Step back in time to experience the craft and history of Wisconsin barrel making with Gary and Jim Hess at T.B. Scott Free Library. Come to one of two programs on Thursday, June 26, at 3 and 5:30 p.m.

“Famous Barrels: The Hess Cooperage Story” will employ a slideshow, an exhibit of over 75 photos, authentic cooper tools, and full and partially assembled barrels, all describing the story of Wisconsin’s largest independent cooperage, in a program sure to fascinate all ages.

Frank J. Hess Sr., born in Bohemia in 1870, apprenticed as a cooper at the Pilsner brewery in Pilsen, Bohemia.  He emigrated to America in 1890, and in 1904 moved to Madison, where for 62 years his family business manufactured and repaired beer kegs—as well as wine and whiskey barrels—throughout Wisconsin, with clients in Iowa, Maryland, and New York state. Breweries in Antigo, Marshfield, Rhinelander, and Wausau’s Mathie-Ruder Brewery used Hess barrels. Hess was the last American manufacturer of white oak beer kegs when it closed in 1966.

Gary Hess, a grandson of Frank J. Hess Sr., is a board member of Madison’s Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society, and is the Hess Cooperage family historian. He and his cousin Jim have given programs to entertain and inform audiences throughout the state about this important part of Wisconsin history.

Famous Barrels is part of the library’s Words Worth Hearing lecture and fine arts series. Refreshments will be provided compliments of The Checkered Churn and First Street Coffee Station.

For more information about what’s happening at T.B. Scott Free Library, visit or T.B. Scott Free Library on Facebook, or call 715.536.7191.