Beloved Beer: Germans, Yankees, and Prohibition in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Germans have lengthy liked and honored liquor. When the Irish missionary Columbanus 1st encountered Germans in the early seventh century, he occurred on a ritual sacrifice of beer.

Even following the Germans grew to become Christians, most spiritual leaders followed the biblical look at of alcoholic beverages as portion of God’s bounty. Martin Luther was fond of beer and wine: he often bought drunk, and he made use of the tunes of well-known ingesting music for some of his hymns.

These was the tradition powering missionary pastor Frederick Schmid, who arrived to Michigan in 1833 to plant congregations between the state’s German immigrants. But Schmid, who founded each Zion Lutheran Church and Bethlehem United Church of Christ, quickly discovered that other area ministers experienced a lot stricter attitudes toward liquor. Repulsed by the prevalent preference for tricky liquor and the practice of going on drunken sprees, many advocated an outright ban on ingesting.

In June 1834, Schmid was approached by a area Presbyterian minister. Would Schmid use his authority to persuade Ann Arbor’s Germans to adhere to Presbyterian temperance tenets, which forbade not only liquor but even coffee and tea?

Schmid replied that it was not necessary for a Christian to submit himself to such a yoke. Men and women with the Holy Spirit within them would not consume way too substantially nor misuse the items of God. Jesus, Schmid additional, drank wine.

The clash of cultures that commenced that day would last almost a century. The Germans arrived in Ann Arbor amid a fantastic temperance motion amid native-born People in america-1 that would culminate in nationwide Prohibition in 1920.

Most German settlers saw matters a lot like Schmid. Their perspective is enshrined in the structure of Liberty Township’s Bethel Church, in which only hefty consuming is condemned. In the churchyard is a gravestone with the date “February 31st.” According to previous pastor Roman Reineck, farm households would stop by with the stonecutter as he worked. They’d bring some hard cider or wine, and by the end of the working day the day did not issue.

In the townships, exactly where German had been the vast majority, these types of socializing was of minimal issue. But the German love of alcoholic beverages was a substantially greater trouble in Ann Arbor. Between 1868 to 1918, metropolis directories history 221 distinctive locations dispensing liquor, additional than half of them owned by German Us residents.

Edith Staebler Kempf (1898-1993) told tales about the nineteenth century saloon run by Charlie Behr. Professors, legal professionals, and effectively-to-do German farmers went there. Behr also served food stuff, and by Kempf’s account, there was in no way any rowdiness.

The Yankees-Michiganders whose households experienced come from New England or New York State-could possibly have overlooked Germans providing beer to other Germans. But Ann Arbor’s student inhabitants was a distinct make any difference. Most U-M learners of the era arrived from Yankee households and grew up in Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian houses, wherever teetotalism was enforced. On their very own in Ann Arbor, some reveled in their newfound freedoms-like the independence to consume.

In the commencing, the University of Michigan kept a near eye on college students. They lived on campus, experienced a 9 p.m. curfew, and were being expected to show up at compulsory chapel two times a working day to listen to sermons presented by faculty users, who were largely ordained Protestant clergy.

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That transformed when Henry Philip Tappan took in excess of as college president in 1852. Tappan experienced visited exploration universities in Prussia, and he commenced recruiting college on the foundation of scholarship, not church affiliations. Tappan also abolished the university’s dormitory since he wanted students to be more impartial and reside off campus, like learners in Europe.

Tappan himself drank wine with his foods, and he did not treatment if students drank beer. He did speak out in opposition to distilled spirits, but this barely content the extra conservative faculty and regents.

Totally free from the authority of dad and mom and the college, students turned to alcoholic hell-boosting. In 1856, scholar mobs attacked German ingesting spots in the “Dutch War.” The conflict commenced when Jacob Hangsterfer ejected two rowdy students from his beer corridor. They returned the next evening with close friends armed with knives and clubs. When Hangsterfer refused to serve them cost-free beverages, the learners broke open up kegs and barrels and ruined home furnishings and glass.

Soon just after, six learners climbed by way of a window at Henry Binder’s resort and saloon and assisted themselves to drinks established out for a German ball. Binder could grab only 1 of the pupils and held him hostage. The others got reinforcements from campus. When Binder demanded $10 for the stolen refreshments, the students attacked with battering rams. With the brick partitions providing way, Binder set his huge dog on the learners. But the students’ puppies killed Binder’s canine. Then the students went to get the muskets they made use of in military services drills-at which position Binder properly released his captive.

Termed on the carpet by the regents, Tappan emphasised the university’s continuing specifications for day-to-day chapel and Sunday church attendance, as effectively as other proof of a moral university student body. He also known as for enforcement of a new metropolis ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors and to individuals who had been drunk. But the adhering to 12 months, a former college student died immediately after consuming at Binder’s saloon and a friend’s place.

Tappan joined temperance-minded townspeople in pressuring town council to informally concur that no liquor licenses would be granted east of Division Avenue, developing a “dry line” to defend the campus spot. But Tappan dropped points with the regents when he refused to just take a own temperance pledge. However he elevated the college to nationwide stature-boosting enrollment tenfold, laying the foundations of the law and engineering colleges, and a lot far more-the regents ended up more anxious with his perceived moral failings. They fired him in 1863.

In Tappan’s area, the regents appointed a Methodist minister and professor of Latin, Erastus Haven. The Presbyterian Church hosted Haven’s inauguration. At the ceremony, a regent made a place of detailing Tappan’s “sinful” conduct.

