Local author to discuss Sidney’s brewing history at Shelby County Genealogical Society meeting


SIDNEY — Author Timothy R. Gaffney will discuss Sidney’s bygone brewers and breweries at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Shelby County Genealogical Society’s monthly meeting. This meeting will be held at the Ross Historical Center, 201 N. Main St., in Sidney. The meeting is open to the public.

Gaffney’s newest book is “Dayton Beer: A History of Brewing in the Miami Valley”. A section about Sidney peels back the years to reveal long-forgotten details about the town’s very own brewing industry. Gaffney will sign copies of his book, and books will be available for purchase.

Dayton Beer looks deep into Sidney’s brewing past. Joseph Wagner started a brewery in the early 1850s, succeeded by his brother John and later two of John’s sons. Wagners brewed beer right up to Prohibition and resumed brewing for several years after it ended in 1933.

John Wagner’s sons got credit for continuing the brewery after John died in 1881, but when it incorporated in 1895 it was their mother, Mary, who was president—a title she held for 19 years, in a time when women still lacked the right to vote.

In its heyday before Prohibition, the Wagner brewery turned out more than 24,000 barrels per year, according to one local account.

The brewery stood on East Poplar Street near the Great Miami River. The brew house is long gone, but one brick building survives as a warehouse for Sidney City Schools.

An internationally published writer, author and photographer, Gaffney is known mainly as an air, space and aviation writer. Dayton Beer, his sixteenth book, takes a detour to explore the local history behind the craft beer trend that’s sweeping America.

Timothy R. Gaffney was born in Dayton in 1951 and has lived in the Miami Valley most of his life. After earning a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in Columbus in 1974, he worked for the Piqua Daily Call, the Kettering-Oakwood Times and the Dayton Daily News, where he took early retirement in January 2007. His post-retirement career has included working as assistant media relations director for Wright State University and director of communications for the National Aviation Heritage Area. He is a volunteer trustee for the United States Air and Trade Show Inc., the nonprofit producer of the Vectren Dayton Air Show. He lives in Miamisburg with his wife, Jean. They have four grown children, two grandchildren and two dogs.

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