Jacob Best.

Like some other notable German immigrants to Milwaukee, Jacob Best of Darmstadt, was a brewer.  He settled in the city in 1840.  Best, with his wife and four sons, established his brewery in 1844 which he named the Empire Brewery.  The small brewery produced lager beer, whiskey, and vinegar.  The demand for lager beer, a beer fermented in low temperatures using very particular yeasts, is characterized by its “crisp” and “clean” taste.  His beer was a hit and so was his brewery.  Jacob Best retired from the brewery in 1859 and turned the business over to his son, Philip, who renamed the business after himself.  As the gravestone proudly proclaims, the brewery originally founded by Jacob Best became the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889 when the Best and Pabst families became intertwined through the marriage of Jacob and Eva Maria’s granddaughter Maria to Captain Frederick Pabst.

A bronze plaque at the base of the gravestone lists the names of the donors who helped pay for the erection of monument in the cemetery.  The Best and Pabst families and foundations associated with their families are well represented but also another brewing company of note, the MillerCoors Brewing Company, as well as, the Museum of Beer and Brewing are on the list of donors.

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Joseph Schlitz, Beer Baron

Joseph Schlitz

Born: May 15, 1831

Lost at Sea: May 7, 1875

Joseph Schlitz was born in Mainz, Germany.  He immigrated to the United States in 1850 and settled in Milwaukee.  He was hired on at the Krug Brewery as a bookkeeper by August Krug. Krug died from a fall in 1856.  Two years later, Joseph Schlitz and Krug’s widow, Anna Maria, were married. Schlitz invested his savings in the Krug Brewery and changed the name to the Schlitz Brewing Company.  Schlitz began expanding his business, setting up distribution points around the country made easier by the use of the railway.  The beer was a hit.

Joseph Schlitz was on his way to visit his German homeland, when the ship, the SS Schiller, he was on hit a rock while in thick fog and sank off the coast of Cornwall, England.  He and 340 people on board the ship died—his body was never recovered.  The company did not change hands until Anna Maria Schlitz died in 1887, when her nephews, the Uihlein brothers, acquired full ownership.

Schlitz beer became the number one selling beer in America in 1902 and vied for the title throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century.  The beer became known as the “The beer that made Milwaukee famous!”  The company had an ad campaign that claimed, “When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer.”

A large and elaborate cenotaph honors Joseph Schlitz in the Forest Home Cemetery at Milwaukee.  The large gray granite monument is topped with a statue of a woman looking upwards with one hand reaching toward the sky. The statue is atop several ornamental layers that rests upon a gothic-inspired design with a pointed arch and four columns.  This middle structure is on top of the plinth that has a bas-relief carving of a ship, presumably the SS Schiller.  Above the sculpture is a banner that reads, “LOST MAY 7, 1875” memorializing the date the ship sank.

His widow, Anna Maria Hartig Krug Schlitz and many family members are buried in the large family plot surrounding the cenotaph.

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August Krug, Brewer

August Krug


April 15, 1815


Dec. 30, 1856

There are so many beer barons, beer masters, and brewers buried in the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, a city made famous by its name brand beers, that the cemetery has a map, titled The Story of Beer, to guide visitors to the various historic monuments, mausoleums, and gravestones on the beer trail.

Many people have quenched their thirst to some of the name brand beers of the beer barons who brewed beers that have become household names—Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz.  But one of the little known brewers on the guide map is August Krug.  He, like many of brewers, was a German immigrant.  Krug was born in Bavaria, the son of a brew master, and immigrated to the United States in 1848 to open a small restaurant/saloon in Milwaukee.  He added a small brewery—what we would call a microbrewery today.  Output was small, but the beer he brewed had a following.   In 1850, Krug had a windfall when his father came to visit bringing with him Krug’s nephew, August Uihlein, and eight hundred dollars which he invested in the fledgling brewery.  With his father’s investment, Krug was able to hire more staff, including Joseph Schlitz who he hired on as a bookkeeper.

The legacy of note left by Krug was the underground cellar he built to keep his beer at a constant and cool temperature.  Krug tunneled into the side of a hill to create what is credited as the city’s first underground “cooler.”

Krug’s tenure was short tenure—only seven years. In 1856, Krug had a bad fall and died a couple days after.  Within two years, Krug’s widow, Anna Maria, was remarried to Joseph Schlitz, no longer the bookkeeper.  Soon the name of the brewery was renamed and the Schlitz Brewing Company was founded.

August Krug is buried at the Forest Home Cemetery at Milwaukee.  His marker is a simple light brown unpolished limestone column with a matching cap and plinth, and a light gray granite base—no adornment, no epitaph, no family members buried near him.

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Frederick Pabst, Beer Baron

Frederick Pabst

March 28, 1836 – January 1, 1904

Frederick Pabst was born in the small Saxon village in what was then the Kingdom of Prussia.  When he was twelve, he immigrated to the United States with his father and mother, Gottlieb and Johanna Pabst.  While working at odd jobs in restaurants to make ends meet his mother died in a cholera epidemic in Chicago.  Pabst eventually took a job on a steamer on Lake Michigan.  He earned his pilot’s license and while serving as captain on a steamer met Philip Best, the owner of a small and successful Milwaukee brewery.  Pabst and Philip Best’s daughter, Maria, were married in 1862.  By 1864, Pabst had joined his father-in-law in the brewery, learning everything he could about the business.  Through savvy business and marketing skills, the Best Brewery was brewing 100,000 barrels of beer annually, up from the production of 5,000 barrels a year when his father-in-law retired nine years earlier.  The company went public to raise the money necessary to modernize the brewing process and facilities.  Pabst became president of the corporation in 1873.

By the time the Best Brewery had its name changed to the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889, Pabst was producing over a million barrels of beer annually, the first to do so, and was the largest brewing company in the world.  The beer being produced was also recognized as pretty tasty winning ribbons and gold medals.  As a marketing ploy, the company had blue ribbons hand tied to each bottle of beer to designate its “select” beer even before it actually won a blue ribbon at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  When customers started referring to and asking for the “blue ribbon beer” the name stuck and the company made it official.

By the time of his death in 1904, Frederick Pabst was a successful Milwaukee businessman and civic leader.  He was survived his widow, Maria, and five adult children.  Pabst was laid to rest in the Forest Home Cemetery at Milwaukee.

The Pabst Monument is an example of Victorian design and craftsmanship carved of white marble.  The central features is a woman in a draped and flowing gown, her head bowed in grief.  Often these sepulchral figures are referred to as weepers, representing mourning and sorrow.  Since ancient times, women have been the ones in our families and in our society who showed grief and shed tears over those lost to death. They stand over the graves and weep.

According to, Victorian Cemetery Art by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1972, “The large amounts of space in the Victorian cemetery were to revolutionize cemetery art, and permit the use of sculpture in a way that the crowded churchyard had never allowed.”  Now there was room in the garden cemeteries of the nineteenth century for lavish monuments. Gillon goes on to write, “Sepulchral sculpture, with its prone effigies and kneeling weepers, had flowered in the past, but only for the rich and powerful.”

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