Kessler family photograph collection, 1870-1951  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Kessler, Charles N. (Charles Nickolas), 1874-1957Baker, Maud DavisBundy and Train (Helena, Mont.)Culbertson, Samuel J., 1873-1926 (Helena, Mont.)Hazeltine's Studio (Butte, Mont.)Hedges Studio (Helena, Mont.)Lyle, T. Leslie (Thomas Leslie), 1887-1950Meyers, J. A.Moriarty, John M., 1864-1944Reinig, Edw. M. (Edward M.), 1879-1947Sproule Studio (Helena, Mont.)Taylor Studio (Helena, Mont.)
Kessler family photograph collection
1870-1951 (inclusive)
1.25 linear feet
187 photographic prints
Collection Number
Lot 001
In 1863, Nickolas Kessler followed the gold rush to Montana. He moved from Bannack to Last Chance Gulch (Helena) in 1865, where he purchased a brewery located on Ten Mile Creek. Kessler's eldest son, Charles N. Kessler, began working at the brewery in 1891 and assumed the presidency of the Kessler Brewing Company in 1901. In 1905 Charles N. Kessler married Sarah Hewett, daughter of Basin banker Marcus L. Hewett. The collection includes photographs of the Kessler and Hewett families and the Kessler Brewery near Helena, Montana.
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

English, English

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Nickolas Kessler was born in Befort, Canton Echternach, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on May 26, 1833, the son of Nickolas and Catherine Kessler. Kessler immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on January 10, 1854. He lived in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, before traveling to Colorado in 1858 to search for gold.

In September 1863, Kessler followed the gold rush to Bannack, Montana Territory. He moved in May 1865 to Last Chance Gulch, the site of what is today Helena, where he purchased an interest in Charles Beehrer's brewery located on Ten Mile Creek. Within a few months Kessler purchased his partner's interest and continued the brewery as sole proprietor. The brewery was known variously as Charles Beehrer and Co., Ten Mile Creek Brewery, Beehrer and Kessler, Ten Mile Brewery, Nick Kessler's Brewery, Kessler's Brewery, Kessler Brewery, Kessler's Brewery and Bottling Works, and Kessler Brewing Company.

In 1886 Nickolas Kessler directed the construction of an entirely new plant at the brewery, furnished with the first refrigeration machine in Montana and the first carbonic acid gas machine to be used in an American brewery. Kessler installed the first glass-lined storage tanks in the state in 1903, and in 1907 he installed the first bottling pipe line in the Rocky Mountain area. He also established a small brickyard at the brewery in the late 1860s or early 1870s.

In 1873 Nickolas Kessler married Louisa Ebert, who was born June 15, 1849, in Williamsburg, New York, the daughter of G. Ebert, a German immigrant. The couple had three children: Charles N. (born July 9, 1874), Frederick E. (born in 1876), and Mathilda. Louisa died on December 28, 1880.

Charles N. Kessler, Nickolas's eldest son, began working at the brewery in 1891. He attended the Wahl-Henius Institute, a Chicago school pioneering in scientific brewing methods, and graduated in 1895. Following incorporation of the brewery in 1901, C. N. Kessler assumed the presidency of Kessler Brewing Company. In this capacity it fell to him to fight the prohibition movement, as well as growing competition from large eastern breweries made possible by bottled beer and developing interstate transportation networks. As an officer and founding member of the Montana State Brewers Association (organized in April 1902, as an associate member of the United States Brewers Association), Kessler actively opposed the growing prohibition movement and negotiated contracts with the International Union of the United Brewery Workmen. Kessler, a Republican, was elected senator to the Eleventh and Twelfth Sessions of the Montana Legislative Assembly (1909, 1911), where he opposed prohibition legislation. He was also a member of the anti-prohibition Montana Commercial and Labor League.

In 1916 Montanans voted for statewide prohibition which went into effect in January 1919. On June 28, 1919, the U.S. Collector of Internal Revenue certified the destruction of 588 gallons of Kessler beer, and the Kessler Brewery closed.

The brewery was re-incorporated in 1933, following the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. Frederick Kessler assumed the major role in financing the reestablishment of Kessler Brewery. Frederick was named president of the resuscitated brewery, and C. N. Kessler became vice president in charge of brewing operations. Frederick Kessler died in January 1949, and his son-in-law, Marc M. Buterbaugh succeeded him as president of the firm. The brewery continued operation until July 1958. During its last year of operation the brewery, with a 40,000 barrel capacity, sold only 4,000 barrels.

During Prohibition C. N. Kessler investigated new business opportunities, including the Great Falls-based Nick Baatz Company, founded by early Great Falls bottler Nicholas Baatz. Baatz's firm had diversified into real estate, farming and ranching, soda and mineral water production, wholesale distribution of cigars and glassware, as well as becoming stockholder and distributor for Washington Liquid Gas Company.

