John Geupel was born in 1829 at Wunsiedel, Germany. His parents died in separate tragedies and he learned tinsmithing. In 1844, he came to the United States. He arrived in New York and traveled to Alabama. Eventually, he wound up in Marlin, Texas, where he joined the Texas 20th Regiment of the Confederate Infantry, and fought in the Civil War.
In 1868, he was in Cleburne, where he founded the Cleburne Brewery. The brewery faced Main Street on Buffalo Bayou, the water source. Geupel brought German lager recipes to Texas. Originally, he sold his Old German Lager for ten cents a bottle. Then he had an ingenious marketing idea: Package twelve bottles together for a one-time sale for $1.29. The idea was so popular that, even though he still sold his bottles for ten cents, no one bought them.
He brought in Fritz Wulfert as a partner, apparently in 1875, when only Wulfert is listed in the tax records. That same year, they sold the brewery to Fritz and Elijah Guffee.
This information came from Randall Scott, who has written a novel featuring his great-great-grandfather, John Geupel, called The Tinner. He also added some followup information on the final fate of the Cleburne Brewery.
"The Guffee brothers knew nothing about brewing beer so they partnered with Mike Dixon, a self-proclaimed Brewmaster whose only expertise was mass consumption of the brew. A couple of years later, deep in debt, Dixon killed John Guffee on Cleburne's downtown boardwalk in an argument over the proceeds from the brewery, one buffalo nickel. Elijah saw the murder of his brother from across the town square where he immediately leveled his rifle and dropped Dixon on the spot.
"Dixon came from a good family and was well liked by the community of townsfolk who quickly rioted into an angry mob. They chased Elijah to 4th street, north of the square, where he barricaded himself inside the Cleburne Brewery. To coerce him outside, the Sheriff offered him sanctuary from the mob violence and their vigilante punishment (a Texas necktie party.) It got nasty when the mob broke inside and Elijah quickly surrendered to the Sheriff. After a short trial and an unceremonious conviction, Elijah Guffee was hanged for the murder of Mike Dixon."
With both John and Elijah, and well as their "brewmaster," dead, the brewery closed in 1878.
I have written a book Historic Texas Breweries that describes the history of brewing in Texas. You can also visit my web site TexasBreweries.com
Labels: Beer History