Anton V. Altmann, Syracuse, New York
Anton V. ALTMANN typified the story of the humble young immigrant finding success in the United States. He was born on 7 October 1850 in ("Bohemia") Germany (or "Czecho-Slovakia"), and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. After first settling for a time in Auburn, New York, he then moved to Syracuse in 1872, and was naturalized there that year. He soon became involved with the Syracuse Turn Verein and remained in Syracuse for the rest of his life, though he returned to his homeland at least ten times on subsequent business and pleasure trips (including in 1910, 1913 with Syracusans Fritz Braun and Frank Traugott, and in 1923). (See photo of his friend, Frank Traugott.)
He married Wilhelmina ("Minnie") NUTZ, daughter of Martin NUTZ, “one of the pioneer businessmen of the North Side” of Syracuse, on 17 October 1872. (Martin Nutz died 29 January 1898 and is buried with his wife at Woodlawn Cemetery, Syracuse.)
Anton V. Altmann was a tailor and was employed in his early years in Syracuse by the A. C. Yates Company (a clothing company which employed many German workers between the years 1855-1890). Between 1876 and 1898 he conducted the Merchants Tailoring Company located at 727 North Salina Street (according to his obituary), and also seemed to operate his own men's clothing store (see ad below) at 706-710 North Salina Street in 1897. Additionally, he served as Syracuse's Police Commissioner from 1886 to 1890 under Mayor Willis Burns.
In 1893 Anton V. Altmann was President of the Syracuse Turn Verein. By the time the above advertisement appeared in the Geschichte book in 1897, "Altmann Hall" on Salina Street was the spot for many gatherings and regular meetings of the German social groups of the city (see "Logen und Vereine" section of the book).
[Others named ALTMANN in Syracuse may have been his relatives (more research is needed). An Otto Altmann became the first director of the Syracuse Männerchor (Men’s Chorus) when it split from the Syracuse Sängerbund (Singing Society) in 1902. The Männerchor began to meet that year at Altmann’s Deutsche Ecke--“Altmann’s German Corner”--an eatery located at 325 Butternut Street, at the corner of Townsend Street, run by a Frau O. Altmann). Otto Altmann and a Karl Altmann were mentioned in the "Logen und Vereine" section of Geschichte der Deutschen (1897).]
In the year 1898, Anton V. Altmann established a restaurant (at 209 North Salina Street?). Along with operating his cafe, he also founded a bottling works for which he and his sons would become well-known in Syracuse. He ran the restaurant until 1919 (bringing Rhine wines home for his customers from his trips abroad) and was president of the Altmann Bottling Company, which seemed to specialize in bottling and advertising Schlitz beer.
In 1904 an anniversary book commemorating the Syracuse Turn Verein was published, which included photos of
A.V. Altmann (an honored member), Mrs. A.V. ("Minnie") Altmann (member of the Turn Verein Ladies' Auxiliary), and an advertisement for A.V. Altmann & Sons.
Altmann Bottling Company ad, Syracuse Herald, 1908
In 1909 a building was completed by architect Charles E. Colton at 706-710 North Salina Street which would become known as Altmann’s Hall (it was reportedly still standing and in use as of 2003). In addition to housing the North Side branch of the Syracuse post office, this building was the headquarters for the A. V. Altmann & Sons bottling company, whose newspaper ads often featured Schlitz beer, “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.”
From July to September 1910 A. V. Altmann made his eighth return trip to Germany since settling in Syracuse, as he took “pleasure in visiting the Fatherland, as often as possible.” His friend, Charles Listman, traveled with him as far as New York City. Mr. Altmann treated two groups of his friends to champagne-punch parties in Syracuse before he left. He planned while on this trip to also visit France and Switzerland.
In 1911 he was President of the honorary members’ association of the Syracuse Turn Verein. Around this time a different address began appearing in the Altmann & Sons ads: 309 East Division Street, Syracuse. This might have been the location of the bottling plant itself, and was later (1922) indicated to also be the Altmanns' family home. But Altmann’s Hall on North Salina street remained used by A. V. Altmann as the place where he hosted dinners and parties for his friends. He was often noted in the Syracuse newspapers as hosting birthday parties for other prominent German Northsiders.
On 17 October 1922 A. V. Altmann and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party at their home at 309 East Division Street. As part of that celebration, they planned a trip to Germany together the following year.
Anton V. Altmann, Sr. died on 14 August 1925 at his home at the age of 74, following a six-month illness. His private funeral took place at the family home and he was buried at Morningside Cemetery. (See his
obituary.) At the time of his death he was noted as a member of the advisory board of the City Bank Trust Company, and was affiliated with the Turn Verein, the Liederkranz singing society, and the Deutsche Watch Lodge of the Harugari ("a German-American family society that promotes the customs and traditions of its members and their ancestors through song, dance, good food, and friendship. As proud Americans, they seek to fulfill their heritage as immigrants in a new homeland."). His estate was said to value around $4,500.
A. V. Altmann, obituary photo
During the years of Prohibition, the Atmann bottling company had to bottle beverages other than alcoholic ones. A newspaper ad from February 1929 claimed: “Altmann is a good name in Syracuse. Associated with the preparation of good drinks for many years, the name of Altmann has come to stand for QUALITY. Quality in drinks means the safeguarding of health. It means pure water, the finest ingredients, careful preparation and absolute cleanliness. Be Safe When You Drink Dry Rock Ginger Ale. Bottled by Altmann—Sold Everywhere. 309 East Division St. Phone 2-1755.”
December, 1929 also brought an interview in the newspaper with Anton V. Altmann, Jr., who told how one of the new features at the Altmann bottling plant, a new installation to “electrify” water, was “made for the purpose of insuring a supply of fresh water for bottling uses at all times.” The newspaper item went on to say, “The Altmann beverages include the famous Dry Rock ginger ale, which is served in the leading hotels, clubs, and restaurants in Central New York, fizz, lime and lithia and other products.”