Montana's first oil boom of the 1920s, sparked by oil discoveries at Elk Basin in Carbon County, followed by discoveries at Devil's Basin in Musselshell County, at Cat Creek in Petroleum County, and at the important Kevin-Sunburst Field in Toole County attracted C. N. Kessler's attention. He investigated various oil firms and invested in some, notably the Golden Eagle Oil Company of Helena.

C. N. Kessler was an avid amateur historian of Montana and the Northwest. He built a substantial personal library and artifact collection of Montaniana which he maintained until his death. He was also interested in geology and mining and developed a collection of minerals and related literature.

In 1905 C. N. Kessler married Sarah Hewett (1885-1941), daughter of Basin banker Marcus L. Hewett. They had two children Charles N., Jr. (1907-1962), and Marietta (1912-1944). The Kesslers lived in Helena until 1923 when they moved to Los Angeles. They returned to Helena in 1933 to reopen the brewery, though they continued to maintain a home in Los Angeles. C. N. returned to California in the early 1950s and died in Los Angeles on October 25, 1957.

Frederick Kessler married Florence M. Gordon (1880-1955), daughter of John and Helen Kern Gordon of Whitewater, Wisconsin, on September 4, 1902. The couple had two daughters, Louise and Helen. Frederick Kessler died in 1949. Helen Kessler (1903-1973) married Marc W. Buterbaugh (1898-1973).

In 1904 Mathilda "Tillie" Kessler married William B. Cochran, a professional soldier stationed at Fort William Henry Harrison. The couple had three children: Louise, William, Jr., and Marion. The Cochrans retired to Princess Anne, Maryland.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The photograph collection contains images of Charles N. Kessler, Sr., his wife, Sarah Hewett Kessler, and their children (Charles N. Jr. and Marietta), relatives, and friends. It includes photographs of the Kessler family's business and social activities, their Helena residence and their brewery. The views of the Kessler Brewery consist of photographs of the exterior and interior of the brewery and views of bottles of beer and carbonated beverages produced by the brewery. Sarah Hewett Kessler's father was a banker in Basin, Montana, so the collection also includes photographs of the Hewett State Bank, and the Basin Hardware and Mercantile Company in Basin.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

Many of the photographs in this collection are attributed to specific photographers or photographic studios and lists of these photographers and/or studios follow. However, numerous photographs are unattributed and are not listed.

Photographs in the collection that are identified as the work of Montana photographers:

Maud Davis Baker, Helena (1 photograph)

Bundy and Train, Helena (1 photograph)

S.J. Culbertson, Helena (2 photographs)

Hazeltine's Studio, Butte City (1 photograph)

Hedges (3 photographs)

Leslie Lyle (2 photographs)

J. A. Meyers (8 photographs)

J. Moriarty, Helena (2 photographs)

Edward M. Reinig, Helena (1 photograph)

Sproule Studio, Helena (12 photographs)

Taylor Studio, Helena (4 photographs)

Photographs in the collection that are identified as the work of non-Montana photographers:

DeVorkin, Los Angeles (2 photographs)

Falk Studio, New York (1 photograph)

Gilbert and Bacon, Philadelphia (2 photographs)

G. Maillard Kesslere, B.P. (1 photograph)

Kohler (2 photographs)

Lipp Studio, Philadelphia (1 photograph)

Martel and Howlett, Los Angeles (1 photograph)

Miller, Mt. Vernon, Ohio (1 photograph)

Seigel Cooper, Chicago (2 photographs)

Studio Moderne (1 photograph)

Thompson and Bingham, Los Angeles (1 photograph)

Thompson Photo Service, Santa Monica (1 photograph)

J. Edward Watson, Los Angeles (2 photographs)

West Studio, Mt. Vernon, Ohio (1 photograph)

Weston Studio, Los Angeles (1 photograph)

Witzel Studios, Los Angeles (1 photograph)

