Johann Dick
(Abt 1798-)
Anna Maria
(Abt 1800-)

Jacob Dick


Family Links

Jacob Dick

  • Born: 9 Oct 1834, Ruppertsburg, Rheinpfalz Bavaria
  • Died: 22 Dec 1876, Quincy, Adams Co., Illinois at age 42

  General Notes:

Jacob Dick was born on October 9, 1834. Jacob was the one who had the most brewing experience which he acquired in his native Germany. Jacob heard of his brother Matthew's success in America and decided to join him overseas. Jacob's first job in America was as a bookkeeper for a hardware store in Belleville, Illinois. Since Jacob spoke English better than his two brothers, he was placed in charge of the brewing business management, while the others looked after the mechanical operation of the brewery and handing of the product.

In 1861, Jacob Dick married Margaret Redmond. Both Jacob and Margaret had six children. He also served as a guard in the American Civil War. He rode the newly formed Republican party during the greater part of his life and took an active interest in politics. Here he was a leader in helping the city of Quincy's development and upbuilding. He was very charitable the Quincy citizens and always generous in his assistance.

One of Jacob's prized possessions was a light green stein that had a skull and crossbones carved into the top lid. The lid also had his signature with the saying "wishing one good health" engraved in it.


Brewery History from

The three brothers mission was to make the best beer and bring it to the people of Quincy, Illinois.

During the era after the Civil War to the dawn of the 20th century, magnitudes of European immigrants came to America to find a better life. With them they brought their traditions and heritage and started a new carefree and confident lifestyle. Among the European immigrants, many strong German ancestry communities have settled in the United States. Here they enjoyed the days when breweries were at their peak production and Prohibition was something no one would ever dreamed of. As part of their German heritage everyone shared the brewmaster's reputation, the product he brews, and the city could be proud to call it their very own.

Quincy, Illinois has always been a strong German community. Like many other towns in the Midwest, Quincy had its share of local breweries to quench the thirst for good beer. Some of Quincy's fine breweries of the past were the F.X. Schill Brewery, Ruff Brewing Company, Wahl Brewing Company and the Washington Brewery. Earlier there were other breweries, but one brewery stands out as one of the city's most leading business and industry. The Dick and Brothers Quincy Brewery.

The Dick and Brothers Quincy Brewery, was founded in 1857 by Matthew, John and Jacob Dick. These three founded one of the largest breweries in the United States, and in the early part of the 20th century, Dick & Bros brewery was once larger than Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri. When the Dick brothers built their original brewery, it had an annual capacity of about 1,500 barrels of lager beer; within the next 15 years, it would produce about 70,000 barrels.

All three Dick brothers were born in Ruppertsburg, Rheinpfalz Bavaria of Johann and Anna Maria Dick. They have shared a home with six other brothers and sisters. The Dick family were dynamic winemakers and were strong supporters to their community.

In 1854, Matthew, John and Jacob had come to America to commence their own business. The three brothers located first in St. Louis, moving to Belleville in 1855, and then to Quincy in 1857. All three were engaged in their own businesses until Matthew saw a future in making beer and convinced them to move to Iowa where barley was easy to acquire. While they were on their way, the three Dick brothers stumbled across a clear, cold, bubbling spring at Ninth and York Streets in Quincy. John, Jacob and Matthew knew the water's qualities were excellent for making beer and purchased the property from William Shanahanm for $5,000 on June 19, 1857.

After the purchase of the spring at Ninth and York Streets, the Dick brothers constructed a small building and installed their brewery. This was the origin of the Dick & Brothers Brewing Company.

Matthew Dick

Matthew Dick was born on July 8, 1819. Matthew was the first to come to America where he married his first wife Lisette Kohl in 1852 in Belleville, Illinois. Matthew and Lisette had one child, Herman. Tragically, Lisette died in 1854 during a second child birth. Matthew remarried in 1861 to Eleanor Deidesheimer and had four children.

Matthew Dick was a singularly but quiet man, and engaged in many businesses during his life. When he arrived in America, he acquired a small capital to invest in a saloon in Belleville, Illinois. In 1857, he removed to Quincy to start their brewery.

