Fifty Years, 1855-1905

The following is adapted from a photocopy of an 11-page booklet issued by Freiberg & Workum in celebration of its 50th anniversary in 1905.  From The Snyder Collection. 

Archived June 1, 2006:  learn more about Freiberg & Workum


Petersburg Distillery
Julius Freiberg

Levi J Workum

  With the New Year our firm celebrates its Golden Anniversary, having been founded in 1855. We desire all of our friends, and the trade, who have helped us so materially in establishing and maintaining our business, to celebrate the occasion with us. Hence this little souvenir, which we hope will be acceptable, and received in the same spirit of goodwill as that in which it is sent.   

Our senior, Mr. Julius Freiberg, came to Cincinnati from his fatherland in 1847, and shortly thereafter proceeded to Williamstown, in Kentucky, where he carried on a general merchandise business for several years. It was here, and in the surrounding Blue Grass country, where his business called him, that he became acquainted with the leading Kentucky distillers, and their products. At that time Kentucky whiskey was scarcely known outside of that State, and he, in fact, brought into Cincinnati the first Bourbon whiskey imported from Kentucky for trade purposes.   

This was in 1852, and three years thereafter he associated himself in the whiskey business with his brother-in-law, Mr. Levi J. Workum, under the firm name of Freiberg & Workum, which firm name has been continued uninterruptedly ever since.    

The firm's first home was in a small store on the east side of Sycamore Street, No. 20, where it remained until 1858, when, requiring larger quarters, a removal was made to the west side of Sycamore Street, Nos. 13 and 15.    

Small as was the beginning of the firm, it adopted a rule that it would sell the jobbing and wholesale trade only, and this has been the continuous policy of the firm up to the present time.    

In 1857, a little more than one year after the start in business, the Bowen Distillery, then nearing completion in Lynchburg, Highland County, Ohio, was purchased, and it has been operated by one firm, without change or interruption, longer, we believe, than any distillery in the country. 

It has steadily grown from a house capable of mashing one hundred bushels a day, to the present capacity of three thousand bushels, with a storage capacity of over one hundred thousand barrels.    


The Lynchburg Distillery

  The first product of the distillery was naturally of the kind of goods in which the firm had begun its operations, namely, a Bourbon whiskey. Taking the name of the builder of the distillery, the brand J A. Bowen was adopted, and placed upon the first goods produced. That it has been, since that time, upon the market, and has been for a long time one of the standard brands of the trade, it is unnecessary to state here. From time to time, the manufacture of other classes of goods was inaugurated to meet changes in the demands of the trade. Thus, in 1865, the Lynchburg Rye was put upon the market, and in 1869 was made the first Highland Pure Rye. In 1883 we introduced the Clinton Whiskey and Eagle Gin.  

In 1867 the “Boone County” Distillery at Petersburg, Kentucky, was acquired, and steadily operated and enlarged until 1899 (thirty-two years), when it was sold. At that time it had a mashing capacity of tour thousand bushels per day, and storage room for sixty thousand barrels. 

Petersburg Distillery


In 1866 the building surrounded by Baum, Produce, and Kirby Alleys in Cincinnati, was purchased, and used as a bonded "Class B" warehouse, until bonded warehouses of this class were abolished by the Government. It was then transformed into a redistilling and rectifying house, and is being so used today.   


Redistilling House



← 216 and 218 East Front

28-30 Main Street →



The third move of the firm's office and store was made in 1869, to Nos. 28 and 30 Main Street, and here it remained for twenty-seven years, until 1895, when the latest move was made to Nos. 216-220 East Front Street, a commodious building fifty-two feet front, two hundred feet deep, and five stories high. This property was purchased and fitted to meet all the requirements of the business in its largely increased proportions. It has a private siding where cars can be loaded and unloaded, thus saving the time necessary to cart goods to and from the railroad depots. This building, with the above-mentioned re-distilling and rectifying house immediately in the rear, affords admirable facilities for the conduct of a business as large and varied as ours naturally is. The buildings contain model departments for cooperage, cooper shops, re-distilling, rectifying, blending, bottling, and storage of whiskey. Included in the last named are rooms capable of holding three thousand barrels of blended whiskey. These are kept at an even temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and no blended whiskies are shipped until they have been stored long enough to be properly matured.   

Recognizing the necessity of being manufacturers of spirits, as we are of pure rye, half rye, bourbon, distilled gin, domestics, and blended whiskies, our firm last year joined with several other firms in building, at Terre Haute, Indiana, the Commercial Distillery, which is acknowledged to be the most modern, best equipped, and largest spirit distillery in the country.    

Commercial Distillery



In 1883 came the first change in the personnel of the firm. On July 23d of that year, after twenty-eight years of the most harmonious, and, in fact, ideal business and social companionship, the original partnership was sundered by the death of our beloved friend and kinsman, Levi J. Workum. He departed this life honored and respected by all who knew him, and leaving a memory still revered in the community in which he lived.  


Distillery Distillery
J. Walter Freiberg Ezekiel L. Workum.  Jeptha L. Workum


The surviving partner reorganized the firm by taking with him his two sons, J. Walter Freiberg and Maurice J. Freiberg, and his late partner's two sons, Jeptha L. Workum and Ezekiel L. Workum. The partnership continued in this way until 1896, when the relentless hand of death was again laid upon our household, and we were bereaved by the loss of both Jeptha and Ezekiel Workum, the latter in March, and the former in September. Even after the lapse of years we think of this loss with great sorrow, not only because of the removal from their activities of two able and exemplary men in the power of young manhood, but for the severance of ties of brotherly affection and companionship, that had bound us together from childhood.    

Since that time the affairs of the business have been conducted by the surviving partners, who now compose the firm.    

Such is, in brief, the history of the fifty years of our business existence. Being human, we have made errors, and have had our trials and troubles, but we have been blessed with our share, and more, of good fortune and good friends. To those friends and a kind Providence we are grateful for whatever measure of success may have come to us, and for the occasion for transmitting this greeting. 


Steamer Levi J. Workum


Several years ago we sent as a New Year's greeting to our friends a desk requisite, and we have had so many kind words about it that we are sending herewith a similar one, which we desire you to accept with our compliments, and as a souvenir of the Golden Anniversary of FREIBERG & WORKUM. 

Cincinnati, December, 1904.