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Montana Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Photograph Archives collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Photograph Archives before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in its collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Kessler family photograph collection. Lot 001. Box and folder number. Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Kessler FamilyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Charles N. Kessler, Sr.: portraits
1 2
Charles N. Kessler, Sr. with group of men in Placer Hotel Lobby, Helena, Montana, with potted plants in background
1 3
Charles N. Kessler, Sr., with Charles N. Kessler, Jr., in Los Angeles, California (1944) and at the Serrindino residence in Glendale, California (1951)
1944, 1951
1 4
Charles N. Kessler, Jr. (includes portraits, wearing full-length fur coat and sailor outfit, and seated in horse-drawn carriage)
circa 1907-circa 1925
1 5
Charles N. Kessler, Jr. with his mother Sarah Hewett Kessler: portraits
circa 1907-circa 1915
1 6
Marietta Kessler: portraits
circa 1912-1914
1 7
Marietta Kessler with Charles N. Kessler, Jr.
circa 1912
1 8
Marietta Kessler (includes views with pony and sled at brewery)
1918, circa 1920, 1922
1 9
Marietta Kessler: portraits and posed with unidentified friend
circa 1923-1930
1 10
Marietta Kessler Adams with dogs
1938, 1942
1 11
Marietta Kessler Adams with Lyle Adams, Dr. Harvard and unidentified woman (includes view of circus parade down Palm Canyon)
1 12
Marietta Kessler Adams: California property
2 1
Sarah Hewett Kessler (includes views on horseback at Basin, Montana)
circa 1895-1905
2 2
Sarah Hewett Kessler: portraits (includes views wearing feathered hats)
1905, undated
2 3
Kessler family activities: Max Kahn's camp near Lincoln, Montana (group of campers near tents includes Charles N. Kessler and Mrs. Charles N. Kessler)
1915 August
2 4
Kessler family residence (includes exterior views and interior view of room decorated with plants)
1890, undated

Series II:  Cochran FamilyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 5
William B. and Mathilda Kessler Cochran with children, Louise and Marion
after 1905

Series III:  Hewett FamilyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 6
Albert W., Florrie A., Benjamin F., Ralph T., Edward M., George T., and Albert M. Hewett (1908); and M. L. Hewett (undated)
1908, undated

Series IV:  Kessler BreweryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 7
Kessler Brewery: views of bottles of beer and soda
2 8
Kessler Brewery (includes interior and exterior views of the building)
circa 1900s, 1938

Series V:  ChildrenReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 1
Children: Thomas Bailey (1936); Elizabeth Dehler (1925); Dora and Benn Greenhood studio portrait with winter theme (1870s); Connie and John McNamara (undated); Helen Cornelia McNamara (circa 1930); and "De De" (1950)
1870s, 1925, circa 1930, 1936, 1950, undated
3 2
Children (unidentified): portraits

Series VI:  City and Town LifeReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 3
Basin Montana (includes Hewett State Bank, and Basin Hardware and Mercantile Company with stagecoach in front)
3 4
Great Falls, Montana: Baatz Block with Harding Drug Company on lower floor
3 5
Helena, Montana: panoramic view with Mt. Helena (no date.); Business College in Horsky Block (1885); Montana Club before 1903; Boy Scouts parading with flags; and Schlitz Beer wagon (undated)
1885, 1903, undated

Series VII:  HorsesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 6
Horses (includes horse and carriage)

Series VIII:  LandscapesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 7
Sites of fur trading forts (includes Kullyspell Indian Petroglyph; site of Fort Kootenai; site of fur trade forts, Kootenai River in foreground; Ed Warren's Ferry site, Kootenai River; mouth of Clarks Fork River from site of "Kullyspell House;" Kullyspell House site, Lake Pend d'Orielle, Idaho; mouth of Fisher Creek and Valley; view of Junction of Okanogan and Columbia Rivers, Washington; views by J. A. Myers)
3 8
Scenery (includes Gates of the Mountains (1942); Musselshell River, and walking bridge, undated)
1942, undated

Series IX:  MenReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 9
Men (includes William H. Everson in Shriner's Arabian costume with guns and other artifacts [circa 1918]; Rudolph Ganz (1929); Charles S. Hoerrman; and F. W. Kuphal, Jr., undated)
circa 1918, 1929, undated

Series X:  Petroleum IndustryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 10
Petroleum wells: Thompson-Elk Basin Oil and Gas Company Well No. 1, includes Nettie Thompson (1921); Wayne Petroleum Well No. 2, Winnett, Montana (1921)

Series XI:  RecreationReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 11
Activities (includes archery, cheerleading, and ballet; views probably taken in California)
1924, undated
3 12
Baseball table game

Series XII:  WomenReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 13
Women: Mrs. Christman and daughter, Carol (1945); Edna Turner Peterson Foss (1927); Mrs. Charles S. Hoerrman, Barbara King, and Flo Sellers
1927, 1945, undated
3 14
Women (unidentified): portraits (undated)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Breweries--Montana--Helena
  • Brewing industry--Montana--Helena
  • Personal Names :
  • Kessler, Charles N. (Charles Nickolas), 1874-1957
  • Kessler, Charles N. (Charles Nickolas), 1907-1962.
  • Kessler, Marietta, 1912-1944.
  • Kessler, Sarah Hewett, 1885-1941.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Kessler Brewery (Helena, Mont.)
  • Kessler Brewing Company (Helena, Mont.)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Helena (Mont.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photographs
  • Occupations :
  • Brewers--Montana--Helena