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|1854 J.M. Brunswick & Brother Ad
Things went well for many years until about 1859. Then, seemingly
without warning, Emanuel decided to “go solo” and do his own
thing. Coincidentally, it was also the year that Emanuel got married.
Could this pivotal decision have had something to do with his new
wife? Was he jealous of his step-brother's success?
Emanuel went "all in". He partnered with a gentlemen by the name
of John Monroe from Aurora, Illinois (and his brothers), built his own
production facility in Chicago and optimistically named it:
Emanuel Brunswick & Co's
“ Great Western Billiard Table Manufactory “
(Below: 1862 Emanuel Brunswick Ad)
|“Brunswick”- the company that John Moses Brunswick began in
Ohio back in 1845 is a household name in many parts of the world,
being more or less synonymous with billiards and bowling. But John
certainly didn't build the now world-wide corporation all by himself. In
the beginning, he relied heavily on the help of his brothers, or half-
brothers as the case may be. But working alongside his family
members didn't always go quite as smoothly as he had hoped. In
fact, at one point it appears as though his brothers all abandoned him
and created their own Brunswick company. Was it a mutiny? Was it
the manifestation of a bitter sibling rivalry? Was John somehow
alienated from his step-brothers? Or was it actually a brilliant
marketing scheme in which they all played a significant role?
John's real mother passed away shortly after he was born ( in 1819)
so his father re-married, and over the years had many more sons.
(and at least one daughter) Including Joseph, Emanuel, David,
Hyman and Solomon. All of which ended up coming to America.
When David and young Emanuel arrived in the U.S., they went to work
for John building billiard tables and furniture in Cincinnati. But soon
John was ready to expand, so in 1848 he sent those two brothers out
west to Chicago with the task of opening a sales office.
Joseph, the oldest of John's step-brothers, took a slightly more
serious approach. Rather than just being an employee, Joseph and
John agreed to an official business partnership and called it:
J.M. Brunswick & Brother.
Side note: Emanuel was still somewhat young but clearly very ambitious. In addition to his Chicago
establishment, he also had another billiard hall constructed about 200 miles south of Chicago in
the capital city of Springfield, IL. Having spent much time in Springfield during his career, this very
billiard hall was frequented by none other than our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
It was almost as if Emanuel was trying to out-do John, and according to Billiards
Magazine writer A.L. Hardy, Emanuel's new company laid the foundation for a " rivalry
which continued a dozen years or more, resulting in...the most bitter controversies that
Chicago billiard circles have ever witnessed..."
In a no less strange, almost creepy twist of fate, Emanuel had even married a woman
with the exact same name as John's wife; Louisa.
Did Emanuel and John really have a "falling out"? Or was the demand for tables so
great that John couldn't handle them all? The only reliable information ever found on
the subject seems to suggest the latter. But on the other hand, tax records at the time
appear to contradict the theory of an “overwhelming” demand, so we really don't know
what Emanuel might have been thinking when he broke-out on his own.
Ironically, even though he now had "his own" billiard table business, by 1866 it
appears that Emanuel was officially "back" in business with John and Joseph.
(at least for the moment) Their company name was: J.M. Brunswick & Brothers.
However, it's worth noting that on the advertisement below, the address of the factory
is that of Emanuel's Chicago facility, not John's back in Ohio. The implication being
that John must have approached Emanuel about using his facility as a their central
headquarters, and not the other way around.
|1866 J.M. Brunswick & Brothers Ad, showing all three names.
1868 Patent - Emanuel Brunswick - Rotating Cue Rack
But as luck would have it, bad luck in this case, The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
burned all of it to the ground. The losses were great for everyone and the Brunswick
brother's 3-way partnership was officially up in smoke.
1871 Patent - Emanuel Brunswick - 'Jenny Lind' or Bagatelle game table.
Both John and Emanuel did independently rebuild however, thus beginning a new
chapter in the Brunswick's history. John took full advantage of the fact that his Ohio
facility was still intact and continued producing goods as soon as was humanly
possible. Emanuel again recruited his brothers (why didn't John?) but he was still
forced to rebuild entirely from scratch. This time he named his company:
Emanuel Brunswick's Great American Billiard Table Manufactory
Below: Emanuel Brunswick nameplate circa 1872 or so. Courtesy Joe Newell Collection
|1873 Patent - Emanuel Brunswick - billiard table with retractable storage.
