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Brand, Virgil Michael (16 January 1862–20 June 1926), brewer and numismatist, was born in Blue Island, Illinois, the son of Michael Brand, a cooper and brewer, and Philippine Darmstädter, the daughter of a flour merchant. Michael Brand was born in Odernheim near Alzey in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt (not to be confused with the larger village of the same name in the Palatinate) and is said to have left Germany because he was involved in the Revolution of 1848. This is certainly possible, but many German immigrants who left for economic reasons later claimed they had left for political reasons, because it was more glamorous. Philippine Darmstädter was born in Framersheim, the next village over from Odernheim. Michael Brand established a brewery in Chicago under his own name, and it became one of the most prosperous breweries in the city. The firm was one of the very first to adopt Carl von Linde’s refrigeration machine, which meant that the company had an incalculable advantage over its competitors: in the summer, its beer was cold. Michael Brand became extremely wealthy, and in 1890, after a series of mergers, he sold out to English investors, who formed the United States Brewing Company. Michael Brand also established orchards at Brandsville in the Missouri Ozarks, where he sought to encourage viticulture. He owned an extensive library, and he must have had a great love for the classics, for he named his three sons Virgil, Horace, and Armin....


Charles Frederick Gunther. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society (IChi-10584).


Gunther, Charles Frederick (06 March 1837–10 February 1920), Chicago confectioner, politician, and antiquarian collector, was born Carl Friedrich Guenther in Wildberg, Wurttemberg, Germany, the son of Marie and Johann Martin Guenther, a candle and soap maker. The family immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1842, and at age ten Gunther began work as a government mail carrier, traveling forty miles daily by horseback. In 1850 they resettled in Peru, Illinois, an important ice harvesting center on the canal linking Chicago with the Mississippi watershed. Gunther found work as a cashier in a bank, where he came in contact with many of the merchants who shipped 100,000 tons of ice down the southern rivers during prosperous years....