Jacob Dick

Jacob Dick was born on October 9, 1834. Jacob was the one who had the most brewing experience which he acquired in his native Germany. Jacob heard of Matthew's success in America and decided to join him overseas. Jacob's first job in America was as a bookkeeper for a hardware store in Belleville, Illinois. Since Jacob spoke English better than his two brothers, he was placed in charge of the brewing business management, while the others looked after the mechanical operation of the brewery and handing of the product.

In 1861, Jacob Dick married Margaret Redmond. Both Jacob and Margaret had six children. He also served as a guard in the American Civil War. He rode the newly formed Republican party during the greater part of his life and took an active interest in politics. Here he was a leader in helping the city of Quincy's development and upbuilding. He was very charitable the Quincy citizens and always generous in his assistance.

One of Jacob's prized possessions was a light green stein that had a skull and crossbones carved into the top lid. The lid also had his signature with the saying "wishing one good health" engraved in it.

John Dick

John Dick was born on October 9, 1827 and came to America with Matthew in 1853. John received his apprenticeship in the baker's trade and became very proficient in the culinary art. John married Louisa Steigmeier in 1854 and had nine children. After building the brewery with his two brothers, he became a large stock breeder, and much of his times was spent on his farm on North 24th Street. John Dick was the first to venture in the importation of Swiss cattle in Western Illinois.

Just like his brother, Jacob, John Dick was an active, enterprising man, and a leader in public improvements in Quincy. He was a large influence to the community, because of his many positions in commercial life. He was a director of the Belt Railroad, and was later the President of the Dick's Milling Company.

The Dick & Brothers Brewing Company

The Dick & Brothers Brewing Company started as a small enterprise. Even though it was a primitive business, little did they know that the brewery would be a foundation stone of the immense business Quincy would enjoy. As the German residents in Quincy demanded more of Dick's lager beers, the brewery grew at a rapid pace.

Matthew and John Dick built a homestead next to the brewery. The homestead was a "Double House" construction. Matthew occupied one half of it, John lived in the other half. Jacob briefly lived with John until he built a large home at 1020 Kentucky. Matthew and John lived in the Double House until 1874 when the homestead was converted into a storage building.

The Brewery Underground

Known only to a few Quincy people, the Dick & Brothers Brewing Company had storage cellars underground. The cellars formed a network of tunnels or caverns of a total length of two blocks. The tunnel network spread beneath a portion of the brewery located south of York Street.

The need of deep cool storage cellars arose from the difficulties of refrigeration in 1856, when the Dick brewery was originated. Brewing at Dick & Brothers had to be done in the cool or cold months and the lager beer was stored against summer demand. The deep tunnels were dug far below the normal basement level of the brewery and were designed to accommodate huge wooden vats for the beer brewed during the winter and was stored for summer use.

The tunnels consisted of three laterals nearly a half-block each in length, which extended southward from a parent tunnel. The tunnels ran east and west along York Street, partly beneath the side walk. The main tunnel, extended from the eastern line of the bottling house building west to almost Ninth Street where it ended in the large ice-storage cellar. The cellar had stone masonry walls and an arched masonry ceiling. East of where the main east-west tunnel was, a more modern tunnel angled beneath York Street from the north side of the street originated from the old stock house that was built in 1876.

Steep wooden steps lead down into the fermenting cellar. In the old fermenting cellar was a small well-like opening in the southwest corner which gave access to the storage caverns another level down.

The tunnel was topped with huge flagstones and was ten feet wide and high. Its arched ceiling was bricked with old fashioned brick masonry of the lime mortar era. The mortar continued to be in excellent state of preservation when they were rediscovered in 1939.

This cellar once housed the big wooden beer vats in endless rows. Into these vats aged a mellow lager beer in a constant temperature of 48 degrees of the caverns. When summer came, the brewery workers, by the dim light of lanterns, drew off the beer into quarter barrels. The barrels were then hoisted on a crude chain hoist through the well-like openings into the tunnel cellar.

John H. Breitrstadt, superintendent of the Dick Brothers Brewing Company in 1939 recalled that as a boy, when his father was brew master, he used to go into the damp cellars to dig for fishing worms. He said the caverns were used up through 1885. He also recalled that the beer used to be drawn from the vats into small quarter barrels through "Schlundts," hose made of the intestines of cattle.

