Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Peoria County


The Largest Distillery in the World

The Distilling Industry (1896)

























“A Brief History of Peoria” by Democratic State Central Committee? 1896.
Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff

by Mr. C. A. Cockle


    Among the many industries that go to make up our thriving city, that of brewing is not the least, and the product from our local breweries is taking a front rank.  There is perhaps no industry in the whole country that has developed faster and made more rapid improvement than this same industry of brewing. It was only a comparatively few years ago that the process of brewing was quite crude and the art was handed down from one generation to another; the beer being made by "rule of thumb;" but of late years rapid advancement has been made in what is now the 11 science of brewing." Our brewmasters are now men of education and they are  taught in brewing schools which have been established and are part of the development. The brewer of the present day does not do such and such things, because he was taught to do so and his father made beer in that way, but because he knows what results are to be obtained by so doing. All first-class breweries now either employ a chemist or else belong to what is  called a "scientific station " by which they are enabled to have all the materials used, analysed, and the best grades of materials are thus determined with certainty and not by guess. We often hear the unthinking say that beer is so adulterated nowadays; that substitutes are largely used for malt and hops. A little careful investigation would develop the fact that there is no substitute that can supplant malt entirely, and hops are now grown so cheaply that even if there was a substitute to be obtained, there would be no profit in using it. The apparatus for the work has also kept pace with the art itself, so the beer of the present day is better, as a rule, than it was in former years. To show how the demand for this most healthful and nutritious beverage has increased, we cite the fact that in 1870 the sales of beer in the United States amounted to 6, 574,618 barrels. In 1895 it reached 33,469,661 barrels, an increase in twenty-five years of 26,895,043 barrels. This increase is largely in excess of the percentage of increase in the population in that time, which tends to show that the American people are becoming a nation of beer drinkers.
    In the brewing industry in Peoria we have the Gipps Brewing Co., located on the corner of Bridge and Water streets; the Leisy Brewing Co , Water street, foot of Irving, and the Union Brewing Co., Nos. 1701 to 1709 South Washington street. These breweries supply the larger part of the local trade, and the two former ship largely through this State and Iowa. Their annual output is in the neighborhood of 75000 to 80000 barrels.
    Of late years these breweries have turned their attention to bottling, and their product in this line is now the peer of anything produced. In addition to the local breweries the following well known firms have branches at this point, from which they supply local trade and ship to surrounding points, viz: Val Blatz Brewing Co., Henry Singer, Agt.; Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., A. A. Godecke, Agt.; Pabst Brewing Co. of Milwaukee, L. Holzapfel, Agt.; the the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, of St. Louis, A. Kohl, Agt., and the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Company, of Chicago, J. L. Wall, Agt.
    The industry is in a healthy state in our city, and we venture to say that there is no other one industry in our midst that has the wellfare [sic] and progress of the city more at heart, or that does more towards  promoting it.






“A Brief History of Peoria” by Democratic State Central Committee? 1896.
Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff

by E. S. Easton

    The manufacturing of distilled spirits is an industry that has reached its highest developement [sic] in Peoria, in several particulars.  We name them in order as follows: Mechanical skill; scientific knowledge  and application; investment of capital; capacity of production. For many years it has been in advance of all other cities in this country, if not in the world, in the quantity of spirits manufactured. It is a natural question: Why is this possible in Peoria? We mention some reasons as follows: Abundance of "raw material"; Peoria being a large brewing market, enables the distillers to obtain a steady and uniform supply of such grains as are necessary, at as low an average of cost, as any grain center in the West.

    The water supply of just the right quality is found in inexhaustible quantities by means of wells at a depth of 30 to 35 feet, the water being exceptionally pure and of most satisfactory temperature. Pureness and temperature of the water being a most important factor.

    Peoria being the center of one of the most productive coal fields in the country, the manufacturer is enabled to obtain fuel at less average cost than at any other point at all suitable in other requisites.

    The  unusual good railway facilities of Peoria are a great advantage; securing the shipment and distribution of the product in all directions with promptness, and at lowest competitive rates of freight.

