Joseph (f/k/a Josef) Gully, a native of Alsace, France and of both French and German descent, immigrated to New York City in August 1845. He eventually made his way down the Mid-Atlantic, serving a year in the US military at Ft. McHenry until 1848. Gully’s enlistment papers indicated his occupation was that of a ‘brewer’, so he was practicing his art prior to 1847.
Gully arrived in Wilmington in 1850 and began operating a saloon and lager beer brewery, the second one in the city and only a few blocks from Christian Krauch’s lager brewery/saloon. The French Lager Beer Brewery likely derived that name from both its location (at 5th and French Streets) and Gully’s native country (France).
Soon after his arrival in Wilmington, Gully met and married Crescentia Stoeckle. She happened to be the sister of Joseph Stoeckle, a man who would in time become one of the wealthiest and most beloved men in Wilmington. In fact, the Stoeckle family name would become synonymous with beer in Delaware well into the mid-20th century.
It is not known for certain why the Gullys left Wilmington in 1856 for Wisconsin but that they did. Perhaps they were chased away by Delaware’s short-lived Prohibition law, which briefly outlawed the production of beer. In any case, the Gullys soon moved to Mineral Point and then Fayette Township, where they operated a farm. Unfortunately, Joseph died suddenly during the summer of 1862.
While his stay in Wilmington was a fairly short and rather obscure one, Gully’s role in Delaware’s brewing history is cemented as the state’s second lager beer brewer.