Jake Kraft, worked for the Dick brothers since 1879. He remembered going to work as a boy during the winter and about 18 men were employed at the brewery when the beer was being made, and about 10 men and boys during the summer. The brewery workers virtually lived in the brewery taking their meals one week in half of the Dick brother's homestead occupied by Matthew Dick and the next week in the John Dick half of the house.

The operation of the brewery before 1875 was almost entirely carried on south of York Street. The brewery malted its own barley in the malting cellar located at the cellar level, about the level of the fermenting cellar. This malting cellar, with its sturdy brick pillars, supported the beautiful masonry of its vaulted brick ceilings.

After the stock house was built across the street in 1875, the caverns continued in use for another ten years. Then with the development of refrigeration methods, brewing became a year round business and the brewery's underground cellars were abandoned and walled off. It wasn't until 1939 when the underground cellars were rediscovered when a new loading platform was built.

Troubles Next Door

Five years after the Dick brothers built the brewery, they discovered their next door neighbor had decided to build a "Powder house" next to the brewery. John Smith lived next door to the brother's double house. Smith intended to build a brick building to store gunpowder. Needless to say, the danger of the powder house could cause the brothers with many sleepless nights and the St. Peter's German Evangelical Church was also located on the corner of 9th and York.

Finally on August 13, 1862, an injunction was ordered, restraining Smith from constructing his powder house and ordered him not to store any gunpowder.

On June 3, 1868, the Dick brothers needed to further expand their brewery and purchased the Delabar Brewery next door. Charles Delabar had his brewery in business starting 1845 and when the Dick brothers continued to outsell Delabar's beverages, he accepted the Dicks' purchase offer.

In 1870 the Dick brothers purchased the Telico roller mills, on Front Street which they retained until the end of the century. The brewery added a malting room around 1870 and has been doing its own malting up to Prohibition. Bottling was added in 1880, and artificial refrigeration was installed in 1882.

The small shack back in 1857 was eventually replaced by 27 buildings, covering nearly 10 acres of land and the mammoth brass and copper brewkettle that brewed 275 barrels every 24 hours was housed in a five story building. By 1880, Dicks lager beer was available throughout the West and Southwest. Distribution through Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Texas, New Mexico and down as far Mexico City, made the brewery well-known.

The Next Generation of the Dicks Brewery

By the time the Dick & Brothers Brewing Company was producing early 100,000 barrels a year, all three brothers retired and the brewery was carried on by their descendants. The officers and managers of the brewery were. August Dorkenwald as President, Captain William Steinwedell as Secretary. Albert Dick as treasurer and Frank Dick is superintendent.

All three Dick brothers did not enjoy retirement very long. Jacob was the first brother to pass away after a long illness on December 22, 1876. John Dick died on October 30, 1889. Matthew died tragically at his home in 1885. After Matthew's retirement, he enjoyed his last years at his mansion on 1118 State Street. From his early life growing up in Ruppertsburg, he produced homemade wine in the mansion's cellar. On September 20, 1885, just before 10 in the morning, Matthew inspected his wine cellar as the new made wine was generating carbolic acid gas. Matthew suffocated when he entered the cellar and died of asphyxia.

Three years after Matthew's death, the family did not resolve the problem of his estate. Matthew did not leave a will and there was no estate filed in the court house. Herman Dick wanted his brothers and sister to sell Matthew's property containing one whole city block. They opposed this idea so Herman took them to court. Eventually Herman won and the property was subdivided into lots and sold at public auction.

When John Dick passed away, the brewery's name was changed to Dick & Brothers Quincy Brewery and kept this name from that date on. The Dick Brothers Quincy Brewery has been in existence for 31 years and was the largest business in the northern two-thirds of Illinois. The brewery had branches in all the larger northern and western cities; they also owned their own refrigerator, freight cars; they employ over 50 men, and brought thousands of dollars into Quincy every year. The large brewery was one of Quincy's most valuable institutions.

The new Brewhouse

A magnificent new brew house of the Dick Brothers Quincy Brewing Company was completed in the spring of 1897. The new brewhouse was the tallest building in town. The following year, a new engine room, ice plant and a new bottling building was added. The entire expansion project cost the brewery $160,000. The two new buildings was built north of the new brew house. The new engine room with a towering 177 feet smokestack, and an ice plant building was added. The bottling works was just as large as the ice plant. The smokestack was the highest piece of brick work in this section of the country. It took over 300,000 bricks to complete.

