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Cleburne

Thrity miles south of Fort Worth, Cleburne sprang up at a transportation crossroads.The Town was named for General Patrick Cleburne, who had lead several area residents in the Civil War.

The Cleburne Brewery 1868-1878


John Guepel

John Geupel was born in 1829 at Wunsiedel, Germany. His father ran a brewery. His parents died in seperate tragedies and he learned tinsmithing. In 1844, he came to the United States. He arrived in New York and travelled to Alabama. Eventually, he wound up in Marlin, Texas, where he joined the Texas 20th Regiment of the Confederate Infantry, and fought in the Civil War.

[It would be interesting to know if Geupel returned to Marlin after the war and worked with the Mauers before moving to Cleburne.]

In 1868, he was in Cleburne, whe he founded the Cleburne Brewery. The brewey faced Main Street on Buffalo Bayou, the water source. Geupel brought German lager recipes to Texas. Originally, he sold his Old German Lager for ten cents a bottle. Then he had an ingenius marketing idea: Package twelve bottles together for a one-time sale for $1.29. The idea was so popular that, even though he still sold his bottles for ten cents, no one bought them.

He brought in Fritz Wulfert as a partner, apparently in 1875, when only Wulfert is listed in the tax records. That same year, they sold the brewery to John and Elijah Guffee. Eventually, Elijah sold his interest in the brewery to his brother in 1878 and he purchased a saloon on the town square.

Some of this information came from Randall Scott, who has written a novel featuring his great-great-grandfather, John Geupel, called The Tinner. The story is also recounted in North Texas Beer: A Full-Bodied History of Brewing in Dallas, Fort Worth and Beyond by Paul Hightower & Brian l. Brown.).

Randall wrote:"The Guffee brothers knew nothing about brewing beer so they partnered with Mike Dixon, a self-proclaimed Brewmaster whose only expertise was mass consumption of the brew. A couple of years later, deep in debt, John and Dixon got in an argument over the proceeds from the brewery, one buffalo nickel."

Larry Thorton, Randall's cousin, provided a link to the court case.

According to the testimony, On 29 November 1878, shortly after sunset, Elijah had confronted Dixon at Durham & Mabry's Drug Store about the earlier argument with John. Dixon put his hand on his pistol and said, "If you want to fight me, dart your harpoon." He cocked the weapon.

About this time John arrived and grabbed Dixon by the coat and threatened to cut his throat with a pocket knife. Elijah managed to briefly convince John to relase Dixon, whe went into the drug store. The Guffees followed and John grabbed Dixon again, saying, "If it must go, it goes." Dixon pulled a pistol, a Elijah said, "Shoot him, Mike, and I'll shoot you, and we will all go to hell together." Dixon shot John, and Elijah immediately shot Dixon.

The County Sherriff was across the square when the shots rang out, and arrived at the scene after Elijah had fled to hide in the cellar of a brewery "which stood in the same enclosure as his house" armed with his gun and a knife. After an hour and a half stand-off, Guffee surrendered to the sherriff.

Larry wrote, "It is actually an interesting case study in law. The original case was thrown out because the jury wasn't given proper instruction; defining the differences between murder, man slaughter and self defense.

"As one witness described, if Elijah was summoned because Dixon threatened John Guffey and then saw Dixon shoot His brother and then reacted and shot Dixon, it would be manslaughter. If Elijah felt threatened by Dixon after seeing him shot his brother, it could have been self defense. If the brothers, had it out for Dixon and went to find him to threaten or harass him then it could be murder.

With John's death, the brewery closed.

"I don't know the outcome or if there was a retrial, but Elijah died in Abilene 1938 after fathering three children."

North Texas Beer reports that the case was to retried but never occured.