51 Rohs (Rohe) & Co. Brewery (1858-1867)

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"The Rohs & Company Brewery story is the story of the beginnings of a Cincinnati neighborhood. Although the city was founded in 1788 and the area in question is only two and one half miles from the Ohio River, the birthplace of the city, the 1847 map of the Mill Creek Township shows no houses in this vicinity. The city boundary stopped at Liberty Street at the time. However, as early as 1844 speculators lured some German immigrants to buy land, sight unseen, on the hillsides. The customers did not know that there were no streets even plotted on maps as yet. 

In 1845 David Rohs leased 7.6 acres on the top of the hill above Over-The-Rhine from Henry Secrist. He had leased the land from the owners David and Ann Wade to cut and sell the timber in 1844. Rohs (whose name was often spelled 'Ross' because that was way it was pronounced) and his wife Saloma planted the grapevines.

By 1853 North Elm Street (Clifton Avenue today) finally reached the new corporation line (McMillan Street now). Many of the city's hills were topped with parks and covered with vineyards then. Nicholas Longworth's vineyards on Mt. Adams the most successful. 

Rohs and his wife must have been been doing well also. In 1854, they bought the 7.6 acres from Ann Wade. (Her husband's father, David E. Wade, an early pioneer, once owned 53 acres in this section of Mill Creek Township.) The Rohs paid Ann Wade $2500.

In 1858, Rohs joined with Nicholas Martin and Louis Mischler to start their brewery under the name Rohs & Company. According to the city directory, their address was Rohs Hill. In fact, this became the generally accepted name of this area later known as Fairview Heights.

David Rohs was probably the first full-time resident of this hilltop and his brewery was certainly the first factory there. It stood in what is the center of now Chickasaw Street between McMillan and Warner. However, McMillan was just a dirt road and the brewery was at the end of a private drive. The Rohs house was brick, but the brewery might have been a frame structure.

In 1860, David Rohs borrowed $2500 from Ferdinand Bodmann, a very successful cigar store merchant in town. A year later, J.F. Menkhaus, a carpenter, lent Rohs $1000; and William Fey, the owner of the Lafayette Brewery, $1100. In 1862, Rohs borrowed $2200 from William and John Distler.

By 1861, John Ross (Rohs), a relative David's, operated the brewery along with the 'coffee house', that is, a saloon. The other breweries in the city were in the basin area near the Ohio River or the Miami-Erie Canal. All were close to the center of the local population. Rohs' brewery was the exception. It was far removed from its customers on a hilltop accessible only by steep rocky roads prone to landslides. It seemed destined to fail.

David Rohs died in 1862. Sarah Rohs, David's wife, took over the operation of the brewery after his death. By the order of the probate court, John Zeltner, the administrator of David Rohs' estate (and Over-The-Rhine saloon owner), sold 4.31 acres to Benjamin F. Brannan, a local attorney. He represented the trustees of the Pest House, the hospital for contagious diseases (mainly smallpox). The price paid is not recorded on the deed, but the Annual Report of the City for 1864 records that the city gave Brannan $13000 to buy the property. Construction of the Rohs Hill Brinch of Cincinnati Hospital started almost immediately. It remained there until 1879. Fearful of contagion, family members could telegraph messages to the patients from the Cincinnati Hospital at 12th and Central Avenue. The Hospital kept up Rohs' vineyard and made money in doing so. The location was still so undeveloped, the hospital made $182 from the sale of a cow, a calf, and a hog. In 1879, the facility was moved to Lick Run. The 4.31 acres became Rohs Hill Hospital Subdivision. As late as 1895, Fairview Heights boosters had to advertise for home builders and buyers.

In 1862, Zeltner sold the brewery and the remaining 3.29 acres to Nicholas and Magdalena Hertle. Before very long, they sold the property to William Rees, a surgical instrument manufacturer. He sold it back to them very quickly. He must have seen that the location was not convenient to his customers. Until the Bellevue Incline was built in 1876, the area was just too hard to reach. 

In 1867, the Hertles sold the land with the brewery to Jacob Elsas and Issac Strauss who named it the Clifton Brewery. The brewery was razed in 1888 to make way for a new subdivision. All that is left of Rohs Hill is Rohs Street." Cincinnati Breweries, Robert J. Wimberg (1997)