My Great-Grandfather Jacob Etzel - Brewmaster

by Charles McGrath

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I never met Jacob Etzel, my great-grandfather, but I heard many family stories about him over the years. The one that stood out was that he was the "Brewmaster" (very important job) in Peter Schalk Brewery in Harrison. Harrison High School now sits on the foundation of that brewery. As a matter of fact, the original cellar is four stories below the street level of the school. While I heard that ghosts have been seen by the students, I not sure if Jacob was one of them. I was also told many times in my youth about his endurance. How many times did my mother tell me he walked to work during the Blizzard of "88".

As we all know Newark was famous for its breweries. Even our Webmaster's family was an integral part of it. I believe his great-great-grandfather Frielinghaus owned a brewery on Springfield Avenue. I remember seeing it as a young boy in the 1940's. If my memory serves me right it was a brick building complex that laid abandoned since the advent of Prohibition.

Jacob spent most of his adult life residing and working in Harrison. But he will remain more of a Newarker than most of us. He was interred near South 10th Street in Woodland Cemetery. See the above picture from 21 years ago.

With the passing of time many unknowns come to the surface. I just found out this evening for the first time that Jacob Etzel (my great-grandfather) actually worked for Peter Ballantine. Ballantine bought the Schalk Brewery in 1879 to make his lager beer. This past summer I also found out for the first time that Jacob Etzel lived on Cleveland Avenue. What's so important about his house on Cleveland Avenue? Remember his endurance during the Blizzard of"88"? He trudged through the snow to get to the brewery. Guess what? His house was only 1,000' from the brewery.


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