President Haven, nevertheless, experienced no much better luck curbing the town’s rowdy students. In 1867, he educated the Women Library Affiliation that Ann Arbor was “disgraced all around the country” as a “position of revelry and intoxication.” By 1871, stung by brawls, nighttime ruckuses, and damaging pranks, Ann Arbor voters elected a college faculty member as mayor. Silas Douglas promptly experienced the town marshal warn the saloons that a extensive disregarded Sunday closing ordinance would be enforced.

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Ann Arbor’s conflict over alcohol finally grew to become a statewide problem. The Michigan branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union issued a flyer in 1881 decrying the city’s saloons for building guys “brutes.” The flyer lists thirty-7 saloon keepers by identify, the great the vast majority of them German Individuals, and contends that “Ann Arbor would be far better off morally, socially, intellectually, and in each and every other way, if this disgustingly very long record of guys would each 1 of them die with the compact-pox inside the next 7 days.”

In 1887, Michigan voted on a proposed modification to the condition constitution prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Ann Arbor’s greatly German Next Ward (present-day Old West Facet) turned down it ten to 1. The Yankee- and college-dominated Sixth Ward voted 3 to one in favor. It dropped narrowly statewide.

Ann Arbor’s temperance forces at last accomplished some achievements in 1902, when the casual dry place around the university became a section of the town constitution. By 1908, eleven Michigan counties experienced enacted neighborhood Prohibition ordinances, and every single year extra and extra counties joined them. In 1916, Michigan voters once more considered a Prohibition amendment to the state constitution.The Second Ward even now voted no, by practically two to a person, but Ann Arbor as a complete voted for Prohibition, as did the state.

The late Ernie Splitt recalled the governing administration inspectors arriving at the Michigan Union Brewery on Fourth Road on the working day the state went dry, May possibly 1, 1918. According to Splitt, every person experienced a drink, even the inspectors. Then “the rest of the beer was poured down the drain. That was the saddest day of my daily life.”

Hordes of Michiganders headed for Ohio to get booze, leading Michigan’s governor to order condition troopers to patrol the border. Cars and trucks ignoring their roadblocks were fired on, and the governor was pressured to declare constrained martial regulation. A passenger was shot in the neck when a driver failed to end for troopers on the freeway outdoors Ann Arbor. But a research of the auto turned up no liquor.

In 1918 congress accepted the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages. It was ratified by the states early in 1919 and took effect in January 1920.

Prohibition did minimize heavy ingesting, in particular among the functioning course, in rural places, and on university campuses. But it had the reverse outcome between nicely-to-do Anglos.

Bootleggers and illegal ingesting institutions mainly disregarded beer and wine, concentrating alternatively on far more rewarding difficult liquor. Cocktails turn into stylish.
It was estimated that 400 to 600 cases of whiskey were brought from Canada across the Detroit River nightly. Considerably of it then was pushed to Chicago, typically passing via Washtenaw County en route.

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A single chilly April evening in 1927, Ann Arbor law enforcement officers William Marz and Erwin Keebler stopped a car downtown. The driver had no registration, so Marz stood on the car’s jogging board to immediate it to police headquarters even though Keebler adopted driving in their patrol motor vehicle. In close proximity to headquarters, 1 of the passengers pulled out a gun and fired five times through the window, blasting Marz to the pavement. The motor vehicle sped off. Luckily, Keebler experienced insisted Marz place on a bulletproof vest.

When the law enforcement escalated their enforcement efforts, gangsters basically utilised their huge gains to acquire quicker vehicles and extra guns. Ordinary citizens feared being caught in the crossfire. They place American flag stickers on their windshields with the inscription, “Don’t Shoot, I’m Not a Bootlegger.”

With regulation enforcement officers frustrated by the bootleggers, they struck at the minor man-in Ann Arbor, Metzger’s German Cafe. In 1929, owner Monthly bill Metzger was cited for providing tough cider and put on probation for five years. He was fined $100 and could not go away the state devoid of the consent of the court docket. He, his automobiles, his business, and his house could be searched at any time without a warrant. To prevent any upcoming cases of his cider fermenting, he could no for a longer period provide cider at all.

Over the class of the 1920s, even non-Germans started to question Prohibition. They arrived to know that they experienced only changed the hated saloon with the speakeasy and the blind pig and began to feel that the moderate German tactic, drinking beer and wine, might be Okay.

In the 1932 presidential election, Franklin Roosevelt ran as a moist applicant. As a single of its to start with functions, the new congress handed the Twenty-First Amendment, repealing Prohibition. That April, Michigan grew to become the very first state to ratify it. By May well, sale and use of liquor ended up legal once again in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Union Brewery reopened as the Ann Arbor Brewery. Kurt Neumann, a longtime resident of “Cabbage City,” as the Aged West Side was acknowledged, recalled how men from the community would halt in, fill steins straight from a spigot, and sit all over speaking and ingesting. Sadly, other locals were not as loyal to “Ann Arbor Old Tyme,” “Creme Top,” or “Town Club”-probably mainly because it was all the similar beer, just with diverse labels. The brewery shut for great in 1949.

In 1960, local voters at last permitted bars to provide liquor. In 1964 they changed the century-outdated dry line with a scaled-down dry island all-around the college, and in 1969 even that was eliminated. Ann Arborites had repealed the last remnants of the Yankee campaign against alcohol.

This post initially appeared in the Ann Arbor Observer for September, 2009. More on Ann Arbor’s history, which include photographs, beery and normally, may perhaps be uncovered at a web-site:

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