Antonius "Anton" Reymann was born in Gau-Bickelheim, Germany, the son of George Reymann, a brewer. The family emigrated to America when Anton was just 15 years of age, landing at the port of New Orleans on April 1st of 1853. From there they boarded another ship for another thousand mile journey, up the Mississippi River to Galena, Illinois.
In the 1850s Galena was the busiest port between St. Paul and St. Louis and could have as many as a dozen ships at its docks at one time. Her population of 14,000 was a metropolis compared to the Reymann's hometown back in the Rhineland. For one reason or another instead of settling in Galena the family decided to move on. They headed overland east, away from the frontier, and ultimately found a home in Ohio County, Virginia, where George found a partnership in Peter Paul "P. P." Beck's Franklin Brewery in Wheeling.
In the spring of 1854 Reymann began an apprenticeship in his father's company and as his duties was sent off to learn the brewer's art at well-established breweries in Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Back at home, Wheeling had become the center of Virginia politics. The First Wheeling Convention was held on May 15th, 1861 where it was argued to defy Virginia's proposed Ordinance of Secession and create a territory loyal to the Union called New Virginia. When Virginia seceded from the union eight days later the second Wheeling Convention was held on June 19 and new officers were selected for a "Restored Virginia Government" that would represent 39 counties in the northwest quadrant of the state. The new territory was to be known as Kanawha.
Amid all this, Anton Reymann returned home. History suggests that he considered fighting for the Union, but he was the son of a wealthy brewer. He was in the position to opt out, and so he did. On July 6th of 1862 he married Thusnelda Beck. Her father, then, nine days later, her father Peter Paul Beck, suddenly died. Left suddenly without a partner George Reyman groomed 24 year old Anton to take over the Franklin. By the end of 1862 George had retired, Thusnelda was pregnant, and West Virginia was well on its way to becoming a state in the Union.
Ultimately the Reymanns would have ten children and the Union would be victorious over the Confederacy. The renamed Reymann brewery in Wheeling would thrive and become one of the largest in the state. As his name grew in influence Reymann expanded his business interests. He became president of the Wheeling and Elm Grove Railroad. He served as president of the West Virginia State Fair Association. He also became Vice President of the German Fire Insurance Company, and was a founder of the German Bank of Wheeling. Yet the brewery was his namesake and he managed the firm right up until West Virginia state Prohibition shut its doors in 1914.
He lived the rest of his life as a beloved pioneer citizen of the young state of West Virginia. He was a philanthropist and created Altenheim as a rest home for retired domestic servants. Anton Reymann died on January 11th, 1924. He was 86 years of age.
Learn more at the links below
Reyman Brewing Company of Wheeling, West Virginia, USA