Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Toast to August Horn

August Horn
He was born in August, was named August and 106 years ago on Wednesday, August 17th he died. August Horn was the first president of the Oshkosh Brewing Company and the man who put Oshkosh beer on the map. Beginning in 1866, he took a small, thousand-barrel brewery and turned it into one of Wisconsin’s leading breweries. Not bad for a guy who started out laying brick.
Horn and Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery After 1879

August Horn was born on August 6, 1835 in Plößberg, Bavaria. In 1852, at the age of 17, he immigrated to Winnebago County with his parents Gottlieb and Barbara and began farming in the Town of Black Wolf. As a young man, Horn was trained as a stone mason and wasn’t involved with beer, aside from consuming it, until the age of 31. So how does a farming, stone mason find his way to making beer? By marrying into the family of a German brewer. In 1856 Horn married Amalia Schwalm, a relative of a brewer who had been trained in Saxony named Leonhardt Schwalm. In 1866 August and Leonhardt built a small, wooden brewhouse on the east side of Doty Street just south of what is now West 16th Avenue. They named it Horn and Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery.

A 1900 Composite of Oshkosh Brewing
The early years at the Doty Street Brewery must have been lively. It was truly a family operation. Both the Horn and Schwalm families lived above the brewery with their 15 kids. According to some reports, employees of the brewery often lived there, as well. Unfortunately, the house party came to an abrupt end when the home/brewery was swept away by fire in 1879. A new and larger brick brewhouse was quickly put up at the sight of the original brewery, but this one was strictly business. The families now lived in their own homes on separate, adjacent parcels. They were moving up in the world.

August Horn's Marker
at Riverside Cemetery
in Oshkosh
In 1894 the Horn and Schwalm Brewery merged with those of Lorenz Kuenzl and John Glatz to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company. Horn was made president of the new company and by the time of his death, Oshkosh Brewing had become the leading brewery in the area, capable of producing 90,000 barrels of beer a year.

August Horn died in 1904 from congestion of the kidneys at 10pm at his home at 1662 Doty Street. He was 69 years old at the time of his death and still president of Oshkosh Brewing. By all accounts he was a genial, well-liked member of the community. His obituary in Oshkosh Daily Northwestern described him as ”one of the most prominent German residents of the city and very highly respected.” This week, let’s raise a glass to August Horn.


  1. You really should compile all of these blog posts and publish a book called, "Oshkosh Beer."

    The amount of history here is amazing. I'll be looking for it on bookshelves in a few years! ;)

  2. p.s. August is a name that really needs a revival. It was SO popular in Oshkosh in the 1800's.

    Anyone out there willing to name their kid August?

  3. Thanks for taking the time to read this stuff. I’m hoping to eventually put a few of these posts together in a way that makes chronological sense and maybe print some copies for the Oshkosh Public Library… if they’ll have them. Who knows when I’ll find time for that… someday!

  4. I'll bet the Oshkosh Public Museum would be interested, as well. It's exactly the kind of publication they sell in their gift shop.

  5. That's a good idea! I'll keep it in mind. Thanks.

  6. You have spelled Lorenz Kuenzl's name incorrectly.
    There is no "e" in his last name between the Z and L.

  7. Whoops, sorry about the spelling error. Almost every time I type Lorenz' name I inject that extra "E". Thanks for pointing it out!

  8. is there any other history of this doty house that u know of...anything that u can find out earlier. ??? or anything at all.

  9. Dear Anonymous, The URL below has a bit more info on the Horn house. Hope this helps.

  10. This is my great great grandfather. Thank you for this.