The A. Busch Bottling Company came into existence on July 8, 1897 when the Thimig Bottling Company of Brooklyn New York officially changed its name. The legal notice announcing the name change was printed in the June 7, 1897 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union. The notice, in part, read:
Now on motion of David F. Manning, attorney for the said pertitioner, no one opposing, it is
Ordered that said petition be and the same hereby is granted, and that the petitioner herein, the Thimig Bottling Company, be and it hereby is authorized to assume another corporate name, to wit, the A. Busch Bottling Company, on and after the 8th day of July, 1897…
The roots of the business however date back as far as 1865 when a German immigrant named Herman Thimig arrived in the United States and began business in Thompkinsville, Staten Island. According to Thimig’s December 27, 1892 obituary in the Brooklyn Citizen:
He had nothing when he arrived here, but his frank manner soon won the confidence of Abram Meyers, the brewer, who started him in business on Staten Island within six months after his arrival. Here he bottled his first beer in this country, and his first order delivered in Brooklyn was two dozen bottles. He continued in business at Staten Island about one year, during which time, his business steadily increased, and in 1866 he moved to this city (Brooklyn), where he has since been located.
A feature on Thimig, published in the September 21, 1890 edition of the Brooklyn Citizen picks up the story from there describing his start in Brooklyn.
After searching for a suitable place in which to start, he selected No. 283 Atlantic Avenue, near Smith Street and here his career as a Brooklyn bottler commenced…The different kinds of beer that he put up gained such a reputation that people wanted to drink it at his establishment. Of course all this was highly satisfactory to Mr. Thimig, but he found that he had to start a retail store to accommodate the new class of customers. Therefore “Thimigs” sprang into existence at No. 288 Atlantic Avenue.
It was an advertisement for his retail store or saloon in the April 26, 1884 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that provided the earliest evidence I can find connecting Thimig with Anheuser-Busch.
The 1890 feature went on to describe the growth of the bottling business.
But while his saloon was prospering his bottling business was increasing to such an extent that he had to separate that establishment from the saloon, consequently he bought the premises Nos. 50 and 52 Bergen Street, which comprise three buildings and where his bottling is done today (1890). It has been stated that when he started to bottle at Staten Island he only got rid of four dozen a day.
Now he bottles 1,ooo dozen a day and the three Bergen Street buildings are altogether too small. He has two sets of men, one of which works in the day and the other at night time, and still he is pressed. It should be said here that Mr. Thimig owns the property at 285 and 288 (Atlantic). He has twenty horses there and eight wagons are on the go all the time, while there are four extra wagons which are almost always in requisition.
Ultimately the demands of the bottling business necessitated that he sell the saloon which he did in 1888 to long time employee Charles Hoefer.
This ever increasing business was certainly the result of Thimig’s association with the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co., where at the time he was serving as their sole agent for Brooklyn and Long Island. In 1890, their association led to joint construction of a new depot and bottling establishment at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue. According to the 1890 Brooklyn Citizen feature:
With the business therefore increasing every day, it became very plain to Mr. Thimig that the present factory was altogether inadequate, and that he would have to secure larger quarters to meet the growing demands for his bottled goods. He, therefore, purchased the lots on Atlantic Avenue, on which his immense bottling establishment is in the course of erection, and the building is going up under the joint direction of the Anheuser-Busch Association and Mr. Thimig. Mr. Thimig owns the ground, not only on which the building will stand, but also purchased an additional plot having a frontage of fifty feet, and which is designed for an extension to the structure should business demand it. While the Anheuser-Busch Association is in reality backing Mr. Thimig in the erection of the building, still an agreement has been entered into by which the latter gentleman can acquire the full ownership. It will be the largest bottling establishment in New York or Brooklyn and will cost $100,000.
A description of the new building, along with a rendering, was included with the feature and it indicated that this venture appeared to be a pretty good deal for Thimig. Not only was he getting new facilities for his business but he got new living quarters as well.
The structure will cover a plot of ground 106 x 54 feet. The front of the building will be of fancy brick and the interior will be of wood and iron. The first floor will be used as a store and bottling establishment and will be handsomely fitted up. The second floor will be used for office purposes, and part of it will be fixed up with private apartments for the use of Herman Thimig, who is to have charge of the establishment. The third and fourth floors will be used for storage purposes for a time
Unfortunately Thimig didn’t get to enjoy his new facility very long because two years later, in December, 1892, he passed away. At that point Herman’s son, Adolph B Thimig, assumed control of the business. According to the 1890 Brooklyn Citizen feature he had been running the day to day operation of the business for some time. As early as January 1, 1893 this Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement referred to the business as “H. Thimig & Son.”
Still formally known as the Thimig Bottling Co., the business incorporated later that year. The incorporation notice was published in the December 19, 1893 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Another notice, this one in the December 22, 1893 edition of the Eagle named Carl Conrad as president and Adolph B. Thimig as treasurer of the corporation. The change in name to the A. Busch Bottling Company followed four years later.
The A Busch Bottling Co was listed in all of the Brooklyn City Directories and Telephone Directories I could find between 1899 and 1917 at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue. Adolph Thimig passed away at the age of 37 in February, 1902. Whether or not he was still associated with the business at that point is not clear. The 1913-1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens listed the business as a N. Y. Corporation with E A Faust as President; J Alfred Piper as Vice Pesident and H P Hof as Secretary and Treasurer.
Around the time the A Busch Bottling Company was established they were bottling several different Anheuser-Busch brands. An advertising item in the October 11, 1900 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle named them as wholesale dealers for the following bottled beers: Budweiser, Faust, Black & Tan, Anheuser Standard, Export Pale, Exquisite and Pale Lager.
Other advertisements in that time frame mentioned Michelob as well.
Another product they distributed early on was a tonic called “Malt-Nutrine, the helpful food drink to promote appetite, restore health, build body and brain.”
During the early 1900’s, Anheuser-Busch and primarily the Budweiser brand was growing leaps and bounds. This growth was documented by A Busch Bottling Company advertisements that indicated that Budweiser sales went from 83 million bottles to 130 million bottles in just the two years from 1902 to 1904.
As Prohibition was getting underway the company was still in operation as evidenced by advertisements for a soft drink called “Bevo” that appeared in Brooklyn newspapers from 1917 to 1919.
These advertisements disappear in 1920 and the A Busch Bottling Company was not listed in the 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens so it appears that the company did not survive even the earliest stages of National Prohibition. Anheuser-Busch was still marketing products in New York at that time, including a tonic version of Budweiser and Anheuser Busch Ginger Ale, but by the early 1920’s their advertisements listed the Anheuser-Busch Ice & Cold Storage Co., Inc. as their distributor. An advertisement from July 1, 1924 listed that company’s address as 48 Warren Street in Brooklyn. Other advertisements also listed a 166th Street address in NYC.
Later, Anheuser-Busch listed Anheuser-Busch Inc. at 515 West 16th Street as their distributor for their “Budweiser Barley Malt Syrup.” that was first marketed in 1926. According to a June 1933 advertisement, that location was serving as the Anheuser Busch-New York Branch when Prohibition ended.
Today, 433 to 443 Atlantic Avenue is a series of renovated apartment buildings. They don’t appear old enough to be associated with this business but the other side of Atlantic Avenue appears older.
I have found two champagne style bottles both with tooled crowns. They are embossed with the A Busch Bottling Co. name so they date no earlier than 1897. I’d say they fit within the first half of the 1897 to 1917 time frame of the business.