In 1880 Payson was not yet a town, merely a loose settlement of people often referred to as Green Valley. At the same time, 80 miles south of Payson, “Globe City” as it was called in the early days, was booming. People flooded into the area, looking for riches in the hills that dominated the area. As people, came merchants followed, providing much needed supplies and refreshments like beer. It’s with this backdrop that our story begins with an immigrant named August Pieper.
August Pieper was born in Germany about 1850 and records indicate that he immigrated to the United States in 1869. The 1880 U.S. Census shows August Pieper living in Globe, with his occupation listed as brewer. He was single at the time. Frank Bissig is also listed as an occupant of Pieper’s home. Bissig’s occupation? Brewer. Both of these gentlemen were from central Europe. Pieper was from Germany and Bissig was from Switzerland. Over the next two decades they would be involved in numerous deals together.
In 1878 Fred Medler was operating Pinal Brewery in Globe. Whether or not Pieper and Bissig worked there for him is not known, though certainly it’s a possibility. The 1880 Dun Mercantile Business Directory shows Medler brewing in Globe, but a year later in 1881, he doesn’t show up and Pieper and Bissig appear as brewers, possibly indicating that they took over Medler’s business.
The 1882 Gila County Assessor rolls show that Pieper and Bissig had picked up a partner, Hayse (pronounced Hays). This addition may have been for financing as Hayse appears to have previously had some successful mining interests including the “Fame” mine in Globe.
It appears that these three gentleman continued to work the brewery together over the next few years, as they show up again in the July 1884 Dun Mercantile Business Directory with this entry: “Pinal Brewery (See Pieper, Hayes & Bissig).” Throughout the 1880s Pieper brewed in Globe, though his partners appear to have changed somewhat during that time with Hayse eventually getting out of the business and Charles Von Soyer getting in.
During this time period the area continued to grow. In part, because of Globe’s growth, Gila County was formed in 1881, though the Payson area would not become part of Gila County until 1889 (Payson was part of Yavapai County during this time).
Payson became a town in 1882 and obtained its first post office and held its first rodeo in 1884. On the heels of this, in 1885 it appears that Pinal Brewery made its way in some form to Payson. A deed dated July 12, 1885 shows a transaction between Charles Bohren (Grantor) and Fred Rechenmacher, August Pieper, Frank Bissig, and Carl [sic] Soyer (Grantees). It states that the grantees are “partners doing business under the name Pinal Brewing Co.”
This group of gentleman appear to have had numerous business dealings together during this time, including the purchase of ice houses around Globe.
The first part of 1886 brought some purchases in the Payson area. The most notable one is the purchase of a half interest of the Burch and Leroy Sawmill property approximately five miles from the Payson Post Office. They purchased this interest from Carl Frank Schulze, a German who had ranch between Pleasant Valley and Globe.
In 1886 it appears that Payson Brewery Company had begun doing business in Payson. Yavapai County Assessor rolls for that year list the following:
• Two cowponies at a value of $50
• “Brewery at Payson” for a value of $500.
• Stock goods on hand with a value of $200
• Bar fixtures
• Household furniture with a value of $10
It appears that in the early days of Payson Brewery Company, Ferdinand Rechenmacher was the managing partner. This is indicated by a clipping from the Sept. 2, 1886 Hoof and Horn newspaper.
“In another column will be found the notice of the retirement of Ferdinand Rechenmacher from the Payson Brewery Company, of this county. The business will be conducted as heretofore by its enterprising manager, Frank Sellig, while Mr. Rechenmacher will locate in Prescott and engage in the brewing business.”
Whether or not Sellig brewed after the departure of Rechenmacher is unknown. One possibility is that Soyer came up and brewed after Rechenmacher left. For whatever reason, by the end of 1889, a series of transactions occurred between the partners which facilitated the arrival of August Pieper and his wife Wilhelmina in Payson.
Gila County records show four transactions between August Pieper and Charles Soyer on Nov. 26, 1889. Pieper is the Grantor in two of them, and Soyer the Grantor in two of them. Pieper transferred a half interest in two lots in Globe to Soyer, as well as to a five-acre piece known as the “Ice Pond” in the Pinal Mountains approximately 10 miles from Globe. Coming back to Pieper in the transaction? A 1/3 interest in the Payson Brewery Company, as well as a half interest in 160 acres known as the “Saw Mill Ranche” approximately five miles east of Payson. Pieper’s share in a single lot in Globe was also transferred.
Pieper also got out of Pinal Brewery Company. Replacing August Pieper in that business was Charles Banker, who then merged his St. Louis Brewery with Pinal Brewery, ultimately operating under the latter’s name for years to come.
Pieper further solidified his position in Payson on Feb. 2, 1890, when he purchased approximately 12 acres from Henry and Kate Sidles. Thus, the Pieper transition to Payson was complete.
Over the next few years Pieper appears to have had continued assistance with his brewing business. The 1890, 1891, and 1892 Gila County Assessor Rolls have him listed with Charles Dennhard, with the Payson Brewery Company being listed under them.
The Payson Brewery Company is also listed in the Dun Mercantile business directories of Jan. 1891 and Jan. 1892, but is no longer listed in 1893, with Pieper being listed separately as having a saloon. And thus the transformation of Payson Brewery Company into August Pieper’s Saloon was complete.
Over the years the building that housed Payson Brewery Company would continue to be referenced, often mentioned as “the old brewery building.” This building was likely where Bootleg Antiques is currently located, though we cannot be completely sure of that.
Photo courtesy of Rim Country Museum