Conrad Stolzenbach was born May 8, 1836, in Homburg, Germany. He arrived in Zanesville as a young adult and then shortly thereafter purchased a small bakery.
Business was so good that in 1875 a much larger building was constructed along Main Street. In August 1889, fire destroyed much of the factory, but within a few months it was rebuilt. On Nov. 1, 1889, the Times Recorder featured an article in which the author took readers on a tour of the new building:
“The establishment of … Stolzenbach & Son stands in the front rank of Zanesville's many industries. Its growth has been phenomenal, and the extent and far-reaching character of its trade is the measure of its importance.
“Beginning at the salesroom and retail floor - No. 135 Main Street – the visitor to this establishment observes upon the shelves and in the show windows and cases that endless variety of good things which this firm constantly puts forth to tempt the palate of the visitor – candies, cakes, bread, tropical fruits and a long line of other toothsome things. On the floor is the office of the firm. In the basement beneath are store materials used in the manufacture of candies, and the three upper floors constitute the candy department, where are made a complete line of hard sugar candies and an assortment of penny goods.”
Next we get to the section of the building where my favorite goodies would have been made: “Walking through an underground passage, leading from the basement of the monstrous new factory at the rear of the salesroom, the visitor enters the cake department and his eye falls upon three of the latest improved tile ovens. The product of these is a line of fancy hand-made cakes such as the firm's customers are accustomed to see on every hand in the retail department, and here are produced the magnificent wedding cakes for which Messrs. Stolzenbach & Son are so justly celebrated.”
At night another line of baked goods was produced: “The foregoing paragraphs describe this department as seen in the daytime. At night it is converted into a bread bakery, where the fancy brands of bread, rolls, buns, etc. are churned out with the dispatch and facility which characterize all the operations of the establishment. Nothing contributes more to that facility than the monster mixing and kneading machine, which stands near the center of the room.”
Of course, large quantities of several different ingredients were needed to make all those wonderful products: “Passing thence to another section of the factory basement the visitor comes among the barrels of lard, sugar and molasses, and the quantities of eggs, butter, etc., all of which are constantly drawn from in the course of each day's work, while to the visitor they give most plainly evidence of the extent and magnitude of the factory output. This impression upon the visitor is not lessened when he steps into the flour room, 30 x 90, located on the ground floor of this extensive factory, and containing generous stocks of flour used in the manufacture of crackers.”
A powerful engine made by a company here in Zanesville supplied the factory's energy needs: “Next comes the engine room and the 40 – horse power Griffith & Wedge engine which confronts the visitor there (and) makes an impression of power and value. This machine went through the fire and has been used for 6 years running day and night, an average of 20 hours per day. John Beckert is the engineer. John is very proud of the monster motor and has the reputation of running one of the best-kept engines in the city.
“Entering the adjoining room the observer finds himself in the department used for shipping bread and crackers, and stepping thence upon the superb elevator which connects all the floors of the factory together, he lands upon the second floor. Here he passes first into the white bread department, devoted exclusively to mixing and baking white bread. Three large fixtures attract the attention of the visitor here, one a large mixing and kneading machine, one for cutting the bread into loaves, and the third a large, ten-pan reel oven for baking.”
At this point the author returned to one of my favorite topics — cakes: “An observation of the machine cake department comes next, and this is also located on the same floor. Here, cakes are turned out in an astonishingly interesting way from a wire-cutting and depositing machine, the only one of the kind in this section of the country, and here may also be seen in operation other improved machinery for mixing, cutting and rolling out cakes, together with a very large 12 – shelf reel oven.
“The visitor now steps into the cracker factory proper, and his eye takes in the 7 huge troughs – they hold 7 barrels each – used for mixing the dough for crackers. Here, also, are machines for mixing dough, rolling it into sheets, cutting it into crackers, one of the largest and most improved ovens for baking, and a very ingenious and useful machine called the 'carrier,' which receives the crackers from the oven and conveys them to the floor above where it distributes them along upon tables, ready for barreling or packing.” During the Civil War this company made a tidy sum by supplying a simple kind of biscuit, called hardtack, to feed the Union solders when they were on the battlefield.
“Rising now to the third floor, the packing department is reached, where about 20 girls and 4 men are seen working with great industry and expertness, packing crackers into boxes and barrels and preparing them for shipment. Here are stored the crackers and cakes until the time comes to ship them out to customers. In fact, the entire third floor is devoted to these operations.” Don't blame me for the line about 'girls and men.' Remember, this was written in 1889!
“There is still another story to this immense structure and the visitor takes to the elevator again in order to reach it. This floor is used to store the flour used in bread baking – excepting one room used for frosting honey cakes and another in which the manufacture of wood boxes is carried on.
“Every part of this magnificent factory is built in the most permanent way and of the best of materials. The old building and the new one, then about completed, were burned down the night of August 3. The work of rebuilding was immediately begun and pushed forward with so great energy that on October 12 manufacturing operations were again underway. The establishment of C. Stolzenbach & Son contains 47,100 square feet of floor space and employs about 80 hands. At the head of Main Street, the firm operates its own barrel factory, turning out about 120 barrels daily. They keep 6 traveling men constantly on the road who cover Ohio and the adjoining states. An exceptionally heavy business is done in honey cakes, which are shipped in great quantities to the large cities.”
In 1912, Conrad Stolzenbach died at the age of 76. He is buried in a mausoleum at Greenwood Cemetery.
Lewis LeMaster is a retired school teacher of the Zanesville area.
This article originally appeared on Zanesville Times Recorder: A long ago tour of Stolzenbach's Bakery