Martin Walter, the son of a cobbler, was born in Bergfelden, Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. After his education he began his training as a brewer in Württemberg. At the completion of his apprenticeship he worked in several of the larger breweries in Germany.
Martin emigrated to America in 1880 and landed in New York City on July 18th. He made at once for Appleton, Wisconsin, where he had a job waiting in the brewery which his older brother Johann Georg (George) was foreman. After a year he was hired by the Schlitz Brewery in Milwaukee, then a year after that, he obtained a position in a brewery in New London, a situation which also lasted just one year.
Meanwhile George became proprietor of the brewery in Appleton, and once again Martin joined him, and for five years more worked under him. In 1888 investor Frank Fries hired Martin and his older brother Christian Walter to operate the brewery he had just purchased in Menasha, Wisconsin.
The Island City Brewery was only eight years old but the Walter Brothers rebuilt it into a state-of-the-art facility. The company became so beloved and profitable that the family was able to buy out Fries's stake just three years later, and thereafter it was called the Walter Bros. Brewing Company.
In 1883 Martin Walter and Christina A. Britten were married in a union that produced five children. One of them, Mary, contracted diphtheria at age 4 and died on October 9th, 1895. Christina followed her daughter in death just 46 days later.
It was perhaps these tragedies that spurred Martin to go west and scout a site for a new Walter brewery - and a new life - in California. In the 1890s travel by train from Wisconsin to San Francisco would have taken over a week, and after a hot and dusty ride across the great plains, and through the bone-dry state of Kansas, the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains must have looked like heaven.
In Pueblo, Colorado, at the foot of the mountains, Martin stopped in Louis Frisch's Bohemian Brewery. He was impressed enough to cancel his trip to California and buy the brewery for $7500 on the spot. Articles of incorporation were drawn up and submitted on July 29th, 1898. Martin and his brother Christian would operate the newly named Walter Brewing Company, and John P. Hrubesky and Wallace Pierce, both married to sisters of the Walter boys, would manage the business end. Chicago architect William Griesser was brought in to design a new $15,000 facility. They pledged to use all local materials.
Around this time Martin Walter remarried to Mary C. Mesang, and with her he would have three more children. The Walter plant in Pueblo was instantly the largest brewery between Denver and the Mexican border, and from Kansas City to the California coast. The firm thrived. Only Colorado's Prohibition laws could stop it, and that they did in 1916.
Martin Walter died on October 21st, 1920 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 58 years of age. His brewery reopened after Prohibition and became a regional powerhouse. It purchased and opened the Schneider Brewery in Trinidad, Colorado for a half dozen years starting in 1947. In 1971 the brewery was purchased by General Brewery of San Francisco. Its costs were cut, quality control was abandoned, and its assets were sold. The brewery finally closed on January 1, 1975.