Theresia Friederica Mautner von Markhof / 4.5.1832 – 20.3.1926
Born in Smiřice/North Bohemia, on June 27, 1850 she married Johann Peter von Reininghaus, who had been born in 1818 in Isenburg, a farm in Westphalia. The associated distillery and its fermenting contents aroused the boy’s interest in yeast in his early youth, which was a rare article at that time, sought by bakers and well paid. He studied in Berlin, worked there and in Breslau and then entered the service of Adolf Ignaz in Vienna. In 1857, both succeeded together in the systematic production of pressed yeast that met all requirements.
Already in 1853 Peter Reininghaus, his wife Theresia and his younger brother Julius (he married Therese’s sister Emilie) bought a small brewery on the Steinfeld, not far from Graz. In the same year, the company “Brüder Reininghaus” was founded, the first steam-run brewery in Styria. Workman’s houses and a canal to the Mur were built and the factory was illuminated electrically. In 1883, Emperor Franz Joseph was so impressed by the company, whose beer was even exported to Greece, Egypt, East India, Zanzibar and South America, that he raised the head of the family, Johann Peter Reininghaus (who also built the first Styrian spirit and press yeast factory) to the nobility. By 1900, the Reininghaus grounds were 25 times larger than originally and suddenly became one of the largest companies in Austria. Following the example of Adolf Ignaz, old-age provision was set up for the almost 700 workers and apartments, a hospital and a sports field were provided.
Mautner Markhof and Reininghaus had agreed on the Semmering as the sales border, until the 1970s from Styria only Gösser and Puntigam beers were delivered to the east. Nevertheless, there have been a number of lawsuits and disputes between the related families over the years. It began with the Reininghaus family claiming a share in the St. Marx Brewery and 50 years later it continued with the question of who was the real inventor of the artificial yeast. In 1909 Friedrich, a nephew of the Reininghaus brothers, claimed that he had been cheated of his inheritance by Adolf Ignaz and his uncle Johann Reininghaus and sued five members of the Mautner Markhof family, including the grandsons of Adolf Ignaz, Victor and Georg II for a supplementary compensation of one and a half million crowns. During this trial, the two cousins countered that there had already been a payment of one million guilders in 1889. Irregularities in the inheritance payments could not be proven and so the Supreme Court finally dismissed Friedrich von Reininghaus’s complaints, which had cost him a fortune due to the length of the proceedings.
In 1901, after her husband´s death, Theresia had to take over the brewery. Johann Peter had made her the sole heiress, although she had born ten children (like her parents), including three sons. Their son Gustav, who was meant to be heir, had died at the age of 32, his only daughter Emilie (Emmy) married Georg II Mautner Markhof in 1900. Although she had never intervened operationally in the business, Theresia ensured the existence of this large business by converting it into a stock corporation and choosing the right men for the management (including her son-in-law). When the Second World War broke out, the Reininghaus family was forced to emigrate. After their return from exile, they transferred the beer production to Puntigam. In spite of having moved production, the family held onto the mostly fallow fields. The fate of the brewery was determined by its descendants until the 1980s.
Therese herself was also very socially active. She founded a foundation for widows and orphans in Graz, was committed to girls’ schools and the admission of women to university studies, participated in the foundation of the Graz Tramway Society, in the electricity plant in Lebring and in the construction of the Grazer Schlossberg hill funicular. She lived in the Styrian town of Thal, where she and her husband had bought and renovated the Hardt Castle.
Theresia and Peter also had ten children, 29 grandchildren and 72 great-grandchildren. Their descendants now live scattered throughout Europe, North and South America and Africa.