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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The present manager of the Sacramento Brewing Company rep- resents an old and honored family of Switzerland. The ancestral home was in the beautiful valley lying between the lake of Luzerne and Zurich lake, and the thriving city of Einseideln remained the headquarters of several successive generations of the family. In that town lived and labored Frank and Josepha (Ochsner) Ruhstaller, the former a hat-maker during early manhood, but later an industrious follower of the occupation of dairying, which was a leading industry in the locality. Among their children was a son who bore his father's name and whose birth occurred at Einseideln November 8, 1847. After he had completed the studies of the common schools he served an apprenticeship to the brewer's trade in Canton Berne. During July of 1862 he boarded a steamer at Havre, and at the close of an uneventful voyage landed in New York, whence he proceeded to Louisville, Ky., where he worked in the Falls City brewery. In a short time he crossed the Ohio river to New Albany, Ind., where he was made foreman in the Reising brewery before he was eighteen years of age.

Resignation from that position in Indiana was followed by a short period of employment at Louisville, from which city, in 1865, Mr. Ruhstaller came to California via New York and Panama. About the 24th of August he landed at San Francisco, came thence to Sacramento and began to work in the City brewery; six weeks later he was made foreman. After a year as foreman he entered the employ of the Pacific brewery. Later he bought an interest in the Sutterville brewery, where he carried on a partnership with Joseph Bechler for seven months until the high water forced all work to cease. Returning to the Pacific brewery, he resumed his connection with George Ochs until the latter sold to Louis Knauer, and he then worked for the new owner two years. For one-half year he operated the St. Louis brewery with Fritz Futterer and Henry Altpeter. Next he drove a wagon for the Pacific brewery for two years, after which he was made foreman.

Learning in 1873 of the illness of his father, Mr. Ruhstaller went back to the old Swiss home, but found that his aged parents had passed away during his own homeward journey. August of 1873 found him starting back to California. Soon after his arrival in Sacramento he opened a place of business opposite the Metropolitan theater, and there he continued until he bought the City brewery in November, 1881. This brewery had been established about 1859 by Mr. Hilbert and William Borchers. When Hilbert died, in March of 1865, his interest was bought by Charles Schwartz, and he in turn retired from the firm in about 1887. When Mr. Ruhstaller secured control the plant was operated by horse-power and had a capacity of fifteen barrels a day, but he increased the daily capacity to sixty-five barrels and at the same time maintained the reputation previously acquired for fine quality of the product.

In 1867 Mr. Ruhstaller became a member of the Sacramento Hussars and from 1878 to 1882 he held a commission as captain. At the April shoot of 1889 in the Foresters' Gun Club he won the gold medal. Elected an honorary member of the Sacramento Rifle Club, he gave to the club the cannon presented by General Sutter to the Swiss Rifle Club. While a salute was being fired- with the cannon a serious accident occurred, A. Klebe's arm being blown off. The cannon was thereupon buried and $1800 collected for the victim of the unfortunate accident. A prized souvenir in the possession of Captain Ruhstaller was the flag presented, with an address by Governor Bigler, in 1854, to the Swiss Rifle Club by the members of the Schutzen Club of Canton Zurich, Switzerland.

The marriage of this pioneer of Sacramento occurred in this city on Christmas Day of 1870 and united him with Miss Charlotte Oeste, who was born in Germany, but crossed the ocean at an early age and grew to womanhood in Milwaukee. Of their children Otto, Wilhelmina and Charlotte died in childhood and six attained maturity, Anna, Frank J., Minnie, David, August, and Charlotte. During 1868 Captain Ruhstaller became a member of Schiller Lodge, No. 105, I. O. O. F.; later he identified himself with Tehama Lodge, F. & A. M., the Sacramento Turn-Verein, Sons of Herman and the Verein-Eintracht. His eldest son, Frank J., was born in Sacramento, November 5, 1872, and attended the city schools from the age of six until fifteen, after which he served an apprenticeship to the brewing business with his father. For seven months in the year 1891 he engaged as brewer with the Fredericksburg brewery of San Jose, after which he resumed work in Sacramento. During 1893 he at- tended the Chicago Brewing Institute and at the expiration of six months was graduated, whereupon he returned to Sacramento and became brewer in his father's plant. Since 1906 he has been manager of the Sacramento Brewing Company. By men competent to judge he is considered one of the most experienced and capable representatives of his trade in the city. When at leisure from the many duties connected with his responsible position he finds enjoyment in the society of his friends and in the companionship of his wife, who prior to their marriage, on November 22, 1899, was Miss Alice M. Root; he finds further pleasure as well as means of helpfulness through his identification with various leading fraternities and social organizations of the city, among them the Masons, Elks, Turn-Verein and the Sutter Club. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011