A. V. Altmann, Sr.'s widow, "Minnie" Nutz Altmann, died at her home (309 East Division Street) at the age of 80 on Tuesday night, 14 January 1936, following a brief illness. Her funeral took place at the (Catholilc) Church of the Assumption. She was survived by her three sons, Anton Jr., Theodore M., and William F. Altmann; two granddaughters (Mrs. Harold P. Sullivan of Syracuse and Mrs. William Crain of Fayetteville) and two great-grandchildren. She had been a member of the Ladies Auxiliaries of the Syracuse Turn Verein, the Arion Society (a Syracuse singing group with German roots), and the German Pioneers Verein.
Following his father's death, Anton V. Altmann, Jr. had become President and Treasurer of the Altmann Bottling Company where (after being proprietor of the Syracuse Art Metal Company for some time) he joined his brothers, Theodore and William Altmann, in the family bottling business. Anton V. Altman, Jr. himself died on 25 August 1941 at the age of 63, following a period of failing health. He left a wife, Mrs. Iva Kenyon Altmann, a daughter, and a granddaughter. His wife, Iva Altmann, died at the age of 95, on 12 April 1978. Born in Lyons, New York, she had been a resident of Syracuse for 80 years.
Altmann Bottling Company, in later years a beer distributor once more, apparently did not survive the union labor disputes of the 1970s.
Geschichte der Deutschen in
Syracuse und Onondaga County, Nebst Kurzen Biographien von Beamten und Hervorragenden Buergern. J. P. Pinzer, The Syracuse Union, 1897.
Fünfzigjährigen Jubelfeier der Gründung des Syracuse Turn-Verein, 1854-1904,
und des Dreikigsten Bezirks-Turnfestes
vom West-New York Turnbezirk, abgehalten vom 2ten bis 5ten Juli 1904, in Syracuse,
N.Y., copyright 1904 by Wilhelm Schmidt, Pinzer-Union Publishing Co., Syracuse.
Ellis Island Passenger Arrivals website, http://www.ellisisland.org/
"In a Flourishing Condition / Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting of Syracuse Turn Verein Last Night," The Evening Herald, Tuesday, May 16, 1893, page 3
"German Masquerade / Annual Event of the Turn Verein," The Evening Herald, Thursday, February 13, 1896
"Otto Altmann Denies That He Owes the Rent," The Post-Standard, Tuesday morning, November 6, 1900
"Turn Verein Pupils Have An Entertainment," The Post-Standard, Wednesday morning, January 2, 1901, page 6
"Mrs. Walburger Nutz Dies," The Post-Standard, Saturday morning, October 18, 1902, page 7
Item, "Mr. A. V. Altmann...," The Post-Standard, Saturday morning, December 30, 1905, page 7
Ad, The Syracuse Herald, Wednesday evening, April 29, 1908
Ad, Post-Standard, June 1908
"Building Notes," The Syracuse Herald, Wednesday evening, March 10, 1909, page 3
"A. V. Altmann Sails To-Day on His Eighth Trip Abroad," The Post-Standard, Wed. morning, July 13, 1910, page 7
"Herald Place Snapshots," Syracuse Herald, Tuesday evening, June 20, 1911, page 6
Ad, Syracuse Herald, Monday evening, October 9, 1911
"Veteran Turners Are Gueste [sic] of Mr. Altmann," Syracuse Herald, Monday evening, October 9, 1911
"Mr. and Mrs. Rees Gave Party," The Syracuse Herald, Sunday morning, March 17, 1912, page 2-D
"Altman [sic] Chosen Secretary," Syracuse Herald, Friday evening, August 7, 1914, page 7
"A. V. Altmann Has Been in Business Since '76," Syracuse Herald, Monday evening, September 14, 1914
"Give Dinner to Haberle," Syracuse Herald, Thursday evening, October 29, 1914
"Badly Injured When Machine Turns Turtle," Syracuse Herald, Friday evening, February 7, 1919, page 6
"Altmanns, 50 Years Married, Observe Event," Syracuse Herald, Wednesday evening, October 18, 1922, page 4
"Soft Drinks Man Plans Trip Abroad," Syracuse Herald, April 20, 1923, page 27
"Former Police Official Dies/Anton V. Altmann Expires After Six Months Illness," Syracuse Herald, Saturday, August 15, 1925, page 3
"Widow Files Letters," Syracuse Herald, Tuesday, September 15, 1925, page 6
"25 Years Ago," Syracuse Herald, Saturday evening, August 6, 1927, page 4
Ad, Syracuse Herald, February 18, 1929
Ad, Syracuse Herald, May 26, 1929
"Dry Rock Ginger Ale Blends Effectively, Retains Own Quality," Syracuse Herald, Monday evening, December 23, 1929, page 15
"A. V. Altman Widow Dies at Age of 80; Funeral on Friday," Syracuse Herald, Wednesday, January 15, 1936, page 22
Ad, Altmann Bottling Company, September 24, 1936
"Emily Crimi Elected Italian Club Head," Syracuse Herald, Thursday, February 18, 1937, page 6
"A.V. Altmann Bottling Firm Head, Is Dead," Syracuse Herald-Journal, Monday, August 25, 1941, page 10
"Personal Notes," The Post-Standard, Friday, July 30, 1948, page 8
"Private Services Friday for Mrs. Iva Altmann," Post-Standard, April 13, 1978, page 22
"North Side's Hop History," Post-Standard, Thursday, June 12, 2003, Local News, page B-2
This biography was written by Michelle Stone (2006), with grateful thanks to
Eric Carlson for research assistance.