16 Jun 2022, last revised 12 Jul 2024

This unknown bottle provides a few clues to its history. Its applied Baltimore loop seal top dates to the late 1880s or early 1890s. The S B & G Co maker's mark does not help to narrow this date range. This bottle is a beer-type bottle, but the embossing does not bear the name of a brewery; instead, it states, "Bottling Works". Given these features, the bottle was most likely used by an agent that bottled and distributed beer for a brewery striving to extend its market to Red Jacket, or perhaps, even to the broader Copper Country.

An exhaustive search of local business directories and newspapers, unfortunately, did not reveal this bottling works by name. In the past, it was common to refer to a business by its proprietor's name or firm name, but not by a business name. Yet, the bottle has embossing of the business name. Thus, we have not been able to link a proprietor and/or a brewery to the Red Jacket Bottling Works name. The best we can do is explore some possibilities.

First of all, the Copper Country had another company that used the Red Jacket Bottling Works name. It was a soda company with Isaac Lantto as proprietor. Given that Lantto's bottling works dates to a later time period and used Hutchinson soda bottles, it evidently was a completely different company.

Jos. James had a bottling works in Red Jacket that existed during this time period. The newspaper sometimes referred to his business as "Red Jacket bottling works", but this appears to have been a description of a bottling works located in Red Jacket as opposed to a formal name. In fact, he had a name for his bottling works, the Jos. James Bottling Works, and he used it consistently on his bottles. Plus, he was a soda and mineral water bottler.

Around 1889, Jac. Agnitch had a bottling works in Red Jacket as an agent for Val. Blatz Brewing Co. He had a bottle with embossing of his name but not a bottling works name. It is unknown what he called his bottling works, or if it even had a name. Thus, it is possible that bottle #126 was a second bottle of Agnitch given the same location, time period, type of bottle, and him being a beer agent. But this seems improbable, since most companies did not drastically change their embossing.

A more likely possibility is that #126 was a product of the Knivel Brothers. Frank Jr. remained in Eagle River after his family moved to Detroit (1). Following the sale of his bottling works to Foley & Smith in May 1890 (2), he moved his family to Lake Linden in Nov 1890 (3). The plan was to stay in Lake Linden for the winter (4). In Feb 1891, John and Frank Jr. became agents of the Schlitz Brewing Co. and rented Wertin's building on Pine St., which they planned to use as an office and bottling works (5). They would not open a bar; instead, they would focus on bottling and representing Schlitz as wholesalers (5).

Schlitz Brewing Co. – Georg August Krug (26) started a small brewery 1849 with a production of about 300 barrels per year (25). In 1850, Krug's father invested $800 into the brewery, which allowed Joseph Schlitz to be hired as a bookkeeper (26). Krug died on 30 Dec 1856 (27) several days after tumbling down a hatchway, and Schlitz took over as manager (26). In 1858, Schlitz married Krug's widow Anna Maria, gained control of the brewery (26), and renamed it the Joseph Schlitz Chestnut Brewery (28). Schlitz produced 5,578 barrels in 1867, which was fourth highest in Milwaukee (30). The business was incorporated effective 01 Jan 1874 (26) as the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. (25). Schlitz died on the ocean steamer Schiller when it hit rocks off the Scilly Islands and sank on 07 May 1875 (29) while on his way to Germany (26). His body was never found (26). Anna Maria had no children so family succession fell to the six Uihlein brothers, the nephews of August Krug, with Henry Uihlein becoming president after Schlitz (26). The brewery established a bottling department in 1876 (25). Schlitz produced about 78,000 barrels in 1877, which was tenth among U.S. breweries (26). In 1884, Schlitz was the second highest beer producer in the U.S. with 343,090 barrels, trailing the Philip Best Brewing Co.'s 374,770 barrels (31). Schlitz would later become the top producer from 1900 to 1902 before being surpassed by Anheuser-Busch (26).

After the death of his father, John moved from Detroit to Red Jacket. In Mar 1891, he delivered a load of Milwaukee beer from Red Jacket to Eagle River (6). Frank Jr. moved his family to Red Jacket in Apr 1891, and the "Knivel Bros." would open up on Pine St. for Schlitz Brewing Co. on May 01 (7). In Aug 1891, they were reported "to be doing a good business" and were "good, square fellows to deal with" (8). In May 1892, they were settling into their new bottling works near the Mineral Range Depot in Red Jacket (9). The 1893 Polk directory listed the Knivel Bros. as "wholesale agents of Jos Schlitz Brewing Co. and bottlers of beer" (10). Therefore, they were certainly bottlers of beer in Red Jacket as agents during the time period of bottle #126. Hopefully, in the future, someone discovers a piece of advertising, a beer label, or some document that verifies the Knivel Bros. as the proprietors of the Red Jacket Bottling Works.