    These foundation reasons are due to Peoria's geographical location and are a combination of advantages that challenge comparison.

    There are reasons, also, that are a sequence of the foregoing. The demands of a large manufacturing center in any branch of industry, will bring all the auxiliary necessities—whatever is needed of mechanical skill is fully supplied in time. Skilled labor rallies to where the need exists or developes quickly with enlarged demand and opportunity. The concentration of so much distilling capacity here, has caused a complete developement of machine shops and foundries, with special adaptions; millrights and workers in metals, of special skill; supply-warehouses, answering to all wants on shortest notice and most reasonable terms.
    Centralization in any interest, is a means of education and developement in that particular line, and in this instance has resulted in great perfection of manufacture.
    The working capacity of the distilleries located here is about 40,000 bushels of grain per day. For the last year this capacity has been utilized to the extent of 25,000 bushels daily.


The Largest Distillery in the World
Source: History of Peoria 1880.

-The mammoth distillery of Kidd, Francis & Co., erected last season on the banks of the river below the I., B. & W. R.R. bridge, is the largest in the world. It was commenced on the 20th of march and went into operation on the 10th of July. The main building is 131x209 feet. A portion of it is five stories high. The malt house is three stories, and the fermenting room two stories high. The mash and yeast rooms are four stories high, and the mill five stories. The latter includes a grain room, 20x40 feet and 64 feet high. The alcohol room occupies an L of the main building and is 40x60 feet, five stories high. There are eighteen fermenting tubs, twenty feet in diameter at the bottom and sixty feet high, with a capacity of 834 bushels each. The mash tub is thirty feet in diameter and seven feet high. The beer still's capacity is sixty bushels per charge, or 240 bushels per hour. There is a cistern room 61x88 feet, containing five tubs, sixteen feet in diameter and fourteen feet high.

The bonded warehouse is erected just below the main building, and is 110x88 feet, three stories high. An office has been built on the upper side of the main building, 22x36 feet, and one story in height. The wagon scale is on one side of the office, and wagon jump and track scale on the other next to the distillery. Grain is dumped into a sink which runs to the foot of the elevator and is then carried up into the bin. The weighing or scale room is 40x64 feet. All the yeast meal is weighed in this room before entering the mash tub. The bins are overhead and the meal is let down directly into the hoppers. In this room are six pairs of Howe Scales. Four of them are 500 bushel scales and two pairs are 100 bushels. The corn is ground and conveyed immediately into the scales. This has never been done before, but it saves an extra handling of the meal. The engine room is 37x100 feet and contains two large and powerful engines. The pumping arrangement consists of five Dean pumps. Two are water pumps of a capacity of 800 gallons per minute. One a beer pump with capacity of 440 gallons per minute, and the other two are high-wines and low-wines pumps. There are eight double-flue boilers twenty-eight feet in length and forty-four inches in diameter, and three boilers six feet in diameter, sixteen feet length, with sixty-four four-inch flues. There are two wells, seven feet in diameter and thirty feet deep, to furnish a supply of water. The smoke stack is eighteen feet square at the base, with twenty feet of stone masonry below the surface. The brick stack towers 130 feet above this. It has a flue seven feet in diameter. The capacity of the malt-house is 400 bushels per day and the distillery is 5,000 bushels per day. Fifty-eight acres of ground were purchased for the distillery, but twenty acres were sold to the Sugar Refinery Company. On the bottom land, between the distillery and the river, stables are built for feeding 3,500 cattle.

The distillery buildings are all built of brick, and 2,700,000 have been used in its construction. The entire buildings cover an area of about five acres. The daily product is equal to 275 barrels of high-wines, consuming about eighty acres of good corn, and forty acres of small grain, and 1,600 bushels of coal per day. They employ ninety men on the premises, and about 125 to prepare their cooperage. The slops are sufficient to feed over 5,000 head of cattle. This one distillery pays the government $1,800 per day revenue.

Transcribed by: Yvonne! Thanks Yvonne



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