An Anti-German Anti-Lager* NYC Riot In 1840

nycmap1839bThe map of the city of New York from 1839 shows the extent of development in grey. The streets north of 14th street are newly settled, sitting north of the established municipal wards. They are twice the distance from the tip of lower Manhattan that the rural Lispenard estate and brewery was just fifty years before. The block at 15th street between 6th and 7th avenue is just five blocks below open countryside. Evan’s tweets today on the anti-lager sentiments in the US of the 1850s reminded me of how at that time and in the decades before the setting was not as calm as it appeared. Over a decade earlier, in the Commercial Advertiser of 31 March 1840 reports on an unexpected violent event under the police reports:

RIOT – On Sunday afternoon a serious riot occurred in 15th street, between the 6th and 7th avenues, which caused great excitement, and was productive of serious injuries to many persons before it was suppressed. It appears that there is a public house in the location above mentioned, kept by a German, where it is common on Sabbath afternoons for persons of both sexes to assemble and indulge in music and dancing, after the manner of the people of the country from whence they come. On Sunday afternoon last, such a party assembled for such purposes, a lady playing on the piano, while others of both sexes were dancing. While thus engaged, a party of young men from the eastern section of the city proceeded to the house in question, and marching into the room where the music and dancing were carrying on, commenced a disturbance by tripping up the heels of the male and female dancers, and throwing them down on the floor. This led to acts of resistance on the part of the party assailed and a fight ensued.

You can read the whole story here but suffice it to say that the scene was nasty. Furniture is destroyed, the parties are beaten, women jump from second story windows. Women get caught up on the fences “caught by their clothes and hung suspended in a most painful and exposed situation” to the jeers of the growing mob. Order begins to be restored when the Mayor himself who rides into the crowd on his horse.

The 1840s is an early point in an ugly era. The Old Brewery at Five Points had been converted into a slum warren three years before. Five Points is said to have had the highest murder rate of any slum in the world. The worst of human experience was lived there. Times were tough. A year before, impeachment proceedings were brought against a grossly profane judge for refusing to take on a role in the management of the police. In October 1839, a riot broke out at the scene of a fire… between two companies of fire fighters. To the north, the first new German immigrants were making a better life for themselves along fresh new avenues neat the city’s rural edge. Tensions did not resolve quickly. The Albany Journal reported a deadly riot at a Philadelphia lager beer tavern in July of 1854. On 10 June 1854, a new political movement of anti-Irish and anti-German nativists or “Know-Nothings” was described in The Weekly Herald of New York, which formed to express antagonism against these newcomers and their ways:

The Germans are chiefly agitated about their lager bier saloons, and are very much incensed at the idea that their liberty to drink as much of that beverage, and at any time and place, as they see fit should be in any danger of restriction.

Change was coming. In 1855, the Evening Post published a very positive report on events at a NYC German outdoor gathering… which included a few well placed rifles. By the late 1850s, the question reached the courts with the ruling of Judge Strong that lager was not intoxicating so therefore could be sold on a Sunday. Times were changing and the children of those Germans attacked in the 1840 riot would become a cornerstone of the nation’s prosperous middle class of the latter end of the century. Along with that, lager does not first succeed because it is a technological marvel. It succeeds because it is a key cultural expression of the new immigrants who would not be beaten down.

*Note, 20 Feb 2016: Gary Gillman emailed right after I posted this and pointed out that this was a couple of years before lager actually arrived. Gillig’s story makes it a bit obscure one way or the other. What did he brew from 1840 to 1846 – and what made the lager he brewed lager?The beer could well have been schenck, a low strength German ale, or even good old local Anglo-American ale. Need to explore this as soon as the New York posts get into the middle third of the 1800s. I am still in the 1790s. So… maybe later this year. Maybe.

The Site Of Rutger’s Brewery, New York City, 1776


This is quite the thing:

In the summer of 1776 there stood on the northern side of Maiden Lane near where Gold Street now enters it, a large Brewery, with its attendant dwelling, malt-house, sheds, storehouses, etc. The premises extended from Smith, now William,* Street on the west, to Queen, now Pearl Street, on the east; and from Maiden Lane, on the south, to the present line of John Street on the north; and it was one of the most notable features in that part of the city.

Wow. That’s four full blocks of what is now Lower Manhattan. The red rectangle is roughly the location of the brewery itself according to this map. The text is from the introduction to an 1866 reprint of the ruling in Rutgers v. Waddington, an 1784 ruling of the Mayor’s Court of New York City. The case was about the use of the brewery property by the British during the American Revolution. The first beer had been brewed on that site by Harmenus the father-in-law of the plaintiff, Elizabeth Rutgers, on December 24th, 1711. Elizabeth owned the property at the outset of hostilities with her son, Robert, “who carried on the hereditary business of a brewer” as his father Harmanus had, as his grandfather (yes) Harmanus had before that. The elder Harmanus moved to New York in the late 1600s from Albany. Robert is also the nephew of the Anthony Rutger mentioned in the story of the Lispenards. Which makes him the first cousin once removed to the Leonard Lispenard who is sent to London to train with Barclay in 1783. Which means before the war the Lispenards brewing on the North River near Cortlandt Street are close family with the Rutgers brewing on Maiden Lane. And, like the brewing Gansevoorts of Albany, they all line up with the Revolutionaries.

