From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Leavenworth Had Eight, Including First and Last in Kansas-Locations.
Movements have been started in several cities in Kansas to establish breweries to manufacture beer since the new law permitting legal sale of it went into effect May 1. There is talk of starting a brewery in Topeka, where the last one was closed in the early eighties.
It is rumored that a brewery may be started in Leavenworth, the last city in Kansas to operate one. Some people feel that a local brewery would be well supported by a home demand.
The talk of starting a new brewery in Leavenworth recalls that there have been eight here at one time or another. The first brewery to be operated in the state was in Leavenworth, and the last one to close on account of the prohibitory law was in this city.
The first brewery built in Leavenworth was in the fall of 1855, and it was operated by Fritzer & Mundee. It was a two-story stone structure, located along the bank of the Missouri river, about three blocks south of Three Mile Creek. There was a cave cut into the rock on South Esplanade hill, used for a cold storage place. After operating a number of years, the property was sold to Captain Elijah Wilhite, who established the Wilhite flour mill.
The second brewery started in Leavenworth, was located on Fourth street on the south bank of Three-Mile Creek. It was known as the Kuntz brewery and was built and operated by Joseph Kuntz. It has been known in late years as the Farrell property. There were large subterranean vaults constructed for holding beer vats. It was used by the late W. H. Farrell as a cold storage place for apples and other fruits. At present, the building over the vaults is used as a headquarters for the Senior high ROTC cadets.
What was known as the John Grund Brewery, erected in 1857, was located on the south side of Delaware street, between Fifth and Sixth. Later on it was turned into Chickering Hall, and a motor company has it for a place of business now.
The Little Cannon Brewery, a small one, was built and operated by an aged German brewer on the west side of Shoemaker avenue, in South Leavenworth.
The Grund Brewery company purchased land across the street on Shoemaker avenue from the Little Cannon Brewery and erected a two-story building and put in up-to-date brewery equipment for that time. When first operated, it did a good business but later got into financial troubles and was closed by a bank that loaned a large sum of money to the firm.
In the early days there was a brewery on the northeast corner of Sixth and Choctaw streets, the present site of the Lysle Milling company elevator and mills. It was built and operated by Keim & Wehrle and proved profitable for a time for the amount of capital invested.
In 1858 John Brandon and David Block started the manufacture of soda water in a building on the southwest corner of Second and Kiowa streets. A few years later M. Kirmeyer purchased an interest in the business and changed it into a brewery, operating under the firm name of Brandon & Kirmeyer.
The last brewery to be established in Leavenworth was by John Brandon and George Beal in a building on Kickapoo street, between Main and Second. It was operated for many years and was closed in 1907 because of the Kansas prohibitory law. It is said that this was the last brewery in Kansas to manufacture beer.
Old timers will remember the names of the men who operated these breweries and of the fine qualities of beer they manufactured..