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Saturday, September 16, 1854   William C. Schellhas

William C. Schellhas was born in Lapeer County, Michigan. He was the son of Johann A Buerger, a brewery owner, and it was in his father's brewhouse William learned the brewer's art.

When William attained his majority he set out on his own.  He found work in breweries in Chicago and Milwaukee. In the mid 1870s Schellhas traveled west to the Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota where he was hired as foreman of Peter Bub's Sugar Loaf Brewery.  By 1891 he had saved enought to purchase a partnership in Johann S. Becker's Brewery of that same town.

At 53 years of age, Johann Becker was growing too old to do the heavy brewery work, and his children were yet too young. But those young sons grew strong, and by 1890 it became apparent to Schellhas that the next generation of Beckers would carry on the family business upon their old man's retirement.

Schellhas looked further west to scout a location for brewery he could call his own. He found such a place in Ogden, Utah. Ogden was a brand new town that was supplied with fresh mountain water from the Ogden Canyon. The town also served nine railroads and had been nicknamed "Junction City" for the connection at Ogden Station of two of the largest of them, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific.  Despite its proximity to the Mormon enclave of Salt Lake, Ogden was generally free of anti-saloon sentiment. In fact the town had a reputation of being a bit lawless.

The Schellhas Brewery was completed in March of 1891 and the first shipments of Rocky Mountain Amber were shipped to Evanston, Wyoming in May of that year. Perhaps it was homesickness for the pine-clad bluffs of the Mississippi, or maybe it was a desire to be nearer to his ailing father (who would die in 1892), but later that year Schellhas made a deal with his former employer, the gist of which was that the Becker Brewery would relocate to the new facility in Ogden and Schellhas would get complete control of the brewery in Winona.

So it was that in the summer of 1891 Schellhas returned to Winona and the Beckers moved west to the dusty frontier town of Ogden. The newly named Schellhas Brewery in Winona picked up right where the Beckers left off, and William ran it until his death of pneumonia at age 52 on the 10th of May, 1907. His sons carried on the brewery until National Prohibition closed it down on January 16, 1920. Schellhas is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Winona, in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf bluff he called home.

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Associated Breweries

William Schellhas Brewing Co. of Winona, Minnesota, USA

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