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Louise's Legacy: Hamm Family Stories
By Moira F. Harris (Editor)

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Publisher: Pogo Press, 1998.
Soft Cover, 132 pages, 5.5 x 8.5.
Item #1247

What a great book. It tells the story of the early lives of Theodore and Louise Hamm and their St. Paul brewing dynasty. A butcher and saloonkeeper, Theodore Hamm foreclosed on a failing brewery as payment for a defaulted gold-rush promissory note. Through diligence and good luck he helped build a brewery which, 60 years after his death, had become one of the largest in the United States. But it was his wife, Louise Hamm, whose family and management skills ensured the success of the business:

"Louise Hamm managed the storeroom, planned the meals, and kept the books for the two plants. She was the true head of the ever-growing business. The years of struggle and hardship had turned the shy retiring bride into an excellent businesswoman. Theodore Hamm remained the titular head of the household, bit it was his wife who made many of the decisions."

What a unique and personal glimpse into the early history of one of America's great breweries. Illustrated with early brewery-related material and Hamm family photographs.

An excerpt:

As the plant had grown and as the number of employees had increased,Theodore Hamm decided that it was high time that is workers be represented by some member of their group in order that his growing staff would have the opportunity to come to him with any complaints that there might be concerning the working conditions which existed in his plant. In Germany Theodore Hamm had been thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea of workers having unions to represent them so at they could deal with management. He had held a meeting of all his employees and had explained very carefully what he wanted all of them to do. He told them,

"You are all employed by me, and I try to give you the best working conditions within my power to do so. But sometimes there must be some among you who have a complaint about the way things are being done. That may be more true about you newcomers than among my old employees who have been with me some time and who speak to me immediately when things go wrong. Now I want all of you to elect someone as president who will represent all of you. This leader will listen to your complaints and then you will take a vote whether or not he should come to me and discuss with me changes that should be made to improve your working conditions. The president whom you will elect will be your spokesman. He will represent all of you and he will speak for all of you if there are any complaints about which I have not been told. This will be your association and I want you to elect a man whom you know you can trust."

His workers did exactly what he had told them to do. They decided upon their president, but to his utter amazement they had elected him to be their president. Theodore Hamm was quite upset about this turn of events. He went back to his wife and fumed to her,"I tried so hard to organize a union and I explained so carefully why they needed an organization to represent them. They ended up by being a bunch of Dummkopts and I am their president!"

Louise Hamm knew her husband. He was proud of the faith that his workers had in him so she told her son that they could not make too many changes too rapidly. The plant continued to serve the noonday free meal, but William Hamm prevailed upon his father in the matter of the free beer. The older workers knew the rules well. They were not allowed to overindulge. If they did they were reprimanded. After one warning, a repetition meant that they would have to find work somewhere else. However, the younger ones were breaking Louise Hamm's hard and fast rules. William Hamm insisted that six glasses a day were more than enough so he instituted the practice of giving each employee six tickets each morning. Beer was made available three times a day: at ten a.m, at noon, and at four p.m.The older ones grumbled to Theodore Hamm, but he did not override his wife and son's decision.

Louise Hamm continued to listen to her son who saw to it that he went into actual control of the management of the plant. Theodore Hamm remained the titular head of the brewery which carried his name. The new arrangement was quite satisfactory to him for once more he was able to devote a great deal of his time to the ever increasing stables. For now his son was buying beautiful Percheron horses for the drays and sleds. As the brewery produced more and more beer he found that the mash (the end product of the beer) could be utilized to feed his cows, pigs, and sheep. His pride and joy were his barns, his horses, and his stables.

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