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.
THE UNION OF THE RIEDLIN & SCHOTT FAMILIES
In 1914, William Charles (Will) Schott married Lucia (Lucy) Riedlin, the daughter of William Riedlin, who operated and owned the Bavarian Brewing Co. from 1882 until 1919. Will was the son of Johan Michal (J.M.) Schott, operator of a Cincinnati cooperage he founded in the early 1870s. This 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 following provides some background about the J.M. Schott and William C. Schott families. The Wm. Riedlin Family is examined in another section.
J. M. SCHOTT
Similar to many people involved in the brewery business in the latter half of the1800s, J.M. Schott was from Germany. He emigrated from Frankfurt, traveling from the port of Bremen to America, arriving in New York City in July of 1866. However, J.M. was originally from the small village of Gleussen, near Coburg, located in the Franconia area of Bavaria. With a background in brewing and cooperage (barrel-making), he found a job with Schaefer Brewing in the New York 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 and life, 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 frim 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 through other business associations. 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. Through this connection, the two men could have been familiar with one another as well. Further, there is a likely possibility that Will Schott and Lucia Riedlin met through acquaintances who were directly or indirectly connected to their family businesses.
THE J.M. SCHOTT FAMILY
Before contraceptives became common in the mid-20th century, it was not unusual for families to have several children or more. Newborn deliveries usually occurred in homes by midwives into the early 1900s, not in hospitals. Due to advancements in delivering babies, infant deaths were more prevalent a century ago than today. John Michael and Elise Schott had nine children, seven of whom survived childhood, including five sons and two daughters. Shown in the photo on the side, left to right are;
THE THREE YOUNGEST SCHOTT SONS
From left to right is a photo of William, George and Lou, taken around 1890. They were born in 1884, 1881 an 1879, respectively. Their older brothers, 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. Essentially, the three younger boys grew up together, making them closer to one another than to 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 - go swimming together. (Today, this canal is now occupied by Central Parkway.) Louis and William became especially close friends and, later, business associates. However, the oldest, Chris, may have been closer than John to their younger brothers, particularly in business affairs. Chris named each of his four sons after his brothers.
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 photo on the side was taken in the early 1890s.
William Charles Schott, the youngest of the Schott clan, known by family and friends as Will, was born on January 3, 1884. The pictures on the left 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. (See the photo below right.) Will also worked for the cooperage firm when he was in school, while he attended college and after he graduated.
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 in the lower left photo below. Even though this brick building no longer exists, the frame building on the right in the lower left 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 lower right photo. 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 below right.
THE J. M. SCHOTT & SONS COOPERAGE CO.
After learning the cooperage trade from his father, and having some brewing experience in Frankfurt, Germany, J.M. Schott initially found work as a cooper when he emigrated to America. He continued in that trade when he moved to Cincinnati and worked for Moerlein Brewing Co. His work with Morelein only lasted for a couple of years before, until probably the early 1870s, before he decided to go into business for himself. His first venture may have been as a saloon keeper. However, shortly thereafter he obtained a loan and began a cooperage business. 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.
From the top row, left to right, the cooperage made standard beer barrels containing 31 gallons. However, they also made other vessels, including large storage containers, or vats, containing 300 barrels each. These are shown on the top row. (See Barrels, Kegs...) The cooperage sold and distributed a large volume of products within a multi-state region. This required a significant inventory of lumber, as illustrated by the on the left in the middle row. As part of their operations, and to prevent fires, the firm also built a large water tank, depicted on the far right. One of the large vats was shipped to a brewery in Columbus, OH, shown in the lower left. The men that worked at the cooperage around 1900 are shown in the lower right photo below. 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. After J.M. Schott died in 1903, his sons continued the business, as shown by the photo in the center (taken in 1908).
As an older man, Will shared stories with his family about working in 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. It was fortunate that the brothers had expanded into another complimentary business - creating galvanized metal products - a decade prior to Prohibition, as mentioned below. Still, some demand continued for wood barrels through the 1920s and into the 1930s. 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.
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 business and a galvanizing business they established in 1906. Will's business cards for both of these businesses, dating from around 1910, are shown on the left.
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 on the left.
WM. C. SCHOTT & LUCIA RIEDLIN
By 1910, William C. Schott met Lucia Riedlin, his future wife. Both Will and Lucia were the youngest children in their families. 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.) 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 visitied Havana, Cuba. A passenger list for a ship that departed from New York City shows their names is below. 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.
However, the primary activity of Schott Brothers Realty was centered on 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. 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 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, WCPO remains one of the major radio stations 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, this station 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 left; 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 picture to the right is an aerial photo of the Cincinnati Galvanizing Plant taken 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.
