Photos from the Vault / Presenting Our Past

Happy Birthday Frederick Pabst!

Captain Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst

Captain Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst

If he were alive today, Captain Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst, founder of Pabst Brewing Company, would be celebrating his 177th birthday. Born in the village of Nikolausrieth, then in the Province of Saxony, in the Kingdom of Prussia, Frederick Pabst would grow up to leave an indelible mark on the City of Milwaukee.

Long after his death in 1903, Pabst’s contemporary and writer for the Milwaukee Journal Bill Hooker wrote a short in memoriam column about the Milwaukee brewing magnate. Here’s what he had to say:

“Helped to Build Early Milwaukee

“Remeber Capt. Fred Pabst?

“If you do you are a fairly old time Milwaukeean; and if you did know him you knew a man everyone else knew when you met him on the avenue, whether afoot on in hi carriage drawn always by a spanking team of bays, or in his two-seater drawn by a horse with a good gait and that had a record pretty well up toward anything owned by Hawley Cole, or any other driver of horseflesh in Milwaukee.

“The captain was a mighty popular man, and I can see him now as he appeared at his big brewery in 1889 when the Grand Army of the Republic had its national encampment here, personally welcoming hundreds of strangers to the brewery and seeing to it that his employes [sic] gave them freely many samples of the best brew they had in the cellers [sic].

“Wonderful Lunch.

“Also, no one in Milwaukee ever saw a bigger or better free lunch than the captain’s crew served at that time, and believe it or not, that’s saying something, for in the old days Milwaukee free lunches were famous all over America.

“How well I remember when Captain Pabst decided to invade the city of New York with his brew, and how he made the money fly for advertising in the newspapers and on every dead wall he could lease at no matter what price. He chose a live wire newspaper reporter to handle the press work while this campaign was going on, and that man was the late Curtis M. Treat, who perhaps did not miss visiting a single one of the saloons in New Yor [sic], and these included great beer gardens where there were hundred of people sipping beer.

“Captured Sales Lead.

“It was Treat’s custom to mount a table or chair and invite the “house” to have a couple of mugs of Pabst, adding that “the drinks are on Captain Pabst.”

“I have seen some big rolls of money in the hands of men, but ti took both of Treat’s hands to handle what he had with him in those days – all supplied by the captain. The result was that more Pabst beer was sold in New York than all the New York brewers disposed of on Manhattan island.”

About Fred Pabst


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