In November of 1849 Joseph Schussler began setting up Oshkosh’s second brewery after purchasing more than an acre of land from Henry A. Gallup, an early Oshkosh settler. The plot was located on the south side of what is now Bay Shore Drive in the approximate area currently under the address of 1031 Bay Shore Drive.
|Oshkosh Democrat September 6, 1850|
Schussler had every right to feel confident. He had arrived in Oshkosh with an impressive set of skills. Born in Baden, Germany in 1819 he was trained as a brewer and cooper (barrel maker) in his homeland before coming to America. Prior to his arrival in Oshkosh at the age of 30, Schussler had worked for several years as a brewer in Milwaukee and eventually came to be known for his ability as a brewmaster and his singular approach to beer making. It was reported that “His brewing method is different from others, and known only to himself.”
Early on it appears that Schussler’s Oshkosh Brewery was a success. By the summer of 1850 local businesses were advertising that they carried Oshkosh Beer and Schussler’s notices in the paper stating that he and Freund would pay the highest market prices for any quantity of barley indicate the beer had gained a following. But it seems that Schussler’s early success didn’t hold.
At the close of 1850 Schussler’s business partner, John Freund, appears to have encountered financial difficulties apart from the brewery. And on January 1, 1851 Schussler and Freund dissolved their partnership. Schussler acquired a new partner for the brewery, Francis Tillmans, and in June of 1851 took a second mortgage against the property. If Schussler was trying to leverage his holdings to finance his brewery, the strategy didn’t work. In June of 1852 Schussler signed his assets over to his creditors. The Oshkosh Brewery of Joseph Schussler would not be heard from again.
Schussler’s involvement with beer in Oshkosh doesn’t end there, though. He stayed on in Oshkosh, moving over to Wisconsin Street and putting his coopering skills to work to earn his living. It appears, though, that in 1860 he had returned to brewing beer in Oshkosh. In the census of 1860 Schussler, once again, identifies himself as a brewer. Where or what he was brewing is not revealed. There were three breweries operating in Oshkosh at this point. Schussler could have been pitching-in at any of them.
In 1861 Schussler’s story takes a tragic and somewhat odd turn. Following in his father’s footsteps, Schussler’s 12 year-old son August had gone to work at the Frey Brewery in Fond du Lac. On January 18, 1861 August Schussler was tending a machine probably used for milling grain at the brewery when he fell into the machinery and was instantly crushed to death. Within months of August Schussler’s death, Joseph Schussler moved his family to Fond du Lac and went to work at the brewery where his son had been killed.
|1875 Advertisment for Schussler's Fond du Lac Brewery|