Wittenberg Beer Barrel Maker and Barkeep’s Boy

Gustav Adolph Spirz was born on January 18, 1875, so he is our birthday boy.  However, before I discuss his life, let me start with his parents.  His father was Charles Spirz, and his mother was Anna Sophia Heise.  Charles and Anna were married on November 26, 1869.  Their marriage is not included in any local church books, but there is a Perry County record for this wedding.

spirz heise marriage record perry county

For a variety of reasons, I believe this marriage took place in Wittenberg, Missouri.  One of the reasons is found in this record.  This marriage was performed by the Justice of the Peace, and in this case, that was Emanuel Estel, who at that time was the proprietor of a general store in Wittenberg.

Anna Heise came to America in 1864.  She arrived in Baltimore aboard the Helene along with her father, Beta Heise.  She was 15 years old at the time.

beta and anna heise passenger list helene baltimore 1864
Anna Heise passenger list – Helene

You may recall another story on this blog recently which told the story of some Heise’s.  Andreas Heise came to Baltimore in 1863.  This is the passenger list that was part of the story, Another Crosstown Chronicle.

andreas heise passenger list albert 1863

Andreas was 19 years old when he arrived in America, and it says he was from Liebenau in Germany.  You can see the Heise’s that came a year later were also from the same town.  If I was a betting man, I would say that Anna and Andreas were brother and sister, and the father of both of them was Beta.  I would also speculate that when Andreas, his wife, and a child came to Perry County sometime around 1868, his father and sister came with them.

It did not take long for Anna to find a spouse in Perry County, as indicated by the above marriage record.  Her husband, Charles Spirz, came to America in 1867 aboard the ship, Malta.  That ship arrived in New York when Charles was 22 years old.  This list says he was a “smith”.

charles spirz passenger list malta 1867 new york
Charles (Carl) Spirz passenger list – Malta

It’s a mystery why Charles ended up settling in Wittenberg, but that is what happened.  The first census in which we find either Charles or Anna was the 1870 census, and they were already married.  There were living in the same household with some folks named Mutchler (sp?), and Charles was a cooper.

charles spirz 1870 census wittenberg mo
1870 census – Wittenberg, MO

Later in 1870, this couple had their first child.  Here are photos of both Charles and Anna.


It is likely that Charles was using his cooper skills to make beer barrels for the brewery in Wittenberg.  In the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, it was the Brenner Brewery.  Below is a photograph of it.  As you can see, it was located at the base of the bluffs near the river.  Some caves that can still be seen today were located behind this spot and used for beer storage.  We see some pretty impressive barrels in this photograph.

brewery x

Gustav Adolph, today’s birthday boy, was the third child in this family.  We see this family later in the 1880 census.

charles spirz 1880 census wittenberg mo
1880 census – Wittenberg, MO

Their last of seven children was born in 1887.  It is reported that in 1884, Charles was the manager of the tavern in Wittenberg.  So Gustav became the barkeep’s boy.

When their son, Franz Spirz was born in 1880, it was the first church record we find for anyone in the Spirz family.  His baptism record can be found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

franz spirz baptism record trinity altenburg mo
Franz Spirz baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

In March of 1888, Charles Spirz died.  His death record is in the Trinity church books, but he was buried in the Wittenberg Public Cemetery.

karl spirz gravestone wittenberg public cemetery mo

The above photo can be found in Mary Dillon’s Wittenberg book, but it is not found on Findagrave.com’s site.  Maybe Diane Anderson, who we affectionately call Miss Findagrave, can post this photo on that site.

It must not have been long after his father’s death that Gustav Spirz was confirmed at Trinity.  Here is that record.

gustav adolph spirz confirmation record trinity altenburg mo
Gustav Spirz confirmation record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

In 1890, Anna’s father, Beta Heise, died.  His record can be found in the Trinity church books.  That record states that he had a daughter, Mrs. Spirz, from Wittenberg.

beta heise death record trinity altenburg mo
Beta Heise death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Only two of the Spirz children can be found in the confirmation records of any church.  Gustav, as was already said, was confirmed at Trinity.  A younger son, Leopold, was confirmed at Concordia, Frohna in 1898.  That record can be found in our German Family Tree, but I do not have an image of the original record.  It does seem to indicate that the Spirz family may have still been living in Perry County at that time.

The 1900 census shows the Spirz family living in St. Louis.  Gustav was a stove moulder.  Two other siblings were working in a shoe factory.

gustav spirz 1900 census st. louis mo
1900 census – St. Louis, MO

On March 30, 1902, Gustav married Clara Wissel in St. Louis.  We have this record of that marriage.

spirz wissel marriage record st. louis mo
Spirz/Wissel marriage record – St. Louis, MO

The photo below is a rather early photo of Gustav Spirz.

gustav adolph spirz

Gustav and Clara would go on to have 8 children.  We see several of them in this photo of the Gustav Spirz family.  Gustav is sporting quite the mustache.

gustav spirz family

Their daughter, Clara, ended up in San Diego, California, and that is probably why we find Gustav buried there.  He died in 1956.  Clara died in 1964.  They are both buried in the Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego.



On Ancestry.com, I was able to find some other photos of the Gustav Spirz family taken when he was in California.  The thumbnails below can be clicked to enlarge them.


Gerard Fiehler likes this story.  It is likely that Charles Spirz also worked for a short time after Gerard’s ancestor, George Loebs, bought the brewery in Wittenberg around 1884.  So Gerard figures that Charles Spirz and Georg Loebs must have tipped a few beers together in Wittenberg back in the old days.


One thought on “Wittenberg Beer Barrel Maker and Barkeep’s Boy

  1. Hello! My name is Dorene Spirz, and I am a great grand daughter of these Spirz/Heise/Wissels. Thank you for writing about these details. Maybe someday I can go to Wittenburg and see everything!


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