Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pabst Brewing Company World Champion Percherons

Capt. Frederick Pabst and his son, Frederick, provided an influential presence in the Percheron business in the United States in the late 1800's.  Best's Brewery was one of the predecessor companies of Pabst that utilized three working horses to grind malt.  In 1847, Best contacted his family in Germany desiring to purchase another horse to make deliveries in both town and country.  In 1859, Capt. Pabst married Maria Best, sold his shipping interests and took a partnership with Best's father in the brewery in 1863.  Best retired in 1867 and Capt. Pabst and Schandein (sister-in-law's husband) transformed the company into one of the nation's largest breweries.  

Pabst Brewery capitalized on the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire that destroyed 19 Chicago breweries.  By 1870,  Best Brewery had more than 20 horse-drawn wagons.  Best would "flash mob" the streets of Milwaukee, parading all the wagons loaded with beer at the same time to the shipping depot for a big visual marketing impact.  After the death of Shandein in 1889, Pabst, as president, changed the name from Best Brewery to Pabst Brewing Company. 

In 1906, Fred Pabst purchased the entire stud of the Little Missouri Horse Co. located in North Dakota, bringing along approximately 1,000 suckling colts that carried three or four fine crosses of Percheron blood.  There were also 150 purebreds with more than 30 mares retained in the stud, proving to be good breeding stock.  Pabst also purchased horses from Hagemeister Stock Farm, H.D. & F.A. Reed, the Hartman Stock Farm and other small breeders in Wisconsin.  

Over 800 geldings were employed at the Pabst Brewing Co., of Milwaukee.  Fred Pabst had proven that Percheron geldings were the most satisfactory heavy horse workers in the cities.   This photo (above) was taken in 1901 in front of Pabst's home.
Practically all the horses purchased by Pabst were high grade Percherons, and it was decided that a four-horse hitch would be exhibited at the 1904 World's Fair Draft Horse Show in St. Louis.  The Pabst wagon was navy blue, drawn by dapple-gray Percherons in gold-ornamental harness, with a large coach dog riding as a mascot.  Pabst Brewing Company of Wisconsin won the competition, and the teamster circled around the arena, making figure-8s and exhibited other serpentine patterns. After the four-horse demonstration, two more horses were added and the six went though a similar series of movements for the awestruck crowd.  In 1906, the Pabst six won the championship at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and at the International.

To commemorate the win of the 1904 World's Fair, Pabst created a large textile forever documenting the company's victory.

Here is an interesting envelope that touts the Pabst Brewing Co.'s world champion six-horse team of Percherons and their use of Wilbur's Stock Food as feed for the show season.

The 1500 acre Pabst Farms remains in existence today, providing more than a 100 year legacy of farming and land conservation. "Our philosophy is to build to the land, not on the land, carrying on the spirit of conservation begun by Fred Pabst back in 1906."

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