Transcribed by PA Brewery Historian Rich Wagner from American Brewer January 1941

NYA (National Youth Administration) Gets Famous Genesee 12-Horse Team

The famous Genesee 12-Horse Team, one of America’s best known brewery teams, and said to be the only 12-horse hitch in the world, has been turned over to a government agency for the use in the national defense program, according to an announcement by Louis A. Wehle, president of the Genesee Brewing Co., Rochester, N.Y. The transfer was completed on December 17.


While the team was on its customary Summer and Fall tour,” said Mr. Wehle, “many persons said to us- some jokingly, others somewhat seriously- ‘those horses ought to be in the army.’ With the nation feverishly mobilizing its entire resources for defense, our attitude was that if there was any way in which the Genesee horses could serve the country, we were perfectly willing that the government should have them- at least for the duration of the emergency.


Sent to Large NYA Project


When the National Youth Administration heard of this, they quickly asked that they be allowed to take over the horses for use in their agricultural defense program. We agreed, arrangements were concluded, and the famous Genesee horses- all twelve of them- were formally turned to NYA on Tuesday December 17.


They were first sent to a large NYA project near Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be kept there for an indefinite period, although there is n assurance that the team will not ultimately be broken up and the horses scattered among different projects throughout the country.”


The Genesee horses were Belgian Roans, from 8 to 12 years old, and they averaged more than a ton apiece in weight. They had been painstakingly selected to match for size, color, and conformation, and trained to that they worked as one. Jack Doyle was their handler.


Used entirely for show and advertising purposes, the horses had been shown in twenty states from Maine to Florida and as far west as Detroit and Cleveland. They had won scores of cups and ribbons in horse shows and fairs, and during the seven years that they were on the road they had been seen by countless thousands of people.


At home in Rochester the horses were kept in specially built stables which are open in the public at all times. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 persons have visited them there. This stable, plus harness and equipment, represented an investment of about $75,000 aside from the value of the horses.


It was not an easy decision for us to make,” said Mr. Wehle, himself a lover of fine horses. “For seven years the Genesee 12-Horse Team played an important part in our promotional activities. They gave the name to one of our most important products, Genesee 12-Horse Ale. They have been seen and admired by countless thousands. We were proud of the Genesee 12-Horse Team.”


Harness and Equipment Retained


According to Mr. Wehle, the harness and equipment did not go with the team, and the stables, which are on the Wehle Farms, about 12 miles from Rochester, will be kept intact. “It is our present intention,” he said, “that when the existing emergency is over, either these same horses will come back to us, or we will bring together a new and finer Genesee 12-Horse Team.”


NYA and other government officials were extravagant in their praise for Mr. Wehle, and the Genesee Brewing Co. for their generosity and patriotism in turning over these splendid and badly needed horses for defense work.