Title: Army Lieutenant, Civil War; brewery owner
Birthdate: March 2, 1825
Death Date: August 18, 1912
Plot Location: Section 107, Lot 22
This naturalized citizen was a wounded soldier in his new country’s army, then started his own business and made a successful career. It’s a fairly common story in the last half of the 19th century, and it is easier to explain than the clothing and regalia he chose to wear in these portraits.
Jacob was born in Zweibrücken near the French border in western Germany. He trained as a cooper, one who makes oak barrels. After emigrating to Philadelphia when he was 21 he began working for the George Lauer, Manger, and Dittmer Breweries.. Three years later he married a German girl named Kunigunde (meaning “she fights for her family”), but she called herself Katharina or Kate. He became a naturalized citizen in 1852. Four children were born in the next ten years but two didn’t survive.
Jacob enlisted for three months at the start of the Civil War, then rejoined the Army in September, 1861 as 2nd Lieutenant in the 95th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. That unit saw some minor action at Gaines Mill as part of the Peninsula Campaign near Richmond in June, 1862. Following an injury at Antietam, Maryland in September, he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged.
After establishing a tavern business the couple had a stillborn baby and another child that died by age 3. He joined several fraternal orders, and one of the medals the lieutenant proudly wore was from the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), a patriotic order formed just after President Lincoln’s assassination. Another was most likely from another fraternity of veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic.
That may have reawakened Jacob’s calling to serve his country, because he enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1867. He rose to 1st Lieutenant before being discharged in 1876. His liquor business continued during those years but his wife died in 1871, prompting a union with a second wife, Paulina Leonhardt. She brought two daughters from a previous marriage to the family, but she died in 1893.
Jacob began the Keystone State Brewery in 1873 at 27th and Parrish Streets, but at some later point it was known as the Jacob Conrad Brewing Company. There’s a reason that section of the city is known as Brewerytown, because 20 similar operations were in that neighborhood at one time or another. Like most of them, Keystone’s heyday was in the 1890s, even though Jacob’s share of the market was not large.
That’s partly because there were 60 brewers throughout the city at that time, dominated by Christian Schmidt and Henry Ortlieb. As often happens, when competition gets intense, consolidation frequently follows. Five brewers decided to merge in 1897 to form the Consumer’s Brewing Company. Jacob was not one of them but John Welde was, and he was buried at Mount Moriah in 1901. His Notable story can be found here.
Jacob, the old Bavarian brewmaster, was 85 when he chose to retire after his business closed in 1910. That year’s census and the one before it show his residence just one block south of 27th and Parrish Streets, so he was always close to his business, in more ways than one. He was by himself with the help of a live-in housekeeper, but not long after that census he was persuaded to move in with his step-daughter, Lillie. She cared for him until he died of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) in 1912.
Ironically it was Prohibition in 1920 that would seal the fate of almost all of the other breweries. Only a few returned to making beer when the law was repealed, and when Schmidt’s finally closed in 1987 the city had no commercial brewery operations, the first time in 300 years
Jacob’s funeral service was held at St. Marcus Mission Evangelical Lutheran Church at 27th and Cumberland Streets. He was buried here at Mount Moriah beside his first wife, Kate. Ferdinand Conrad, whose relationship to Jacob hasn’t been determined, is also in Lot 22 with his wife and daughter. The four children of Jacob and Kate who died young are in Lot 20 of the same section, joined later by Jacob’s son, Joseph Jacob and his wife, Mary.
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