A few years later (1873-74) John Brunswick orchestrated a merger with former Ohio
competitor, Julius Balke, thus creating the J.M. Brunswick & Balke Co. Emanuel, in a
copy-cat like manner, also formed a merger. He joined forces with one of his
strongest local competitors; Stephani, Monheimer & Hart. Their new conglomeration
was dubbed: The Brunswick Brothers Stephani & Hart Co.
|Mid 1870's Brunswick Brothers Stephani & Hart Co. letterhead
Courtesy Joe Newell Collection
But John's company was doing fine, whether he had the help of his brothers or not. It
was Emanuel that seemed to be having issues with economic stability. Perhaps
because of drooping profits, or perhaps looking to investigate new sales territory, in
about 1879 Emanuel left control of the company to his brother Joseph and his sons,
Charles and Benjamin, and he moved with his wife to San Francisco.
Side note: Emanuel, we believe, was married to the daughter of George Levy. The Levy family also
moved to San Francisco, allowing Emanuel to keep in close contact. Back in Chicago, Joseph
and his sons Charles and Benjamin renamed their company simply: Brunswick & Co.
The odd thing is, when Emanuel moved to California, he appeared in the San
Francisco directory as a sales agent for John's company: The J.M. Brunswick & Balke
Co. So maybe things between him and John weren't so bad after all? But why, after
running his own facility in Chicago for so long, would Emanuel go back to work for
John as just a salesman? Was this a nation-wide marketing plan in action, or some
kind of desperate attempt by Emanuel to regain favor with his older sibling?
|1882 San Francisco City Directory showing Emanuel working for John's company
1884 Dec. 18 Emanuel & Wife Celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary with a party
1885 Patent - Emauel Brunswick - Billiard table with ball return
Emanuel worked for his step-brother on the west coast until 1884 or so. It was about
this time that Emanuel changed his plans yet again. He disassociated himself from
John's company once again and opened his own facility in downtown San Francisco.
Why did he leave again? Probably because there was still a great deal of tension
between Emanuel, his brothers, and the rest of the Brunswick clan back east.
In all reality the Brunswick/Bensinger camp was keeping a close eye on Emanuel,
while at the same time, sniping customers and spying on the operations of
Emanuel's brothers back in Chicago. See this article from December 1883
Perhaps they were insulted over Emanuel conveniently leaving Brunswick again?
Perhaps they saw Emanuel as a traitor for leaving at all?
Whatever the case, "warning shots" were fired by both parties in the form of several
patent infringement lawsuits. It was a real live family feud.
Suits shown below from 1887 and 1889
|When the horribly Great Quake of 1906 shook all of San Francisco to the ground, Lotta's Fountain
defiantly remained standing - and ended up being a meeting place and information dissemination
point during the aftermath of the disaster. To this day the fountain still stands and every year a
Great Quake Memorial Service is held there.
Business didn't go well for Emanuel in San Francisco, even after relocating to a spot
practically right across the street from the Brunswick Balke Collender establishment.
So he took his chances on a trip down to Central America, looking for an opportunity to
turn things around. But even that didn't seem to help his situation - according to a
newspaper report, he almost went broke in the process.
A year later, in early December of 1892, Emanuel took a trip back to Chicago. With the
coming of the Chicago World's Fair the following year, he was looking to secure some
kind of branch office during the event. Moses Bensinger later suggested in a
newspaper report that Emanuel may have also been in town to (once again) seek a
position with him at the Brunswick Balke Collender Co.
Emanuel arrived by train with a business partner and booked a room at one of the
most luxurious and famous hotels in Chicago, The Palmer House. ( shown below )
|Above: 1889 San Francisco City Directory showing Emanuel not working for John's company
anymore with a very competitive ad in the directory.
Side note: John Brunswick had a San Francisco facility located downtown at the three-way
intersection of Market, Kearney and Geary Streets, right across the street from a well-known
landmark called “Lotta's Fountain”. ( a tall and ornate public drinking fountain that was donated to
the city by the lovely entertainer, Lotta Crabtree)
|Palmer House grand lobby today. Image courtesy John Walker
On Thursday December 15th, at approximately 8pm, Emanuel had a meeting at the
hotel with his associate and travel partner for the trip, J.E. McDonald. Then, shortly
before 9pm, he left on foot and headed north up State Street, on his way to Randolph
Street, for a nice dinner at the legendary Henrici's restaurant.