The photo above left, is a photo possibly in the 1930s of an exhibit featuring their World's Largest Ash Can at a fair, which was marketed under the brand name "King." Next to it is a photo of the manufacturing section of the plant that molded sheets of metal into trash cans in the 1940s. The photo on the far right is the entire group of workers at the company's annual Holiday Party, also in the 1940s.
In 1922, William and Lucia Riedlin Schott began building a home on the west side of Cincinnati. This was a few years after their eldest son, Bill, was afflicted with polio, and about the time that their second son, Louis, was born. Rather than raise a family in an urban environment and next to a university, they believed it would be better to raise their children in a country setting. The home they built became an estate known as Pine Meer, located at 5330 Cleves-Warsaw Pike, in Green Township, OH. Will was very close to his brother, Lou (he had named his youngest son after him). Lou built a home just a mile away from Pine Meer, at Neeb Road and Wynnburne Avenue across from the Western Hills Country Club. The two often socialized together with their friends at this club.
Left to right is the west side entrance gate to Pine Meer, the home as viewed from street, and Lucia with her two sons in the late 1920s. This estate is reduced in size from nearly 100 acres to only a few acres today.
THE SCHOTT FAMILY INVOLVEMENT IN THE BAVARIAN BREWING CO.
Before moving to Pine Meer, Lucia Riedlin lived with her family in Covington, KY, near the Bavarian Brewery that her family owned and operated for nearly four decades. Lucia's, mother, two brothers and father had all passed away by 1919, just before Prohibition. At that time, the elders in the Riedlin family became Lucia and her sister, Mayme. Without their brothers who were trained to take over the brewery and other family businesses, the two sisters relied on their husbands, Carl Cobb and Will Schott, to carry on most of the business affairs of Riedlin family. By 1922, when Pine Meer was being built, Will became President of the Riedlin Co., which included all of the brewery property and some other Riedlin properties. Unable to make a profit through non-alcoholic beverages, the brewery equipment was sold, the brewery buildings were closed and the Riedlin Co. was liquidated in 1925. However, the main brewery parcels were acquired by Lucia. (See period 5. Riedlin Co.'s & Prohibition.)
Throughout the following decade, the brewery sat idle. But with the repeal of Prohibition in 1932 there was an effort to reopen the Bavarian Brewery. The husband of Lucia's niece was interested in owning and operating it. With financial assistance from his wife and other investors - and a transfer of the brewery property from Lucia and possibly other Riedlin heirs to this new ownership - the brewery reopened in 1935. However, it fell into bankruptcy within two years. (See period 6. The Reopening.) In December, 1937, Will and three of his brothers acquired the brewery out of bankruptcy, in an effort to make the brewery successful again. (See period 7. The Schott Brothers.) Throughout these changes - during the 1920s and into the 1930s - Will and Lucia’s children were growing up at Pine Meer, as explained below. It appears that one motivation for Will to acquire the brewery, with the support of Lucia, was to provide an opportunity for their sons to continue the legacy of Lucia's family with the brewery.
THE WILLIAM C. SCHOTT FAMILY
The children of William and Lucia Schott, Bill and Louis, attended Cincinnati public schools in the 1920s and 1930s. They both attended Western Hills High School, which provided both Junior and Senior high school education from the 7th to 12th grades. Bill attended the school when it was first opened in 1928 and graduated in 1934. Louis attended the same school the year after his brother graduated. Following graduation, Bill entered Harvard University, but returned home after a year, completing his education at the University of Cincinnati in about 1938. It appears he began working at the Bavarian Brewing Co. after he graduated from U.C., about a year after it was acquired by his father and three uncles. The first President of the Brewery was George, who occupied the position until 1945, when it was transferred to Lou. Will maintained the position of Vice President for two decades while continuing to act as the General Manager of the Cincinnati Galvanizing Co.
Louis graduated from high school in 1940 and then attended Dartmouth College. However, he entered WWII in 1942, returned to Dartmouth in 1945, and graduated in 1948. That same year he wed his high school sweetheart, Virginia Erhardt. Louis began working at his family's brewery in late 1948 as a truck driver. Before then, Bill had become Secretary and Treasurer. Bill married a few years later to Catherine Sue Lake. Louis and Virginia had a son, Ried, born in 1949. Bill and Sue had a son, Bill (Jr.), born in 1953.
Both Bill and Louis increasingly became more active in the management of the brewery that their grandfather had established, and their father and his brothers had acquired, during the 1950s. When Will's brother Lou became Board Chairman in 1955, Bill became President and Louis served as both Secretary and Treasurer, with their father remaining as Vice President. Louis also became the Marketing Director a year later. Below is a photo of Will with his two sons, Lou on the left and Bill on the right, when they were working at the brewery in the early 1950s. (See period P7. Post WWII Years and period 8. Turnaround Efforts.)