Disaster at the Dick Brewery

On December 30, 1903, a major explosion devastated the Dick Brothers brewhouse. The explosion took place shortly after 4 am on the third level of the new brewhouse and destroyed 1/3 of the building. The explosion came from an improper valve of a 300-barrel rice cooker. The explosion destroyed the fifth floor which contained a 300 barrel tank of water for storage purposes and a 600 bushel malt hopper. The fourth floor had a 500 barrel and a 200 barrel hot water tanks. The second floor had a 300 barrel copper brewkettle. All the expensive machinery on the third floor, the 12-inch concrete floor, iron girders, and bricks fell on the copper brew kettle, totally destroying it.

Sacks of rice were thrown 200 to 300 feet in the air, landing in nearby resident's yards and rice was plastered on buildings over 200 feet away.

Frank Dick Sr., superintendent and August Dorkenwaldt, President and General Manager, were amazed that the explosion had not happened during the daytime. The damage cost the brewery $50,000 and was not covered by insurance. Fortunately no one was killed in the explosion.

Two men, watchman Henry Reinhold and brewery worker Leo J. Goerres, made an almost miraculous escape from the damaged brewhouse. Reinhold was not hut but Goerres, who was on the third floor, made his escape by the stairway at the northwest corner of the building receiving a few cuts on the head.

Luckily the brewery had a large supply of beer in the stockhouse and repairs started almost immediately. The story of the brewhouse explosion was on the front page of the local morning newspaper. By evening, it had been crowded off by a terrible disaster at the Iroquois theater in Chicago. The theater was built with no fire curtain and nearly 600 guests perished in a fire, including three Quincy residents. By the next day the entire newspaper was covering the Chicago disaster, and the Quincy explosion was all but forgotten.

Ice Business in Quincy

In 1919 there were 15 ice packing companies in Quincy. During a peak season the companies employed 1,200 men to cut ice from the Quincy Bay along the Mississippi River. As early as the 1870s, the ice business was considered among one of the most important branches of industry in the city. Most of the ice was cut during January. In 1875 the harvest started on January 4th when the ice was seven to eight inches thick and was completed on January 27 with about 100,000 tons cut. Some firms, which sold in large quantities waited for more ice to form because it wasn't profitable to sell for wholesale if the ice was less then ten inches thick. The Dick brothers had its own ice house on the bay which held 3,000 tons; three ice houses on Spring Street and ice storage at the brewery which held 10,000 tons.

Enter the Volstead Act of 1918

At the time when Dick & Brothers Quincy Brewery was producing over 135,000 barrels per year, The Volstead Act of November 21, 1918, was introduced to make it unlawful to manufacture, sell or transport intoxicating liquors in the United States after June 30, 1919. It put enforcement teeth into wartime restrictions and the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment to the Constitution which went into effect in January, 1920.

The Dick Brothers Quincy Brewing Company produced "Nearo" and other near beer, but it did not sell as well as Dick's real beer. For the next 13 years distilleries, breweries, wineries and saloons were out of business. It finally took a Depression - after 13 years of a dry era marked by gangsterizm, rumrunning, bathroom gin and homebrew - to bring back beer and its more potent companions in the alcoholic beverage line.


The repeal of the Prohibition Amendment was proposed in February 1933, and finally ratified by 36 States by December that year. By common consent, Repeal came early for the "Foamy" April 7 marked the end of near beer and the real stuff had returned.

The Dick Brothers Quincy Brewery did not start up immediately. The first truckload of beer came into Quincy that morning from the Goetz Brewery at St, Joseph, Missouri. The second truckload from the Falstaff Brewery of St. Louis with many trucks hijacked en route. The Dick brewery officers placed a newspaper bulletin assuring the Quincy residents that it would be at least 50 days before they would produce their product. August "Manny" Dick, President of the brewery said its equipment was in excellent condition but the company wanted to make sure that the beer was as good as it had been before Prohibition.

Brewmaster John Breitstadt returned to the Dick brewery and assumed superintendent. Breitstadt was one of the nation's finest brewmasters. His father had been the brewmaster for the original three Dick brothers, bringing the art from Germany. For months John Breitstadt had been in charge of preparations for the reopeneing of the brewery.

