Bauernschmidt Family

George Bauernschmidt (1835-99) and Margaretha Wiessner (1838-1912) were the parents of Marie Bauernschmidt’s husband William. Marie Bauernschmidt cited her father-in-law, George, as one of the three men who influenced her life.

Early Life

George Bauernschmidt was born in 1835 in the Bavarian town of Wannbach, northeast of Nuremberg not far from the Czech border. According to a parish record, his parents were Johann Bauernschmidt, a journeyman carpenter and brewer (b. 1804) and Barbara Hotzelein, a shoemaker’s daughter.
Johnann Bauernschmidt b. 1804 001
Above is George Bauernschmidt’s father Johann Bauernschmidt b. 1804.

They were married in 1829 in the Evangelical Lutheran Kirchengemeinde Hetzelsdorf, and had 4 children; three sons, all of whom had Johann in their name, and one daughter. (note 1) Johann Georg, born May 28, 1835, was known as George. The son of a carpenter, it is not surprising that George was trained as a cooper. By age 17 George had acquired a wanderbuch, travel pass, allowing him to travel and practice his trade. The physical description on the pass has George as 5’7” tall with blond hair, blue eyes, a pointed nose, good teeth, a round chin, and no beard. (note 2) The document stated it was good until November 1856 when George was required to enter military service. It is likely this requirement played a part in George’s decision to emigrate to America in 1853. George’s first employment upon arriving in Baltimore was on a farm in Baltimore County owned by the Kepp family. Late in life George is quoted as saying the time on the farm was one of the happiest of his life. (note 3)

Little is know of Margaretha Wiessner’s early life. She was born in 1838 in the Bavarian town of Uhlfeldt near Nuremberg, and her father had an upholstery shop. Her brother, John F., emigrated to Baltimore in 1853 and lent her money to follow. Once in Baltimore she worked in her brother’s home to pay off the loan of her fare. Her granddaughter characterized Margaretha as a strong, shrewd, and determined woman.

Marriage and Family

It is not clear how George Bauernschmidt and Margaretha Wiessner met. One source says they knew each other in Bavaria before coming to Baltimore or they might have become acquainted when George and Margaretha’s brother John were working together at the Rost Brewery in Baltimore. In any event, George and Margaretha were married in the Zion Church on September 9, 1860.
George and Margaretha Bauernschmidt 001
Above daguerreotype of George and Margaretha Bauernschmidt ca. 1860.

They raised seven children:

John (1862-1926) married Annie Kress (1865-1942)
Frederick (1864-1933) married Agnes Wehr (1873-1963)
Sarah (1865-1941) unmarried
George, Jr. (1868-1892) unmarried
Emilie (1869?-1911) married Henry Wehr (d. 1909)
Elizabeth (1871-1924) unmarried
William (1874-1934) married Marie Oehl von Hattersheim (1875-1962)

George and Margaretha lived most of their married life at 1505 Gay Street (formerly Belle Air Avenue). This was on the corner of E. Oliver Street on the property of the brewery they operated. The residence was built to accommodate their large family and provide housing for their brewery workers as well. The 1876 Hopkins Atlas of Baltimore noted the size of the home by listing it as a hotel. When the Bauernschmidts built their home, the area was quite rural. Directly east of the Bauernschmidts’ home was Greenwood Park with shaded walks and a bandstand. Three blocks north on Gay Street was the Schuetzen Park, a gathering place for the German community. (note 4)
Bauernschmidt family in beer garden 001
Above, undated photograph of the George Bauernschmidt family perhaps in the garden next to the 1505 Gay Street residence. Margaretha is in the center seated behind the pitcher of beer and George Sr. with beard seated beside her. The two men to George Sr.’s left are probably the oldest sons John and Frederick. The girl behind them is likely Emilie and to her right, Elizabeth. The brother beside Elizabeth is George Jr.; the boy standing to the far left is likely youngest son William. Daughter Sarah is seated at the table next to her mother. The woman standing next to George Jr. and the two children seated below William are unidentified, possible family servants.

