Pabst Mansion

pabst family

Captain Pabst was born on March 28, 1836 in the small town of Nicholausreith, Saxony, Germany.  In 1848, at the age of twelve, his parents, Fredericka and Gottlieb Pabst, made the momentous decision to immigrate to the United States and they soon settled in Chicago.  At the age of 14, young Frederick signed on as a cabin boy on a Great Lakes steamer and by the age of 21, he had become a Captain.  Henceforth, until the day he died, he always retained the title of Captain.

Captain Pabst’s vessels plied the western shores of Lake Michigan between Chicago, Milwaukee and Manitowoc.  It was while he was the Captain of a side-wheeler christened Comet, he found his future wife, Miss Maria Best.  Maria, born on May 16, 1842, was the eldest daughter of Phillip Best, a brewer from Milwaukee.  Frederick and Maria courted for two years and were married in Milwaukee on March 25, 1862.  Two years later Captain Pabst took his father-in-law’s offer to buy a half-interest in the Phillip Best Brewing Company.

Captain and Mrs. Pabst would eventually have ten children during the years 1863-1875. However, only five survived to adulthood, a common occurrence during the nineteenth century.

Elizabeth  1865-1891   Gustave  1866-1943   Marie  1868-1947    Frederick, Jr.  1869-1958   Emma  1871-1943

They raised their new family in a home built in the shadow of the brewing company buildings.  After the company’s name was changed in March 1889 to the Pabst Brewing Company, Captain Pabst pursued the idea of building on property he had acquired some years earlier on Milwaukee’s prestigious Grand Avenue.  By July 29, 1892, the Pabst family moved into their new home.

At the turn of the new century, Captain Pabst’s health started to deteriorate due to a number of ailments including pulmonary edema, diabetes and emphysema.  In 1903, while traveling in California, he suffered two strokes before returning to Milwaukee.  After his family rallied around him, Captain Pabst slipped away and died shortly after 12 noon on New Year’s Day 1904.  His funeral, which took place in the music room of the Mansion, was meant to be a private affair, but the enormous crowds of mourners that surrounded the mansion made it all but impossible.

Mrs. Pabst continued to maintain the house for another two years, spending her summers in Germany.  During one of these trips, she fell from a carriage and injured herself.  She returned home but during her convalescence at the Milwaukee Hospital she developed pneumonia and died on October 3, 1906.  She was later laid to rest next to her husband at Forest Home Cemetery.  Both Captain and Mrs. Pabst were sorely missed by not only family and friends, but by the countless numbers of people that they helped through acts of kindness and charity during their lives.

With their descendants now down to the great-great-great-great grandchild level and over two hundred and fifty direct descendants, the Pabst family still finds interest and meaning in their family home, as do all those who visit.