names are a part of Milwaukee’s collective consciousness,
recognizable in the city’s history and landmark businesses, as
well as their descendants’ continued philanthropic efforts
today. Here’s a look at some of Milwaukee’s marquee families
— Pabst, Bradley and Mitchell — and the influence they’ve
had on our world.
October 4, 2009
the Pabst Mansion.
The history of Milwaukee is deeply intertwined with those of the
beer baron families, and if there is one name that represents that
facet of the city’s history, it is Pabst. The role Capt. Frederick
Pabst played, both as a beer baron and a scion of the city’s
Victorian era, is hard to ignore. By the mid-1870s, Pabst was
considered America’s leading brewer, and his Pabst Brewing Co. lives
on today, though in a very different form.
Capt. Frederick Pabst(1836-1904)
Born in Germany, Frederick Pabst immigrated to America with his
parents. The Pabst family settled in Chicago, where Pabst first’s
career earned him his sea legs as partner and captain of a Great Lakes
steamship. After meeting Maria Best, daughter of brewer Phillip Best
and granddaughter of Jacob Best, Pabst married into the family and
bought into the business, becoming president of the brewery at age 37.
It flourished under his leadership, becoming the largest lager brewing
company in the world. He changed the name of the brewery to the Pabst
Brewing Co. in 1889 … and the rest is history.
By the late 19th century, Pabst had developed the Pabst Whitefish
Bay resort, which included a beer garden, hotel and enough amusements
to entertain Milwaukee society each summer until 1914, when it ceased
operations. A patron of the arts and German culture, Pabst was also
the backer of the Pabst Theater, which opened in 1895 and is
considered the best preserved German-American theater in the country.
Of course, the piece de resistance is the Pabst Mansion, which is
the remaining residential jewel in the Grand Avenue residences of
Milwaukee high society. The Flemish Renaissance Revival style mansion
was owned by the Pabst family until 1906, when it was purchased by the
Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the residence for five Archbishops and
numerous priests and sisters until it was sold in 1975, for only the
second time in its history. It has since been resorted and remains
open to the public.
Captain and Maria Pabst had 11 children, six of whom died in
infancy. Of their surviving heirs — Elizabeth, Gustave, Marie, Fred
Jr. and Emma — Elizabeth died in 1891 at the age of 26, but her
siblings went on to live successful lives of their own.
The farmer: Fred Pabst (1869-1958)
In 1906, Fred Pabst Jr. made his first purchase of land in the town
of Summit. He would eventually go on to acquire 1,500 acres for Pabst
Farms, a development known for its prize-winning bovine and equestrian
breeding programs as well as its dairy operations.
The sibling with a low profile:
Gustave Pabst (1866-1943)
Gustave entered the brewing business and followed his father as
president of the company in 1904. He later moved into real estate
investments and remained involved in numerous banking and business
ventures in the Milwaukee area. Later on, Gustave’s interests turned
to conservation, where he became involved in upland game birds and in
the breeding of cattle.
The arts patron:
Marie Pabst Goodrich (1868-1947)
Marie married William Osborn Goodrich, an opera singer and owner of
a Milwaukee linseed oil business. As supporters of the musical arts,
Marie and William bequeathed their home on Prospect Avenue to the
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where it remains today.
Emma Pabst Nunnemacher(1871-1943)
Emma’s husband, Rudolph, was a traveler who enjoyed collecting
items from around the world and upon her marriage, Emma joined him on
Rudolph was thought to have been handpicked by Pabst to carry on
his work at the brewery, but he was a world traveler and a
correspondent for the Milwaukee Journal. Emma and Rudolph were well
known and well liked in society — clearly an "en vogue"
couple — and through their many travels, acquired numerous items
from Asia, China and other exotic places opening up to western
visitors. The well-respected Nunnemacher collection of guns, artifacts
and ivory pieces is now part of the Milwaukee Public Museum.
The legacy lives on:
Augie Pabst Jr.
