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Pabst Brewing Company: History of an American Business
by Thomas C. Cochran
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Adolphus Busch: Captain of Industry.

Adolphus Busch -- who, along with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, founded the great brewing empire which bears both their names -- was reputed to have been one of the most flamboyant industrialists of the nineteenth century. It was said that, in place of the traditional calling card, Adolphus often presented business associates with a fancy brass pocket knife containing a peephole with Adolphus' portrait inside.

One brewing industry historian painted the following picture of Adolphus Busch's appetite for extravagance:

"The epitome of the dynastic brewer was St. Louis's Adolphus Busch, a man with great zest for life, habits of ostentation unfamiliar to puritan American society, and a regal attitude toward the world. He had not only a lavish home near the plant called No. 1 Busch Place, but also a great country estate, 'Grant's Farm'; two homes in Pasadena -- 'Ivy Wall' for himself and his wife, Lilly, and 'The Blossoms,' for the children and visitors; a property and hop farm at Cooperstown, New York, birthplace of baseball; two villas at Langenschwalbach, Germany (one for himself and Lilly, one for the children and visitors); and a private railroad car called 'Adolphus.' In a book about the family, granddaughter Alice Busch Tilton remarked that when her father, Adolphus, Jr., was born, 'a salute of guns were fired off the Brewery. There was great rejoicing, and well there should have been. The Crown Prince was born!' At all the estates, there were fabulous grounds, and Busch had a fancy for furnishing his gardens and woods with carvings of the characters in Grimm's Fairy Tales. 'Our gardens in California,' Mrs. Tilton recalled, 'were really like a scene from Midsummer Night's Dream. We employed 40 to 50 gardeners.'"

When Adolphus and Lilly Busch celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1911, the gala affair rivaled that of royalty. One newspaper reporter wrote:

"The Busches of St. Louis had a pleasant golden wedding in California the other day. The ways of beer have been pleasant ways for them. The husband crowned the wife with a $200,000 diadem. The president of the United States sent a $20 gold piece. Col. Roosevelt sent a solid gold loving-cup and the emperor of Germany sent a like gift. Presidents, ex-presidents and emperors paid tribute to the man who made beer and made it pay. It pays to succeed and to get rich. In the meantime, every man who drank a glass of the Busch beer contributed his mite to the happiness in California."

Adolphus Busch died in 1913 after nearly a half-century at the head of the brewing enterprise which he built. Anheuser-Busch paid homage to its founding father by writing, "Adolphus Busch's genius as a brewer and his flair for advertising combined to lift the company to great heights."

C.H.M.

 


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