What Happened Next for the Knivel Brothers?

The Knivel Bros. seemed to have been agents of Schlitz for only three years. In Feb 1894, John succeeded Emil Riewe as manager of the Houghton branch of the Pabst Brewing Co. (11), and the branch moved to Red Jacket (12). The 1895 directory showed that Frank Jr. partnered with Frank Schroeder in the liquor and cigar business in the Borgo Block on 5th St., Calumet (13), which was a saloon (15). In 1899, John resigned his position as Pabst agent (21) and became the manager of the Calumet Brewing Co. (22). He then resigned as manager in Sep 1900 due to other business interests (23). The partnership between Frank Knivel and Frank Schroeder dissolved on 10 May 1901 with Schroeder retiring and Frank continuing the business (24). In the 1901 directory, John was now partner with Frank Jr., as the Knivel Bros., for the saloon in the Borgo Block (14). In Apr 1911, they dissolved the partnership, with John expecting to continue the business in Red Jacket and Frank Jr. expecting to establish his own business in Laurium (16). Frank Jr. leased a space in the Glocke building in Laurium and applied for a liquor license (17), so his business was underway. But then he died on 06 Feb 1912 at the age of 52 in Laurium as a saloon keeper (18) and was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Calumet (19). John was retired when he died on 06 Jul 1916 at the age of 54 in Calumet (18) and was buried in Lake View Cemetery (20).


  1. anonymous. (1890, Jul 11). Keweenaw jottings. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  2. anonymous. (1890, May 08). Keweenaw jottings. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  3. anonymous. (1890, Nov 14). Keweenaw jottings. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  4. anonymous. (1890, Nov 18). untitled. Torch Lake Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
  5. anonymous. (1891, Feb 27). untitled. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  6. anonymous. (1891, Apr 03). Keweenaw jottings. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  7. anonymous. (1891, Apr 28). untitled. Torch Lake Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
  8. anonymous. (1891, Aug 28). Keweenaw jottings. Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  9. anonymous. (1892, May 03). untitled. Torch Lake Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  11. anonymous. (1894, Feb 06). untitled. Native Copper Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
  12. anonymous. (1894, May 08). untitled. Native Copper Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
  13. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  14. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  15. anonymous. (1898, Mar 14). About $500 taken. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  16. anonymous. (1911, Apr 18). Knivel Bros. dissolve. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  17. anonymous. (1911, Apr 18). Laurium briefs. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  18. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  19. Find A Grave. accessed Jun 2022. Frank A. Knivel. www.findagrave.com/memorial/192173524/frank-a-knivel
  20. Find A Grave. accessed Jun 2022. John Knivel. www.findagrave.com/memorial/185428730/john-knivel
  21. anonymous. (1899, Dec 02). New Pabst manager. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  22. anonymous. (1899, Oct 27). Calumet Brewing Company. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  23. anonymous. (1900, Sep 24). John Knivel resigns. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  24. anonymous. (1901, May 11). Dissolution notice. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  25. (25)anonymous. 1903. One Hundred Years of Brewing. H. S. Rich & Co., Publishers. Chicago and New York.
  26. (26)Spiekermann, U. 2013. Family ties in beer business: August Krug, Joseph Schlitz and the Uihleins. Yearbook of German-American Studies 48: 59-112.
  27. (27)Find A Grave. accessed Jul 2024. August Krug. www.findagrave.com/memorial/13890561/august-krug.
  28. (28)Munsey, C. 2004. The beer [& bottles] that made Milwaukee famous. Bottles and Extras, Winter: 2-6.
  29. (29)anonymous. (1875, May 10). Terrible shipwreck. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI). p. 1.
  30. (30)anonymous. (1868, Jan 29). Lager beer. Baraboo Republic (Baraboo, WI). p. 1.
  31. (31)anonymous. (1885, May 30). Annual production of beer. State Gazette (Green Bay, WI). p. 2.

Red Jacket Bottling Works bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: Baltimore loop seal - applied
base: post-bottom
maker's mark: S B & G CO (base)
other marks: THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD (back)
date: 1890
rarity: rare
  • taller bottle