Sometime between 1893 and 1895 George moved his family several blocks north and west to North Avenue. He built an imposing residence for himself, his wife and daughters at 1649 North Avenue at the southwest corner of Broadway. To keep his family together, George built several rowhouses to the west of his home. At various times his children Frederick, William, Emilie and their families lived at one of these rowhouses at 1639, 1641, 1643, 1645 and 1647 North Avenue.
Bauernschmidt 1649 North Ave 001
Above is the 1600 block of North Avenue in 2013. George Bauerschmidt’s home at 1649 anchors the corner at Broadway on the left.

George Bauernschmidt also owned a farm on Harford Road which likely provided hay for the brewery horses; his grandchildren remembered it as an idyllic summer retreat. The farm, comprising over 100 acres, was known as Grindon when daughter Sarah purchased it from the estate in 1912. (note 5)

The Bauernschmidts’ oldest daughter Sarah worked along with her mother running the large household of family and brewery workers. Her niece recalled that Sarah had little or no schooling, and she would rise at 2 AM to do the household laundry before the day began. Another daughter, Elizabeth, was a deaf-mute and was remembered as keeping house for her sister and parents. It is unlikely that she was able to attend the public schools, and at her death, her siblings created the Elizabeth Bauernschmidt trust fund to support the education of “crippled, deaf, or deformed children in Baltimore schools.” (note 6) The middle daughter Emilie had more educational opportunities. She studied at the Peabody Institute, practicing on a concert grand piano in the North Avenue home. She was the only daughter to marry. (note 7)

All of George’s sons joined him in the brewing business. His oldest son John was trained as a brewmaster in a school in Chicago. Frederick first trained as a lawyer and then learned brewing, becoming the brewmaster for the family business. He later served as secretary and treasurer of the brewery. William worked on the business side in charge of the office. The fourth son, George Jr. worked at the brewery until his early death.

George Bauernschmidt was an active member of Baltimore’s German community belonging to social organizations such as the German Society of Maryland and the Germania Maennerchor. Singing societies like the Germania Maennerchor (men’s choir) were an important part of the German society in Baltimore. In addition to participating in saengerfests, singing competitions, the group would hold social events such as concerts, parades, and balls. It is not known if the Bauernschmidt men were singers, but in 1888 George Bauernschmidt was the organizer for the Germania Maennerchor’s Riding Club. (note 8) The group’s clubhouse was located on the Bauernschmidt farm and its city headquarters were at George Bauernschmidt’s office at the brewery on Gay Street. When the club was formed, George had just completed building his new brewery with a stable of 60 draft horses giving him the facilities for a riding club. For at least 2 years the club held an event that included a ride from the brewery out Harford Road to the clubhouse on the Bauernschmidt farm where the group was served dinner prepared by Margaretha Bauernschmidt and her three daughters. Two of George’s sons, Frederick and George, rode in the event wearing the uniforms of “blue coats, corduroy pantaloons, grey helmets and white gloves.” Frederick carried the colors, “a handsome standard which had lately been presented to the club by a number of lady friends.”

George and Margaretha worked hard to build the brewery business and while there were respites at the family farm, it was not until 1888 that they took an extended trip to visit Germany. On June 2, 1888 George, Margaretha and daughters Sarah, Elizabeth and Emilie boarded the North German Line steamship Main for Bremen. This was not an inconsiderable trip. A round-trip ticket was $100, and the family traveled for over two months. They visited 16 cities including Frankfurt, Mainz, Nuremberg and Munich. It is a mark of George Bauernschmidt’s standing in Baltimore that the Sun covered his return in detail. The family was met at the Locust Point pier by their sons and several friends. They were driven back to the Gay Street home which had been decorated with flags and illuminated by Chinese lanterns. Supper was served to the gathering of 200 people, including 65 brewery employees, after which a number of speeches were given. (note 9)

Brewing career

After several years on the Kepp farm George went to work for George Rost in his brewery on the corner of Gay Street and Patterson Park Avenue. George’s older brother John J. Bauernschmidt, Jr. (1830-1879) had also settled in Baltimore; in 1860 the two brothers opened their own brewery at 323 West Pratt Street between Howard and Eutaw streets. (note 10) The brothers, with Margaretha’s, help operated a saloon and small restaurant in front of the brewery. The plant was so small they needed to rent land on Ridgely Street for the cooling and lagering cellars. (note 11) After four years in business together,the brothers separated; each opened his own brewery. Family lore has it that George was hesitant to start off on his own and that it was Margaretha who pressed for the move.