With such a large family, descendants of Frederick and Maria Pabst
span the globe. Former sports car racing legend, Augie Pabst Jr.,
remained involved in the Pabst Brewing Co. for a decade before moving
to Waukesha County where he retired.
Allen-Bradley clock tower is an iconic symbol of
In 1901, while working for Milwaukee Electric, Lynde Bradley came
up with what he thought was a better way to build the controllers that
regulate motor speed. Fueled with the entrepreneurial spirit, he quit
his job, secured a $1,000 investment from Dr. Stanton Allen, and
co-founded the Compression Rheostat Co.with his brother, Harry, in
1903. It would soon be re-named the Allen-Bradley Co., a name
synonymous with not just Milwaukee, but with innovation. The brothers
were also well-known within the city for taking care of their
employees, from providing solid jobs to fringe benefits and activities
for their employees and their families, including a house orchestra,
chorus and elaborate holiday festivities.
Through the decades, the company he founded with his brother grew
and expanded, its value skyrocketing to the point where Rockwell
International bought it for $1.65 billion in 1985.
The quiet one: Lynde Bradley (1878-1942)
At age 15 and still harboring a boyhood interest in electricity,
Lynde Bradley used a college textbook to help him design his first
carbon pile rheostat, used to operate a wood lathe. It was a promising
start for the man who would become Allen-Bradley’s first principal
designer and then vice president and treasurer in 1909. Upon Lynde’s
death in 1942, the philanthropic Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The outgoing one: Harry Bradley (1885-1965)
Lynde’s younger brother, Harry, was also an inventor. He was
known for being at home in any shop and harbored a lifelong passion
for research, though he loved to have a good time, as evidenced by the
company’s elaborate parties. By 1909, he was serving as secretary
and superintendent for Allen-Bradley, though it left time for other
exploratory ventures, such as his 1919 "washfountain"
patent, which he sold to a group of investors who founded the Bradley
Whether you know it as Milwaukee’s Polish moon or as the world’s
largest four-sided clock, Allen-Bradley’s clock tower was completed
in 1962 atop the 1928 Allen-Bradley manufacturing facility addition.
The only time the clock faces have gone dark since being installed was
during the 1973 oil crisis, and Milwaukee’s moon remained in
darkness from November 1973 to June 1974. In the mid-1970s, a second,
taller tower was constructed and the four-sided clock was moved to it,
leaving the original tower structure in place, but not without
function. For the past three decades, the original clock tower has
served to tell the temperature. And though it’s a familiar site to
Milwaukeeans, the clock tower finally received some national attention
in 2004 when its image appeared on the NASCAR Busch Series #20
Rockwell Automation race car of Mike Bliss as part of the company’s
100th anniversary celebration.
The arts catapult: Peg Bradley
Harry’s second wife, Peg, was an instrumental figure in the arts
for Milwaukee. Her donation of her personal 600-piece art collection
and seed money aided in the creation of the Milwaukee Art Museum and
propelling the city onto the international arts scene. The Bradley
Collection can still be viewed today. Peg’s longtime affiliation —
and later ownership — of Zita also helped provide a bridge between
Milwaukee’s fashion forward and haute couture that remains today.
The private philanthropist:
Jane Bradley Petit (1918-2001)
Though most Milwaukeeans connect the Petit name with the $90
million gift that created the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee,
Jane Bradley Petit was generous with numerous causes. Particularly
close to her heart are those that continue to get funded today through
the Jane Bradley Petit Foundation, from providing grants to train
teachers to funding film festivals and enhancing the quality of life
in her adopted city.
The legacy lives on:
David Uihlein Jr. and Lynde Uihlein
Jane’s first marriage to David Uihlein, a Schlitz Brewing
descendant, didn’t last but the children from their union continue
to be active in the community. Her son, David Uihlein Jr., is
president of Uihlein Wilson Architects and among other things, serves
as vice chairman of the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation board.
Lynde Uihlein has long been known for her own philanthropic efforts,
establishing her own fund in 1995, now called the Brico Fund.
Mitchell was the youngest captain in the U.S. Army at the time
this photo was taken in 1903.
