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4B. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
-Before Prohibition

Business, Political, Civic & Social Activities
Of William Riedlin & the Bavarian Brewing Co.

As some brewers became successful, they developed strong ties to their workers and communities in addition to their families. William Riedlin and his brewery was one of these. While turning the Bavarian Brewing Co. into a thriving enterprise, William Riedlin was also involved in other businesses, politics, and civic activities, mostly within his community of Covington, KY. He assumed leadership roles across multiple groups as an officer or director. Civic and social associations frequently needed a place to holding meetings, and various events were held at the Bavarian Rathskeller in the Bavarian Brewery. By becoming involved in these associations and providing a place for these organizations and neighborhood residents to meet, William helped improve his community, while also making the brewery more intertwined within its immediate neighborhood and the larger City of Covington, KY. The varied interests of William Riedlin are examined below.

Please note, to commemorate the community spirit exhibited by William Riedlin and the brewery in helping improve the City of Covington and Kenton County, an ancestor of Wm. Riedlin provided assistance in creating the Riedlin - Schott Community Room and the Bavarian Brewery Exhibit. This room and exhibit are both located in the former Brew House, which is now the South Wing of the Kenton County Government Center. (See History.)   

BUSINESS INTERESTS

Like other successful brewers, William Riedlin developed additional business interests. While acting as the principal owner and operator of the Bavarian Brewing Co., he was also involved in several other local businesses and at least one company outside of the state - a Nevada gold mine. His business interests and formal positions were as follows:

  • Kentucky Brewers Association, Pres. (Twice)

  • Covington Coal Co., President.

  • German National Bank, Director.
    (It became Liberty National Bank)

  • Covington Sawmill Co., Stockholder

  • Ludlow Lagoon Amusement Park; Director.

  • Riedlin Realty, President.

  • Covington Blue Sox, Director.

  • Prosper Gold Mining & Milling Co. (NV), V.P.
     

In 1903 and 1908 William was named President of the Kentucky Brewer's Association, which had about a dozen members. A silver cup that honored William during his first Presidency is shown on the side. This brewer's group was comprised mostly of German-born or first generation brewery owners. One of their concerns was to collectively monitor the state sentiments and efforts that threatened the sale of alcohol. This organization, as well as similar associations, at times tried to align itself with other producers of alcoholic beverages. They believed that the Federal taxes they paid - amounting to amounting to nearly one-half of the nations revenues - would be a deterrent to Prohibition. However, with the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 allowing Federal  corporate and personal taxes, this provided the U.S. government with an alternative source of revenue and less dependency on  revenue from sales of alcohol.

c. 1900. Wm. Riedlin is standing, third from the left. It is unknown who else is in this photo, or its purpose. Please let us know if you have any additional information about it.

Source: Schott Family Collection @ bcmuseum.org.

1903 Silver Loving Cup. This was provided to William Riedlin in recognition of his work as President of this association. The following year the Association met at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, MO. William was elected as President of this association again in 1908. Source: Wm. Riedlin descendant.

CIVIC & SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Besides various business and political interests, William was involved with several civic organizations that extended to people beyond those who worked at the brewery and served the entire community. Highly dedicated to his family, William was often interested in bringing other families into the organizations his were involved in. Because women weren't allowed to vote before 1920 and many associations were exclusively created for men before then. Consequently, some associations, including a few that were German-oriented, were mostly family-oriented and included women and children. For one example, please view photo below and the background of this page. In most of the associations in which William was involved, he was either President or an officer, not just a member. These organizations and his positions were as follows:

  • German Pioneer Association, President.

  • German-American Alliance (Covington Branch), President.

  • Bavarian &/or Baden Benevolent Society, Treasurer.

  • Covington Turners, President.

  • Knights of St. Henry, Finance Committee.

  • Covington Elks, Member.

 

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POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
A Covington Alderman

About a decade after William Riedlin moved to Covington from Cincinnati, he became interested in local politics. He served four terms as a City of Covington Alderman between 1891 and 1988. In The Cincinnati Enquirer on March 16, 1895, pg. 6, he was recognized as one of only ten "Men Who Keep Enterprising Covington on the Move" and it was said that he could be a mayoral candidate.

 

The William Riedlin Republican Club

Evidently, there was a group of at least a couple hundred men who shared the same political convictions as William Riedlin in the early 1890s. Seeking to form a more organized group, the decided to organize as a club. In naming it, they approached Wm. Riedlin, who declined to have the organization named after him. However, they decided to do so despite his wishes, and officially formed the Riedlin Republican Club on October 21, 1895.

The Riedlin Republican Club had as many as 300 members or more. They kept an office at 234 W. Pike Street, just a block or two from the Bavarian Brewery and the Covington Turners. The office was on the second floor above a barber shop, providing a convenient place for members to discuss politics. A photo of their office and their Banner, taken from a 10th Anniversary Souvenir pamphlet, are below. Beside it is a ribbon from one of their meetings. In addition, a membership card to the club and a card for one of their annual picnics is also shown below. The cover of the aforementioned souvenir pamphlet is on the far left below, but to view it in its entirety please click here.

Often a community organization would need a place to meet. There were two places the Bavarian Brewing Co. and William Riedlin provided for such meetings. One was the Bavarian Rathskeller and the other - more frequently used during the summer months - was at the Riedlin Farm. The photo on the right is at the Rathskeller. It is likely of a gathering of men from one of the entities listed above. The Rathskeller was also used for such social events as birthdays and wedding receptions. For example, William Riedlin's daughter Lucia had her reception in this room in 1914 when she married William C. Schott. Another photo of this room can be viewed in the previous section. It is unknown in what building the Rathskeller was located, but it appears to have been in a basement. If anyone has information on the group in this photo, or the specific location of the former Rathskeller, please let us know. The other photo below shows a photo of a summer outing at the Riedlin Farm for the Bavarian Benevolent Society. Information about several of the above-mentioned organizations was obtained and presented below.