“A whole website about my family? How… underwhelming…”

Back in August, we discovered an article in an old Penn Charter Newsletter that interviewed John Jacob Hohenadel, Jr — grandson of John W. Hohenadel who ran the brewery at the height of its success in the early 20th century. 

When speaking with the author, we learned John Jacob Jr was alive and well:  a retired office equipment wholesaler in Greenwich, CT.

Of course we chatted him up!

We briefed him on his family’s significance in East Falls, and he was…. lukewarm. Eventually, though, via email, we sent along our list of questions, agreeing to his quite specific conditions: 

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The good news is:  John Jacob Hohenadel, Jr. did not phone this in!  He gave us honest, thoughtful responses. He’s neither impressed by his lineage nor all that interested in it — and he doesn’t care to fake it, good for him.

Although he skipped most of our genealogical questions, he does confirm that the “John Hohenadel” who built the brewery was not his grandfather or great grandfather. According to our research, he was most likely a cousin, pulled in when John Jr the son refused to quit his successful machinist’s shop to take over the family business.

While it’d be nice if he had photos or anecdotes to share, we are grateful we had the chance to just touch base with this last link to East Falls’ most famous brewer legacy.

Speaking of beer brewing in East Falls, Philadelphia,  we’ve added two articles from the Chadwick Papers that provide info about the early days of Hohenadel and also his beer brewing contemporaries Henry Becker, Joseph Steppacher, Philip Guckes, Peter Schemm:

1. Beer Made Industrially at East Falls Since 1858 (Suburban Press, March 15, 1934)


2. East Falls Brewery History (Philadelphia Herald, October 15, 1925)

Meanwhile, we’ve heard from Harry Prime that John Jacob Hohenadel Sr, aka “Chickie Hohenadel” was a great guy — according to his son, below, he was a pretty remarkable inventor, as well.


Another fun fact:  John Hohenadel Jr. has NEVER tasted Hohenadel beer. Ever. (!)  Too bad we dropped off his radar, cause we’d have been THRILLED to arrange for him to try it this weekend.

Ah well, we’ll raise a glass to him anyway from our Pop Up Museum that’ll be plastered with his family’s name. He’s truly a good guy, to come though with his bio and details for people who are essentially total strangers many miles away. Thank You, John Jacob Jr!

An Interview with John Jacob Hohenadel, Jr
August, 2014

To Steve Fillmore,

My brief history:

I was born in 1943 at Germantown Hospital. I lived for my first five years in an apartment building at School House Lane and Wissahickon Avenue. In 1948 I moved along with my father, John Jacob Hohenadel and my mother Frances Hohenadel to a house on West Queen Lane just south of Fox Street across from the Queen Lane Reservoir.

I never had a sister.

There was no special reason I was named John Jacob Hohenadel, Jr except that my father had been named John Jacob Hohenadel and I became Jr. I never had a son, rather two daughters.

My family never belonged to a church or religious organization in East Falls. I went to Sunday School at a Lutheran Church a block from my home. In 1948, I started Kindergarten at The Penn Charter School. I stayed there until Graduation in 1961.

As a child between 1948 and 1953, I often visited the Hohenadel Brewery on weekends with my father. He was the President and General Manager of the business. He would often go to the Brewery on Saturday to make sure all was in order and take me along.

Since I was under age, I never got to drink the Beer. In fact, I never actually got to drink Hohenadel Beer in my lifetime. The business was closed down in 1953 when I was 10 years old.

My father, John Jacob Hohenadel, ran the Brewery from around 1938 until 1953.

He was also an inventor during his time at the factory. He invented an Automatic Case Loader to place Beer bottles into Beer cases for shipping. He also invented a Beer Case Cleaner to clean and recycle Beer cases so they could be used multiple times. This was a significant cost saving machine. Later, he invented a Beer Bottle unloader to remove used beer bottles for reuse after cleaning. This was another cost saving machine which saved on labor and allowed bottles to be re-cycled.

The Hohenadel Brewery was liquidated in 1953. The factory was sold to Royal Crown Cola and became a soda bottling plant. This sale of the Brewery ended my family’s involvement in the Beer industry.

My grandfather lived at 3840 The Oak Road which later became the Timmons House. There was a rathskellar with carvings in the bar. The faces resembled those on Hohenadel Beer serving trays.

I was never told about the Hohenadel House on Indian Queen Lane. I never visited this house nor was I aware of its existence until you called me.

I never heard of any Underground railroad activities around the Hohenadel properties and I doubt there were any such activities.

I have read the “Gertrude Hohenadel” piece and I doubt its veracity. None of the information in that account is familiar to me.

The “John/JonannWilliam” you mentioned as having built the Brewery and then dying in 1878 was neither my Grandfather nor my Great grandfather. He could have been either my Great, Great, Great Grandfather or my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather.

I hope this is helpful to you,

Best regards,

John J Hohenadel, Jr

One thought on ““A whole website about my family? How… underwhelming…”

  1. My grandfather was John F Hohenadel, Chicago side of the family. I have an extensive Hohenadel family tree (primarily Chicago) and can confirm that Gertrude Hohenadel was the daughter of Theodore Hohenadel (1853-1936) and that Theodore lived in Philadelphia.
    I am trying to fill in the gaps regarding how the Chicago and Philly family connected to the brewery. Feel free to contact me with details you may have.

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