Peter Straub & St. Mary’s, Pa.
Sanot Marien Stadt


April 16, 2014 (Updated October 25, 2015)

Although this is outside the intent of identifying Pittsburgh area breweries, Peter Straub did have a Pittsburgh connection. As such I though this would be of interest to readers of this site.

Peter P. Straub (June 28, 1850 – December 17, 1913) 63 years old.
Peter came to America in 1869 and came to Allegheny, but I do not know if the date is one in the same. He worked under John Straub (no relation) BUT NOT at the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. He then moved to McKeesport and Centerville (now Kersey). I also found information that he moved to Brookville and was to have worked at both breweries. He moved to St. Mary’s in 1872 where he worked at the Windfielder Brewery on Center Street. He did return to Allegheny before settling in at St. Marys.

Brookville Breweries: Brookville had two breweries in the 1800’s. The North Fork Brewery was built in1861 and rebuilt in 1863. The Spring Brewery followed in 1871. Straub’s time with the Spring Brewery would have been short.

Peter came to Centerville, Elk County in 1876 where he worked in a brewery for only six months. Kersey (Centerville) is 5 miles south of St. Mary’s but close enough that Straub and Sabina Sorg could have known one another very well. He courted Sorg’s daughter, Sabina and they married on November 23, 1875.

Discrepancy: Some sites indicate that the Straub Brewery was founded in1872, but based on information provided by the brewery that date cannot be correct. The Straub Brewery is not clear as to the date when Straub took over and re-named the brewery. I may have the answer.

No relation to John N. Straub of Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh).
See
Unbelievable below.

Peter Straub Timeline


DID NOT WORK for Eberhardt & Ober in Allegheny.
Peter was to have worked for E&O under John N. Straub, but E&O did not absorb John’s brewery until 1883. Peter had his own brewery by the 1870’s. Peter most likely worked for John N. Straub at the Straub Brewery on South Canal Street in Allegheny City, which was established until the 1840’s.

Other authors say Peter work for John Straub. That would be correct but at the time John was not working nor did he own the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. E & O did buy John’s brewery in 1883. Peter had his first brewery in 1878. I don’t think other writers realize that John Straub had his own brewery on the North Side. He actually opened his first brewery in Pittsburgh’s downtown area years before.

The
Mt. Zion Historical Society got it right.

1850: Born June 28 in Felldorf Starzach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

1869: Arrives in America and came to Allegheny City. Believed to have worked for the John N. Straub Brewery (no relation). If the side note below is accurate then Peter would have been in Allegheny a very short time. Others have his in Allegheny City for only four months.

Moved to Brookville and worked at the Christ & Allgeier Brewery. As he was to have lived here for two years he may have worked for a second brewery.

Side Note: Magnus Allgerier came to St Marys from Germany in 1866 (age 24) but moved to Brookville in 1868. He worked for the S. C. Christ Brewery. He then established the Spring Brewery in 1870. This would put Peter here about this time.

Peter returned to Allegheny (about 1871?) but then moved to McKeesport. John Straub was still operating as the Straub Brewery. Once again, the above side note suggests that Peter spent little time here and possibly one year before moving back to Centerville. That would be a reasonable choice as he had a brewery job there in the past.

1872: Peter Straub (age 22) moved to Centerville (now Kersey)

1875: Married Sabina Sorg (November 23), daughter of a brewery owner.

Moved to St. Marys and first worked at the Windfelder Brewery.

1876: Peter Straub bought Sorg’s interest in the Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery on September 2.

1878: He and Sabina went to the Paris Exposition.

1878: Peter bought out Wesnitzer and renamed it the Benzinger Spring Brewery.

This is when Peter Straub became sole owner of a brewery


1913: Peter Straub (age 63) dies and his sons rename the brewery the Peter Straub & Sons Brewery.

Benzinger & St. Mary’s Breweries
Elk County, Pennsylvania


Babylon Brewery
Followed by Dorner
Location unknown
Built by Edward Babel (put two and two together guys) and in operation in 1870.
The Benedictine Fathers brewed at this brewery.

Benzinger Spring Brewery
Followed by Straub
Sorg Street at Kaul Avenue
P Straub was listed as owner in the 1887 Sanborn map. Unfortunately the map does not show a street. Peter bought this brewery in 1878. See Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery, below.

