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VIDEO | Hidden treasure from 1916 saved from demolition at old West Bend Brewery

September 11, 2021 – West Bend, WI – In 1916 the Summer Olympics were cancelled due to World War I, actor and comedian “Jackie” Gleason, from Honeymooners fame was born, and the Boston Red Sox won the 1916 World Series beating the Brooklyn Robins 4 games to 1.

And in 1916 there was a little ole brewery in West Bend. It was located on Main Street and according to the West Bend Historical Album – Bicentennial Edition 1976, the brewery was owned by Charles W. Walter, Martin F. Walter, Julius Kerber and Henry A. Schmitz.

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Beer flowed, men worked, and people drank the golden beverage of Lithia, Old Timers and Black Pride. This week as the West Bend Brewery is being demolished a nugget of history was saved. A treasure from the past that highlights the quality, care and artistry of what was once a vibrant industry in West Bend.

The decorative paycheck is about 5-inches long. It’s jagged edges on the top and left-hand side indicate a perfect tear from the payroll checkbook.

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There’s a woman in a flowing sleeveless dress on the left side of the check. She’s wearing a wreath in her hair and carrying a shaft of wheat or barley in her right hand and a circular bundle in her left. There are rays of sun peeking out from a line of grey clouds and the words West Bend Brewing Co. Brewers and Bottlers written in bold atop the check.

There are two sections written in red: the number on the check and the Bank of West Bend, West Bend, WIS.


If anyone has a recollection of where the Bank of West Bend was located, that would be helpful.

The date on the check is Feb. 29th, 1916. A circular purple PAID stamp from West Bend Bank is dated April 26, 1916.

There are two names signed in cursive on the back of the check. The first one written in pencil is Gubard Knoeck. The second one written in black in is Louis F. Kuester.

The paycheck and pristine Old Timers label were found in the rafters of the building near the driveway by the old brewery business office.


  1. Amazing find! Thank you for posting this. The signature on the top is from Gerhard Knoeck, Jr. My Great-Grandfather was Gerhard Knoeck, Sr. Gerhard, Jr. would have been 19 at this time and he would be drafted not long after for WWI in 1918. Again, thank you so much for sharing a lost piece of West Bend history!

  2. Found this from http://genealogytrails.com/wis/washington/history_westbend.htm

    The Bank of West Bend is the only banking institution in the county. It was first started in the fall of 1867, with a capital of $25,000. Its principal stockholders were James Vollmar, Christopher Eckstein, R. R. Price, C. H. Miller, Albert Semler, Charles Broich, B. Goetter and James Garbade. Until 1869. it was managed by Charles H. Miller, who was Cashier, Christopher Eckstein being the President. In 1869, Maxon Hirsch became the sole proprietor of the bank by purchase. He sold to the present proprietor, Ernst von Franckenberg, in 1875.

  3. Moved to west bend 3 yrs ago and remodeled our basement. Drilled out the sills in basement to insulate and found a can of West Bend lager. Pretty cool history

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