When people hear the name Leinenkugel, most would think of the beer or maybe even Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. As the owner of Colette’s Tavern says, “Some people get hysterical when they find out I have it. The beer’s got some kind of charm.” (Brewer’s Digest). Most, however, do not think of the rich and interesting history that has gone into the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Most of this history comes from its origins and how over five generations, the business has kept within the Leinenkugel family. To properly tell the history of this family, we must start at the beginning with Jacob Mathias Leinenkugel himself. Jacob Leinenkugel was born May 22nd, 1842 in Prussia to Matthias and Maria Leinenkugel (1860 Federal Census). Jacob and his entire family arrived in New York on August 2nd, 1845. They had taken a ship, the American, from Amsterdam to New York, New York. Jacob Leinenkugel was three at the time of this trip (Arrival in New York, 1845). The Leinenkugel family settled in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin and stayed there to raise their children (1860 Federal Census). In 1865, Jacob Leinenkugel married Josephine Imhoff in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Two years later, Jacob, Josephine and their son, Mathias, all moved to Chippewa Falls when Jacob started the Spring Brewery, now known as the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company (Chippewa Falls Main Street, pg. 76).
The brewery was constructed in 1867 on property along the Duncan Creek which Jacob had purchased from Hiram Allen (Chippewa Falls Main Street, pg. 10). Jacob Leinenkugel established the Spring Brewery with John Miller (Chippewa Falls Wisconsin). In their first year alone, they “…delivered 400 barrels…with a small cart pulled by a horse named Kate.” (Bottom’s Up). Originally, the Brewery only had two teams of horses, which meant they could deliver kegs of beer up to ten miles outside of Chippewa Falls. “During the early years, Jacob Leinenkugel drove the wagon himself.” (Chippewa Falls Main Street). The Spring Brewery was named as such because it was built near the Big Eddy Springs in Chippewa Falls. These springs “…poured nonacidic, nonalkaline water that the brewery uses without treatment to this day.” (Breweries of Wisconsin). The Spring Brewery soon became the Jacob Leinenkugel Spring Brewery Company when John Miller sold his share in 1883 (Bottom’s Up).
It is said that “Jacob Leinenkugel…was more than a brewer of Leinenkugel’s beer. Described as a noble, magnanimous man and a generous contributor to Notre Dame Church, he served two years as mayor.” (Chippewa Falls Wisconsin). Indeed, Jacob Leinenkugel was more than just a brewer. He also had a rich family life. He had five children with his first wife, Josephine. The oldest, Mathias “Matt” Jacob was born in 1866. Their oldest daughter, Rose, was born in 1867. Their next oldest son, William, was born in 1870. Susan, the second oldest daughter, was born nine months later in 1870 (1870 Federal Census). And finally, they had one child who was born in 1873 but sadly passed away as an infant (Infant Leinenkugel). Josephine Leinenkugel passed away in 1890, at the age of 44 (Chippewa Falls Main Street). A few years later, Jacob Leinenkugel re-married in 1892. He married Anna Wilson and had two children. Della, the oldest, was born in 1894 and Edward was born in 1896 (1905 State Census).
In further blogs, I will touch on each of his children and their families. Unfortunately, William from Jacob Leinenkugel’s first marriage did not live very long. He passed away suddenly on January 22nd, 1897. The Chippewa Herald reported that he “…died at noon today of consumption after suffering about two years with this disease.” William had worked at the brewery with his father and the rest of his family. The paper states how he was “…a hard and faithful worker and a valuable assistant to his father who depended largely on his son’s good judgment on matters pertaining to the…business.” (Chippewa Herald).
Jacob Leinenkugel passed away on July 21st, 1899. Before his death, he contributed many things to Chippewa Falls, other than the Brewery. One of these accomplishments was erecting and owning the first creamery in the county. He was also able to serve as mayor three separate times in Chippewa Falls, in 1873, 1884, and 1891. All of these accomplishments paint a picture of a man who was “…a thoughtful, patriotic citizen, ever devoted to the welfare of the city and anxious in every way with his reach to promote the happiness and welfare of his fellow men.” (Daily Independent).
“BD Revisits the Jacob Leinenkugel Co.” The Brewer’s Digest Feb. 1978: 14-37. Web.
Year: 1860; Census Place: Prairie du Sac, Sauk, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1429; Page: 765; Image: 337; Family History Library Film: 805429.
Chippewa Falls Main Street, Inc. Images of America: Chippewa Falls Main Street. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2001. Print.
Chippewa Falls Main Street, Inc. Images of America: Chippewa Falls Wisconsin. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2001. Print.
Draeger, Jim, and Mark Speltz. Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries: Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2012.
Year: 1870; Census Place: Chippewa Falls Ward 1, Chippewa, Wisconsin; Roll: M593_1706; Page: 362A; Image: 71; Family History Library Film 553204.
Wisconsin. Wisconsin State Census, 1905. Microfilm, 44 reels. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.
“Infant Leinenkugel (1873-1873)-Find A Grave Memorial.” Infant Leinenkugel (1873-1873)-Find A Grave Memorial. N.p. 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.
“Will Leinenkugel Dead.” Chippewa Herald [Chippewa Falls] 22 Jan. 1897: n. pag. Print.
“Death of Jacob Leinenkugel.” The Daily Independent [Chippewa Falls] 23 July 1899: n. pag. Print.