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Joseph Schlitz

American businessman
The basics
Date of birth Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Date of death May 07, 1875
The details

Joseph Schlitz (May 15, 1831 – May 7, 1875) was a German-American entrepreneur who made his fortune in the brewing industry.

Early life

Joseph Schlitz was born on May 15, 1831 in Mainz, Hesse-Darmstadt. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1850.


In 1856 he assumed management of the Krug Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1858 when he married Krug's widow he changed the name of the company to the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company. He became more successful after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when he donated hundreds of barrels of beer as part of the relief effort. Many of Chicago's breweries that had burnt were never to reopen; Schlitz established a distribution point there and acquired a large part of the Chicago market.


Schlitz perished along with 340 others in the wreck of the SS Schiller in thick fog off the Isles of Scilly on May 7, 1875. The islands lie 26 miles to the west of Cornwall, England. Schlitz was returning via New York and Hamburg to visit the country of his birth, Germany. His body was never recovered, but there is a cenotaph at Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee.

Personal life

Schlitz was a Freemason and was affiliated with Aurora Lodge No. 30.


Uwe Spiekermann, "Political Revolution, Emigration, and Establishing a Regional Player in Brewing: August Krug and Joseph Schlitz." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman and the German Historical Institute. Last modified September 19, 2016. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=279

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