Monday, June 26, 2017

150 Years Ago at Glatz Park...

The sign at the entrance to Glatz Park reads, “On this site in 1869 John Glatz and Christian Elser established a brewery.” True enough. But the story begins earlier. There was a brewery there before Glatz or Elser ever set eyes on that land. It was built by a German immigrant named Franz Wahle.

On September 23, 1867, Franz Wahle took possession of what is now Glatz Park. It was the northern most portion of a 48-acre farm. Wahle built the first brewery there.

1873 map showing the location of the brewery and Wahle's farm.
Wahle was born in the northern German town Niedermarsberg in 1826. He moved to America in 1854. Before coming to Oshkosh, he had spent the previous 10 years running what is now the Stevens Point Brewery. In 1867, Wahle sold that brewery to Andrew and Jacob Lutz and went to Oshkosh.

There isn't a picture known to exist of the brewery Wahle built on the Glatz Park site. But there is a picture of his brewery in Stevens Point. Wahle was said to have also built that brewery. The brewery he built in Oshkosh would likely have looked quite similar.

Wahle's former brewery in Stevens Point.
There were five breweries operating in Oshkosh when Wahle arrived here. Among them, Wahle's operation would be unique. His was Oshkosh's only true farm brewery. An early inventory from the farm shows it produced corn, potatoes, apples, grapes and hay. Wahle also kept livestock including hogs, cows, horses and sheep. Less is known about what he was producing in his brewery.

Wahle appears to have done no advertising for his brewery in Oshkosh. That's surprising considering how frequently he advertised his Stevens Point brewery. There he was producing both ales and lagers. Wahle probably did likewise here.
Wausau Central, January 17, 1861.
Wahle's low Oshkosh profile makes for frustrating research. Mention of his Oshkosh brewery is scant. Even his obituary says almost nothing about his extensive brewing career. Today, the omission seems especially glaring.

Wahle's time as a brewer ended here in 1869 when he leased his brewery to John Glatz and Christian Elser. The brewery Wahle built was destroyed by fire in 1871. The following year, Glatz and Elser purchased the property from Wahle and rebuilt the brewery.

Under Glatz and Elser, it came to be known as the Union Brewery. John Glatz bought out Elser in 1879. Glatz merged his brewery with two others in Oshkosh to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1894. All that remains of the old Glatz Brewery is the stone wall in Glatz Park.

Franz Wahle sold his farm in April 1882. He died five months later. Wahle was 56 years old. The brewer who was instrumental in launching what is now one of America's oldest breweries is buried in Riverside Cemetery.


  1. Good post. I have always liked this early picture of the Point Brewery. To this day Water Street still runs hard up to the brewery office door. You can stand at the door and almost imagine delivery wagons leaving the brewery. I wonder why Wahle left for Oshkosh to start over? I don't think he had any competition in Stevens Point. I could be wrong with that comment. The other interesting part of the post is the old ad for stock ale listed prominently. How much call could there have been for a high alcohol ale in a largely Polish/German community?

    1. Thanks, Leigh! I've never come across anything as to why Wahle left point. About that high-alcohol ale. I've been digging into that. It's fascinating. Hoping to have more on it tomorrow.

  2. Thanks for the great brewery history. I am a retired brewer at the Stevens Point Brewery and have donated a lot of interesting information about the Stevens Point Brewery to the history web-site. Just go to the second page under brewery history. I was at the right place at the right time to have collected the vintage documents on the brewing industry. History in the making!

  3. As a kid growing up in Oshkosh a few hundred yards from the site mentioned, my siblings and I would regularly play in the Glatz Park. I have a clear memory of finding a brick with the date on it, which we took to be a cornerstone. Thanks for including this information to let me complete he circle.