In 1864, George leased part of the former Philip Rogers estate known as Greenwood and opened his business on the east side of Gay Street between Federal and Oliver streets. (note 12) George Bauernschmidt had become acquainted with this part of the city when he had worked at the Rost Brewery also on Gay Street not far from his new property. He had another connection with this area; the previous year Margaretha’s brother John F. Wiessner had opened his own brewery a block north of the Gay Street site that George leased in 1864. George Bauernschmidt took the name Greenwood for his business. Until 1887, his brewery was known as George Bauernschmidt’s Greenwood Brewery. In the early years, George also operated the Greenwood Park across the street from his brewery. The park had shaded walks, picnic areas, a bandstand and was well-suited to a beer garden.

The George Bauernschmidt’s Greenwood Brewery was not large. The brew house was two stories with an attic. Lagering was done in the cellars and keg racking was in the rear of the brew house. (note 13) Malt was purchased so there was no malt house. The brewery was successful and as its reputation grew, taverns would advertise that they carried Bauernschmidt’s beer. In 1866 and 1867 several taverns placed ads in the newspaper to inform customers that Bauernschmidt’s beer was available.

Buck Beer! Buck Beer! A superior article from Bauernschmidt’s Greenwood Brewery will be on draught at the Friendship House No. 12 North Frederick street for three days commencing Monday May 7.

Bavarian Lager Beer No. 1 from the Greenwood Brewery, cold and fresh at all times. Brewed in the Bavarian style, and will be on draught at the Friendship House No. 12 North Frederick street during the whole summer at 5 cents a glass. (note 14)

George Bauernschmidt took an active interest in the politics that played a role in the brewing business. In 1879 he joined with other Germans to try to change the Sunday laws that affected their business. In June of that year, the operator of the Irving Park near Annapolis Junction was arrested for allowing a group of “excursionists” to travel by train from Baltimore to picnic in his park. Later that summer a group of Germans were prohibited from completing a trip on a “pleasure barge.” In both cases the violation was tied to operating a business on Sunday. If this law was regularly enforced, it would affect the sale of beer in parks like two on Gay Street, Greenwood and Schuetzen, that sold Bauernschmidt’s beer. George joined the Sunday Law Modification Union to lobby for a change in the laws in the 1880 General Assembly session. George offered his brewery as a meeting place and the following ad notified members.

Sunday Law Modification Union
Will take place on Friday Evenings 8 o’clock at G. Bauernschmidt’s Belair avenue. Monday evenings at Bohemian Hall, Chew street, and on Wednesday evenings at Tony Kriegers headquarters, corner Biddle st. and Central ave. Come one, Come all by order of the Committee.

The Union was only partially successful. The law was modified to allow excursions on Sunday and the sale of ice-cream but not beer. (note 15)

The original brewery building served the Bauernschmidts for over twenty years but as the business grew and new machinery was needed, George contemplated enlarging his brewery. It was a decision by the city, however, that made a new building imperative. In 1886, the city extended Chester Street through the Bauernschmidt property, destroying his main building. (note 16) George dismantled the original brewery and in its place, built a five story building that took up the entire block of Gay between Oliver and Federal streets. (note 17)

Bauernschmidt Brewery litho detail
Above is a view of the rebuilt George Bauernschmidt Brewing Company at Gay and Oliver streets in an advertising lithograph, ca. 1888.

When the new building opened the business incorporated as the George Bauernschmidt Brewing Company, dropping Greenwood from its name. It was the largest brewery in Baltimore with the latest equipment. The new brewery was one of the first in Baltimore to install refrigeration equipment allowing increased production; the beer could be kept longer before needing to be distributed. Another advancement was bottling beer on site. Bauernschmidt’s was the first local brewery to bottle its own beer rather than to send it out to an independent bottler. In addition to mechanical improvements, the brewery expanded its products introducing a pale, rice beer. George’s oldest son John had been sent to a brewing school in Chicago and then worked for a time in San Francisco. He was persuaded to return to the family brewery and allowed to try producing the light, rice beer which was bottled as Dancing Girl. It was so successful that its sales helped the George Bauernschmidt Brewery become the largest in the state. (note 18)

Competition in the brewing business was fierce in late nineteenth-century Baltimore and consolidation was seen as a way to increase market share while reducing costs. At first the George Bauernschmidt family resisted consolidation; to remain independent, they incorporated the business with the family holding all the shares. The first overture of consolidation came in 1889 when they were approached by a British-owned syndicate operating as the Baltimore-United Breweries. This group had acquired several breweries including both George’s brothers’ breweries, but George and his sons refused to sell. (note 19) Ten years later, however, the George Bauernschmidt Brewery faced another challenge which was to divide the family for years.

