Ri­val beer barons rest in peace, and close to­gether, in Brew­ers Corner.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - BY ROBERT SIMONSON

Our “Notes From Brandy­land” colum­nist vis­its our esteemed beer barons – at their fi­nal rest­ing place.

THE TI­TLE OF THE For­est Home Ceme­tery event, “Brunch With the Barons,” was rather mis­lead­ing. I as­sumed the $10 ad­mis­sion would get me a guided tour of cen­tury-old South Side greens, where al­most every fa­mous Mil­wau­kee brewer (the barons in ques­tion) is buried, as well as, you know, brunch. In truth, the tour was self-guided and, at the end, you could buy a bratwurst for $3.

Still, that saw­buck did grant me ac­cess to the Blatz fam­ily mau­soleum, which is al­most never open. Blatz was once Mil­wau­kee’s third-largest brewer, but to­day it stands first in gravesites. The mau­soleum is by far the grand­est of the barons’ fi­nal rest­ing places, a huge, boxy stone ed­i­fice that would be­fit a mi­nor pharaoh. Two Blatz de­scen­dants were on hand. I asked why the fam­ily had built such a mas­sive crypt. “We have no idea,” said one, in a tone that hinted he was unim­pressed by his an­ces­tors’ os­ten­ta­tion.

The late Valentin Blatz rests in an area of the ceme­tery known as Brew­ers Corner. His very re­spectable neigh­bors in­clude one-time ri­vals Joseph Sch­litz, whose tow­er­ing obelisk is sur­rounded by the unas­sum­ing head­stones of dozens of Uih­leins (all re­lated); and Capt. Fred­er­ick Pabst, whose mon­u­ment is rel­a­tively mod­est.

James C. Pabst, a de­scen­dant who stood nearby, was not sur­prised by this. “The Pab­sts have al­ways been a quiet bunch,” he ob­served. (Not like those showy Blatzes.)

As fun as it was to meet a Pabst and a cou­ple Blatzes, they didn’t have much to say about the dead men who had made their sur­names fa­mous.

More vol­u­ble was the Get­tel­man scion who stood by the small head­stone of his great-grand­fa­ther, Fritz Get­tel­man Sr., who once made one of the most pop­u­lar beers in Wis­con­sin. The liv­ing Get­tel­man had a mis­sion. He ex­plained (with vis­ual aids) that the last rem­nant of the old Get­tel­man brew­ery is on the prop­erty of the Miller Brew­ing Co., which wants to tear the build­ing down. (Founder Fred­er­ick Miller, an ap­par­ent con­trar­ian, is not buried at For­est Home, but he holds sway none­the­less; Pabst now owns Blatz and Sch­litz, and all three are made by Miller Brew­ing.)

I re­marked to Fred Get­tel­man that the beer barons seemed un­lucky in keep­ing their name on their busi­nesses. When brewer Au­gust Krug died, his widow mar­ried book­keeper Joseph Sch­litz, who changed the firm’s name. The grand­daugh­ter of Ja­cob Best, of Best beer, mar­ried Pabst, who slapped his han­dle on the door. Sim­i­lar story for Get­tel­man.

“Daugh­ters,” he said evenly, pin­point­ing the prob­lem. “None of the beer barons seemed to have any sons.”

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