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.

C. T. HELMS

LAGER BREWER

AUG. 18, 1819

FEB. 19, 1869

EARLY MILWAUKEE BEER BARON

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

MARIA MELMS

1828 – 1899

JOHANNA STRESAU

1855 – 1938

ROSALIE KOMMRUSCH

1998 – 1995

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