Gilbert Brewing Company records, 1864-1918

Overview of the Collection

Gilbert Brewing Company (Virginia City, Mont.)
Gilbert Brewing Company records
1864-1918 (inclusive)
3.5 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 127 (collection)
The Gilbert Brewing Company, was a Virginia City, Montana, brewery owned initially by Henry S. Gilbert and Christopher Richter, and later by Valentine Gilbert. Records include a notebooks of beer sold (1900-1918); daybooks (1864-1901); Internal Revenue reporting registers (1869-1916); a journal (1866-1869); ledgers (1866-1889, 1904); malt accounts (1882-1904); and a bond for the purchase of the Big Chief mining claim (1886).
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Virginia Brewery was built in 1863 by Thomas Smith. In March 1866, Henry S. Gilbert and Christian Richter purchased the property for $14,000. They operated the business under the name Gilbert and Richter until 1872 when Gilbert bought out his partner and changed the name to the H.S. Gilbert Brewery. Following the death of Henry S. Gilbert in November 1902, the brewery was operated for two years by J.H. Powell in the interests of Gilbert's Estate. On the settling of the Estate in 1904, Valentine Gilbert changed the name to the Gilbert Brewing Company and conducted the business until prohibition closed all breweries. Following prohibition, a corporate charter was filed re-establishing the Gilbert Brewing Company on December 11, 1934. The charter expired in 1974. Henry S. Gilbert was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on December 31, 1833, the son of Henry and Lydia (Spang) Gilbert. Henry attended private school, and initially taught school. However, he quickly switched to the saddlery trade, which he followed first in Pennsylvania and then in Lafayette, Indiana. He lived briefly in Missouri and Kansas before heading west in 1855. He operated Indian trading posts at various locations in Wyoming, including Fort Laramie, South Pass, and Fort Bridger. In September 1863 he arrived in Virginia City, and began placer mining. However, in 1866 he opened his brewery. Not being a brewer by occupation, he relied heavily on his partner Richter for the technical operation of the plant. Henry Gilbert was also active in the life of Virginia City, serving as the mayor for two terms as well as the Madison County treasurer. Gilbert married Margaret McMinn in Salt Lake City in 1860 and they had 15 children, one of whom, Valentine Gilbert, succeeded his father in operating the brewery. Christian Richter was born in Germany on June 8, 1834, and trained as a cooper and brewer. He immigrated to the United States in 1856 and worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania before moving to Missouri, Colorado,and New Mexico. He arrived in Montana in 1863. The following year, he was employed by the Virginia Brewery and in partnership with Gilbert, bought the brewery in March 1866. Six years later, Richter left the firm to pursue stock ranching in the Madison Valley. Richter died in December 1899.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains records of the Virginia Brewery and the Gilbert Brewery, including notebooks (1900-1918) recording barrels of beer sold; a brewer's book (1867-1872) of material used and beer made; a cash book (1898); daybooks (1864-1901); Internal Revenue records of fermented liquor made and sold (1869-1916) and registers of purchase of ingredients (1869-1914); a journal (1866-1869); ledgers (1866-1889); a malt account notebook (1882-1904); and a bond (1886) for Henry S. Gilbert's sale of the Big Chief mining claim.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged by series and chronologically. Some material housed in oversize boxes. See inventory below for more information.

Location of Collection


Location of Collection

1:8-5 (Oversize Box 3 & 4)

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Financial Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1-3
Barrels of beer sold notebooks: Virginia City
1900-1901, 1909-1918
1 / 4
Barrels of beer sold notebooks: Ruby, Alder Gulch, Laurin
1 / 5
Brewer's book of material used and beer made
1 / 6
Cash book
1898 February - May
1 / 7
1864 November- 1865 July
3 / 1
Daybook [oversize box]
2 / 1-3
3 / 2
Daybook [oversize box]
2 / 4-5
1893-1895, 1899-1901
3 / 3-8
Internal Revenue record of fermented liquor made and sold [oversize box, title varies, early volumes called "Brewers' Record"]
4 / 1-9
Internal Revenue record of fermented liquor made and sold [oversize box, title varies, early volumes called "Brewers' Record"]
1878-1883, 1900-1916
5 / 1-7
Internal Revenue registers of purchase of ingredients
1869-1882, 1895-1914
5 / 8
5 / 9
6 / 1
6 / 2-3
Petty ledgers
1873-1889, 1904
6 / 4
Pocket ledgers [informal notebook later transferred into formal ledger]
1874-1876, 1879-1880
6 / 5
Malt account [also includes daybook entries for Bluff Prospect Company]
6 / 6
Miscellaneous (includes invoices, receipt, tax form)
1904, 1915

Legal Documents Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
6 / 7
Bond for sale of Big Chief mining claim by Henry S. Gilbert

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Breweries--Montana
  • German Americans
  • Mining claims

Corporate Names

  • Gilbert Brewing Company (Virginia City, Mont.) (creator)

Geographical Names

  • Virginia City (Mont.)