Weber, Bernard F.

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Bernard F. Weber Soundex Code W160

Bernard F. Weber (sometimes known as Barney F. Weber) was born in 1853 in Chicago. His parents, Michael Weber and Anna M. Weber were early settlers of Chicago.

Barney Weber was a prominent figure in Lakeview Township and Chicago politics, serving as alderman, on the Board of Election Commissioners and in the Illinois House of Representatives, among other positions. He began a career in real estate at the age of twenty, and soon after, at St. Henry Church, married Miss Anna M. Kransz, daughter of an early West Ridge farmer and Edgewater land developer Nicholas Kransz.

Because of the building codes put into place after the 1871 fire, Chicago in the 1880s became the largest manufacturer of bricks in the United States and held that position until the Great Depression. By 1890, there were more than sixty brickyards in the area, producing about 600 million bricks annually. Weber was the owner of several brickyards throughout the Chicago area, including the Jefferson Brick Company and Weber, Labahn & Company in Evanston. The latter was served by the Weber Yard a rail yard that was the terminus of a spur line of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad known as the Chicago & West Ridge Railroad that ran from Mayfair Junction at Montrose Avenue to Oakton Street in Evanston. Along the route, at least three brickmaking facilities were able to ship their product to market.

As the brick industry grew, labor strife became common, and owners of Chicago brickyards made a concerted effort to control their costs and profits by resisting a growing union movement in the building trades. North side brickyards owned by Barney Weber were among those where formation of unions was resisted most vigorously. In a bid to gain control over the brick market, brickyard owners first formed the Cook County Brick Company in 1897 and then the Illinois Brick Company in 1900. Both were essentially trusts set up to monopolize the brick supply. Trust participants claimed that market dominance would have the benefit of controlling quality and making the business more profitable. Bernard Weber was involved in both these trusts at the time of their formation, but a few years later, he charged his rivals within Illinois Brick with making payments to labor leaders in order to control the unions. His charges sparked a grand jury investigation, and as a result, he resigned and formed a competitive consortium operating under the name of the National Brick Company.

He also engaged in real estate development in Edgewater, Lakeview and Rogers Park, in partnership with his brother-in-law Henry Peter Kransz in the firm of Weber, Kransz & Company. He is reported to have been responsible for the construction of more than 200 homes in just three years, between Graceland Cemetery and Evanston.


Weber Business History

Maybe more than one Weber brick companies existed. One was called the Weber-Labahn brickyards, (c: 1891-1900), sometimes known as Weber, Labahn & Company. Evanston’s third brickyard, it sustained fires in 1891 and 1894, also making the news in 1895 when it resisted a strike. The firm petered out by 1900, apparently evolving into or sold to the Evanston Brick Company.

Weber Personal History

Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries

Name: Bernard F. Weber

Spouse: Anna M. Weber 2, nee: Anna M. Kranz

Father: Michael Weber

Birth: Chicago, Thursday, January 6, 1853.

More: See all information...

From the Social Security Death Index:

Weber, Bernard F., married Monday, October 13, 1884 in Cook County, Illinois, a bride named Anna M. Kranz.

Weber was also a Chicago Alderman.

Book of Chicagoans, 1911

Bernard F. Weber, president, National Brick Company

Born: Chicago, Thursday, January 6, 1853.

Son of: Michael Weber and Anna M. Weber

Education: Chicago public schools and Dyrenforth College

Married: Anna M. Weber 2, nee: Anna M. Kransz of Lake View, Illinois, on Tuesday, October 14, 1884.

Children: Clarence J. Weber, Cassius M. Weber, Cressie O. Weber, Bernard F. Weber, Jr., and three others, now (1911) deceased.

In real estate business since 1874.

Acquired interest in Jefferson Brick Company, and was its president until formation of Illinois Brick Company, 1900.

Bernard F. Weber organized the Weber-Labahn Company brick works in 1891, and was president. Later Bernard F. Weber disposed of his interest and established his own brick works, of which he was Vice-President until 1905, when he resigned to accept presidency of National Brick Company.

During 1905-1908, Bernard F. Weber built over 200 residences in the territory that extends between Graceland Avenue and the Evanston City Limits.

Bernard F. Weber also built several miles of railroad Chicago & West Ridge Railroad extending from Oakton Street to Peterson Avenue.

Member: 32nd Illinois General Assembly and 33rd Illinois General Assembly from old 6th District.

Bernard F. Weber served 2 terms as Town Assessor and Member of the Board of Trustees of the City of Lake View, and 2 terms in the Chicago City Council after annexation of Lake View to Chicago, 1895.

Appointed election commissioner by Judge Scales, resigning that office to become Lincoln Park Commissioner under appointment of Governor John Peter Altgeld.

Member: Chicago Association of Commerce

Member: Catholic Order of Foresters, Knights of Columbus.

Clubs: Ravenswood, Illinois Athletic Club

Recreation: flower culture

Office: 118 N. LaSalle Street, 1911.

Home: 4423 N. Ashland Avenue, 1911

Source: Book of Chicagoans, 1911, Bernard F. Weber, 1911. pages 704-705.