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17 Sep 2021, last revised 20 May 2022

When the bottle book, Old Copper Country Bottles, was published in 1978, it was unclear if the Bavarian Brewery and the L'Anse Brewing Co. were one and the same or two separate breweries. Emil Meisler and Henry Steinback were associated with the Bavarian Brewery. Henry Steinback, John Q. McKernan, and T. W. Edwards were associated with the L'Anse Brewing Co. We can now connect the people involved and link the brewery names as being the same operation.

John Q. McKernan was born in New York on 10 Jan 1825 and moved to Michigan in 1830 with his parents (1). After resided in Ann Arbor and Ingham County, he moved to Ontonagon in 1848 and worked in the carpenter trade before working at the Cliff Mine (1). In 1853, he moved to Houghton and held several public service positions (1). He moved to Baraga in 1869 and then to L'Anse in 1873 (1).

Henry Steinback was born in Germany in Oct 1844 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1862 (3,4). The 1870 U.S. Federal Census placed him in Adams Township, where he and his brother, Peter were brewers (14). This location suggests they worked for Union Brewery.

In 1873, McKernan and Steinback built the brewery and established the "L'Anse Brewing Co." (1). It was announced in Feb 1874 that the "new brewery is now in full blast and furnishing this section with its beverage" (22). This was an early business for L'Anse given that L'Anse was platted in 1871 (1). They were listed as proprietors of the "L'Anse Brewery" in an 1874 newspaper article (2), and as brewers in the 1875 Polk directory (5). In Apr 1874, they had a manufacturing capacity of 20 barrels per day, two large cellars for storing beer, and had plans to install a new boiler, which was expected to doubled production (9). In Jun 1874, McKernan fenced in the property and commenced farming his own malt on a small scale (20). In 1877, they produced and sold 502 barrels of beer (21).

Newspaper ad - The Industrial Age, 23 May 1874
Newspaper ad - May 1874

The firm was organized in July 1881, and it consisted of John Q. McKernan and T. W. Edwards (1). Thomas W. Edwards was born in England on 05 July 1838 and immigrated to the U.S. in Aug 1849 (1). He was a dealer in real estate involving saw mills and mines (1), so he probably served as owner (as noted in a later newspaper article) and not as brewer. The 1883 directory listed Edwards & McKernan for the "L'Anse Brewery" (15).

Emil Meisler was born in Germany in 1847 (8). It is unknown when he immigrated to the U.S. We could not find him in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, and then he was listed as a brewer in Indiana on the 1880 census (3). He moved from Milwaukee to L'Anse in 1881 and managed the brewery for McKernan for two or three years, and then he and James Farley leased the brewery (7). He subsequently purchased Farley's interest and became the sole proprietor of the "Bavarian brewery" (7). The 1887 directory listed Emil Meisler as the proprietor of the "Bavarian Brewery" (16). On 12 Jun 1892, Meisler was thrown or jumped from a buggy while riding east of town, struck his head on the road, fractured his skull, and later died from the injury at the age of 45 (7,8). The newspaper article stated, "...his business affairs are in such condition that no one can take up the work from which he was so suddenly snatched without much difficulty and uncertainty." (7). That was apparently the case because the 1893 directory listed the estate of Emil Meisler as a brewer (17), and then on 18 Mar 1893 it was announced that the "L'Anse brewery" had gone out of business and will be used as a storehouse for a Milwaukee brewery (10).

Polk directory ad - Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1887
Polk Directory ad - 1887
Newspaper ad - The L'Anse Sentinel, 17 Oct 1891
Newspaper ad - 1891

The brewery remained idle following the death of Emil Meisler, and then in late Nov or early Dec of 1895, the Miswald brothers of Ontonagon leased the brewery, which was owned by T. W. Edwards (11). The announcement sparked excitement with the prediction that "...within a few years L'Anse will rank high as a manufacturing place" (11). On 01 Feb 1896, the brewery was announced to be in running order (12). Unfortunately, after only six months of operation, the brewery burnt down in the early morning of 22 July 1896 (13). Firefighters saved adjoining buildings but the brewery building was totally destroyed (13). Only the large vats in the cellar containing over 500 barrels of beer were left undamaged (13). It was believed that the fire started from the smoke stack (13). Despite plans to erect a new brewery as soon as possible (13), this tragedy ended brewing in L'Anse.