The Maryland Brewing Company was formed in 1898 to consolidate local breweries, and approached the George Bauernschmidt Brewery. George believed it was time for him to retire and favored the sale. Other family members disagreed. George, Margaretha and their son John wanted to sell; sons Frederick and William did not. Frederick and William were so angered by the family decision, they turned in their shares of the brewery causing a family rift that lasted for years. (note 20) The George Bauernschmidt Brewery was sold in March 1899 joining 16 other local firms in the Maryland Brewing Company. (note 21) To protect their other assets, the family created the Baltimore Realty Company to manage family holdings that were not sold to the Maryland Brewing Company. Eldest son, John Bauernschmidt embraced the consolidation and served as president of the Maryland Brewing Company. When it failed two years later, it was succeeded by the Gottlieb-Bauernschmidt-Straus Brewing Company. G-B-S operated the George Bauernschmidt Brewery until 1915 when they closed the brewery. (note 22)

George Bauernschmidt did not live long in retirement. The month after the sale was completed he became ill on a trip to Atlantic City. He returned to his home on North Avenue where he died on April 12, 1899 at the age of 64. At his death, the Brewers’ Exchange recognized his contributions and published this resolution in the Sun.

Baltimore, Md., April 13, 1899
At a Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Brewers’ Exchange, held this day, the following resolutions were passed:
Whereas this Board has learned with unfeigned sorrow of the death of Mr. George Bauernschmidt, a loyal member of this Exchange from its formation:
Resolved, That in his death this Association has lost one of its most valued members-one who was honored and esteemed by every member. Modest and unobtrusive in his demeanor, quiet and reserved in his disposition, true and loyal in his friendships, he was respected and beloved by all his colleagues. For several years he served on the Board of Trustees of this Exchange, and whilst he never obtruded his views upon his fellow-members, he carefully deliberated upon and analyzed every question that came up for action, and when his opinion was expressed it was always correct. His wise counsel and advice were of great benefit to his colleagues and always commanded their attention and respect, for they had full confidence in the honesty of his convictions and the soundness of his judgement.
(note 23)

Estate and Family Feud

In recognition of their long partnership, George Bauernschmidt named his widow Margaretha his executor. He granted her life tenancy in the Broadway home and the farm as well as the residue of his estate. She was to control the estate during her lifetime and pass it on to their children in six equal parts at her death. George also designated $5000 to be distributed to charities chosen by Margaretha. (note 24) Frederick and William had removed themselves from family affairs in 1899 and were not involved in Margaretha’s discussions on the management of the estate. In 1901 Frederick and William filed a bill of complaint that their brother John was influencing their mother to treat them unjustly in the administration of the estate. At issue was how the estate funds were being handled. Margaretha had moved the estate assets into the family’s Baltimore Realty Company of which John Bauernschmidt was president. She was also planning to use estate funds to pay a $200,000 assessment levied by the Maryland Brewing Company of which John was also president. Frederick and William were worried that these actions would adversely affect their share of their father’s estate when it was distributed to them at their mother’s death. The suit was decided in favor of Frederick and William but the judge acknowledged that Margaretha believed she was acting in the interest of all her children when she made decisions about the estate. (note 25) Indeed at her death in 1912, the Sun praised her management of the estate saying she “showed business acumen rare in women.”