I need to figure out more of this but suffice it to say that brewing at scale, political power and inter-married Dutch families with a significant lack of diversity in first name use are all key to the story.

*Further formerly Cart and Horse Street.

The Brewing Lispenards Of New York City


Lispenards. For a few days I have had Lispenards on the mind. We’ve seen them before. I’ve actually had them on the mind for years. In Upper Hudson Valley Beer, Craig and I wrote this:

After the war was won and New France conquered in 1760, William Johnson continued to import beer into his western Albany County estate but the records indicate that his choices were not local. He is buying Taunton ale from England as well as beer by the New York City brewer Lispenard. It may reflect his further increased wealth as he is also seeking out port wine and New Jersey cider from his southern supplier, the merchants Hugh & Alexander Wallace. Their invoice to Johnson dated Nov. 3, 1772, shows the extent he would go to pour himself and his guests the range of beers he desired:

6/-/- for 3 Barrl Strong Beer at 40/
4/10/- for 3 Barrl. Ale @ 30/
1/7/- for 6 Barrels at 4/6
7/-/- for 10 Barrels Newark Syder at 14/
0/3/- for Carting ale to the Sloop.

I got deeper into that order placed by William Johnson or rather Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet of New York and one of the richest, most powerful men in British North America back in 2010 but suffice it to say that what Johnson was buying was the best he could get. And that included Lispenard’s ale.

What, you might ask, was a Lispenard? As the perpetually excellent Colonial Albany Project tells us, the family was founded in the New World by Anthony Lispenard of La Rochelle France who emigrated in 1669 when he was 29 and lived along the Hudson River for the remaining 27 years of his life in 1696. He was a baker, a trader and a government official including Albany’s Viewer of the Corn from 1689. In the Manual of the Corporation of New York for 1856, this founder of the clan, Anthony, was also identified as a brewer. He left three children: Margaret, Abigail and their unhelpfully named brother Anthony. Anthony Lispenard the younger himself passed away leaving not so much in the records department but three children including a son – Leonard born in the 1714 who inherited the family’s estate.

He led a prosperous private and an important public one, too. He also married well and through his wife Alice or Elsie Rutgers came into possession of one third of a grant made by George II to her father, Anthony Rutgers, which they then expanded then named Lispenard meadows and then built a mansion next door on Lispenard hill – all near a swampy area that then sat in the middle of Lower Manhattan in the area is now part of Tribeca. You can seek these lands identified as “King’s Farm” on this map from 1729. As part of his estate, Anthony Rutgers owned “large breweries and mills located on the North River (as the southern branch of the Hudson west of Manhattan was known) not far from the foot of Cortlandt Street His son-in-law, Leonard, continued the brewing operations. They had children including the unhelpfully named Leonard born in 1743 and, yes, his brother… another Anthony. Rutger’s / Lispenard’s brewery is shown above as it was about 1776 according to Manual of the Corporation of New York for 1856.

It gets a bit trickier now. Not because of all the Anthonys. Because of the Leonards. Father and son are both fairly prominent in New York City before, during and after the Revolution. They show up in the news papers. In The New York Mercury of 22 April 1765, a notice was posted on behalf of Leonard Lispenard requesting the return of three indentured servants who had been in the colony for about five months. One, Phillip M’Cardell, was described as being by trade a brewer and distiller. One of the two Leonards was employing brewers. Another notice was placed in the General Advertiser dated 15 May 1776 stated that the house of Leonard Lispenard, Esq in Wall street was being occupied by students of King’s College. Despite such seeming Loyalist credentials, three months later on 17 August, George Washington issued an order that guards be mounted day and night at Lispenard’s brewery. Lispenard Senior (aka 1714-1790) had already thrown his lot into the Revolution. He was a member of the colony’s Committee of Correspondence in 1774 and backed Washington publicly on his return to New York City in 1775 and likely a Son of Liberty.












Anthony, brother of Leonard Junior (aka 1743-1800), takes off in the brewing business in his own right. He marries one Sarah Barclay in 1764 and becomes “the proprietor of the extensive breweries on the Greenwich road, near the foot of Canal Street.” I am guessing that this is the Lispenard that Sir William Johnson buys beer from through agents in 1772. In the 1 June 1791 edition of the New York Daily Gazette, a notice was placed under the headline “Brewery, North-River” which stated that Anthony Lispenard had taken his son – yes, of course.. because there was no other choice – Leonard into partnership. Note this map from 1783. Notice that they are still described as sitting on the Hudson. Shipping beer on the Hudson. And father and son – Anthony and Leonard – were inviting orders for porter, ale or table beer. The address for Leonard was given as 15 King Street. This Leonard traveled to England shortly after end of the American Revolution in 1783, and remained some years in London with the Barclays, relatives of his mother and founders of the famous breweries. On 10 December 1804, a short news item appeared in the The Daily Advertiser from New York stating:

At an early hour yesterday morning the city was alarmed by the cry of fire. It proved to be at Lispenard’s brewery, in Greenwich-street. The premises, at present occupied by Mr. John S. Moore, with the content were destroyed. What the probably loss may be we have not learned; it must however be very considerable.

