Thomas Bramwell Welch (December 31, 1825 – December 29, 1903) was a British–American Methodist minister and dentist. He pioneered the use of pasteurization as a means of preventing the fermentation of grape juice. He persuaded local churches to adopt this non-alcoholic wine substitute for use in Holy Communion, calling it "Dr. Welch's Unfermented Wine". The company he founded is now called Welch's.

Thomas Bramwell Welch
Born(1825-12-31)December 31, 1825
DiedDecember 29, 1903(1903-12-29) (aged 77)
Resting placeSiloam Cemetery
EducationGouverneur Wesleyan Seminary; New York Central College
Victoria C. Sherbume
(m. 1895)
; Lucy Hult
ChildrenCharles E. Welch, dentist
Emma C. Welch Slade (1854–1928), dentist
Parent(s)Abraham Welch
Mary Fussel

Early life Edit

Welch was born in Glastonbury, England on December 31, 1825. He moved to the United States when his father emigrated in 1834. He attended public schools in Watertown, New York.[1]

Wesleyan Methodist Church Edit

At age 17, Thomas Welch joined the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion,[2] founded the same year (1843). From its beginning, the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion strongly opposed the "manufacturing, buying, selling, or using intoxicating liquors", and "slaveholding, buying, or selling" of slaves.[3]

With the first edition of their Discipline, the Wesleyan Methodists expressly required for the Lord's Supper (Communion) that "unfermented wine only should be used at the sacrament."[4] This requirement was about 25 years before Welch used pasteurization. So it is clearly evident that pasteurization was not the only method used to prepare it unfermented. There were traditional methods to prepare unfermented wine (juice) for use at any time during the year, e.g. to reconstitute concentrated grape juice, or to boil raisins, or to add preservatives that prevent juice from fermenting and souring.[5]

Throughout his late teens, Welch was active in the Underground Railroad that transported escaped slaves from the south into Canada.[2] He was one of many Wesleyan Methodists connected to the Underground Railroad.[6]

By age 19, he graduated from Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary,[7] and became an ordained Wesleyan Methodist minister.[2] He ministered first in Poundridge, in Westchester County, New York, then in Herkimer County, New York.[7]

Welch continued in the work of ministry until his voice failed him, and he was obliged to direct his attention to other pursuits.[7]

Post-church career Edit

He attended New York Central Medical College (Syracuse campus), becoming a physician in Penn Yan, New York. Welch then relocated to Winona, Minnesota in 1856.[7] He changed his profession to dentistry.[8]

Juice Edit

In 1864, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church expressly recommended that "in all cases the pure juice of the grape be used in the celebration of the Lord's Supper."[9] In 1865, Welch relocated to Vineland, New Jersey, where a sister already resided, and became a member of Vineland Methodist Episcopal Church, where he served as a communion steward.[10] Then in 1869, Welch invented a method of pasteurizing grape juice so that fermentation was stopped, and the drink was non-alcoholic. He persuaded local churches to adopt this non-alcoholic wine for communion services, calling it "Dr. Welch's Unfermented Wine."[8]

Continued career and pursuits Edit

He continued to practice dentistry in Vineland until 1880 and "enjoyed a very successful and lucrative practice through the entire time."[7] Welch was a staunch Prohibitionist, who actively worked to reduce or end the sale of alcoholic beverages in New Jersey and adjacent regions.

His son, Charles E. Welch, also a dentist, returned to Vineland, New Jersey, in 1875 and later relocated his dental practice to Vineland. By this time, Thomas was a successful Prohibition crusader and had "all but abandoned" attention to his old experiments.[2] He advised Charles, "Now don't think I'm trying to discourage your pushing the grape juice. It is right for you to do so, so far as you can, without interfering with your profession and your health."[2] Charles and Thomas Welch founded the Welch's Dental Supply Company in Philadelphia and began a dentistry journal.[2] Charles promoted the sale and consumption of grape juice. The Welches sold grape juice as a sideline.[2] The industry had grown slowly until 1890.[7] So from 1890, the Welches were able to spend more attention on the industry. Charles did not devote full attention to marketing grape juice until 1893, when Welch's Grape Juice Company was "officially launched".[2][11] However, Thomas Welch himself "never received a penny in return for his investment."[2]

Personal life and demise Edit

While in Herkimer County, he married Miss Lucy Hult.[7] They had seven children.[7] The children included Charles E. Welch, who became a dentist and was very involved in the grape juice business, and Emma C. Welch Slade (1854–1928) who also became a dentist.[12]

After the death of his first wife, Thomas Welch married Miss Victoria C. Sherbume in 1895.

On December 29, 1903, Thomas Welch died in Vineland, New Jersey. He was buried in its Siloam Cemetery.[13]

References Edit

  1. ^ "Welch's Grape Juice - Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch". Vineland Public Schools. Retrieved 10 February 2018.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hallett, Anthony; Hallett, Diane (1997). "Thomas B. Welch, Charles E. Welch". Entrepreneur Magazine Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 481–483. ISBN 0-471-17536-6.
  3. ^ Haines, Lee M.; Thomas, Paul William (1990). "A New Denomination". An Outline History of the Wesleyan Church (4th ed.). Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesley Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-89827-076-6.
  4. ^ Tucker, Karen B. Westerfield (2001). "The Lord's Supper". American Methodist Worship. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-19-512698-X.
  5. ^ Bacchiocchi, Samuele (1989). "The Preservation of Grape Juice". Wine in the Bible. Signal Press & Biblical Perspectives. ISBN 1-930987-07-2. Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  6. ^ Crooks, Elizabeth W. (1875). "Call to the South". The Life of Adam Crooks. Syracuse, New York: Wesleyan Methodist Publishing House. p. 17ff.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Welch, Charles (1903). "Dr. Thomas B. Welch". Archived from the original on 15 September 2005.
  8. ^ a b McDowell, Edwin (12 January 1986). "Faces Behind The Famous Brand Names". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2022. Dr. Thomas B. Welch, a teetotaling New Jersey dentist, came up with Dr. Welch's Unfermented Wine — later renamed Welch's Grape Juice — to be used as a substitute for wine in church communion service.
  9. ^ "Appendix". Doctrines & Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Cincinnati: Poe & Hitchcock. 1864. p. xvii. The Methodist Episcopal Church had already ruled against drinking intoxicating liquors. Again, the 1864 General Conference earnestly recommended grape juice always for the Lord's Supper and called each pastor to preach specifically and 'to urge total abstinence from all that can intoxicate.'
  10. ^ Iovino, Joe (28 June 2016). "Methodist history: Controversy, Communion, & Welch's Grape Juice". The United Methodist Church. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Welch's Company History". Welch's. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Dr. Emma C. Welch Slade of Vineland, New Jersey". The New York Times. 5 August 1928. Retrieved 23 March 2015. Dr. Emma C. Welch Slade, who had practiced dentistry here for fifty years, died last night at the age of 74. She graduated from a dental school in Ohio. Her father ...
  13. ^ Dental Review: Devoted to the Advancement of Dentistry. Dental Review Company. 1904. p. 83.

Further reading Edit

External links Edit