Historic Structures

August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm Minnesota

Date added: April 17, 2020 Categories: Minnesota Industrial Brewery

Built just six years after the founding of New Ulm in 1854, and one year before the Civil War, the August Schell Brewing Company is the lone survivor of the seven breweries which have operated in New Ulm.

Founder of the brewery which still bears his name, August Schell came to Minnesota in 1856 as a member of the Turner Colonization Society. He was born in Durnbach, Germany, 15 February 1828. In 1848 he came to America and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he followed the trade of machinist in the Cincinnati Locomotive works until moving on to New Ulm.

In New Ulm he became interested in the former Cincinnati Mill, later known as the Globe Mill. When that establishment was destroyed by fire, Schell and his partner, Jacob Bernhardt, decided to start a brewery along the picturesque banks of the Cottonwood River east of New Ulm. The brewery opened in 1860.

The first Schell's beer was produced in 1860 in the modest, but extremely efficient, combination brewery and home. A total of 200 barrels was brewed the first year. Newly dug wells on the property furnished the necessary water. However, the little brewery was not to progress uneventfully. During the Sioux Uprising of 1862, August Schell and his family were forced to seek safety in New Ulm, two miles away, and later in Saint Peter.

When Chief Little Crow of the Sioux instigated another attack, the small pioneering community of New Ulm suffered several weeks of pillage, along with loss of human lives. During the brewery's early years, the Schell family always had welcomed any curious Indians who came to look at their property. They were quick to offer their visitors food and German hospitality. Following the Sioux Uprising, Schell returned with his family to the brewery, anticipating to find it in smouldering ruins. Instead, they discovered both the house and brewery intact and relatively undisturbed even though it was evident the Indians had been there.

After purchasing his partner's interest a few years later, Schell continued as head of the brewery until he became an invalid in 1877. In the meantime his sons Adolph and Otto had worked side by side with their father and the operation of the brewery passed to them. Otto Schell had learned his brewing techniques at New Ulm from his father and had studied with brewmasters in Chicago. In addition, he went to Europe to study the art under the brewmasters of the long established European breweries.

Unable to engage actively in the affairs of the brewery, August Schell turned his attention to care and development of beautiful gardens on the brewery grounds. He saw one of his fondest dreams materialize when his new home was built in 1880 surrounded by the many flowers, trees, vineyards, and animals which he loved.

August Schell died in 1891 and Otto Schell became manager of the brewery. He continued in that capacity until his death in 1911 when he was succeeded by his brother-in-law, George Marti who had married August Schell's daughter, Emma. Administration of the brewery has continued in the Marti/ Schell family to the present date, making it the oldest brewery in Minnesota under single family management.

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