(postcard picture of Henrici's interior shown below)
Side note: Henrici's first opened in 1868 and stayed in operation until 1962.
For many decades Henrici's address was 61-71 Randolph, which was coincidentally right next door
to Emanuel Brunswick's offices and factory at 72 -78 Randolph.
|Above: Henrici's Restaurant on Randolph shortly before closing for good in 1962
Sadly, Emanuel didn't make it to dinner that night. He only made it as far as Madison
Street, where he stepped off the sidewalk to cross the intersection and accidentally
walked right out in front of a grip-car (cable car) that was lumbering around the corner.
Apparently, he was looking the other way and didn't see it until it was too late.
A witness recalled that Emanuel held out his arms to brace for impact but of course it
didn't help much. The force of the blow broke ribs and knocked him to the ground. And
to make matters worse, he was dragged by the car the rest of the way around the
corner before it came to a stop. Emanuel died approximately 1 hour later (10pm) at a
doctor's office across the street. One of the broken ribs had punctured his heart.
Emanuel's personal property was collected and recorded by the coroner:
cash – $46.16
1 gold watch and chain
1 pair sleeve buttons [cuff links]
1 diamond shirt button
2 shirt buttons
2 pocket books
1 bunch of keys
some Palmer House board bills
cards of no value
1 small rule [ruler]
1 pair cuffs
“Property delivered to wife of deceased...Dec 23rd 1892 ”
Side note: A "Grip Car" is not quite the same as a "Cable Car". A cable car is typically powered by
an overhead electric cable system, while a grip car is propelled by "gripping" a moving cable that
is running underneath the street. To slow down and stop a grip car requires "letting go" of the
moving cable and applying the brakes.
Below is a photograph of Madison Street in downtown Chicago around the turn of the century.
In this amazingly clear image you can see the type of grip-car that Emanuel would have
encountered. Many popular billiard hall signs can be seen along the street as well.
|Moses Bensinger, nephew of Emanuel and the then president of the Brunswick Balke
Collender Co. stepped up and took charge. He telegraphed the sad news to
Emanuel's wife in San Francisco and informed her that he would take care of
everything until she arrived.
Meanwhile, Moses posted ads in the paper looking for witnesses to the accident,
hoping to gather more evidence to prove his case. (below from: Dec. 17 Chi Trib )
Its interesting to note that he "suggested" how the accident happened in his ad.
|An official “coroner's inquest” was performed, as well as an investigation into the
cause of the accident and it was determined that the grip-man was not to blame.
However, it was also determined that Emanuel had not been attempting to board the
cable car, he was said to have been simply crossing the street. Apparently it was an
accident plain and simple.
According to the inquest report, shown below, it was “owing to his own carelessness”,
so the cable car company was asked to either proceed slower around turns, or post a
man at the corner during heavy traffic times.
Page one of Coroner's Inquest ( right edge matches left edge of page 2 )
|Emanuel's funeral was held at noon on December 21st, at the home of a family
member on Michigan Ave. He was buried at the Mount Mayriv cemetery in Chicago,
never having returned to California.
Rest in Peace Emanuel.
Below are photos of Emanuel Brunswick's gravestone as it looks today. His name
faces west and his wife's name (Louisa) faces north.
The stone has been slightly damaged, (it's missing an ornamental piece from the top)
and it was unfortunately made from limestone, which wears away somewhat quickly
over time. It can hardly be read at this point, and in a few more years the stone will be
|Page two of Coroner's Inquest
?? 16? 183?
Dec 15 1892
?? ?? 1842
Sept? ?? 192?
|It is only after this tragic event that we learn the surprising truth about the love-hate
relationship that Emanuel had with his Chicago family. For when news of the accident
reached the ears of the Brunswick clan, they were sad and at the same time outraged.
They demanded an investigation.
The newspapers initially reported that Emanuel had "fallen from the car". Then they
reported that he had been trying to board the car and slipped to his doom. But his
family wasn't buying it. They believed that the grip-man was to blame and they wanted
justice. ( Below: Dec. 16 and Dec. 19, 1892 articles posted in the Chicago Tribune )