A Generous Man

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on June 26, 1990

A GENEROUS MAN

Dayton was a fortunate recipient of Adam Schantz’s many contributions

By Roz Young

 

            Time was when all the kitchen sinks and bathroom washbowls in Dayton had three faucets: the left one was for hot rainwater, the right for cold and the middle one for Holly water.
            Holly water was drinking water; it was called Holly because in 1870 the first city waterworks used Holly's Patent Elliptical Rotary Pumps to bring water from two wells at the corner of High and Beacon streets. The rainwater came from cisterns in everybody's yards, collected from roof runoff and brought into the house by electric pumps.
            Not everybody in the city drank Holly water. A number of companies sold bottled water. One of the most popular brands was Lily Water, the invention and product of Adam Schantz.
            Lily Water is no longer made, but many reminders of its patent owner remain in the community. Schantz Avenue in Oakwood is a busy street. Adam Schantz's home still stands at 430 E. Schantz Ave., and many of the substantial brick homes on Schantz on both sides of the street between Brown Street and Glendora Avenue were built for and occupied by members of the Schantz family.
            Volusia and Sorrento avenues were part of his land and named by him after streets in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he had a winter home. Waldruhe Park on Springboro Pike was his gift to the city. His life-size bronze likeness, seated in a chair, faces the main gate inside Woodland Cemetery.
            Adam Schantz (1830-1903) was born in Mittel Kinzig, Hesse-Darmstadt. When he was 15, he and his four older brothers came to America. Adam worked for a year in an Altoona, Pa., flour mill operated by his uncle, Michael Schantz. Then he came to Dayton and worked two years for Michael Olt, learning the butcher's trade.
            He was young and restless and after a time struck out for New Orleans. By the time he arrived there, his money was almost gone. He went into a saloon, bought a glass of beer and began to eat at the free lunch counter. The proprietor finally said to him, "This is not a boarding house. Let up."
            Adam explained to him that he had no money and promised him, "Some day I will return and repay you many times over for what I have eaten here today." Years later he remembered his promise, returned and reimbursed the saloon owner; they later became good friends.
            He worked in a packing house that supplied meat for ocean-going ships. He became friendly with the captain of one and persuaded him to let him work his way to London. From London he traveled to see his family in Mittel Kinzig, returning to London by way of Frankfurt and Hamburg. By the time he arrived in London every penny in his pocket was gone, and all he had was the clothes he wore and a piece of pumpernickel wrapped in a handkerchief. He slept under the elevated tracks until he could find a job and rent a room.
            He returned to Dayton in 1862 when he was 23 and opened a butcher shop on East Fifth near Brown. Within one year he bought the Six Mile House on Covington Pike and opened a shop in it. He married Salome Latin the same year.
            Not long after, a fire destroyed his home and shop. He had no insurance. But his reputation for honest dealing was so good his suppliers extended him credit and enabled him to rebuild his shop. He traded the Six Mile House in 1871 for a property near the river at Central Avenue. There he opened a brewery. Five years later lightning struck the plant, and it burned completely. His insurance had expired at noon on the day of the fire. Once again he had no money and no business.
            He did, however, have a solid reputation. He called together carpenters, masons and bricklayers. He told them he wanted to build an even larger plant than the one that had burned, but he had no money. "But if you will build for me," he said, "I will repay you every cent."
            The men agreed to go along with him, and a new and larger brewery went up. His business prospered. Soon he opened a meat shop at 408 W. Third St. and another on River Street in Dayton View and a stall in the Market House downtown. He took great interest in the community and was elected councilman for the city and was appointed finance chairman for the city government.
            In 1881 he and his brother George established a lager beer business in partnership. Six years later he enlarged the brewery and bought out his brother. At one time he was partner in at least 10 breweries in the city.
            Brewers needed pure water, but Holly water was not pure enough. Adam devised a purification treatment system and obtained a patent for it. He named his product Lily Water after the calla lily, the Schantz family flower.
            He sold Lily Water to other breweries, installed and supervised water coolers in downtown offices and manufacturing plants and delivered bottled Lily Water to homes for 50 cents for six half-gallon bottles. "We all drank Lily Water," his granddaughter, Edith Sauer, recalls.
            Adam Schantz invested in many downtown Dayton properties. He bought 100 acres of land in the northeast section of Oakwood from Jonathan Winters and afterwards added other acreage.
            He loved to breed trotting horses and built a race track between his home on Schantz and Irving Avenue.
            He particularly loved trees. He replaced the 260 trees cut down for the race track by planting 2,600 trees in the area of Sorrento, Volusia and Springgrove avenues.
            He was never inclined to take it easy. In 1901 he bought a winter home in Daytona Beach. He planned to spend his winters there, but he did not believe in loafing even on vacation, so he bought 5,000 acres of land and operated a farm and sawmill. He also obtained a 20-year franchise from the city and erected an ice house, a Lily Water plant, an electric light plant and bath house.
            In 1903 some of his workmen went on strike; he went out to exhort the men to go back to work. While he was talking with them, he became ill and died shortly afterwards. When he died at 73, he was the largest taxpayer in Montgomery County, Ohio, and in Volusia County, Fla.
            Lily Water continued to be sold by the Adam Schantz Estate long after his death, but it has now been supplanted by other purified waters, and the Schantz breweries are no more. The tangible remains of Adam Schantz's industrious life, however, are visible in the community, and scores of his descendants make Dayton their home.