Adolphus Busch was a salesman, and perhaps the greatest ever heard of in America. Granted that he knew good beer and ever sought after it, the fact remains that he did not know how to make it at all. In the same course of time he found men who did, but that was a mere detail. He sold the bad almost as efficiently as he sold the good. He could have sold anything. At one point in the early career of Anheuser Busch, its product was so inferior that St. Louis rowdies were known to project mouthfuls of it back over the bar. Adolphus kept on selling it, and it became better, and eventually the best in America.
Adolphus Busch was born on July 10, 1839 to Ulrich and Barbara Pfeiffer Busch. Growing up in Kastel, near Mainz, Germany, Adolphus was the twenty-first of twenty-two children. At the age of eighteen, he moved to the United States, to join his three brothers in St. Louis, Missouri. He first started working on the riverfront as a clerk in a wholesale supply house, but was soon interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. There was nothing to interest him in the war, so he withdrew honorably after a brief service to enter the brewers supply business. In 1859, Adophus joined in a partnership with Ernst Wattenberg to form Wattenberg, Busch, and Company, a wholesale commission house. This particular wholesale house became the most popular in St. Louis at the time.
Among his customers was Eberhard Anheuser. In 1859, Eberhard, a successful St. Louis businessman, first financed a loan to a struggling neighborhood brewery called The Bavarian. After purchasing the brewery, he renamed it as E. Anheuser and Company. Eberhard, being a brewer and not a salesman, found it hard to dispose of the beer that his small equipment produced. Before long he found himself owing Adolphus a seemingly large sum of money. The bill kept growing larger, and finally Adolphus was offered an interest in the brewery in lieu of payment. Adolphus jumped at this opportunity, for not long before this he had met Eberhard’s daughter Lily, to whom he took a strong liking. Ulrich Busch, one of his brothers, had meanwhile been paying attention to Anna, Lily’s older sister. On March 7, 1861, Eberhard gave away the hands of both his daughters in a double wedding ceremony with the Busch boys in St. Louis.
In 1864, Adolphus joined his father-in-law’s brewery as a salesman. A few years later, in 1869, Adolphus sold his share of the wholesale business and bought the controlling interest in E. Anheuser and Company. The company was formed with Eberhard as president and Adolphus as secretary. By 1875, Adolphus had risen to the status of co-partner and the works were incorporated under the name of Anheuser Busch and Company. Shortly after the changing of the name, in 1880, Eberhard Anheuser died at the age of 75.
Now, Adolphus began to prepare for...