Hello and willkommen to this week’s blog post. We are stepping away from geography and larger concepts for a moment to talk about the thing that makes Frankenmuth, well Frankenmuth… People and beer. For this week, we are stepping back in time to talk about Frankenmuth’s first brewery owner Johann “John” Mathais Fallier.
While a birth date and location is unknown, we can infer that he was born during or before the early 1830’s in Germany. He came from Zambach, which is near Steinacham in Bavaria, to Michigan where he moved to Frankenmuth. His exact arrival date is a mystery to our archival research and collections, but we know it was before 1857.
While in Frankenmuth, Johann opened up a Tin Shop, as he was considered to be a coppersmith. He set up his home, which came to be known as “the Roesler place,” just east of present day Star of the West. He was content for a moment, but quickly changed plans and set up the first brewery, The Frankenmuth Brewery. He traded the Roesler place with Gotfried Ranke who then gave him a section of property lots along Frankenmuth’s main street. Thus, in 1857, The Frankenmuth Brewery opened up to the public.
The brewery was small, with the actual building only taking up one of Fallier’s property lots, and had a capacity of only 200 gallons. The brewery itself was somewhat successful, with it being the only brewery in town, people would obviously go through to drink beer. The problem was, the beer was not that good. Locals believed that the purity of the water in Germany was far superior to the purity of the Cass River. Luckily for Fallier, he did not have much competition with German beer back in the mid 1800’s.
Now Fallier was the only brewer in Frankenmuth for 5 years. However, in 1862 the next “contender” entered the beer market in Frankenmuth. The Cass River brewery opened just 2 lots north of The Frankenmuth Brewery by Martin Heubisch and (?) Knaust.This brewery shared a market space with the Frankenmuth Brewery until 1864, where records of Postcards from citizens of Frankenmuth mention their being “one brewery standing in Frankenmuth.”
It is safe to assume the original Frankenmuth Brewery closed down around this time, as John Fallier passed away on March 23rd, 1866. His wife, Barbara Romes survived him and remarried (Records list both John G. Rupprecht and John Stahl as possible spouses).
Fallier’s brewing legacy is a bit harder to follow beyond this point. With no one being around in the present day that was also around in the 1860’s, we have to build the past with what we can find. Research states that two farmers, Schluckbier (first name possibly Peter) and John G. Rupprecht, owned the Frankenmuth Brewery for a short time. In 1880 an A. V. Scheinder is thought to have opened up a license for the Frankenmuth Brewery.
1884 spelled the end for the Frankenmuth Brewery as John G. Geyer, the then owner of the Cass River Brewery, purchased the building. The brewery became the John G. Geyer Brewery, which in 1908 became the Geyer Brother’s Cass River Brewery when John Geyer passed the brewery to his three sons.
The brewing history in Frankenmuth would continue to flourish, with a brewery opening in the late 1800’s and closing close to the year 2000, this being where the River Place now stands. Even now, the original location of the Frankenmuth Brewery is used for the present day brewery “Frankenmuth Brewing Co. Inc.” This is now the last standing brewery in Frankenmuth, and one of the most historic sites in the city’s history.
Chad is a Collections Assistant at the Frankenmuth Historical Association.
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