A Photographic Guide to the Many Faces of Alamo Plaza
William A. Menger (1827-1871) arrived in San Antonio in 1847 as an immigrant from Germany. He brought with him his skills as a barrel maker and a knowledge of how to brew beer. In 1848, he met the newly widowed Mary Guenther while staying at the boarding house that she had begun running after her husband's death. The two married in 1851 (Williams, 6).

Four years later, William bought "a small piece of property adjacent to the Alamo mission, and there established his small brewery" (Williams, 7). The success of the brewery led Menger to add a tavern, but so many patrons ended up staying overnight to avoid traveling home in the dark that the couple built an adjacent boarding house, which Mary ran. All prospered to the extent that the Mengers established a fine, two-story hotel in 1859.

About this Image:
Portrait photograph of Mr. W. A. Menger, fire fighter.

William Menger played many key roles in the civic life of early San Antonio, including helping to organize Alamo Fire Association No. 2, where he served as assistant chief, then as chief. In 1868, he purchased a new steam fire engine - the first in Texas - using $4000 of his own money (Cardenas, 23-26). Menger also lent his support to fund the Santa Rosa Infirmary in response to the cholera epidemic of 1869 and helped persuade the U. S. Army to remain in San Antonio, cementing what would become a long and beneficial relationship with the military.

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Courtesy of the San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation
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