The Government Cellar

Across the street from the brew house was the bottling department which also contained the government warehouse. Before the installation of the government meter, the keys were controlled by a government agent. When the holding tank was full of finished beer, the government agent had to shut off the valve from the outside and seal the keyhole. When he left the building he also locked the door and sealed the door lock.

The government agent measured the number of gallons of beer in the locked tanks and collected the taxes from the main office for government IRTP tax stamps. After the tax stamps were sent to the brewery (sometimes up to three weeks later), the beer was permitted to be used in the bottling department.

For several months "Manny" Dick tried desperately to convince the government to assign a full-time deputy revenue collector in Quincy instead of waiting for the government agent to return from Springfield, Illinois to issue the brewery its tax stamps. Even though the Dick Brothers Quincy brewery paid a revenue of $50,000 to $75,000 a year, it took nearly two years to get a government meter approved for the brewery.

August Dick was known only as "Manny" which in many German families means the first born and usually also denotes "a little man." "Manny" was never fond of the nickname but accepted it anyway. "Manny" Dick was far from little, but retained his name until his death in 1943. He was also known for his early automobiles. He had a second car, an electric, the first having been purchased in Quincy. It was "Manny" Dick's famous "Yellow Peril," as he called his Locomobile, that was used to bring William J. Beryan up from the train depot in 1908 for his speech at the Empire Theater, It has been said that it was first driven on the streets of Quincy on the afternoon of the funeral of President William B. McKinley on September 19, 1901.

Return of Dicks Pilsner beer

Dicks' first beer after Prohibition was delivered to local patrons on Friday, September 15, 1933. Dick's brewery was back in operation with many of its old employees working. One and two-horse wagons were used for many years. The barn at Tenth and York was replaced with a large motor garage for the many delivery trucks. There was scarcely a town or city where Dick's Quincy Beer signs did not greet the eye. It was probably the greatest advertising the city received from one source.

The Dick Brothers Quincy Brewery advertised quite heavily and the brewery's output exceeded to 150,000 barrels a year. The brewery enjoyed its growth for the next five year until competition from Falstaff and Anheuser-Busch of St, Louis was entering the city of Quincy. "Manny" Dick retired around 1938 and was replaced by Charles L. Weems. "Manny" Dick stayed on as Chairman of the Board until his death on August 14, 1943.

The stiff competition cause many problems for the Dick brewery. Sometime after 1940, management ordered brewmaster John Breitstadt to change his ingredients to save costs. Breitstadt refused and left the brewery.

Financial Problems

The Dick Brothers Quincy brewery needed cash to keep the brewery operating in the black. In November 1939, the Dick Brewery presented a re-organization plan which would put the brewery on a paying basis. The plan proposed that all unsecured creditors general creditors having claims under $100 was to be paid in cash. Unsecured creditors having claims allowed of more than $100 shall be given first mortgage bonds in $100 amounts with the odd amount of the claim to be paid in cash. These bonds were to be issued by the company dated December 1938 and due December 1943 to bear interest of four percent payable semiannually. Unfortunately, the reorganization plan worked but only a few years.

After World War II, the brewery did extensive advertising to fight off competition. When President Harry S. Truman reduced American brewer's grain allocations to 70% of 1945's volume, the Dick brewery was losing money fast. Although Dick Brothers was using 30% less material than in 1945, this resulted in a proportionally lower production. The demand for Dicks beer was about 25% greater than in 1945, so the real shortage was closer to 50%. When the local community did not get their beer, they switched brands and the brewery was losing more customers.

By 1951, the Dick Brothers Quincy brewery was heavily in debt. Charles L. Weems had left the brewery and Frank J. Dick was placed as the brewery's final President.

The Mississippi Valley Brewing Corporation

A company was designed to bail the financially broke Dick brewery by acquiring both the Quincy and Warsaw breweries. Another re-organization of the Dick Brothers Brewing Company was submitted on January 22, 1951. The plan called for the transfer of the assets of the Dick Brothers company to the newly Mississippi Valley Brewing corporation in exchange for 50 percent of the stock of the new corporation, $140,000 in cash and $50,000 in debenture of the new corporation. The plan first contemplates the acquisition by the Mississippi Valley Brewing Corporation of all of the assets of the Warsaw Brewing Company and of Dick Brothers Brewing Company and the securing of finances through a loan secured by the Mississippi Valley Brewing Corporation.