Newspaper ad - The L'Anse Sentinel, 20 Jun 1896
Newspaper ad - Jun 1896

Meisler was the one that specifically used the name, Bavarian Brewery, and newspaper articles stated "Bavarian brewery" in reference to him or during his ownership. Yet he was also identified as the previous owner of the property of the "L'Anse brewing company's building" when it burned under the Miswald Bros. (13). In 1891, which was during Meisler's ownership, an announcement noted that Bernard Norton became an agent in Ewen, "...for the sale of the famous Bavarian beer, which is brewed at the L'Anse brewery and will supply Ewenites with the foaming beverage" (18). Thus, it seems the names were used interchangeably, with "Bavarian brewery" being a brewery that produced Bavarian beer, "L'Anse brewery" being a brewery located in L'Anse, and "L'Anse Brewing Co." being the name of the firm.

The two bottles known from the Bavarian Brewery / L'Anse Brewing Co. have a maker's mark of C. V. No. 2 and thus date to 1880-1881 (19). They remain extremely rare, suggesting that only a small fraction of the brewery's production was bottled, or at least bottled in embossed bottles. Despite operating until 1893, and then being reopened by the Miswald Brothers during 1896, no bottles have been found for these later periods. Yet the 1887 directory listed Emil Meisler under Bottlers - Beer in their classified section (16), indicating that bottling did continue. Did he switch to using generic, unembossed bottles? The lack of bottles remains as a lingering mystery.

References

  1. anonymous. 1883. History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Western Historical Company. Chicago, IL.
  2. anonymous. (1917, Jun 2). Happenings in our village in 1874. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1880 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1875. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1875. The Tribune Printing Company. Detroit, MI.
  6. anonymous. (1895, Dec 07). Another Industry. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  7. anonymous. (1892, Jun 18). Fatal Accident. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 5.
  8. Michigan, U.S., Death and Burial Index, 1867-1995. accessed on ancestry.com.
  9. anonymous. (1874, Apr 25). L'Anse. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  10. anonymous. (1893, Mar 18). L'Anse Affairs. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 5.
  11. anonymous. (1895, Dec 07). Another Industry. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  12. anonymous. (1896, Feb 1). City Items. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  13. anonymous. (1896, Jul 25). Another Fire. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  14. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  15. R. L. Polk & Co. 1883. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1883. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  16. R. L. Polk & Co. 1887. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1887-88. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  17. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  18. anonymous. (1891, Apr 04). L'Anse Affairs. The L'Anse Sentinel (L'Anse, MI). p. 5.
  19. Lockhart, B., B. Schriever, C. Serr, and B. Lindsey. 2014. Chase Valley Glass Co. In: Encyclopedia of Manufacturer's Marks on Historic Bottles. posted on Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ChaseValleyGlass.pdf
  20. anonymous. (1874, Jun 06). Local. The Industrial Age (L'Anse, MI). p. 1.
  21. anonymous. (1879, Jul 24). Amount of Lager Beer Made and Sold in this District Last Year. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  22. anonymous. (1874, Feb 05). untitled. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.

120
L'Anse Brewing Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: lightning stopper
maker's mark: C. V. No2 MILW (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1880-1881
rarity: extremely rare
  • exceptionally large plate
  • plate low on mold

119
Bavarian Brewery bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: lightning stopper - applied
maker's mark: C. V. No2 MILW (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1880-1881
rarity: extremely rare
  • exceptionally large plate
  • plate low on mold