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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.


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.


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.


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 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.)


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.