Dorner Brewery
Formerly: Babylon Brewery
Location unknown

Elk Brewing
Unknown location
This was listed in the Master Brewers Association paper of 1918. Chris Doeffinger was brewmaster. The brewery was here as early as 1903. Straub was the only other brewery listed in the paper although St. Mary’s was still operating.

Geiss Brewery
St. Michael Street
Followed by Walker
Sold to Charles Walker
Although it was the borough’s second brewery I do not have any dates.

Hantz Brewery (Michael)
Unknown location
St. Mary’s first brewery built in 1845 and in operation for about ten years.

Mountain Brewery
St. Michaels Street
George Burgess, owner, as shown in the 1887 Sanborn map but the partners may have been Burgess & Wesnitzer.

Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery
Roselay St
Francis Sorg bought the Volk Brewery on December 2, 1869. On June 7, 1873 he sold half interest to Bernhard Wesnitzer, but the brewery was not called the Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery until September 1. Peter Straub bought Sorg’s interest in the brewery on September 2, 1876. Peter then bought Wesnitzer’s interest in 1878 and called established the Benzinger Spring Brewery.

St. Mary’s Brewery
Center Street
Followed by Windfelder
Charles Luhr & Company, owner as shown in the 1887 Sanborn map. Charles and Henry operated the brewery since September 9, 1876 when they purchased the brewery from Windfelder. It was said that William Kaul bought the land in 1905. Bought by the Straub Brothers Brewery in 1920

Charles Luhr (September 25, 1830 – July 13, 1909) Born in Germany
Henry Luhr (September 20, 1849 – ?) Born in St. Mary’s
Joseph Luhr came to Benzinger Township in 1846. He was given permission to operate a liquor house in St. Mary’s in 1847. This was in his hotel, Washington House. I don’t think Joseph was with the brewery.

St. Mary’s Beverage
Hall Street (north-east of the Sorg Street Brewery)
Followed by XXX; Straub Brothers owned the building.
Owned by Col. William Kaul. The 1925 Sanborn map indicated that this facility was not in operation in 1925 the reason may be that the Straub brothers bought the plant in 1920.

Straub Brewery
Sorg Street at Kaul Avenue
Formerly: Benzinger
The
Brewers’ Journal reported on June 1, 1916 that a new four-story main building was to be erected but they did not list a street name.
The 1925 Sanborn map shows this to be the Peter Straub & Sons Brewery in 1925, Peter having passed away in 1913. A building permit was granted on June 26, 1940 for the construction of a bottling house.

Volk Brewery
First location was established in 1855 on Erie Avenue (burned July 25, 1880 and moved). The second location was on Sorg Street (after 1880).
Built by Charles Volk, opposite Washington House, which became the Hotel. The book says “latter built where is now the City Hotel, and later built the brewery now owned by Straub in Benzinger Township”. The second location is the current home of the Straub Brewery. See Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery, above.

Walker Brewery
Situated on the hill on St. Michael Street.
Formerly: Geiss Brewery and perhaps the Mountain Brewery

Windfelder Brewery
Center Street
Followed by St. Mary’s Brewery
Windfelder is not shown on my Sanborn maps.
Joseph Windfelder built this brewery in 1851 but may have closed in 1874 or 76. Charles & Henry Luhr acquired the building and equipment in September 9, 1876. This was St. Mary’s second brewery. Lesson’s book (below) gives reference that Windfelder had more than one brewery but does not elaborate on that.

Discrepancy: A number of parrot websites have Peter Straub working here for 20 months after his return from Paris in 1878. If this were true then the Windfelder Brewery would not be the brewery as it was the St. Mary’s Brewery at the time.

St. Mary’s Breweries Timeline


1845: Hantz Brewery (First Brewery) May have been first in the township.

1851: Windfelder 1851 (Second Brewery), sold to Luhr brothers in 1876.
May have been the first in St. Mary’s.

1855: Geiss (Second Brewery in the Borough) sold to Charles Volk in 1855.
Volk (Third Brewery) until 1880 when he moved to a new location.

1869: Peter Straub moves to Allegheny City across from Pittsburgh when he is 19.

Francis Sorg bought Volk’s Brewery on December 2, 1869.
This became Sorg & Wesnitzer Brewery on September 1, 1873.
I don’t know how Wesnitzer came into this.