An article in the Commercial Advertiser from the same date stated an entire wing of the building had been destroyed. Notice in the upper left of this map from 1789 how the Lispenard estate sits on the road to Greenwich.

The family name fades. Sons die childless. No one gets named Anthony or Leonard. The next generations in the 1800s also appear to lose interest in brewing. In 1907, the remains of Leonard Lispenard (1743-1800) were uncovered as part of a construction site. A report in The New York Times from 9 April of that year details the find as well as some of the family’s legacy. He had been buried near the farm in New Rochelle near where his great grandfather, the original Anthony, had settled after moving south from Albany. A street is still named after them.

So…There Was An Exporting Albany Brewery Before 1790

albfaulkalbreg18oct1790It’s been a busy time. Busy at work. A family matter to attend in the States. A federal election to fret about. Baseball playoffs to obsess over. Hardly time to play around with newspaper databases. Ah, well. Winter is coming. There will be time for that. Time to come across things like this ad from The Albany Register of Albany, New York from 18 October 1790. Craig and I told the story of William D. Faulkner in Upper Hudson Valley Beer in this way:

Faulkner began his brewing career in New York City in the late 1760s. Faulkner initially partnered with New York City merchant Leonard Lipsenard—the son of Albany brewer Anthony Lipsenard—to sell bottled ale and beer; then with Stephen Rapalje and Anthony Ten Eyck, but by 1771 had opened his own brewery on Cow-foot hill, in what is now modern-day Harlem neighboorhood of Manhattan. A fire in his New York brewery brought about his relocation to Albany, and in 1790 Faulkner began renting a brewery in the city’s northern neighborhood of Arbor Hill—advertising Ales, Porter, Bottled Ales and Spruce Beer. By 1792, however, William Gibbs, announced that he would be occupying that brewery. No record of William Faulkner after that point has been found.

What more can we learn from the ad? Notice that he is asking for malt, barley and hops. Local hops were both a wild and cultivated crop for over 150 years at that point in Hudson Valley history. We have a record of wild hop picking by members of the indigenous Mohawk community supplying Albany’s Dutch brewers from the first decade of the 1700s. But notice another thing. This is at least his third brewery, the second one local to Albany. He’s in New York City from the second half of the 1760s. Here’s his ad from a New York City paper from 1768. Albany is in Revolutionary hands from 1776 to 1783, cut off from British held New York City during the war. In the spring of 1779 Faulkner is in NYC and he is hiring a gardener and labourers in the middle of the conflict, according to this ad in The New-York Gazette of 22 March 1779. So, his first Albany brewery must have existed sometime during the years 1783 to 1790 after he relocates up the Hudson after peace breaks out. His last ad from the fall of 1791 shows him brewing at least four beers. And during that time not only is he selling down to New York City but he is selling on to Charleston, South Carolina as well as the West Indies. The Dutch empire held what was then named New Netherlands from the second decade of the 1600s until it finally fell to the English in 1674. Trade routes to the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean were established by the Dutch and continued after the establishment of the colony of New York.

Faulkner was sending his beer down a well trod path. Ales and porters were apparently part of that trade after the American Revolution. Remember that Taunton ale was also being sent to Jamaica, even before the declaration of American independence. It shouldn’t come as any surprise. The English had been shipping large quantities of beer across the Atlantic since at least 1577. Did they all bear the “greatest eclar”? Not sure. But if anyone tells you that all beer before lager starting in the in America in the mid-1800s was smokey, brown and crappy – clearly an untruth – why would anyone in their right mind pay to have it shipped so far? Don’t believe it.

#23 – The Kid’s Up

“He’s up by seven,” he shouted to the kitchen through his mouthful of toast, the autumn morning light glinting on the plate and mug on the side table.

“Ketchup and what?”

“No – he’s up by seven! The kid is up by seven points with Nanos, Ekos and all the other Greek gods!!!”

“That’s nice.”

Nice? What’s that supposed to mean. The Governing Party is back on track, at the front steps of kicking the dullards out and all she can muster up is “nice“? He rubbed his chin. Thought for a bit. The Kid’s made a big move in the last few weeks. The commies have faded back just enough to provide the necessary support. Another sip of coffee. A leaf fell outside the bay window. Been a long time. Unfold the Globe. Fold it the other way. And all Hap pulls out of his bag of tricks is a stupid cash register clang. Cornered himself. He’s cut so much he has nothing much left to cut to tempt the 905. Thought he was cornering the others. Folks are ready to spend. Could be. Could be they’re just sick of Hap. Hap looks sick of Hap come to think of it. Toast. Chew.

“More coffee?”

“Sure thing. You splash some caff in the decaff today?”

“Not with your heart.”

“Jeese. No kidding? Got a bit of zip going today.”

Shadow Cabinet.