Monthly Archives: May 2018

Hack & Simon Brewery, Vincennes, Indiana


Hack & Simon Brewery Company, Vincennes, Indiana, June 20,1916 to 1940, located on Indianapolis Ave. between North 3rd and North 4th Streets. “The objects and purposes of the corporation are the manufacture, sale, bottling, and disposition of beer, the carrying on, owning and operation of a brewery.” The original 1916 directors were Julius M. Hack, Dorothea Hack, Louis J. Hack, Anton Simon, and Frank W. Bloom. E. W. Determan became a director in 1919.

According to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form for the Hack & Simon Office Building in Vincennes, Indiana, John Ebner opened the Eagle Brewery in 1859. Ebner was born on June 8, 1817 in Alsace, France where he learned the miller and bakers’ trades. He served in the French Army for 5 years in Africa as a baker. He then immigrated to the United States in 1846 and eventually ended up in Vincennes, Indiana in 1849 where he started a bakery, grocery store, and an ice making company. He opened the Eagle Brewery in Vincennes in 1859-1860 until 1870 when he began to lease the buildings to different brewers. The 1880 Federal Census showed Ebner as a saloon keeper, and he also continued to operate his ice company. John Ebner died on January 26, 1889.

30984031171_edd8332363_nEugene Hack was born in Wurtenberg, Germany in 1842 and immigrated to the United States in 1867. He was a grocery store clerk in Vincennes before he and Anton Simon bought the Eagle Brewery. Anton Simon was born in Chamonix, France in 1850 and arrived in the United States in 1868. They purchased the Eagle Brewery in 1876, rebuilt the plant, and reopened it as the Hack & Simon Eagle Brewery. They increased the brewery’s capacity to more than 25,000 barrels a year and employed over 25 people, selling to an extensive region around Vincennes, Indiana. They built the Hack & Simon Office Building in 1885, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Of the 1916 directors of the brewing company, Julius M. Hack was the son of Eugene Hack and was born in 1876. In the 1910 Federal Census he is listed as a clerk in the brewery, and in 1920 as secretary of the brewery. Dorthea Hack was his mother. I’m not sure how Louis J. Hack was related to the family, but he did not live in Vincennes. Frank W. Bloom was the company’s bookkeeper.

E.(Ernest) W. Determan was born in Hanover, Germany in 1862. In 1900 and 1910 he is listed as traveling collector for the brewing company, and in 1920 he was a traveling salesman of “soft drinks”. A July 29, 1919 amendment to their incorporation statement stated they “changed from operation of brewery to Industrial Distillers”, “the doing of all such acts as may be appropriate or necessary for the successful and economic conduct of business.”  The term “industrial brewing” usually meant to make the brewing process more efficient and increase output. This amendment was a reaction to the Wartime Prohibition Act that took effect a month earlier on June 30, 1919 prohibiting the brewing of alcohol content greater than 1.28%. The National Prohibition Act went into effect on January 17, 1920 which prohibited the selling of alcoholic content above .5 %.

The company’s 1928 Corporation Report stated “Our plant closed down on January 1, 1928”, but they continued to send in Corporation Reports through 1940. The 1940 directors were Julius M. Hack – President, Otto Hack – Vice-President, and Marie C. Simon Secretary-Treasurer. The Brewery reopened in 1934 after the Prohibition amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933. I’m not sure how long the brewery stayed open then, but its office building was sold to Vincennes University in the early 1950s, and the brewery’s plant has been demolished.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer