THE J.M. SCHOTT & WILLIAM C. SCHOTT FAMILIES
Disclaimer: Please note that the J.M. and Wm. C. Schott families and their descendants have no relations or affiliations with Walter, Charles or Marge Schott. Marge was once the controversial owner of the Cincinnati Reds and a Buick dealership.
J. M. SCHOTT
Like many people involved in the brewery business in the latter half of the1800s, J.M. Schott was from Germany. J.M. was originally from the small village of Gleussen, near Coburg, located in the Franconia area of Bavaria. In the early 1860s he moved to Frankfurt with his father, who was a cooper (barrel maker), and became a brewer. He met his future wife, Elise, at this time, who was from Biedenkopf in Hesse. To find a better life, he and Elise left Germany through the port of Bremen, traveling in steerage (third class), arriving in New York City in July of 1866. With a background in cooperage and brewing he found a job with Schaefer Brewing in the New York, where he worked as a cooper for about three years. It was there that J.M. became friends with a son of Christian Moerlein, who was serving as an apprentice. Through this acquaintance, J.M. became aware of an employment opportunity at the Morelein Brewing Co. in the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) area of Cincinnati. With the prospects of obtaining a better job, he moved his family to this area around 1870.
By 1872, it appears that J.M. may have left Moerlein and was working on his own as a cooper living on Pleasant Street in the OTR. By 1876, J.M. and his family had settled on the east side of Browne St. (now McMicken Avenue) between Tafel Street and Marshall Avenue. They lived on the upper floor of a three-story building that he owned, while operating a saloon on street level. J.M. established a cooperage firm next to the saloon in the late 1870s or early 1880s. All his sons worked at the cooperage and eventually became part owners in it before his death in 1903. (They continued to operate this firm into the late 1930s or early 1940s.)
A Possible Early Schott & Riedlin Connection. It is notable that both J.M. Schott and William Riedlin arrived in Cincinnati in the same year (1870) and both lived in the OTR. However, J.M. was about fifteen years older than William and had four children before William married in 1877. Whether the two men knew each other before William moved to Covington, KY, in 1882 is unknown. Although the OTR had thousands of inhabitants and some 300 saloons, it is possible that the two men became acquainted with each other in the 1870s, as they were both saloon owners. Besides possibly knowing one another through the same occupations, the two men may have also have known each other a decade or two later through their brewery businesses. After William Riedlin became involved with the Bavarian Brewing Co. in the 1880s, it appears the brewery may have become a customer of J.M.’s cooperage.
THE J.M. SCHOTT FAMILY
Before the early 20th century, it was not unusual for families to have several children or more, because there were no effective contraceptives. Since newborn deliveries usually occurred in homes by midwives into the early 1900s, not in hospitals, and before there was more advanced medical care, infant deaths were not uncommon. John Michael and Elise Schott had nine children, with seven surviving childhood, including five sons and two daughters. The entire family is shown in the photo c. early 1890s. Left to right in the photo are; George, Lou, John Michael, John Michael, Jr., Dorothea (Dora), William C. (Will), Christian (Chris), Elizabeth (Elise) and Magdalena (Lena).
There was a wide range in the age of the children, spanning about 20 years. Dora was the only child born in Germany, in 1865. Chris and John were born in New York City in 1867 and 1869. The other children were born in Cincinnati. Will, the youngest child, was born in 1884.
THE THREE YOUNGEST SCHOTT SONS
J.M.'s oldest sons, Chris and John Jr., were born in 1867 and 1869. The difference in the ages between the younger and older Schott boys was 10 to 17 years. Because of this age difference, the three younger boys grew up together making them closer to one another than their older brothers. In the summers, the younger brothers would often visit the Miami and Erie Canal nearby - just a couple blocks from their home - and go swimming together. (Today, this canal is now occupied by Central Parkway.) In the accompanying photo taken around 1890, left to right, is William, George and Lou. They were born in 1884, 1881 an 1879, respectively. Louis and William became especially close friends and, later, business associates. However, the oldest, Chris, may have been closer to their younger brothers than John, Jr., particularly in business affairs. After all, Chris named each of his four sons after his brothers.
William Charles Schott, the youngest of the Schott clan, known by family and friends as Will, was born on January 3, 1884. The accompanying pictures were taken when he was at the ages of about 3 and 10 years. Will was born almost 20 years after his parents had their first child and 18 years after they arrived in the U.S. from Germany. By the time Will was a boy, his father and older brothers had secured economic and housing stability for their family. However, like all children in the family, Will was still expected to contribute to the family welfare. As a boy, he would clean the bar, including the brass spittoons. When he became older, he worked at the saloon as a bartender. Will also worked for the cooperage firm when he was in school, while he attended college and afterwards.
THE J. M. SCHOTT SALOON
The saloon and building where Will lived and worked with his family was located at the northeast corner of Tafel and Browne St. (the later street is now McMicken Avenue). This three-story building is shown below. Even though this brick building no longer exists, the frame building on the right in the photo still remains. It is located west and downhill from the University of Cincinnati and just north of the OTR.
Above the entrance to the saloon, carved in stone, was the name J.M. Schott and the date of the building. The main corner entrance to the building led to the bar shown in the photo below. Will is tending the bar. Because of the relationship J.M. Schott developed with the Moerlein family when he arrived in New York and in Cincinnati, his saloon featured Moerlein Beer - the brand name can be more clearly seen when selecting and enlarging the photo. (Incidentally, Will continued to be friends with members of the Moerlein family after Prohibition began, into the 1920s.)
THE J. M. SCHOTT & SONS COOPERAGE CO.
Shortly after J.M. became a saloon keeper, he obtained a loan and began a cooperage business next to his saloon. Not long afterwards, in the 1880s, his sons Chris and John joined him. In order to retain good workers, his wife, Elise, along with their daughter, Dora, provided hearty lunches for the men working next door at the cooperage. The cooperage business grew. By the 1890s, all of J.M.'s sons were part of the cooperage firm, and it was reflected in the name of the firm. A mug from the cooperage firm is shown in the photo.
The photos of the cooperage below are: 1) a wagon full of 31 gallon barrels in front of the cooperage with the saloon building in the background; 2) a large storage container or vat the cooperage made containing 300 barrels each; 3) since these vats were made for a multi-state region, they often need to be shipped by rail, as shown; 4) making barrels and vats required a significant inventory of lumber, as illustrated in the photo. 5) as part of their operations, and to prevent fires, the firm built a large water tank. 6) this is a large vat that was shipped to a brewery in Columbus, OH, 7) after J.M. Schott died in 1903, his sons continued the business, as shown by the photo in the center (taken in 1908); and, 8) a photo of the men that worked at the cooperage around 1900, before the passing of J.M. Seated in the center and next to the smallest boy is J.M. Schott with his grandchildren. To the left are his oldest sons, Chris and John, Jr. His youngest son, Will, is seated on the far right; he may have still been in high school at the time the photo was taken.
As an older man, Will shared stories with his family about working at the cooperage. He recalled that one summer while he was in school, an undetected rocket from some Fourth of July fireworks landed in the cooperage’s lumber yard. It went undetected and smoldered for about a day, ultimately causing a fire and considerable damage. As a result, every year around Independence Day, he and another brother had to be vigilant in staying up throughout the nights and early mornings, prepared to put out fires in their lumber caused by loose fireworks. Even when Will was much older and no longer involved with the cooperage business, he was never fond of July 4th because of this experience.
The cooperage business became successful through the early 1900s. However, beginning in 1919, Prohibition changed the prospects for this business in the coming decade. Even though Prohibition decreased the demand of wood barrels for alcoholic beverages through the 1920s and into the 1930s, the cooperage business still operated. Not until the early 1940s did metal barrels begin to fully replace wooden ones. The exact date when the Schott Brothers closed their cooperage business is unknown, but it was likely in the late 1930s or early 1940s, when it became apparent that metal barrels would replace the demand for most wooden ones.
THE CINCINNATI GALVANIZING CO.
In 1905, as the cooperage grew, the brothers decided to enter the galvanizing business that would allow them to make and coat the hoops or metal rings that held their barrels and other containers together, as well as make metal containers from sheet metal. Their venture to enter the galvanizing business began next to the cooperage business with an initial investment of $20,000. This company was located within a block of their cooperage business. Evidently, the galvanizing business was more difficult than perceived by Will's older brothers. When metal hoops were first dipped into the galvanizing pit with molten metal, apparently they burst into flames. After overcoming some initial fires rather quickly, they continued to have other challenges with this business over the first couple of years. It was fortunate that the brothers established a business involved in galvanized metal product, which was less associated with the brewing industry than their cooperage business, with the coming of Prohibition.
WILL ENTERS MEDICAL SCHOOL
Will was an excellent student at school. With his father and four brothers working for the cooperage, his family supported Will's interest in academics. However, he still found time to work at the family's cooperage when he was in high school and college. Will was the first member of his family to attend and graduate from college. The photo on the side was taken around the time he received an A.B. degree from the University of Cincinnati (U.C.), in 1905. After graduating from college, Will entered the Medical College at U.C. in the fall of 1905. His medical instruments are shown below, along with an invoice for an annual session in 1906-7, which was only seventy dollars. This college was established in 1819 as the Medical College of Ohio becoming the first medical college west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is the 12th oldest medical college in the country and the seventh oldest that still remains. The University of Cincinnati traces its origins to this college.
Will's family retained some of his medical notes with illustrations and lab equipment. These were donated to the Winkler Center for the History of Health Professionals at U.C.
In 1908, Will dropped out of the U.C. Medical College while nearing the completion of his degree. The other brothers, who had no advanced education, evidently needed their younger brother, who had studied chemistry, to provide assistance with the technical knowledge needed for their galvanizing business. This probably explains why Will became General Manager of the galvanizing business shortly after he began working there. A strong bond developed between Will and all of his brothers from their childhood, especially Lou, which carried over to their family cooperage and a galvanizing businesses.
As noted, Will and all of his brothers were active in both their family cooperage business and a galvanizing business they established in 1906. Will's business cards for both of these businesses that date from around 1910 are shown.
WILLIAM C. SCHOTT & LUCIA RIEDLIN
By 1910, William C. Schott met Lucia Riedlin, his future wife. Will gave Lucia (or Lucy) a mint Gold Eagle coin for her 18th birthday, which she never used, but retained as a keepsake. (It still remains in the Schott family’s possession along with a note from Lucy stating the date and explaining the gift.) Both Will and Lucia were the youngest children in their families. It is unknown exactly how they met, but it was likely through associations both families shared in the brewing industry. Four years later, on September 30, 1914, Lucia Riedlin married Willy (as Lucy called him) at the William Riedlin home, at 925 Main Street in Covington, KY. Their wedding pictures are below. A reception followed, with 100 people attending a celebration at the Bavarian Rathskeller. For their honeymoon, the couple visited Havana, Cuba. A passenger list for a ship that departed from New York City shows their names is below. The marriage between the Riedlin and Schott families established a union that extended the family ownership and operation of the Bavarian Brewery from 1882 until 1965 - a period of over 83 years. The Wm. Riedlin Family is examined in another section. After their marriage, the first home that the couple lived in was located on the corner of University Court and Strait Street next to the University of Cincinnati (U.C.) - just up the hill from where Will and his family had lived and worked.
THE BROTHERS DIVERSIFIED
INTO OTHER BUSINESSES
SCHOTT BROTHERS REALTY was established around 1916. It may have begun with some speculative attempts to acquire properties in the vicinity of expected subway entrances to the Cincinnati Subway System. Plans for this system had begun in 1910; a bond issuance for it was raised in 1916 and construction began in 1920. However, by 1929 - after several miles of tunnels were constructed without tracks - the Great Depression began. In the midst of the economic crisis, work on the subway ceased and the project was abandoned. It is believed the brothers disposed of their properties near the never-completed subway system in the 1930s.
Schott Brothers Realty was primarily engaged in acquiring and developing residential tracts for subdivision in the early 1920s. A couple of these developments involved the Elm Park subdivision in Bond Hill and Cypress Gardens off of Clifton Avenue. In addition to offering lots, the brothers occasionally built and sold homes in these subdivisions. The architectural designs were often of a Tudor style, with stone or brick used for the first level and light-colored stucco and dark wood on the second. Often these homes had a similar style to Pine Meer between 1922 and1924. Sometime later, the brothers acquired an industrial building several stories in height, located in downtown Cincinnati off of Central Parkway, which became the Schott Building. Reportedly, this was one of the first buildings in Cincinnati to contain an automatic passenger elevator. In the mid-1940s they also acquired tract lots that they sold in the Old Homestead area of Huron, Ohio, on Lake Erie.
KBFE RADIO in Cincinnati (not to be confused with the television series WKRP in Cincinnati) was acquired by the Schott Brothers as radio emerged around 1920. At that time, there were some technical difficulties with radio as a medium - including frequencies that limited reception, especially for areas on lower terrain. After becoming somewhat disappointed that radio did not develop as quickly as they anticipated, the brothers sold the station after several years of ownership. In 1935, this station was acquired by a local newspaper, the Cincinnati Post. The call letters of the station were changed to WCPO to reflect this changed ownership. Today, a radio station with the WCPO call letters still operates in Cincinnati. The call letters KFBE were reused by a public station in Flint, Michigan beginning in 1953. Through a series of sales beginning in 1997 through 2011, KFBE now operates in Nashville, TN.
EXPANDING THE CINCINNATI GALVANIZING CO.
By 1920, the galvanizing business had expanded and the brothers’ plant next to the cooperage business was physically constrained. The Schott brothers decided to build a new plant along Spring Grove Avenue, then a burgeoning industrial area of Cincinnati. A picture of the groundbreaking ceremony for this venture is shown on the accompanying photo. It was taken in 1923, and features Elise Schott, the mother of the brothers, in the center. From left to right are: Lou Schott, George Schott, his daughter Elizabeth, and Will Schott. Others in the photograph are unknown. The plant expanded over time and employed about 150 people by the 1940s. Some photos of the plant are shown below.
The arrial photo shows the Cincinnati Galvanizing Plant around 1940. The plant primarily made 30-gallon waste cans, buckets and paper baskets, in addition to some novelty items, like the King Seamless Press Potato Ricer. Their products were sold not only by many local Cincinnati hardware and department stores, but also by some regional and even national customers, like Sears. To view selected ads of their product line in the 1940s, please follow this link.