DATING A SALOON PHOTO USING HISTORICAL CLUES
When author Paul Bialas was writing his 2016 book for the 150th Anniversary of the famous Jacob Leinenkugel’s brewery he was furnished this photo from the Chippewa County Historical Society of patrons enjoying dark Leinenkugel beer at Schindler Saloon in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. At the bottom of the photo someone placed the date of 1890 in which the photograph was apparently taken.
When researching photographs to determine their age it is often the elements that are embedded in the photo itself that can provide clues to help you research leads to uncover the truth. Although it may not be obvious at first glance, it can be these small details that can confirm your date your photo. As genealogy experts often say the “date is in the details”.
Taking closer examination of this photograph there are several never before seen J. Leinenkugel signs in this photos and an interesting story behind the date that was attributed to when the photograph was taken. There are a number of photographic clues such as signage that are hidden in the background that question the accuracy of the photo’s dating. For instance, there is a calendar hanging to the right of the mirror on the back bar that allows us to establish a minimum year to this scene.
In 1906, this beautiful print of the lovely Indian princess was printed by the Hayes Lithographing Company of Buffalo, New York and was used by the Jacob Leinenkugel brewery on a calendar during that year. Used well into the 1920’s as a stock image on advertising, primarily on calendars, but also on postcards, and even a beer tip tray, we can confirm that it is not possible for this photograph to have been taken in 1890 and therefore must have been taken in 1906 or later.
Researching public records the owner, John Schlindler, applied and was granted a saloon license in 1908 from the City of Chippewa Falls. Therefore, we can reasonably assume that the Schindler Saloon began operations in 1908.
In March of 1912 John Schindelr sustained serious injuries when the horse-drawn buggy he was riding was hit by a local street car, dragging him a distance of 80 feet and “putting the buggy out of business”. Mr. Schindler regarded it a miracle that he escaped with his life and later unsuccessfully sued the railway company for $25,000 for causing the injuries and damage.
Seeming to never to get over the accident and injuries he sustained in June 1913 he hung himself and committed suicide, after which his widow Mary continued the establishment through 1916, which was the last year public records exist where the saloon applied for an annual license.
In the fall 1963 an obscure photograph appeared in the wall of a home remodeling project and the Chippewa Herald-Telegram asked for help identifying it. The old picture only told us two things – that they had big dogs, big bars and big beers in those days.
A group of volunteers organized an effort, calling themselves “The Suds Committee of Yesteryear” and “it was agreed 100% that the pictures was of the Schindler Saloon” and dated this particular photo between 1908 to 1918. It appears likely that Mr. Schindler's widow, Mary, is tending bar.
Many thanks to Joe Gula for colorizing the original B&W photo of Schindler's Saloon in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
To purchase Paul Bialas’ outstanding book on the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery you may visit his website here: https://www.lakecountryphoto.com/leinenkugel.html
LOOKING DEEPER INTO THE PHOTO
Collectors of breweriana from the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery will make note of several rare signs, such as this never-before-seen piece of ephemera:
This pair of pre-prohibition J. Leinenkugel Brewing Co lithographs are one of the earliest known examples of Leinenkugel beer advertising, having been printed sometime between 1891 and 1898. Manufactured by Wilmanns Brothers Litho Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the beautiful graphics of this advertising litho featuring an Indian maiden in a canoe going over a waterfall is a stunning example of late 19th century lithography. If you would like to learn more about this particular lithograph, please visit my personal blog at: Leinenkugel Collector