Margaretha’s Last Years

Margaretha survived her husband by 12 years. She lived with her daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, known as Liza, at the 1649 Broadway house. Summers were spent at the Harford Road farm. In 1909 her third daughter, Emilie Wehr and her two children Margaret and Harry, moved into the Broadway home after the death of Emilie’s husband. With the settlement of the lawsuit in 1902, relations with estranged sons Frederick and William improved. William’s three children resumed visits with their grandmother, Oma, and one granddaughter remembered Margaretha as a formidable, old lady, tall, straight, heavy set, with black hair that remained black even as she aged. Every Friday William’s children Margaret, George and William were taken by pony cart from their St. Paul Street home to North Avenue, and as “special treat, we came home after supper in the trolley car. Each had his own 5 cents, and could ask for the transfer.” Part of the visit included music lessons on the grand piano. Cousins Margaret and Harry Wehr were remembered as serious music students, but the William Bauernschmidt children were not. During the summer, the Wehr and the William Bauernschmidt children visited Oma and their aunts at the farm.

Margaretha developed cancer and because of her “horror” of hospitals, a room in the North Avenue house was designated for treatment. Her granddaughter recalled the room was on the second floor, furnished with a white marble-topped table from the kitchen and thoroughly cleaned “as only Aunt Liza could clean.” Several doctors, nurses and an anesthesiologist from the close-by Johns Hopkins Hospital would come to this make-shift theater to operate. Margaretha also tried treatment with radium which she had to purchase. Always frugal, she later had the radium donated for use on other patients who could not afford to purchase the expensive treatment themselves. Despite the treatments, Margaretha Bauernschmidt died on December 5, 1912. The funeral took place at home; she was buried with her husband in Lorraine Cemetery. Despite the concerns of her sons, when her will was probated she was found to have been an astute manager of the Bauernschmidt estate leaving over $425,000; valued at $11,925,000 in 2014. The Sun article on her will remarked at her business acumen and noted “one of the most remarkable points in connection with her purchase of securities was the fact that she bought in multiples of six” so that her estate would be divided evenly among her children. (note 26)


1. All four children emigrated to Baltimore. John Jacob (1830-1879), George (1835-1899), John Thomas (1838-1897), and Mrs. Kunigunda Koehler. In Baltimore the oldest brother was known as John Jr. and the youngest as Little John. In the Bauernschmidt Family Papers is a 20th-century snapshot of a building in Wannbach that is identified as the family home in Wannbach.

2. Johann Georg Bauernschmidt, Wanderbuch. Bauernschmidt Family Papers. There is a note by the translator on this photocopy explaining that the person holding a Wanderbuch was a boy or young man going from place to place getting work wherever he could to develop his skill in his chosen trade.

3. William Kelly, Brewing in Maryland. Baltimore, 1965, p. 311.

4.The residence was razed in the 1920s. Kelly, Brewing in Maryland pp. 311-315. An 1867 print of the Schuetzen Park shows a heavily wooded area with a pavilion and bandstand. Germans would meet for singing and shooting festivals, to picnic and enjoy beer. Rice, Laura. Maryland History in PrintsBaltimore: Maryland Historical Society Press, 2002, p. 299. The atlas is online at

5. The original farm was between Harford and Old Harford roads, Taylor Avenue and Northern Parkway. In 1919 Sarah sold off the southern 36 acres to be developed as Inglewood. She called her farm “Harford Oaks” and sold it in 1939. “Grindon is Sold,” Sun December 8, 1912. “Inglewood,” Sun June 22, 1919. “Harford Oaks, Home of Miss Sarah Bauernschmidt, To Be Developed,” Sun September 21, 1939. One the streets in the Inglewood development was Bauernwood.

6. Sun October 4, 1924. Sarah also donated to the public schools “an elaborate mechanical device for assisting in teaching deaf children.” Sun October 11, 1941.

7. Emilie married Harry Wehr in 1897. He was president of the Canton Iron and Steel Company. The Wehrs lived at 1647 North Avenue, and at Harry’s death in 1909, Emilie and her children Margaret and Harry moved back with her mother in the family home at 1649 North Avenue.

8. Sun December 10, 1888, May 20, 1889. The 1888 article notes that the original members of the Germania Maennerchor “Cowboy Club” participated in the event, but no information was found on this group. August Hellweg, Marie Bauernschmidt’s grandfather, was also a member of the Germania Mannerchor and it could be through this club that Marie and William met.