1872 : Peter Straub moved to Centerville (now Kersey)

1873:Francis Sorg sold one-half of his interest to Bernhard Wesnitzer on June 7.

1875: In an astute move, Peter Straub married the daughter of a brewer.

1876: Luhr acquired the Winfelder Brewery
Peter Straub bought Sorg’s interest in the brewery on September 2, 1876.

1878: Peter bought out Wesnitzer and became Benzinger Spring Brewery.

1912: Peter Straub dies and his sons rename the brewery the Peter Straub & Sons Brewery.

1920: The Straub Brothers Brewery buys one-half interest in the St. Mary’s Beverage Company.

1946: Straub Brothers Brewery built a bottling house.

1947: The Straub Brewery in incorporated.

Late 1950’s: Straub sell the Beverage Company to the Pure Carbon Company.

Municipal Divisions


Benzinger was settled in 1842
The town of St. Mary’s was founded in 1842.
Benzinger Township was formed on December 18, 1845
The town of St. Mary's was incorporated by special act of the legislature, March 3, 1848 from portions of Ridgeway Township.

Unbelievable


This was found on Wikipedia on St. Mary’s:
Straub Brewery was founded in 1831 in the Pittsburgh area and moved to St. Mary’s in the 1850’s. As Peter Straub was not born until 1850 it shows total lack in research by the author. John N. Straub had a brewery in what was then the Allegheny City (now the North Side of Pittsburgh) but he was no relation to Peter and he was NOT Peter. John Straub did indeed start a brewery in 1831 but it was located in the current downtown section of the city and not in Allegheny, now known as the North Side I need a beer break.

Breweries in Brookville, Jefferson County
(For Reference)


Algeir Spring Brewery
At Sand Spring opposite red mill
Mangus Algeir was the owner and operator of the brewery that he established in 1871. Closed at the onset of prohibition. The brewery sat on land that was formerly known as Geer’s Pond.

North Fork Brewery 1862 – 1896
Brookville Brewing Co. 1896 – 1917
Mill & Water Streets
Owned by Sebastian C. Christ (1838-1910). This was Brookville’s first brewery built in 1861 only to be torn down and rebuilt in 1863. Came to American in 1850 and spent some time in Pittsburgh, but not as a brewer. After marriage and a trip back to Europe he came to Brookville and opened a brewery. It became the Brookville Brewery in 1917.

Cambria County Brewers Notes
(For Reference)


Martin Schroth built the first brewery in 1849 call the Sun Brewery. It was destroyed by fire in 1853 and a new brewery erected on the same land. The brewery was sold in 1866 to his son-in-law, Henry Blum.

Charles Volk built a brewery in the early 1850’s north of Schroth’s but he lasted for only a year.

Charles H. Volk lived in Carrolltown but moved to Benzinger Township where his daughter, Mary Elizabeth married. While in Carrolltown, he operated a brewery during the early 1850’s.

Andrew Geis and Julius Stich brewed but after one year Geis bought Stich’s interest in the brewery. Mr. Geis died on July 10, 1864 and Mr. Stich, who was the executor of Geis’ estate, sold the brewery to Francis Barbrich. Mr. Barbrich then re-sold it to Stich.

Busted Myths & Odd Facts


Peter Straub never worked for Eberhardt & Ober.
He never worked in Pittsburgh.
He brewed Straub beer in Allegheny County, but it was not his.
His brewery in St. Marys was not the “Straub Brewery”; it was Benzinger.
It became Straub after he died in 1913.
He knew to marry the boss’s daughter.
He would never get to know Tony from
Vecenie Distributing from Millvale.

References


The original source for most of this material came from:

Images of America – Straub Brewery, by John E, Schlimm II, 2005

The History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania by Michael A. Leeson
Comment: This book mentions Straub moving to Brookville and then onto Centerville. The book leads one to believe that he did not work in St. Mary’s until his return from Paris although he met his wife who was from St. Mary’s.

History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania by Kate M. Scott, 1888
Notes the North Fork and Spring Breweries

Pioneer Outline History of Northwestern Pennsylvania, by W. J. McKnight MD, 1905

Straub Brewery website was also used to obtain credible information.
Comment: The Straub site mentions Peter moving to McKeesport and Centerville but not Brookville.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for 1887 and 1925 were used to identify brewery locations.