History Untold: Hotel Emma

Hotel is named after woman who ran beer brewery for nearly 20 years but, not many know the story of how she took it over

The historic Pearl Brewery is both a tourist destination and a place where locals hang out.

It’s filled with stores, restaurants and the world-renowned Hotel Emma.

The hotel is named after Emma Koehler, who ran the brewery for nearly 20 years. But, not many people know the story of how Emma took over.

According to the back story on the hotel’s website, Emma’s husband, Otto Koehler, was the president of the Pearl in it’s heyday in the early 20th century.

The couple lived a happy life together until she was severely injured in a car crash in 1910, leading Otto to hire a young, attractive live-in nurse also named Emma -- nicknamed Emmi.

However, it wasn’t long after that he had an affair with her.

Later, Emmi introduced Otto to her tall, blonde friend who was also a nurse named Emma.

Otto set the two of them up in a little house on Hunstock avenue near Interstate 37 and Interstate 10 and started having affairs with both women.

Then on Nov. 12, 1914, Otto went to visit the nurses.

They started arguing and the tall, blonde Emma shot and killed Otto.

Police at the scene said she told them “I’m sorry, but I had to kill him.”

After being charged with murder, the third Emma skipped town, traveled to Europe to nurse World War 1 casualties, then returned in 1918 to stand trial.

The all-male jury found her not guilty.

Despite all the drama, Emma Koehler took over the brewery guiding the company through prohibition.

While other breweries were shutting down, Emma kept her entire workforce employed by converting operations to dry cleaning, auto repair and even ice cream.

Although the two nurses named Emma have now faded into history, Emma Koehler is remembered by the beautiful hotel that now carries her name -- The Hotel Emma.

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About the Author

Roslyn Jimenez is a news producer at KSAT. Before joining the team, she was a producer and video editor at KIII-TV and a radio intern in Corpus Christi. She graduated from Del Mar College with an Associate's degree in political science and liberal arts. Roslyn is family-oriented and loves spending time with her fiancé and chihuahua Paco.

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