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Obituary: Henry Schmulbach

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▼ Henry Schmulbach Obituary

-from "The Western Brewer: and Journal of the Barley, Malt and Hops Trades," September 1915, pg. 78.


Henry Schmulbach, founder of the Schmulbach Brewing Co., Wheeling, W. Ya., and one of that city"s ablest financiers and business executives for the past half century, died on the evening of August 13, at his country home at Roney's Point, near Wheeling. Death was due to a general breakdown in health from which Mr. Schmulbach had been suffering for about a year.

Mr. Schmulbach, the son of Johan and Anna Elizabeth Schmulbach, was born November 12, 1844. at Braunschwandt, county of Alsfeldt Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. At the age of eight years, he with his parents and other members of his family emigrated to this country, directly to Wheeling.

When he reached the age of ten years, young Schmulbach went to work for his uncle, George Fellers, as a cabin boy. on a steamboat plying on the Ohio river. In this capacity he worked until the outbreak of the Civil War when he decided to quit the river.

He then opened a grocery store at Twenty-third and Main street, in which business he continued for about three years. This business was sold out, and once more he became interested in the steamboat business, this time associated with Captains William List and Booth. This association was known as the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati Steamboat Company.

In the year of 1865 Mr. Schmulbach entered the wholesale liquor business. In 1881 he acquired the controlling interest in the Nail City Brewing Company. For one year the company was known by this name, after Mr. Schmulbach's entrance into the affairs, when it was changed to the Schmulbach Brewing Company with Mr. Schmulbach as president.

From a mere pygmie in the brewery world, it grew to be the biggest producing concern in the state with a capacity of 100,000 barrels a year. With the taking effect of the Yost law last year, this concern went out of business. As a side issue, the ice manufacturing plant of this brewery was the largest in the state.

Probably one of the greatest successes of Mr. Schmulbach's constructive career was the building up of the German Bank of Wheeling. This bank owes its life to Mr. Schmulbach. The bank was incorporated in the late 40's and grew steadily until 1879. In that year a failure of the tobacco crop, in which much of its resources were invested, caused it to meet severe losses.

At a meeting of the board of directors it was voted to suspend operations. But Mr. Schmulbach, backed by the late Chester D. Hubbard, opposed this action so strenuously that the other directors reconsidered and these two men brought it safely past the crisis. Mr. Schmulbach succeeded Mr. Hubbard as president of the institution over twenty years ago and has served as its head ever since.

Mr. Schmulbach extended his field of operations yet further and took a prominent part in the upbuilding of the steel industry in the Wheeling district. He was a director in the Top mill, later consolidated with the Wheeling Steel & Iron Company, and of the Mingo Iron Works, which was absorbed by the Carnegie Steel Company.

In 1892, Mr. Schmulbach financed the Wheeling Bridge Company and was elected as its president. This company built two bridges across the river and opened a way into Ohio for traction companies, and in this way aided in the development of large sections of the territory. He was an extensive holder of street railway and telephone stocks, owner of West Virginia's first skyscraper, the Schmulbach building in Wheeling, and was interested in numerous other enterprises.

Mr. Schmulbach was a believer in the Lutheran faith. He was connected with several fraternal organizations, being one of the oldest living Knight Templars in West Virginia. He joined the Masonic order in 1867.

In November, 1912, Mr. Schmulbach married Miss Eva Pauline Bertschy, of Wheeling, who survives.

He was a generous contributor to religious and charitable organizations and few men have done so much for a community in a business way as Henry Schmulbach did for Wheeling and, in fact, for West Virginia.

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