Marion's Alcohol History Draft

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Between the years of 1900 and 1950, three companies dominated the brewing industry in Marion, Indiana. The Indiana Brewing Association was the first of these three and it was rather successful during the years before prohibition. Kiley Brewing Company renovated the buildings that were left behind by the Indiana Brewing Association (IBA) and began a profitable business. Lastly, the Fox Deluxe Brewing Company bought out Kiley Brewing Company and continued producing alcoholic beverages with great success until 1949. The three companies, Indiana Brewing Association, Kiley Brewing Association, and Fox Deluxe Brewing Company each contributed to Marion’s success and survival during the early-to-mid 1900’s. In February 1897, the newly organized Indiana Brewing Association constructed a brewing complex at 1550 Railroad Avenue, which is today 525 Lincoln Boulevard. The three men who were responsible for the organization of the IBA are John N. C. Woefel, James S. Corbett, and Thomas Mahaffey. John Woefel was appointed secretary and general manager of the association. (Counceller 1) James Corbett came to Marion in 1879 on business when he met and married Nora Kiley. He and his wife remained in Marion and James was later appointed president of the Indiana Brewing Association. Thomas Mahaffey was appointed treasurer of the Indiana Brewing Association and soon after married Katherine Kiley. (Counceller 2) The brewery cost 100,000 dollars to build but by September of 1900, the company had increased its profits to 200,000 dollars. The company was valued at 350,000 dollars by 1901 and employed fifty to sixty men. The brewery’s annual capacity was approximately 150,000 barrels of three distinctively advertised products. These three include Budweiser, Bavarian, and Wiener Beer. By 1915 the organizers realized the possibility of national prohibition and decided that it would be best to liquidate the company’s assets. A federal beverage tax was placed on all the left over barrels of alcohol in the company. The company officials, knowing the tax could not be paid by selling the beer, forfeit the intoxicating brew to the IRS who in turn decided to dump the alcohol into the Mississinewa River. (Munn A4) Eighty-five year old Philip Kiley recalled the scene. “…the river foamed up as the beer was dumped…people came…with buckets and dipped the beer out of the river while others got on their hands and knees and drank from the river. Still others were swimming in it. It was a sight to see.” After this incident, and as a result of prohibition, all the buildings of the brewery were sold to the Burge Meat Packing Company. (Counceller 4) The Indiana Brewing Association was a success and it brought business to Marion, but the inevitable prohibition put the brewery out of business.

After the prohibition era, Philip Kiley and Robert Kiley saw an opportunity to reopen what had been the Indiana Brewing Association and regain the family business. The two men purchased the old buildings from the meat packing company and completely refurbished them. (Counceller 4) The new organization was named the Kiley Brewing Company and it began operation in April of 1934. (Counceller 5) A new name was given to the principle beverage that was to be sold by the Kiley Company. George W. Deegan chose the name “Patrick Henry.” Deegan states in the local newspaper “ ‘Patrick Henry’ is indicative of personal liberty, and satisfies their desire for a distinctively American name.” (Indianapolis Sunday Star 1) Unlike the Indiana Brewing Association, Kiley Brewing Company had a maximum capacity of 300,000 barrels of alcohol; however, the most it ever produced was 260,000 barrels. The company employed between one hundred and one hundred and twenty persons, which is twice the amount of the Indiana Brewing Company. In 1936, production reached its pinnacle. High sales, high profits, and high salaries characterized the Kiley Company. Kiley eventually expanded its sales to Chicago but later complications and developments became causes for withdrawal from arrangements in Chicago. World War II loomed over Europe and soon much-needed materials were becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. (Counceller 10) This financial pressure was enough to persuade Robert Kiley that the time, price, and prospective buyer were ideal for the sellout. (Counceller 11) The Kiley Brewing Company was an economic foundation in Marion and its financial success led to Marion’s survival. The Peter Fox Brewing Company of Chicago bought out the Kiley Brewing Company and decided to leave the same management in the company. They took over the Marion plant in 1941 and renamed it Fox Deluxe Brewing Company. The Fox Company was not much different from the Kiley plant. It operated at approximately the same employee and production level as the Kiley Company. Its main products were Patrick Henry Malt Liquor, Fox Deluxe Beer, and Silver Fox Premium Beer, which were shipped by boxcar to other states such as Texas and Iowa. Success in this company was not easily overlooked. In fact, there were three shifts of one hundred to two hundred men because sales were so good. (Counceller 12) In late 1941 and 1942, Fox Deluxe was paying its workers eighty-five cents per hour for their labor in their brewery. The Fox plant was considered to be a very good place to work. Production began to decline in Marion in late 1949 when the company decided to move the shipping of large quantities of their product to their Chicago plant. Without warning, the plant was closed in 1949, near the end of December. The buildings were eventually sold. Over time, they have been occupied by different storage, trucking, and salvage companies. (Counceller 13) Of the three brewing companies, each occupying the same plant, the Fox Deluxe Brewing Company experienced the most success and brought to Marion more business than either of the other two companies.

Each of the three companies-Indian Brewing Association, Kiley Brewing Company, and Fox Deluxe Brewing company-contributed financially to Marion, Indiana’s success and survival between the years of 1900 and 1950. The Indian Brewing Association was the least successful but it formed a bond with Marion that carried on for over fifty years. After the prohibition era, the Kiley Brewing Company brought Marion back into the alcohol business and continued to lend its support to Marion. The most successful of the three, Fox Deluxe Brewing Company accelerated Marion’s economy and provided hundreds of jobs for surrounding families. During the early-to-mid 1900’s, hundreds of Marion families relied on these three breweries to sustain them.

Works Cited

  • Counceller, Dr. Harry. Fox Deluxe Brewing Company Division of Peter Fox Brewing Company. Marion Public Library. Marion, IN: Marion and Grant County File, 1985. 11-16.
  • Counceller, Dr. Harry. Kiley Brewing Company. Marion Public Library. Marion, IN: Marion and Grant County File, 1985. 5-10.
  • Counceller, Dr. Harry. The Indiana Brewing Association. Marion Public Library. Marion, IN: Marion and Grant County File, 1985. 1-4.
  • "DRUNKEN FISH ARE CAPTURED BY THOUSANDS." MARION LEARDER=TRIBUNE 4 July 1913, Vol.24, No.214 ed., sec. Col.3: a1-a2.
  • Munn, Bill. "Mississinewa Gets Tapped for Fish and Suds in 1913." Chronicle Tribune 25 Oct. 2000, sec. Col.6: a4.
  • "New Beer of Kiley Brewery, Marion, Will Be Known as "Patrick Henry"" INDIANAPOLIS SUNDAY STAR 4 Mar. 1934.


This article was written Michael Waymire and submitted on May 12, 2008 for Mr. Munn's IU History Class.