The corporate purposes of the Mississippi Valley Brewing Corporation called for the acquisition of both brewing properties, manufacture and sale of brewery and beverage products and generally to engage in the brewery business. The aggregate number of shares which the new corporation was authorized to issue was 100,000 of one class stock, of $5 per value each. Incorporators of the new corporation. JJ. Weiss of the Warsaw brewery would have been elected President and General Manager and Frank J. Dick as Secretary.

A loan of $400,000 was needed to complete the Mississippi Valley Corporation. From the $400,000, Dick Brothers company will receive $142,210 in cash to pay the Illinois National and South Side banks, $51,500 to retire mortgage indebtedness and 1949 back taxes and $15,000 to James Neilson on judgment obtained on a note secured by the pledge of all stock of the Ruff Brewing Company which the Dick Brothers brewery purchased in 1945 and closed in 1948. Unfortunately, no bank in the vicinity would loan them the funds.

Dick Brothers Brewery is Bankrupt

The Mississippi Valley Brewing Corporation failed to obtain a $265,000 loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and Dick Brothers Brewing Company was thrown into bankruptcy. Richard M. Winters was placed as temporary receiver. The Dicks Brothers brewery was valued at more than $1 million and would be placed on the auction block to satisfy claims of creditors.

For two months, Frank J. Dick unsuccessfully tried to reorganized the brewery. Under a presidential directive, RFC loans were to be used only in the aid of National Defense. Most of the loans were sent to European countries to rebuild ruins from World War II. To this date, only one country, Sweden, ever repaid a RFC loan.

On October 18, 1951, the Dick Brothers Brewing Company went under the auctioneer's hammer at a public sale to dispose of the buildings and equipment. The decision to sell the brewery property at a public auction was made at a meeting of Basil Coutrakon and Richard Winters, the trustee of the property and several attorneys representing stockholders of the bankrupt Dick brewery. Mr. Winters reported that although several inquiries had been received from other breweries regarding the Dick plant, but there had been no bona fide offers. The Gipps Brewing Company of Peoria and the Warsaw Brewing Company had shown an interest in the Dick Brothers property but neither submitted a bid.

Frank J. Dick had hoped to sell the brewery property at a private sale, especially because of the loyal employees of the Dick Brothers Company who had been employed there for many years. However, larger brewing companies throughout the country have shown little interest in purchasing the Dick brewery.

Dick Brewery Sold at Piecemeal Auction

More than 200 interested persons jammed the office of the Dick Brothers Brewing company in December 1951. The brewery which had been in operation for almost 85 years was sold piecemeal as block bids for the entire plant and equipment failed to exceed the amount realized from the sale of individual items.

The brewery and equipment was valued at over $1 million but received just over $111,000. Auctioneer Gordon opened the sale standing on an office chair by offering the entire brewery plant with all equipment for sale. It was explained that all sales were subject to court approval. The opening bid for the entire plant was $50,000 submitted by Joseph Weiss of the Warsaw Brewing Company but the offer quickly mounted to the $100,000 mark and then slowed until W. Emery Lancaster's bid of $111,000 was offered. This offer was the best and the bid accepted.

Also included in the sale were the 800 shares of stock in the old Ruff Brewing Company purchased by the Dick Brothers firm in 1945. The stock was held by Mark Penick as collateral for a loan of approximately $20,000 made to the Dick Brothers Company. Mr. Penick made a bid of $50 and the offer was accepted.

Optimistic rumors surfaced stating the Dick Brothers brewery would reopen, but this was during the 1950s, the day of the small regional brewery was past. Scores of other small breweries throughout the country were closing due to great competition from the larger breweries.

Frank J. Dick was the last survivor of the Dick family that started the Dick Brothers Brewing Company. After the brewery property was sold, Frank successfully ventured into politics and served as state senator from 1942 to 1948. He was city attorney under several mayors until his death on July 30, 1980.

The Dick Brothers prosperous brewing enterprise was part of an American brewing history. The advertising and memorabilia are now but memories, part of Quincy's German heritage.

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