9. A Cordial Welcome Home,” Sun August 23, 1888.

10. John Jr. was the first of the brothers to emigrate to America. He settled first in Cincinnati and worked for the Christian Moerlein Brewery. He moved to Baltimore in 1856 and opened a small brewery at 130 West Camden St. Kelly, Brewing in Maryland, p. 243-44. Kelly gives two dates for opening the brothers’ Pratt Street brewery, 1858 and 1860.

11. The Ridgely Street site was in the current 1500 block between Worcester and Bayard streets. This where John Jr. opened his brewery when the brothers went out on their own in 1864.

12. In the 1864 the street was known as Belle Aire Avenue, but changed to Gay Street soon after. None of the Bauernschmidt Brewery buildings are standing, but the area is marked by an alley named Bauernschmidt. The Bauernschmidt residence at 1505 Gay was razed in 1920. Some of the brewery buildings stood until destroyed in 199-? when set afire for an episode of the television show “Homicide.” Art Distelrath, “Bauernschmidt Name Synonymous with Early Brewing,” American Breweriana Journal (July-August 2003): 31.

13. The Greenwood Brewery buildings are visible on the 1869 Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore a detailed map produced by Edward Sachse.

14. Sun May 8, 14, 1866; May 18, 20, 21, 22, June 5, 1867. It is likely the Buck beer was a misspelling of bock, a strong lager.

15. Sun October 15, 1879; March 20, 1880. George’s daughter-in-law Marie recalled other political battles he fought including against bell-ringing. This was a practice where bills would be introduced in the General Assembly that were detrimental to breweries just so brewers could be “shaken down” for funds to keep the bill from passing. George’s role in this is not known.

16. The extended Chester Street appears to have gone through the original brewery building. George sued the city and was awarded $45,571.36 in damages. Sun June 14, 1886.

17. A lithograph advertisement likely produced in 1888 for the Geo. Bauernschmidt Brewing Co. shows the new brewery building and residence. The ad gives a very early telephone number (1465, no exchange) for the brewery. Telephone service in Baltimore dates from 1884. Bauernschmidt Family Collection.

18. Kelly, Brewing in Maryland, pp. 316-318. In 1898 the value of the George Bauernschmidt Brewery was valued at $1,516,000 more than twice the value of its nearest competitor. Ibid. p. 545.

19. John Jr. had died before the syndicate offer; his brewery was operated by his widow and her brother as Bauernschmidt & Marr. Little John’s Mount Brewery was on Pratt Street at the corner of Mount Street. Both were acquired by the British syndicate. Kelly, Brewing in Maryland, pp. 472-76.

20. On 1898 July 15 a notice appeared in the Sun that Frederick Bauernschmidt, secretary and treasurer of the George Bauernschmidt Brewing Co. had sold his interest in the business for $100,000. The reason he gave for withdrawing from the company was the decision of the family firm to combine with other breweries in the Maryland Brewing Company.

21. The Bauernschmidts were paid $1M in cash and $1M in stock in the Maryland Brewing Company. “To Enjoin Their Mother,” Sun May 10, 1901.

22. Frederick opened his own brewery in 1900 on property at Hillen and Monument streets and Harford and Greenmount avenues. His brother William briefly considered opening his own brewery but joined Fred. Bauernschmidt’s American Brewery. In 1912, brother John left G-B-S and joined Frederick’s brewery as well.

23. Sun April 14, 1899.

24. The sum for charities represented $137,000 in 2014. Margaretha selected 8 charities to receive contributions: German Orphan Asylum, German Home for the Aged, Home for the Incurables, St. James’ Orphan Asylum, Little Sisters of the Poor, Society for the Protection of Children, Hebrew Hospital and Asylum, and Hebrew Orphan Asylum. It was the gift to the Home for Incurables that set the stage for her daughter-in-law Marie’s entry into community work. “Two Wills Filed,” Sun May 11, 1899. “Gifts to Charitable Institutions,” Sun May 24, 1899.

25. “$500,000 Not a Gift,” Sun October 15, 1902. John was reconciled with his brothers.

26. Thompson, “I Remember,” pp. 2-4. “Appraisal of Personal Estate of Mrs. Bauernschmidt Filed,” Sun June 16, 1913. In 2014 the value of the estate was $11,925,000.


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