Tracking Luxembourgers in the United States of America: Nick Kessler (1833-1902)
Nic(h)olas Kessler, originally the name was spelled Kesseler, was born on May 26, 1833, in Beaufort, Luxembourg, the youngest of a family of six children. He arrived inNew York on January 10, 1854, continued on to Sandusky, Ohio and settled for a while at Detroit, Michigan. Later, he removed to Chicago, Illinois and was active in the feed business. Like many other immigrants, he succumbed to the gold fever and headed west, prospecting in Colorado, before heading to Montana in August of 1863. In Virginia City, Nick started a bakery, restaurant and liquor business. In 1864, he made a trip back to Luxembourg to visit with family and friends. When returning to America, according to a contemporary, he had learned that back in Luxembourg men had to relax and when they relaxed many of them found solace and entertainment with friends over a stein of brew. Rather than continuing panning for gold, in 1865 Nick acquired a brewery at Helena, Montana. Over the years, he grew the Kessler Brewery into one of the most prosperous breweries far and wide. His Lorelei beer was a favorite for many decades. He lived in a log cabin next to his brewery.
The Kessler Brewery closed in 1958. In 1984, the Kessler beer name was revived by a microbrewery Kessler Brewing Company, located 1439 N. Harris Street, Helena producing award-winning beers. The bottles were decorated with distinctive labels, some reproducing the likeliness of Nick Kessler, the pioneer immigrant from Luxembourg. Sadly, the microbrewery closed in 2000.
What a beautiful world it was once. At least a river of it was. And it was almost mine and my family’s and just a few others’ who wouldn’t steal beer. You could leave beer to cool in the river, and it would be so cold when you got back it wouldn’t foam much. It would be a beer made in the next town if the town were ten thousand or over. So it was either Kessler Beer made in Helena or Highlander Beer made in Missoula that we left to cool in the Blackfoot River. What a wonderful world it was once when all the beer was not made in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, or St. Louis.
© 1976 The University of Chicago
© 2009 Fausto Gardini. Jacksonville, Florida