New Berlin Historical Society

Background information provided by Gary Hess regarding his presentation to begin at 6:30 PM on April 23, 2013 at the New Berlin Public Library

Hi everyone,

My grandfather, Frank J. Hess Sr. was born in southern Bohemia on April 10, 1870.  At age 14 he wanted to learn the cooperage trade. A cooper is a barrel maker.  So he served a 3-year cooperage apprenticeship at the Pilsner Brewery in Pilsen, Bohemia.  At age 20 he immigrated to America by ship and by train to Chicago.  He worked as a cooper manufacturing white oak beer kegs for a short time in Chicago and Prairie du Chien.  In Prairie du Chien he married, Anna Stluka, and started his family.

Then in 1904, Henry Fauerbach of the Fauerbach Brewery in Madison, persuaded my grandfather to move to Madison to start an independent cooperage business.  His business, The Frank J. Hess and Sons Cooperage factory was on Schenk’s Corners for 62 years.  It was Wisconsin’s largest independent cooperage.  They manufactured and repaired beer kegs for the Fauerbach, Hausmann, Breckheimer, Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Brunkow and Mueller, Cassville, Chippewa Falls, Columbus, Duluth, Fort Atkinson, Green Bay, Janesville, Jefferson, Kenosha, La Crosse, Mineral Point, Monroe, Oconto, Portage, Port Washington, Potosi, Prairie du Chien, Reedsburg, Rhinelander, Sauk City, Slinger, Superior, Watertown, and Wausau breweries. Also the Hamm’s Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland; Star Brewery in Sioux City, Iowa; and the West End Brewery in Utica, New York.  They also manufactured and repaired wine and whiskey barrels. 

In 1966 the Frank J. Hess and Sons Cooperage factory closed.  It was the last cooperage factory in America that manufactured white oak beer kegs for the breweries.

Also I give free power point presentations to historical societies showing 77 Hess Cooperage photos.  I bring along my laptop computer, projector, screen, white oak barrels, parts of barrels, cooper tools. I do these presentations to honor my grandfather and his four sons. My cousin, Jim Hess, of Madison (both of us are grandsons) joins me giving the presentations sharing our grandfathers legacy.

Gary J. Hess
1206 Ellen Ave.
Madison, Wis. 53716
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1947 kooling koils1947 cattails1949 hess photo