Birk Family

Patriarch Jacob Birk immigrated to the US from then-Prussia around 1853. He met and married Magdalena Welflin (from Alsace-Lorraine; then Germany, now France) in 1859, and together they had 12 children, 8 surviving childhood.

Jacob did well in business and on the 1880 census is listed as the proprietor of a boarding house (per other accounts, actually a hotel). However, Jacob had made his fortune as the co-founder of Wacker & Birk Brewing Co around 1882. About 10 years later, Jacob sold his shares there and started a new brewery with his oldest sons William and Edward. They jump-started their new brand by purchasing the existing Corper & Nocklin Brewery which they renamed Birk Bros Brewing Co.

Jacob retired in 1895 and William took over as president. Magdalena passed away in 1899, becoming the first entombment here. The 1900 census listed Jacob, 5 of his children, and 3 servants living in a fully-owned house in the Lakeview neighborhood. He no longer listed a profession.

William was apparently married at some point, but his death record lists him as divorced. He had been one of the 5 living with his father in 1900, and 17 years later he had returned to his father’s home where he died from a long illness. His will (written less than a month before his death) stipulated that his brother Frank could buy out his part of the company via a protected sale of shares which Frank did. Jacob died just three years later in 1920.

The company survived Prohibition with Edward and Frank in charge and lasted until 1950, 10 years after Edward’s death and a year before Frank’s.

All the Birk siblings are entombed in this mausoleum except Frank and Amelia who are both at Graceland with their spouses.

RIP wildly wealthy Birk family

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