REISCH, FRANZ SALES (deceased). - In all parts of Illinois are to be found German-Americans who have impressed their personalities on the history of the communities in which they have lived. Their sturdy honesty, their ambition to make the most of their opportunities for advancement, and their interest in the cause of progress, are qualities which made them valuable citizens. Among the citizens of Springfield, who have contributed much of the development of the resources of the city and vicinity, was Franz Sales Reisch, who has been dead many years, but his influence is easily discernable in the results of his activities. He is well remembered by all who had dealings with him, in a business or social way, and his presence was missed in many circles of the city for many years. He left a record of which his family and friends have been justly proud, and his success in life was a gratification to his many warm personal friends.
Mr. Reisch was born in the Grand Duchy of Baden, on the Rhine, January 24, 1808. He was of the peasant class, and his father's occupation was that of a butcher. Mr. Reisch was one of five children, three boys and two girls.
Franz S. Reisch received a limited education, and at the age of seventeen years became apprentice to a cooper in the village of Schletstadt, across the Rhine from his home, in Alsace, France. After spending three years learning his trade Mr. Reisch worked three years as journeyman. At the age of twenty-four years, he decided to seek larger opportunities to better his condition in life, and emigrated to the United States. He first located in Kentucky, later removed to Indiana, and after living in that State a short time, moved in 1833, to Beardstown on the Illinois River, where he followed his trade successfully four years. Mr. Reisch then returned to his native country for his wife, having been engaged to be married to Miss Susan Maurer, a farmer's daughter, born near his own birthplace. They were married and spent their honeymoon traveling to their new home in Beardstown, where Mr. Reisch established a shop of his own. By diligent work and economy he saved money enough to purchase, in 1840, land on Richland Creek, Sangamon County. After locating on his farm, he continued to manufacture barrels, delivering them by wagon to Beardstown, Springfield and St. Louis. He later sold this farm and purchased land eight miles from Springfield. He was a successful farmer and business man, and saved enough to engage in mercantile business, in 1846, in which he continued for four years.
In 1850 Mr. Reisch moved his family to Springfield, having the previous year established a small brewery with a capacity of 150 barrels annually, and in this enterprise was so successful that he was soon able to produce 400 barrels a year. He had been associated with another in business but purchased the interest of his partner and carried on the brewery alone for some time. He also had a mercantile establishment and retained his farm. In 1854, on account of a temperance wave which swept over the country, he leased his brewery and engaged in manufacturing brick, still carrying on his grocery store, having a partner in the latter business. In 1858 Mr. Reisch resumed his management of the brewery, and started to build up the business anew, and about this time the grocer with whom he had been associated in business was admitted to partnership in the brewery, but in 1862, Mr. Reisch became sole owner again. In 1863, he admitted his son Frank to partnership and in 1868, the enterprise had grown to such an extent that they erected an immense brewing plant, which was the most extensive in the city. This enterprise has become one of the largest in Sangamon County, and its present output is 100,000 barrels per annum. The machinery has been added to and replaced from time to time, until the latest improved appliances have come into use in all parts of the immense plant, comprising five large buildings.
In 1875 Mr. Reisch was superintending the construction of an addition to the brewing plant when he fell from the partly completed building, was fatally injured, and died a few hours later. He left a widow and seven children to mourn his loss. Mr. Reisch and wife had a happy married life of thirty-eight years, and to them were born children as follows: Frank, died in 1896; Elizabeth, wife of Gustave A. Ensenberger; Joseph, Vice President of Reisch Brewing Company; Leonard, a dry goods merchant; George, a biography of whom appears in this work. Mrs. Reisch died in 1901. She and her husband were both devout Catholics, and no matter how inclement the weather might be, Mrs. Reisch attended mass every Sunday, unless prevented by serious illness, and frequently attended church week days, as well. The family was prominent socially and delighted to entertain their many friends and acquaintances.
Mr. Reisch rose to a position of wealth and prominence through his sheer determination and unswerving purpose to succeed, coming to the United States a poor young man, beginning in a humble way in his struggle and moving slowly at first on his upward way. However, his ability and high courage could not help but advance him in position and power, and his achievements were but the natural outcome of his efforts, aided by the fact that he lived in the midst of large opportunities and knew how to take advantage of them. He delighted to provide his family with the good things of life, and was most devoted to them all, and was always solicitous for their comfort. In his business relations he was most upright and conscientious, never breaking an engagement or a promise, and fulfilling the spirit as well as the letter of all obligations. He was most generous in his contributions to the needs of those who were unfortunate and needy, and gave his support to every worthy cause which came to his notice. He was a man who was most faithful to every friend that reposed confidence in him, and his high sense of right was one of his distinguishing characteristics. In politics Mr. Reisch was a Democrat, though he never cared for public office.