Business, Political, Civic & Social
Of William Riedlin & the Bavarian Brewing Co.
As some brewers became successful, they often became not only devoted to their families, but also to their workers and their community. William Riedlin and his brewery was one of these. Besides establishing the Bavarian Brewing Co. into a successful enterprise, William Riedlin was also involved in various community activities, including other businesses, politics and civic activities. His affiliations with these other entities was often as an officer or director. Frequently the meetings of the civic and social associations and various events were held at the Bavarian Rathskeller. By becoming involved in these associations and providing a place for these organizations and neighborhood residents to meet, William helped improve his community, and it also helped make the brewery more intertwined its immediate area, and even the 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.)
Like other successful brewers, William Riedlin developed other business interests. Besides being the principal owner and operator of the Bavarian Brewing Co., he was was mostly involved in several other local businesses. However, it's known that he was involved in at least one company outside of the state - a Nevada Gold mine. His business interest and 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 President of the Kentucky Brewer's Association, which had about a dozen members. A silver cup that honored William during his first Presidency is 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 in prohibiting the sale of alcohol. This organization, as well as similar associations, at times tried to align itself with other producers of alcoholic beverages and believed that the federal taxes they paid would be a deterrent to Prohibition.
c. 1900. Wm. Riedlin is standing, third from the left. It appears to be a business meeting. However, neither the other men nor the purpose of the meeting are known. Please let us know if you have any additional information about it.
1903 Silver Loving Cup. It was provided 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.
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. 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 had a been a group of at least a couple hundred men that shared the same political convictions in the early 1890s. Seeking to become a more organized group, the decided to become a club. In naming their club, they had approached Wm. Riedlin, who didn't want the organization to be named after him. However, they decided to do so despite his wishes otherwise, and formed the Riedlin Republican Club on October 21, 1895.
The Riedlin Republican Club has as many as possibly 300 or more members. They had an office located at 234 W. Pike Street, just a block or two from the Bavarian Brewery and the Covington Turners. It appears this office was on the second floor of a building that had a barber shop on the ground floor, 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 to 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.
CIVIC & SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Besides various business an political interests, William was involved with several civic organizations that extended beyond those that worked at the brewery by serving the entire community. William was very dedicated to his family and was often interested in having activities with an organization that involved entire families. After all, women weren't allowed to vote before 1920 and many associations were exclusively for men before then. However, some associations, including a few that were German oriented, would have some functions that women and children attended as well. For 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 organization 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.
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 may 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 is of a photo of a summer outing at the Riedlin Farm for the Bavarian Benevolent Society. Information on only a couple of the above mentioned organizations was obtained and presented below.
Bavarian Rathskeller Photo in 1899. Please see Pre-Prohibition Signs for an enlargement of the sign under the flag and Smoking Accessories for a souvenir Rathskeller ashtray. (Courtesy the Schott Collection at bcmuseum.org and Kenton Co. Library).
Bavarian Benevolent Association, 1910. This summer outing was held at the Riedlin Farm. It was one of the German American organizations the Riedlin's supported. It also provides the background of this page.
The Bavarian & Baden
As mentioned previously, many Germans had emigrated to America and the Cincinnati area. These immigrants were often proud of the German heritage and established numerous German-American Groups. There were also local newspapers published in German, German was often spoken in the churches and schools they attended as well as when German-Americans worked together, such as in the brewing industry. Of course, there were also German restaurants. From the beginning of German immigration to the U.S., there had been some bigotry against the Germans, as there had been with other ethnic groups. Having communities that were essentially of the same ethnicity helped provide some protection against these adverse views, and allowed the immigrants to more easily practice the customs and culture with which they were most familiar. However, as the immigration of Germans slowed in the late 1800's and their children became more assimilated into the American Culture, the popularity of such associations began to wane.