Marshfield, October 1889
Examining the history of the Marshfield City Brewery
By Kris Leonhardt
As far back as 1885, local businessmen were lobbying to introduce a brewery to the city of Marshfield. A survey of beer agents at that time estimated beer consumption in the city limits to be about 60 barrels a week.
Disturbed that much of its revenue was gleaned by the city of Milwaukee, Marshfield campaigned to introduce a brewery to its already productive mills and factories. In addition to the brewery, the business would produce a need for a malt house and a local farmers market for barley.
By the time Emil Schiebe and Albert Schneider came to the city in 1889, consumption gauged by a survey of the four beer agents working within the city was estimated at 10,000 barrels a year.
Seeing the need for a beer product and the importance of Marshfield as a railroad hub, Schiebe and Schneider set to building a brewery on the northwest side of Marshfield. October 1889 saw the beginnings of what was to be an entirely wood facility, but by November the pair had decided to construct it of solid brick, with 200,000 bricks coming from Spencer brickmaker Carl Stoltnow.
On April 4, 1890, the Marshfield City Brewery made a public announcement that the factory would be ready to supply beer to the public on April 6 and welcomed residents and visitors to stop by and see the brewery.
During this time Schiebe and Schneider made a guarantee to local farmers that they would receive 45 cents per 50-pound bushel for threshed barley or market price if higher.
Two years later Schneider would sell his interest to then Wood County Sheriff Frank Stahl. Stahl and Schiebe then became partners. However, financial issues would force the brewery to become a stock company in 1894.
The company would be reorganized as the Marshfield Brewing Company, bringing with it new stockholders, including hops dealer August Backhaus. Backhaus would later become sole owner and serve as president until his death in 1909.
In July 1909 the brewery would reorganize one more time with Louis Hartl at the helm. Hartl would oversee extensive improvements to the brewery and see it through Prohibition, making products such as malt syrup and soda water.
In 1933, with prohibition lifted, the brewery again began to produce beer products. World War II increased the need for the brewery’s services, which would add more jobs to the city.
After Hartl, the man that had seen the brewery through so much, passed away in 1959, Hartl’s daughter, Caroline Allen, would take over leadership of the brewery.
The brewery served an area within a 50-mile radius of Marshfield with products such as Marshfield Lager, Paul Bunyan, and Marshfield Premium.
In 1965 the brewery was bought out by Figi’s and renamed the Figi’s Brewing Company and ran for two years. The property was later sold to St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the facilities were razed in 1981.