Though Milwaukee may associate the Mitchell name with 21st century
travel, the legacy that the Mitchell family has left with the city
harkens back to a very different time and place, though one that
shaped the city into what it is today.
Alexander Mitchell (1817-1887)
A Scottish immigrant, Alexander Mitchell immigrated to Milwaukee in
1839, taking a job as a secretary at the Wisconsin Marine and Fire
Insurance Co., and a company consistently under the scrutiny of the
Wisconsin legislature for operating as a banking concern, which would
eventually be known as Marine Bank. Little grass grew under Mitchell’s
feet and he was perpetually busy. During the Civil War he was credited
with devising a system which saved many of the Wisconsin banks from
failure. He also served as the president of the Chicago, Milwaukee and
St. Paul Railroad from 1864 to 1887 and as a congressman in the 42nd
and 43rd U.S. Congress. In 1877, Mitchell was nominated as governor of
Wisconsin, a post he declined. Mitchell was considered the wealthiest
man of his generation in Wisconsin.
His compassionate wife: Martha Reed Mitchell (1817-1902)
In 1876, along with Mary Lynde, Lynde and Harry Bradley’s
grandmother, and a number of other prominent Milwaukee women, Martha
Mitchell organized the Milwaukee Women’s Club, now the Woman’s
Club of Wisconsin, and served as its first president. Martha Mitchell
would play an instrumental role in opening the Milwaukee Soldiers’
Home, a facility that served more than 2,500 veterans in its first
year and evolved into the facility whose historic buildings remain
As the Mitchells’ fortunes grew, so did their home, which started
out as a modest brick house between 9th and 10th streets on what is
now Wisconsin Avenue. Mitchell eventually bought the other properties
on his block and expanded his home, but its grand Italianate remodel
occurred in 1859. In 1872 wings were added to both sides, the porch
enlarged and bay windows installed along with a horticulture
conservancy on site. Today, the former Mitchell mansion is known as
the Wisconsin Club.
A life of service:
John Lendrum Mitchell (1842-1904)
Alexander and Martha’s son, John, attended both a military
academy and studied at several European schools before returning to
the United States in 1860. During the Civil War, he served as an
officer in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Upon resigning his
commission, he returned to the city and operated a large farm in
Milwaukee County. A Democrat, he served as a state senator, a United
States congressman and later a United States senator before retiring
from politics. He was also active in numerous banking and financial
institutions. Like his parents, John supported veteran causes and was
known as a philanthropist.
The controversial colonel:
William Lendrum Mitchell(1879-1936)
Billy’s first taste of military service occurred at the age of
18, when he enlisted as a private during the Spanish American War.
After receiving a commission, thanks in part to his father’s
intervention, Mitchell served in the Signal Corps and is considered
the first person from Wisconsin to see the Wright Brothers fly. His
interest in aviation was sparked, and he started flying lessons. He
started flying at age 38 and was ultimately deployed to France where
he fought in World War I. He eventually commanded all the American air
combat units in France and was recognized as the country’s top
American combat airman of World War I.
Mitchell’s relationships with his superiors were strained
throughout the war — as well as afterwards — and his harsh
criticisms of the armed services for its underwhelming air power
continued and he was not only demoted, but court-marshaled. Still, he
believed in the power of air, incessantly advocated for improvements
and is considered the father of the U.S. Air Force. Locally, Mitchell
International is named after him.
The name game:
No direct living Mitchell descendants are thought to live in the
Milwaukee area, but the Mitchell name lives on in numerous ways, both
here and throughout the country. In Milwaukee, Mitchell Street is
named after Alexander Mitchell. The original 1898 Mitchell Park
Conservatory was established on a 5-acre parcel donated by the
Mitchell family to the city and its circa-1959 replacement still bears
the Mitchell name. Elsewhere, Mitchell, S.D., incorporated in 1881, as
well as the city’s Mitchell Corn Palace, is named after Alexander
Mitchell due to his influence on the area as a banker and railroad
This story ran in the August 2009 issue of: