NYC Big Beer Gossip And Newsy Notes 1790s to 1805


I’ve been trying to figure out how to catch up notes on some of the larger New York breweries* in the 1790s and early years of the new modern nineteenth century. It’s a time of transition and not just in the sense of the changing of the guard. The post-war political and economic confusion was well on its way to leveling out. One factor that was helping were the Napoleonic Wars and Europe’s continuing disruptions. There was a market for grain on the continent and Britain had a bigger enemy to deal with. Still, there was also a changing of the guard. Even though many of the big brewing interests in both Albany and NYC backed the winners, they did not stay in brewing for very many decades after peace broke out.

Among many things, one interesting aspect for me is how repetitive the pattern is in the beer industry. Beer is an easy entry trade that, when done well, eventually offers wealth and perhaps even political power. As we see today in the big craft sell off, it can take time but what doesn’t? Folk with the myopic interest in whatever the PR guy or craft brewery owner is handing out as a story may not notice but brewing is a great way to shift one’s economic class upwards. A business for the ambitious to enter then later leave. Perhaps a summary post will help illustrate what is arguably happening at the turn of the nineteenth century and how similar it might seem to today. Think of it just like a weekly bullet point round up but for a period of time lasting just about the best part of a decade about two centuries ago.

nydailyadv27march1802edensbreweryaFirst, let’s consider the Eden brewery of Gold Street in NYC. Last November, I posted about the brewery of Medcef Eden** on Gold Street just off Maiden Lane. When last we met George Appleby had taken over the place in 1791. Medcef is too prosperous to bother running the place himself. The brewery is located opposite the First Baptist Church on the corner of John and Gold, a bit of a highland location. Appleby is still there in October 1792 brewing his ship’s beer and spruce beer even though he is no longer on the waterfront. On 16 November 1795, right below the report on the price of pork, the Albany Gazette reported the death of George Appleby, remembering his years with former partner Mr. Matlack. In the 19 October 1797 edition of the New York Gazette Eden is selling off his kettles as well as hair cloth, used to moderate the malting and kilning process. The sale is secondary to his reward for the return of “stolen” slaves. Not runaways. Stolen. Medcef Eden Sr. dies in September 1798 and leaves his estate to three executors: Joseph Eden, Medcef Eden Jr and Martha Eden. The site of the brewery was also done by 1802. A notice in the New York Daily Advertiser from 27 March of that year – as shown under that thumbnail – indicated the site had been formerly occupied as a brewery but would take a some level of conversion to revert back to that use. The kids ain’t interested. And arguments over the will, due to the later huge value of his accumulated Manhattan lands, go on for decades. I suspect you will see this sort of thing when hold out craft like Stone gets into the next generation of ownership.

nydailyadv01jan1803brooklynbreweryaThe Brooklyn Ferry Brewery tells a different story. One of grit, determination and successive failure. Almost insistent failure. In January, I wrote about the brewery at Brooklyn Ferry from the mid-1760s to 1795. At that point, the lands and wharf which had been built up by Isaac Horsfield and his sons were being leased out by one Cary Ludlow. The actual brewery was described as Mr. Sing’s. A tenant. Maybe a sub-tenant. In the Christmas Day 1795 edition of the New York Gazette placed R.W Maddock and Co. as brewers on site with cellars for their ale and beer being kept in lower Manhattan. Just fourteen months later in February 1797, the partnership with Mr. William Sing and another behind the “Co.” dissolves and early that summer, Roger Worthington Maddock is selling off the remainder of the term of his lease and all his equipment. The curse of Brooklyn Ferry continues. Ludlow gives notice of the opportunity to buy the brewery and associated lands again in 1801 as well as in 1803, shown above, with a great description of the range of facilities on the site: brewery, malt house, milk house, kiln, wharf as well as a water pump to supply ships at dock. Still, it was cursed. Lesson? The brewery, the brewery owner and the brewers are very different classes of thing. Pay attention today to how many craft “brewers” never did the actual work of brewing.

nycommadv26jan1799greenwichbrewerysaleThe end of the era of Lispenard’s famous brewery on the Hudson displays how the right combination of Eden’s wealth accumulation and Brooklyn’s parade of brewers can catapult descendants into decades of idle wealth. Last month, I showed how the Rutgers clan through most of the 1700s controlled a four brewery conglomerate stretching across Manhattan from what is now Tribeca south across Maiden Lane and over to Corlear’s Hook served by two farms and water from two drainage systems as well as the natural creek for which Maiden Lane is named. I lost steam at the end. In October, I wrote about the Lispenards and they married into the Rutgers dynasty when Leonard met Elsie. Their son, Anthony Lispenard, takes over the operations of the Greenwich Street brewery on the Hudson River at the foot of what becomes Canal Street. He marries well. Sarah Barclay is related to the brewing Barclays of London, England. I brought the family forward to the fire of 1804 and past it when their fortunes were made on the lands that, as we see so often, the brewing wealth allowed them to obtain but more detail can be added. In 1794, the brewery is described as brewing ale as well as table and spruce beer and Marston has joined Lispenard – Leonard Lispenard, son of Anthony. Three years later, Marston has the place up for sale even though it is occupied by a Mr. Wilson. Another two later in 1799, the brewery is up for sale again and again it is being sold by Thomas Marston. It is described as being in the rear of Trinity Church*** and “lately tenanted by H. Wilson.” It covers two lots on Greenwich and two on Lumber Streets. In March 1803, it is up for sale and described as being the brewery of Anthony, the father, despite the son Leonard being brought into the firm in 1794. John S. Moore occupies the brewery at the time of the December 1804 fire. As I showed last fall, the tide of wealth catapulted those that followed into high society throughout the 1800s.

nydiary31jan1793rutgersAnd then there was Henry Rutgers. Rutgers, you will recall, is the second or third cousin of the Lispenard controlling the Hudson River brewery as the 1800s dawn, depending on whether it is father Anthony or son Leonard we are talking about Lispenard-wise. He is a classic great American who leaves the fortune which founds Rutgers University in New Jersey. I sketched the story in February but let’s fill in a bit more. As you can see from the thumbnail, Henry was moving on from running the brewery as early as January 1793. In 1795, he is elected to the hospital board, sits on a committee considering an international treaty and has diversified commercial interests. In late 1796, he chairs a Congressional nomination meeting. By 1799, he is a leading partner in the purchase and sale of the Watkins and Flint tract. The wealth generated over generations of brewing has made him one of the richest men in the young United States. That’s his family’s house up there well before this point. It was where he lived until 1830. Likely no one has ever moved from brewing to billions and power quite like this one man. I’d be interested in thoughts of anyone comparable.

nydailyadv25july1792rhinelanderOne New York brewery seems to try to buck the trend in the period 1795 to 1803. Unlike the various forms of end-of-brewing we see with Rutgers, Eden, Lispenard and even the brewery that couldn’t die in Brooklyn Ferry, the brewery that started as an 1760s plaything for George Har(r)ison, spoiled son of Francis the high placed colonial lackey of the Crown. After George dies in 1773 and the Revolution comes and goes, the brewery is in the hands of grandson, Richard. Richard reinvents himself as an ardent Republican and, like the others, leases out his brewery in the 1784 to Samuel Atlee who does not last even into 1788. The brewery itself, however, has at least one more life to live. In 1790, it is in the hands of a new partnership – Robertson, Barren and Co. It doesn’t last. Click that thumbnail. By 1792, the brewery is in the hands of Fred and Phil Rhinelander who, by 1795, who are (delightfully) selling gin alongside ale and porter. Six and a half years later, operations at the brewery change hands again as John Noble and Co. announced in the 10 December 1801 edition of the Mercantile Advertiser that they have taken the extensive brewery lately occupied by Messers Rhinelanders in Greenwich Street.” It is one of the more exciting beer notices from the era as it claims they “have been long accustomed to prepare” porter for the East and West Indies. Porter produced for export. The notice is titled “Porter Brewery.” It lasts, again, just a few years. Noble’s entire stock is sold off at an auction by his creditors in April 1805. Interestingly, the Rhinelanders’ other business kept going – including the importation of spices – until Frederick passed away. After that the lands start to be sold off at the same time city government decides to clean up this part of the Hudson shoreline. Their sugar house, however, lasts until 1968.

Things pass. The landmark that was Widow Rutgers’ burnt brewery of Maiden Lane is not the only end of these things. Eden, the Brooklyn Ferry brewery, cousins Rutgers and Lispenard as well as Harrison’s plaything are all gone. The backbone of the entire City’s brewing for at least the last half century pack it in by the middle of the first decade of the 1800s. It is not just that the good water is disappearing. The scions of the generation are as well. Plus, they have made their millions and the community needs their lands anyway to house the flood of new immigrants coming to make this the greatest city on the earth in the history of humankind. Arguably. In 1790, there are 33,000 people in New York City. In 1810, there are almost three times that. There is simply no place – no space – for the big dynastic brewers who dominated the southern tip of Manhattan, including some whose families had been there for most of the previous two centuries.

*Soon, the small brewers of 1795 to 1805.
**Last Saturday, fellow traveler beer historian Gerry Lorenz at the Shmaltz taproom in Clinton Park, NY made a good point after we realized we were pronouncing many of these brewers names differently. He is of the opinion that what I was pronouncing as “Med-seff” was actually “Met-calf” as in Metcalf, Ontario. Could be but I now need to explore the name as a Yorkshire artifact of the 1700s to make sure.
***That’s the first Trinity Church.

Driving Around Albany With Craig And Ron


realm1Not just Albany. Delmar, too. Delmar! Land of Craig’s youth. We sat at Real McCoy with owner and sign maker Mike Bellini and his pal Jay, a pro ciderman. I like a one-person brewery. Ron said it was the set up he dreamed of for himself. He was preaching the double brown gospel. Research. Comparing notes. Overly precious hipster nano failure v. single hop and malt explorations. The height of barley stalks and why. Maybe. Local hops were passed around. Forgot to mention the spruce beer idea, that coniferous flavouring predates DIPAs in the repetior.

realm2Everywhere we go Canadian malt is the backbone of NY craft brewing. Good to see. It’s good to be helpful. Definitely some sort of brown ale revival going on. And local ciders everywhere. 2014’s fruit salad obsession may just be history. Wouldn’t that be nice. Yesterday, Gerry L. was with us for a couple of hours and was corroborating and filling in gaps in 1700s NYC. And backdating schenck and lager. Was it just a new word layered on existing practice before the Panic of 1837? Maybe.

More nerdism this evening. Trains, canals and marketplace expectations. You don’t advertise in a paper to the neghbourhood customers. Not in the 1790s. No way.

In 1795 A New Brewery Opened in Cooperstown

nyotsegoherald18sept1795morganmulcockcooperstownStanding in the mid-1790s looking forward in time, I have a sense of things changing in the history of New York brewing. I am a bit concerned that in a few years I will be facing a confusing mass of information coming at me too soon, from too many directions. Still, for now as the frontier just begins to fill there are stories which are manageable. We certainly understand the situation in Albany and in New York City itself at 1790 where long standing families still controlled the market as they have for generations. Soon these dynasties will be outnumbered as new immigrants arrive, some close up sensing change. Others struggle with the coming grim reality. As the frontier lands begin to be populated and repopulated in the first decade after the American Revolution new breweries open in new towns. We have seen breweries opening to the northeast of Albany in Galway and Stillwater in the 1790s. There is one more in Kingston advertising in January 1795 and another posting a notice in Troy the next month. We have seen how beer shows up in the last years of the decade in western New York related to the colonization coming up from Baltimore along the Susquehanna which flows to the south. And in 1795, a brewery opened in Cooperstown.

Historian Alan Taylor won the Pulitzer Prize for his book William Cooper’s Town in 1996. Like the colonization of the Conhocton via the Susquehanna centered on a new town, Bath, the creation of Cooperstown was an example of one land owner developing a district and a community as a personal investment. Unlike at Bath, Cooper did not depend solely on his agent and was personally involved. And that, as Taylor explains, included building a brewery:

An even more significant proof of Cooperstown’s advancing civilization was that beer, as well as water, flowed in the village by early 1796. As in the maple sugar production, William Copper encouraged a brewery as an act of both social benevolence and economic service. During the 1790s many enlightened gentlemen promoted the drinking of beer and ale as antidotes to Americans’ swelling consumption of the more ardent distilled liquors associated with alcoholism, poverty, and violence. In New York City Cooper met and recruited Walter Morgan and George Mulcock, English immigrants and brewers who removed to Cooperstown in the spring of 1795. Extolling the projected brewery as a patriotic and philosophic manufactory,” Phinney’s newspaper asked and exhorted the locals: “What shall we do? Drink beer, till we are merry.”






The enterprise takes off with great hope. Up top, the notice in the 18 September 1795 edition of the Otsego Herald in which the brewers offer the highest price in cash for any quantity of barley. They hope to brew so much that farmers of the district not have to export it out of the county. The clipping to the left looks like a letter to the editor. It’s from the paper’s 9 October edition and seems to oppose the development, the drinking and being merry line being sarcastic. The notice in the middle from October 30th describes a fairly significant operation. The brewery 83 by 25 feet with a 19 foot high roof line. Taylor states that Cooper invested over £270 in the construction. He was also building a library, a school and a lodge for the Freemasons. The brewery caught fire in December 1796 but was saved when “the villagers rushed out to subdue the flames.”

It did not last as first envisaged. By April 1797, George splits town and partner, Walter, dissolves the partnership based on the defection as you can see from the notice at the right up there. It probably was not entirely Walter’s fault. In 1795 the district had a booming grain growing economy feeding into the European market ravaged by the Napoleonic wars. By 1797, the Hessian fly was ravaging crops here as it was elsewhere. And there was the Panic of 1796-97. Plus, as Taylor explains, by the summer of 1796 Cooper as Federalist patriarch is facing a younger generation of more republican men of merit who defeated Cooper in his bid for a seat in Congress. It split the community. Perhaps George Mulcock picked the wrong side. Plus a local wave of anti-Masonry bigotry broke out, too, in response to the new lodge. Maybe he was a Mason.

William Morgan appears to have met a bit of a weird end. In 1827, the Governor of New York wrote the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada to state that Morgan had been kidnapped and taken across the international border. A reward was offered of $200 just to for information on his whereabouts. If that in fact is the same Morgan, the man of fifty stories and rabid anti-Mason.

In The 1790s New York’s Frontier Also Moved North


You can click for a slightly bigger image if that’s too tiny. See, what they are? A notice announcing the opening of a new brewery in 1790 and a notice announcing a brewery for sale in 1799. Same last name in each notice. Hmm… New Galloway is actually Galway, New York which was improperly recorded as being named after a town in Ireland instead of its actual namesake in Scotland. Stillwater, New York sits just over 30 miles to the east of Galway. These notices are not about the same brewery. North of Albany. Hmm…

Who are these Meads? A man named William Mead is described in a genealogy of the family as follows:

WILLIAM MEAD, M.D. was born October 15, 1747 in Greenwich, CT, and died February 01, 1829 in Galway, Saratoga Co, NY, buried in Charlton, NY. He married (1) PHEBE FARRANT. She was born Abt. 1750, and died October 21, 1776. He married (2) GEERTRUYD MYNDERTSE Abt. 1779 in Schenectady, NY. Notes for WILLIAM MEAD, M.D.: Revolutionary War Surgeon, 1st New York Regiment.

Is it him? This William dies in John’s town. Doesn’t look right. Hang on… there is another one:

WILLIAM MEAD was born January 08, 1748/49 in Nine Partners, Dutchess Co, NY, and died February 27, 1838 in Hector, Tompkins Co, NY. He married HANNAH PALMER 1778 in Stillwater, Albany Co [now Saratoga], NY, daughter of ELIAS PALMER. She was born September 13, 1760 in Norwalk, CT, NY, and died Aft.July 28, 1840 in Hector, Tompkins Co, NY. Notes for WILLIAM MEAD: William kept a tavern in Stillwater, NY, where he had moved two years after the Revolutionary War. He served at the rank of Colonel during the Revolutionary War.

Now that looks more promising. Here is a sheriff’s notice from 1790 showing William owning that tavern in Stillwater in 1790. Here is another from 1792 – see who the sheriff was? Peter Gansevoort – of the brewing Gansevoorts. And notice in the ad up there to the left that the brewery could do a 13 barrel brewing session? That is not a tiny operation. That is about the same size as the smaller kettle at the Brooklyn Brewery prior to the Revolution. It’s in the same ball field as Vassar’s first brewing set up in 1808. So, it’s a fairly generous operation for the time. Heck, it’s almost twice the size of Greg Noonan’s micro in Vermont. Notice also that he moves into the area from the south, his wife from Connecticut. A lot of the folk in the genealogy appear to do that. So, just as we see folk moving up the Susquehanna from the Mid-Atlantic to colonize the central Southern Tier in the first half of the 1790s there are others from New England moving into the area around Albany in the later 1780s. Likely moving into Loyalist farms, already cleared land. And brewing their beer.

albgaz21june1799hessianfly1799 was a bad year for NY brewers. Or at least a year in transition. The tail end of a recession. The Catherine Street spruce beer brewery is for sale. The once mighty Greenwich brewery of the Lispenards? Up for sale. Groshon’s place is up for sale, too. Yet there are the first want ads for folk wanting to hire brewers. Even coopers. Flux? Hessian fly? Click on the thumbnail. The Hessian fly is certainly hammering the fields.

What about the other guy. John Mead, the brewer. Crap. One thousand, one hundred and eighty references to men named John in the genealogy of the Mead folk. This may take some time.

Upstate New York Frontier Post-Revolutionary Brewing

nymap1796beerrouteWhat a title. I have been trying to figure out how to move out of the cities of Albany and New York and figure out what is going on in the young state’s countryside after the American Revolution. As with today, a variety of factors cause how beer is and is not available. And a variety of factors which affect why Albany remains the center of brewing in New York for the next two or three generations. As always, it is not just about the great white male even if there are plenty around to take credit and, yes, to have some effect. To understand what happens as a matter of individual personal will, however, is to miss much of history.

First, we need to consider a map. This is a detail of the 1796 map by John Reid showing western New York. It’s really large scale. Have a look around. Notice something? Not a lot of roads. Not a lot of towns. Not a lot of people even 13 years after the end of the Revolution. There are reasons for this. It was difficult to settle. There were treaties with the aboriginal population of the remaining Iroquois to settle. And there were residual colonial rights of the state of Massachusetts to play out as well. Beer needs people and, for the most part, beer drinking people were not there yet.

Next, you have to appreciate where people are showing up, their needs do not generally focus on access to beer. They are trying to survive on the frontier in accordance with how they show up in these newly acquired lands. Unlike with British held Upper Canada, settlement does not always happen in a controlled organized fashion. There are two competing approaches: Whig-theory colonization and Jeffersonian pioneers. Consider this description of the first Euro-Americans who arrive as pioneers at Ithaca, New York:

In the month of April, 1783, eleven men left Kingston, on the Hudson River, with two Delaware Indians for guides, to explore the country west of the Susquehanna, with the intention of securing a future home. They were a month or more thus employed, but returned without making a location. In April of the following year, three of their number, related to each other by marriage, Jacob Yaple, Isaac Dumond, and Peter Hinepaw, revisited the district previously explored Ind selected four hundred acres on lot No. 9-1, then in the county of Montgomery, of which the west line of Tioga Street in the village of Ithaca is now the western limit. Upon that part which was in the valley were several “Indian clearings,” being small patches from which the hazel and thorn bushes had been removed, and which had been cultivated after the manner of the Indians. It appears that for many years after the first settlement it was the custom for the whole neighborhood, extending several miles around, to avail themselves of these clearings on the Flat. Here they planted corn principally, thinking that it could not be raised upon the higher ground… The settlers, having planted their corn in these places, left it in the care of John Yaple, a younger brother of Jacob, and returned to bring their families, with whom they came back in September. They brought also a few articles of household furniture, farming utensils, and a number of hogs, sheep, cattle, and horses. The three families numbered twenty persons. A month was consumed in their journey to Owego, where there was a small settlement, and nineteen days from thence to Ithaca. The route pursued and the difficulties necessary to be overcome account for their slow progress. Between Owego and the head of Cayuga Lake was but a well-beaten Indian trail, along which the way had to be cleared through the forest. Arrived at their new home, they at once set to work to provide appropriate shelters for the several families…

And not only were these settlers focused on just making a living but they are likely illegal occupiers. They are occupying the lands before they have a right to be there. Look at the case of Seth Read. He shows up in Geneva, New York in 1790, makes an improper deal to buy lands from the Seneca and later, his time and money not offering return, has to move on further west into what is now Erie, Pennsylvania. Without title to the land you are not going to amass the capital to create infrastructure. Things like roads and mills. And schools and breweries. Compare this with the colonization efforts by those with proper claims to land title. A few years later to the north end of the next Finger Lake over, the settlement of Geneva, New York was described in 1797 as much more orderly and advanced:

Hence the road from Fort Schuyler, on the Mohawk River, to Genesee, from being, in the month of June, 1797, little better than an Indian path, was so far improved, that a stage started from Fort Schuyler on the 30th of September, and arrived at the hotel in Geneva, in the afternoon of the third day, with four passengers. This line of road having been established by law, not less than fifty families settled on it in the space of four months after it was opened. It now bids fair to be, in a few years, one continued settlement from Fort Schuyler to the Genesee River. All last winter two stages, one of them a mail stage, ran from Geneva and Canadarqua to Albany weekly. A wilderness changed, in so few years, to the comfortable residence of a numerous body of industrious people, who enjoy the comforts and conveniences of life in a degree superior to most parts of the United States, affords matter of curiosity to the intelligent traveller, and many respectable characters undertake the journey from no other motive. To them, therefore, it must be highly gratifying to find entertainment and accommodation equal to any thing of the kind in America. Very few places of the size now exceed Geneva, either as to the stile of the buildings, the beauty of the adjoining country, or valuable improvements. The number of sail-boats have greatly increased on the lake, and the sloop finds constant employment : and, in addition to their comforts, a person from Scotland has established, at Geneva, a very respectable brewery, which promises to destroy in the neighbourhood, the baneful use of spirituous liquors. The apple and peach orchards, left by the Indians, yield every year abundance of fruit, for the use of the inhabitants, besides making considerable cyder; so much so, that one farmer near Geneva sold cyder, this year, to the amount of one thousand two hundred dollars.

See that? One thousand two hundred bucks from cider? A fortune! And see that other thing? A brewery in 1797 in Geneva, New York. Half way between what is now Syracuse and Rochester. That’s the log cabin brewery that Lord Selkirk came across in 1803 and recorded in detail in his diary. Clear title to land and a road established by law. Things the true pioneer lack. The settlement at Geneva had another advantage. An early route to the sea. Before the road reached it, early Geneva sat on the lake. And the lake reached south. Have a look at the map again. Find Geneva and trace a line south. See the bottom of Seneca Lake? Look left a bit. See Mud Lake? See that branch of the Conhocton River reaching over to the north and east. Before the roads were there to move goods on land there was a route to get people and goods in and out that reached south. To the mighty Susquehanna and on to Baltimore.

nydiarymaude23july1800Click on that thimbnail. It’s an entry in the diary of John Maude from 23 July 1800. It describes a scene in a haying field near the Conhocton River, wild enough that its infested with rattlesnakes but settled enough that the locals are handy in dealing with them. And there is beer. Is that the route it took up there in red? The colonization of the Conhocton was a big effort that centered on a new town, Bath. It sought to create an estate in the old world style and it was based on the idea that a proper community needed a number of resources including beer. You may have noticed that there is no great city there today. The idea did not work out as planned. Bath never became more than a village and the surrounding area never became another Hudson Valley. But it does illustrate the way in which the civilization of beer first came to the frontier lands of New York, bringing the promise “to destroy in the neighbourhood, the baneful use of spirituous liquors.” Peace, population, law and investment. All preconditions to the establishment of a beer culture.

This is just a high level introduction. I am going to dig into New York state brewing in the 1790s, conclude the state of New York city brewing to the end of the 18th century and establish another foundation for the ascendancy of Albany in the first half of the 1800s. That will require looking at the Dutch estate properties, slavery, another early colonization effort at Cooperstown as well as the hovering menace of the British to the north. Piece of cake. Done by March. Easy peasy.

Yesterday The Rutgers Motherlode Fell Into My Lap


So, last October I posted about the location of Rutgers’ 1700s brewery in New York that seems to have ended its days in a fire in the 1780s – and then went off looking at other stuff from the same era related to other families and other breweries. But I got to wondering about when that Rutgers brewery was built and came across a dense essay on the family’s genealogy that just about answered every question I could imagine asking about them. So, once again, I am up at 5:30 am instead of snoozing for another two hours to see if I can get all this out of my head. The essay is located in that best seller from 1886 called The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 17-18 published, neatly enough, for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

The particular article in that journal is named “The Rutgers Family of New York” and it was written by Ernest H. Crosby. Without getting into the story of the Society itself, it’s interesting to note that the sister of the last wealthy brewing Rutger married into Crosby folk, one of whom, Enoch, was a Revolutionary spy for the unLoyalist side who became the basis for a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. I know this because there is an other article in the same book entitled “Geneological Sketch of the Family of Enoch Crosby” but enough about that. Let’s look at the Rutgers. Some highlights for starters and then, maybe over the weekend, I am going to keep adding more detail as I go along. I know. That’s not professional. It’ll be messy. I hear you. Bear with me.

1. Five generations of the family from the 1640s to 1830 were wealthy brewers who converted their resulting wealth into land ownership and political power.
2. They are slave owners – something not much mentioned with New York. Notice the reference in the lower left of the 1639 Vingboons map of Manhattan to the “Quartier van de Swartz & Comp de Slaven.” Here’s a very searchable reprint from 1670 to play with.
3. Before the Revolution they had at least four separate breweries concurrently being operated by fourth generation siblings and cousins.
4. They also operated two farms in downtown Manhattan that supplied their breweries with their own grain and which were likely worked by slaves.

I have seen 18,000 booted around as the figure for the population of New York City around 1760. By 1790, there are over 33,000 residents of the City. By 1830, there are over 202,000 living there. Good to keep those figures in mind as we go through this. Also, keep in mind the ugly diagram from this blog post from last weekend which gives a sense of the urban expansion during those years.


The first brewery operated by the Rutgers dynasty was located on Stone Street in very downtown Manhattan by the second generation’s only male, Harman Rutgers, who moved from Albany in 1693 bringing his sons, Harman and Anthony. The street corner where it was located is still there, Stone Street and Whitehall. Click on the pale coloured thumbnail. The original name for Stone Street in the Dutch era was “Brouwer Straet” or Brewers’ Street. Gregg Smith in Beer in America: The Early Years 1587-1840 identifies this brewery but confuses the location saying it is “located on the north side of Stone Street near Nassau.” Nassau did not extend south of Wall Street at the time. The Rutgers were not the first to brew at the site. They bought an existing brewery operated by the family of the late Isaac de Forest. De Forest had immigrated to the New World with the father of Harman Rutgers (1st) in 1636. It had been operated since the 1650s relied on a well that was apparently still there in 1886. The insanely detailed Costello Plan of New York City from 1660 shows the location as well. Drawn as a bird’s eye view with every building set out, you can clearly see the intersection of Stone Street and Whitehall on this 1916 reprint. Click on the other thumbnail.


The second Rutgers brewery is that of Anthony Rutgers (1st) of the third generation. Located on Maiden Lane, it sits according to the record on the north side of the street on the blog between William and Nassau Street. This is an odd site as it is one block from the better recorded brewery of uncle then cousin Harmen. As you can see, like Stone Street, the location of this brew house on the block between is still there. The block is also shown on the 1730 Bradford map also shown right there on a thumbnail with the “A” showing where this brewery would have been. Not a lot of detail. In a letter dated 6 September 1720 from Isaac Bobin to George Clarke we read:

…As to Albany stale Beer I cant get any in Town, so was obliged to go to Rutgers where I found none Older than Eight Days I was backward in sending such but Riche telling me you wanted Beer for your workmen and did not know what to do without have run the hazard to send two Barrels at £1 16/ the Barrels at 3/ and 6/. Rutgers says it is extraordinary good Beer and yet racking it off into other Barrels would flatten it and make it Drink Dead…

nygaz3july1769Isaac Bobin was the Private Secretary of Hon. George Clarke, Secretary of the Province of New York. So clearly Rutgers was as good as second to Albany stale for high society… or at least their workers. And in any case – we do not know if it was from Anthony’s brewery or Harman’s. Not a lot of detail. Unfortunately, the 2014 book Manhattan in Maps 1527-2014 states at page 40 that there were basically no maps drawn from 1695 to Bradford’s in 1730-31. Drag. We will have to leave it at that for now for Anthony’s brewery. Except for this irritatingly detailed but undated reference in a letter, the PPS referencing this brewery for someone needing to find a nearby residence, meaning it is a known landmark. Oh – and in the notice in the New York Gazette from 3 July 1769 confirming the brewery was in operation as late as that date. That’s in the thumbnail up there.

The third Rutgers brewery is the other one on Maiden Street that I discussed last October. A few more facts. In the book History of the New Netherlands, Province of New York, and State of New York, to the Adoption of the Federal Constitution by William Dunlap, Volume 2 from 1840 at page CLXXV there is this:

Cart and Horse street is described, as “leading to Rutgers’s brewhouse,” that is, from Maiden Lane to the present John street, and is now part of Gold street. The brewhouse was burnt on the memorable 25th of November, 1783, in the evening of the day the English troops embarked and left the city to Americans.


See, like many anti-Loyalists and others simply wanting to keep their heads down, plenty of New Yorkers fled to safer areas during the Revolution, Albany or Connecticut. So, as we read in this history of the law practice of my fellow Kingsman Alexander Hamilton, the brewery is abandoned in 1776. In the book Generous Enemies, Rutger’s brother-in-law Leonard Lispenard is identified as seeking a way out of the city in the fall of 1775. The brewery is left idle until 1778 when the British co-opt it for local needs and then they destroy it on the way out of town as they dd with many assets in the fall of 1783. The other thumbnail up there is from the British era of brewing, appearing in the Royal American Gazette of 19 April 1781. The burnt brewery is still a landmark in 1787. If you want to learn more about the British cruelty in NYC during the war, get a copy of Forgotten Patriots. Notice also under the thumbnail a detail from the 1730 Carwitham map of NYC in 1730. See how the first block of Gold Street north of Maiden Lane is called “Rutgers Hill.”


The last two of the breweries were located on country estates, not in the urban core of British New York. The first I will discuss is the one on the East River facing Brooklyn Ferry brewery across the water and to the east of the site of the Catherine Street spruce beer brewery. You can see the thumbnail image of a current map of New York. See the grid of streets outlined in red? That is the Rutgers estate where the last of the men named Rutgers, Henry, lived until 1830 on lands first acquired by his grandfather Harmen (1st) in the 1710s and developed by his father Hendrick. You can see the same lands on the detail of the 1776 Hinton map shown on the next thumbnail. What is now Henry Street, New York is the lane to the family mansion. In The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 17-18 at page 89 describes the development of the property:


More maps:


The blue green thumbnail is really interesting. It is a detail from the fabulous Viele map of New York and shows the original land mass, the original boggy lands as well as the area of landfill into the East River as of 1865. It also shows the topography. Now notice on the brown thumbnail, a further detail from the 1776 Hinton map, how Rutgers managed the drainage of the bog that extended the farthest inland.

One more thing:


There is a grim, dark aspect to the Rutgers fortunes. The overall system is a vertically integration operation. The estates supply the grain which feed the breweries which create the profits to buy the lands. But the lands were worked by slaves. That large text thumbnail is a notice placed in the 9 June 1760 edition of the New York Mercury. It’s particularly grim when you compare it to this notice in the New York Journal 9 January 1772 about a stray horse. The other thumbnail shows how the brewery was used in the Revolutionary War for the storage of war supplies. The issue of slavery was brought to the forefront in the war.

[More later… it’s now 3:45 pm on Saturday. I wrote the family tree on Thursday after supper.]

[Two and a half weeks later… I am probably going to pick this up in another post… maybe…]

[November 6, 2016: and I did…]

New York: The Fifty Year Disappearance Of Clean Brewing Water

nymap1783aWhat a horrible diagram. It’s just a sketch but it’s a dog’s dinner. It illustrates the expansion of New York City from 1660, almost forty years into the life of the settlement, to 1839 just before the arrival of the fresh water in Lower Manhattan via the Croton Aqueduct. I offer you this to raise a general point. Breweries depend on the availability of resources. Not just hops, water, malt and yeast but also money and people and transportation and peace. The ability to run a brewery depends on the presence of generous stability. True then. True now. The bit of the diagram I am thinking about in particular in this post is the shift from the 1783 map at the left to the 1839 map to the right. What can these first decades of New York City in the early years of the newly independent republic tell us about the need for stability and resources? Plenty. Have a look at these two notices related to the brewer William D Faulkner:






The ad to the left is from April 1770 while the one to the right is from March 1779. They describe Faulkner operating out of three breweries: the one at Brookland/Brooklyn Ferry, next to the Rutgers’ brewery on Maiden Lane and then on to the one at Mount Hope. In May 1768, brewing was a “new undertaking” to Faulkner. But in fairly short order, though either desperation or the entrepreneurial spirit, he is on the move. The Brookland Ferry brewery seems to have been a loser. Brewer after brewer have a go at running it from the 1760s to at least the 1790s. They each move on or quit. The Rutgers brewery on Maiden Lane seems to have a bit of a chequered career, too. As did the spruce beer brewery at Catherine Street. In the end, Faulkner leaves the lower end of the Hudson Valley altogether and ends his career in Albany by 1790.

There certainly could be a number of factors behind Faulkner’s moves but I am going to suggest that the search for clean water is one of them. One thing you notice from the maps and diagrams of Brooklyn Ferry of the time is that the area where the first buildings are located it just north of a high area, now Brooklyn Heights. Which hints there might have been originally a stream or creek along the path of the curving main street. After the area is built up, that stream would have been overwhelmed and would have lost its usefulness.  Once that happens, the brewery finds itself sitting next to sea water with difficult access to water.

rutgersbrewery1776aA similar story plays out more clearly with Rutger’s brewery. It’s located on Maiden Lane which, like at Brooklyn Ferry, is still visibly subject to road design decisions made hundreds of years ago. It was also a good address in 1790. Click on the thumbnail. That is a diagram of the Great Fire of 1776. I have shown Maiden Lane in green and Gold Street in yellow. They twist a bit. They still do today, 240 years later. Because they are based on watercourses. Metcef Eden locates his brewery up a little hill directly south of a twist on Gold Street. Have a look at this detail from the fabulous 1865 Viele map of New York.


Click on it. The pale blue area is the original land mass, the light brown the filling-in of the river. You can see Maiden Lane again in green, Gold Street in yellow. Not only do they twist but they move from higher ground to lower ground. It’s a watershed. You will also see that lower Manhattan was originally very hilly. And, not very too far to the north, boggy. As shown in green. And, if you look at the ugly map way up top, it’s boggy exactly where the population growth occurs from the 1780s to 1840. To understand where was are going, however, we need to take a step back.

Harmenus Rutgers and his son Anthony Rutgers were very interested in water. While I think I need to go back and revisit the geneology but let’s just focus on two facts. First, in a court case, Rutgers v. Waddington, an 1784 ruling of the Mayor’s Court of New York City it states that Harmenus Rutgers bought the parcel on Maiden Lane in 1711 and started brewing at the end of that year. By 1784, the brewery is described as one of the most notable features of that part of the city. Second, in 1732 Anthony Rutgers obtained title to the swamp section of what was called the King’s Farm from the colonial government. If you look at the Bradford map of New York from 1731 or so, you see both Maiden Lane running east-west four blocks north of Wall Street and the King’s Farm to the north of that. Rutgers sets about creating a drain from the swamp which does two things. It regularizes and likely expands the waterway to the river and it formalizes what appears on maps as the Fresh Water Pond or Collect Pond.

nymap1776hintonClick on the thumbnail. That’s a detail of the 1776 Hinton which map has particularly good detail of the drains linking the pond to the river. In the mid-1700s, the Rutgers are clearly locating their interests with an eye to controlling good water. This is what the scene looked like in 1787. If you are familiar with the movie The Gangs of New York which is set, at its outset, in the Five Points district in the mid-1840s you are
familiar with the final years of what is likely the grimmest era of New York history. What you might not know is that the Five Point’s district was located upon the filled-in Collect Pond. It takes about fifty or sixty years for the area to go from well-ordered, drained cultivated fields to bleak hell hole of humanity. And during the transition a brewery plays a central role.

Click on the thumbnail to the left. It’s from the same map but shows this time what is to the south of the Fresh Water Pond. Tannery yards and a gun powder magazine. Even so, in the second half of the 1790s, the pond was still able to the portrayed as sitting in a parkland setting. There was even a little steamboat that took visitors on trips. It rapidly lost that character and, in 1805, in order to drain the now garbage-infested waters, the government widened Rutgers’ drains, opened a forty-foot wide canal that today is known as Canal Street and, by 1811, the City had completely filled Collect Pond. In The Old Merchants of New York City, Volume 5 by Walter Barrett published in 1885 it states:

The house of Cadle & Stringham did a large mercantile business in this city for many years. The first of the Stringhams that I wot of, was Capt. Joseph Stringham, who commanded a vessel out of this port before the Revolutionary War, in 1774. After the war, in 1786, he settled down at 110 Smith (William) street, where I think he died. One son — I think Joseph — was a grocer in Queen street. No. 110. He was concerned with Janeway, under the firm of Stringham & Janeway, in a brewery in Magazine street (Pearl, from Centre to Broadway), as early as 1791.

Magazine Street at the time was that portion of what is now Pearl Street which was immediately south of the Fresh Water Pond. In an 1848 address to the St. Nicholas Society of the City of New York, the main businesses in the 1790s in this area are listed as (i) the pottery of Crolius, (ii) the furnace of McQueen, (iii) the tanneries of Brooks and Coulthard, (iv) the brewery of Janeway, (v) the starch and hair powder manufactory of N. Smith, and (vi) the rope-walk of the Schermerhorns.

George Janeway is listed in The Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York of 1862 as having been a brewer, Assistant Alderman, North Ward, 1784 to 1795 and Alderman, Sixth Ward, 1803 to 1804. Issac Coulthard advertised his tannery in the New York Packet on 7 December 1787. Interestingly, around October 1794, Coulthard was involved with the sale of a distillery near the Fresh Water Pond. In the late spring of 1795 his tannery burned down – a total loss. At the end of December 1796, Clouthard has erected a new brewery near the pond and started operations with his son. Not the same brewery as Janeway’s it would appear. Was that “the distillery” being sold a few years before?

nyjournal01july1797coulthardAnyway, the new brewery burned, too. I think they all burned, these old breweries. In the 1 July 1797 edition of Greenleaf’s New York Journal, right, it was reported that all the malt was lost and the whole business was a write off. An errant cigar at the nearby site of the new Lutheran Church apparently started it. He gets up and operating again as by July in 1806, his beers are being advertised as being on sale at the Porter and Punch-House of Henry Gird in Brooklyn. But he soon suffers a series of personal losses. His son dies in February 1807, his daughter-in-law dies in October 1810 and his daughter dies two months later – the latter two both of lingering illnesses. The visitations all are held on Cross Street, the heart of what becomes Five Points. And on 29 January 1812, the death of Isaac Coulthard himself is announced in the New York Gazette. The funeral procession started at Cross Street.

Over the course of his brewing career, the area his business operated out of changed from waterside parkland to a sewer. The pond has been drained and filled in. His son William Coulthard announced in September 1812 that he was carried on with the brewing but the neighbourhood was getting grim. And he had political ambitions, running for alderman for the sixth ward. He is named in a small notice placed for the brewery along with two partners selling double ale and porter in November 1820. One Joseph Barnes is operating the brewery in 1827 after William passed away in June 1822 at the young age of 56 – again of a lingering illness. Odd that so many of his immediate family died young and of lingering deaths. Was it the foul conditions of the neighbourhood? His house at 65 Cross Street next to the brewery is being rented out in 1831. Here is how the website Anthropology in Practice described the scene at that time:

…in 1805 or thereabouts, the city constructed a canal intended to drain the Collect into the Hudson and East Rivers. The canal soon also began to stink, and it was eventually moved underground as a sewer. Its former path was widened to become Canal Street. When this plan didn’t work as intended, city officials elected to raze bucolic Bunker Hill in 1811 and use the earth to fill in the pond to create housing for the growing population. As with any venture, marketing is important. The neighborhood that arose in this spot was named Paradise Square. Unfortunately, the land never fully settled. It was marshy, and mosquito-ridden, prone to flooding, and when buildings in the area began to sink—and the area began to smell—in the 1820s, the remaining wealthy residents fled the once desirable address. Immigrants and African Americans, seeking low cost housing as it was all they were able to afford, filled the area. By the 1830s, the neighborhood had settled into the Five Points, sporting a reputation as a dirty and dangerous place, which would thrive into the 20th century.

oldbreweryfivepointsThe Coulthard Brewery lives at least two more lives, first as a horrible slum and then as a mission house to the poor. The New York Evening Post of 23 February 1847 published an article on the suffering of Irish immigrants who found themselves living or laying dead and unassisted in Coulthard’s old brewery. An article in the New York Herald from January 1848 reports that near the brewery there were three or four killings a day in what was known as Murderers’ Alley. The basement of the brewery housed five families living on the floor and over one hundred hogs. In 1850, a report in the Schenectady Cabinet sets out that there were 32 families totaling 200 people living in the old brewery, none of whom were locally born adults. The end took a few more years but once The Ladies’ Home Missionary Society bought out the place, its days were numbered:
Note: “The labourers who wrecked the Old Brewery carried out sacks filled with human bones which they had found in the cellars and within the walls and night after night gangsters thronged the ruin to search for treasure which was rumoured to be buried there.”

Well, that was sordid. Next, I need to find out who else is brewing in New York from 1790 to 1840 and whether they had a bit better luck than the folk who lived around the Fresh Water Pond.

The Spruce Beer Brewery At Catherine Street, New York

nyroyamgaz14april1779rapplebyThe further down the rabbit hole of the breweries in New York you go in the decades around the American Revolution, the further you get from great success. For many of the brewers of the 1700s that we have looked at so far – in the Hudson Valley from Long Island to Albany – brewing led to fame, military honour, riches and political power. The Rutgers and Lispenards became leading citizens to the south while generations of the Gansevoorts held sway to the north. But others weren’t as fortunate to brew for generations or to align themselves with the Revolution’s winning side. Robert Appleby was one of those. It appears. I write that caution as to the victors go the records.

It’s not impossible to establish some understanding. That records up there? It’s a starting point. A firm one. Let me illustrate with the life of someone from the same era who I had to hunt down from outside the brewing trade as part of my work. Reference came up in a report about a James Pritchard who was one of the early Loyalist settlers of my town – Kingston, Ontario. The report I was reviewing said that not much could be found about who he was. I always figure that’s never correct and in a few hours found out a few things which made him pop into three dimensions for me. After finding reference to a tailor by that name in Philadelphia in the 1750s, he was described in a diary – the Journal of Samuel Rowland Fisher – suffering in Tory jail over a year after the British evacuation in 1778:

“11th mos: 27. Joseph Pritchard was brought into my Room, having been this day tryed at what they call the Supreme Court, for having been employed by the Brittish [sic] when in this City to attend at the Middle ferry on Schuylkill to inspect all persons going in or out of the City & was charged with having since used words greatly derogatory of the present Rulers & being by the Jury, so called, found guilty of Misprision of Treason as they term it, he was sentenced to the forfeiture of half his Lands & Tenements, Goods & Chattles, & imprisonment during the War without Bail or Mainprize . . .

11th mo: 29th. While Joseph Pritchard’s Wife was here, James Claypoole, Tom Elton, William Heysham & John McCollough broke into Joseph Pritchard’s dwelling house & took an account of all his moveables that were there; & on the day following they came again with porters and carried off almost every thing, except a Table, a few Chairs, some books & other small matters, to a house in Spruce Street, near Second Street, where they were publickly sold by Thomas Hale & Robert Smith, appointed by the present Rulers for the Sale of what they call confiscated Estates.”

Ruined by the order of the court, he was still in jail two years later. A court document from 24 October 1781 states: “The Council taking into consideration the case of the following persons now confined in the gaol of the city and county of Philadelphia, to wit: Joseph Pritchard and John Linley, convicted of misprision of treason…” He was finally pardoned and released. He makes his way to New York where he signs the New York Loyalists’ Memorial, a war-end request for reparations. Like many Loyalists, he is in a slow state of transit before appearing on a 1786-87 petition to be allowed to settle in Lower Canada – or what is now Quebec and Ontario. By 1792, he is settled in Kingston, sat as a member of a jury and, in December 1793, is a tailor suing over money he is owed. He was awarded fifteen pounds. He’s made something of the end of his life. His funeral is held in the main Anglican church in town on 10 August 1802. In the end he attains a level of stability and, in the end, there were records enough to put together a pretty good picture of a pretty loyal Loyalist. He’s a favourite Kingstonian of mine.








I think Robert Appleby up there has something of a parallel path to that of Pritchard but there is a little less to go on by way of records. But there is some. That notice way up top was placed in the New York Royal American Gazette of 14 April 1779. See that the brewery was recently opened and he has his first shipment of imported spruce boughs. The description of the location of the brewery sounds a bit like someone wrote it who was not local: “…at the corner of Roosevelt and Rutger Street, near the upper end of Queen Street.” He could be brewing just to survive in Tory refugee-filled Manhattan. The boughs are brought in by ship as the city is surrounded. He survives. One year later, however, he appears well settled in. Doing well. Click on the thumbnail to the left for an ad placed in the same paper on 20 April 1780. He is still selling spruce beers but has added ships beer and is even trading in London porter. He is not alone. Another spruce brewer on Staten Island is advertising in The Royal Gazette on 7 October 1780. A third notice was placed by Appleby on 1 November 1781 again in the same paper which indicates he may be moving up still further in life. It’s the middle thumbnail. A snazzier looking notice. He is now brewing with the best English malt and hops. Presumably not just with molasses as was the army’s way in the 1750s. He has also moved to Catherine Street nearer the dock yards and presumably his customers. Notice also he is bragging up his water supply. It will be “equal in quality to the Tea-Water which which the City is supplied.” All of which is good because, as you will see on the thumbnail to the right, he got married to Miss Peggy Moore on Wednesday, 8 August 1781. He did well. He is “of this city, Brewer” and she is “a very amiable young Lady of great merit.”

It didn’t last. Like James Pritchard who is able to live the last decade and a half of his life settled in Kingston, the Robert and Peggy (Margaret) Appleby are thrown into crisis by the Britain’s defeat and their loyalty to the Crown. They had to move on. The records of the New Brunswick Historical Society show he led a company of Loyalist refugees for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia by the ship Williams which sailed from New York on 20 September 1783. His monetary losses are valued at 600 pounds, a sizable sum. He establishes a business in his new country but it fails and, like Pritchard, he finds himself in prison. After petitioning the government – the news of which even makes the New York Morning Post of 24 January 1789 – he is released and returns to some level of status as a member of the vestry in 1788. Again, it doesn’t last. He moves back to the States, to Virginia with his wife. And, like Pritchard, he is recorded as being originally from Philadelphia.

That is a long story – actually two long stories – to make a point about records and the fate of two Philadelphia Loyalists. But notice that there is a third character, that spruce beer brewery at Catherine Street, New York, down by the ship yards. Even though I am not able to learn very much about the brewing years of Robert Appleby, we do see him start up in New York in 1779 no doubt escaping the anti-Tory movement in Philadelphia after the British capture and then retreat from the city. Then we see him relocate to a well located sweet water brewery. That brewery stays put. That brewery then starts it’s own life history. Because when the story of people can’t be traced to the level of detail in records you’d like sometimes their works can be. Let’s see who shows up.








George Appleby! Who the hell is George Appleby? Ten months after Robert leaves the town someone named George is running a very similar operation out of the Catherine Street brewery. Not his son as he just got married. His cousin? A fluke? Who knows? And he has added a treble spruce beer to his products. What the hell is that? The forerunner to Buckley’s? In 1748, there was a man named George Appleby advertising his blacksmith’s shop teasingly near Rutger’s brewery. He is named in a municipal record the next year. A George Appleby shows up on the provincial militia muster roll for what is now Brooklyn in 1755. He is 28, born in Ireland but listed as a labourer. Same guy? He’d be 21 in 1748. Could be. Only 18,000 people live in NYC in 1760 so maybe. Whoever he/they are someone by that name takes over the Catherine Street brewery in 1784 with the same last name as the former brewer. At maybe the age of 57.

And he seems to succeed. If you look at the thumbnail up there to the left, he is brewing pale ale, brown ale and table beer as well as three grades of spruce beer. I never knew the world needed three grades of spruce beer. He is also looking to hire a cooper. And notice that it’s not just George Appleby – it’s “George Appleby & Co.” It’s repeated in the middle ad from 1785. Who are the members of the company? Partnerships are the norm in brewing well into the late 1800s. Is this a real corporation that early into the independence of the USA? Before 1811 you needed a special act of the New York legislature to create an actual corporation. Puffery? Who know? In any event, if you look at the thumbnail to the right you know you can now stop worrying as by May 1788 it’s all over. The Co is no mo. Georgie boy is off with the next truck driving man he can find and takes up with him. And he moves. He and White Matlack are off to nearby Chatham Street to brew their beer there. And they seem to be movers and shakers given they are on the float along with a Lispenard representing all brewers of New York on the occasion of the 1788 constitutional parade in September of that year.They are somebodies – whoever they are. Notice another thing. They advertises in that last ad that that the new brewery is opposite the Tea-Water Pump. I thought Catherine Street had the tea water. Now it doesn’t? A wee secret. After the war, things like infrastructure break down and people flood the city. The water gets a bit crap. And much of it was brackish and disagreeable to begin with. In the mid-1780s they are already looking for good water. Remember that.












On we move. Time marches on. Keeping up? Keep up. George Appleby may be gone but the Catherine Street brewery is alive and kickin’. In the ad above to the upper left, right under the one for Appleby and Watson’s place in the New York Daily Advertiser of 10 March 1790 there is one for the new operators, Watson, Willett and Co. Their technological advance is they are brewing with real spruce essence, not off the bough. Plus table and ship beer on draught or in the bottle. Ale is gone. The two breweries seem to have a hate on for each other as they have run these ads up against each other for months. But then that doesn’t last as by five weeks later, as we see in the upper right ad, Watson and Willett and Co. gives Watson the boot after a fire with the result that the Catherine Street brewery become run by the partnership of Willett and Murray. The survivors struggle on with part of the hops and barley saved. They keep on keeping on. They seem to be in charge of the place still in 1794. As, it turns out, does George Appleby. He gave notice in the New York Daily Gazette of 21 June 1791 that he was operating out of the Golden Hill brewery of our old pal, Medcef Eden according to the lower left ad. He’d be 64 now, if he is him. The lower right ad tells the tale of how his former partner White Matlack kept the Chatham Street place by the Tea Water Pump and carried on, brewing all alone.

Have you got that straight? I need an interactive map and Gantt chart app for my mobile to keep it all straight. We will leave it there in the early 1790s for now. We’ll be picking it up. There’s a fair bit of foreshadowing in all that. A sort of an era is sort of at an end. The era of easy water? The era of the great ale brewing families? Could be. We will have to see.

About That Latter 1700s Brewery At Brookland Ferry

This clean living is killing me. Up at 5:30 am on a Saturday after an eight hour sleep. What a choir boy. What a goodie goodie. As far as I can tell, Lew is still up from the night before boiling beef and pounding ales to wait out the winter storm down there. Seems the right thing to do. What am I up to? Well, for anyone keeping score, I created a new tag yesterday for posts with crude helpful diagrams and linked it to posts back to the beginning of 2013. Need to get those tied in back to 2003. And I have been thinking about those breweries of New York in the second half of the 1700s. Maybe it’s all that revisionist speculation about a shadowy “modern era” of craft – which I read only as the rise and fall of great leader big craft – that leads me to want the consolation of my shoe box of primary resources. But that is good. We need to disagree on these things. Makes for a rich discussion. Who the hell wants everyone to have the one same focus, same idea, the same opinion? Well, other than great leader big craft. Err…

Anyway, let’s get back to the certainty of the distant past. New York around the time of the great betrayal of the American Revolution. To recap:

=> There was a trade in importing beer into New York at least as early as the 1750s that developed into fairly elaborate retailing later in the century.
=> There was a trade in exporting beer out of New York at least as early as the 1790s.
=> In partial response to raids from New France down the Lake Champlain corridor and events like the Schenectady massacre of 1690, established brewing, two established brewing families – the Albany Dutch Rutgers and the New Paltz Huguenots Lispenards – migrated to the south, set up brewing operations along the natural water sources and particularly their own drainage works in lower Manhattan, intermarried and became fantastically wealthy and powerful.
=> They were not alone. Around the corner from the Rutger’s brewery on Maiden Lane – named for the former creek where Dutch maidens washed the laundry in the early 1600s – Medcef Eden of Golden Hill set up his brewery in the 1770s in a former meadow along a branch of the watershed flowing down a few hundred yard to the south to meet up with “Maagde Paatje, a footpath used by lovers along a rippling brook”.
=> William D. Faulkner appears in Brooklyn in the years before the start of the Revolution in 1775 and establishes his brewery further north on Manhattan before ending up in Albany. His reverse route compared to the Rutgers and Lispenards was due to the fall of New France and the securing of the northern route.
=> And the man who was born into this world as rich boy George Harison but died as George Harrison builds a brewery at scale on the west side in the 1760s by a wharf – and it never quite seems to do as well as it should have.

In that last post, I noted that Har(r)ison initially had a partnership with James Leadbetter who from 1764-65, appears in an earlier brewing partnership at Brooklyn Ferry with Thomas Horsfield brewing English ale, table and ship beer. That image above is a notice from the New York Mercury from 15 October 1764 memorializing the brief partnership’s hopeful early days. Horsfield’s “Long Island Brewery” was created in the early 1750s in what has then called Brookland but is now Brooklyn by a family of butchers. It continued operations into at least the 1780s. In an 1867 edition of The Historical Magazine the operation is described in this way:

Israel Horsfield, Senior, left three sons, Israel, Junior, Thomas, and William… In 1764, his brother Thomas formed a’ partnership with James Leadbetter, when they advertised for Barley and Oak-bark. The next year, they have for sale at their brewer}-, English Ale, Table, and Ship Beer ; but soon after they dissolved, wheu Thomas, again had “Excellent Ship and Table “Beer, from the Long Island Brewery” which was kept at the store of his brother, William, opposite to Lot & Son’s, in the City of New York; and, in 1778, Captain Thomas Horsfield had about three thousand weight of excellent fresh ship bread, for sale at Brooklyne ferry. The present Middagh-street was, at an early period, known as Horsfield-street.

The article conveys some sense of the family having both a certain level of established wealth in the 1760s and 1770s as well as an unsettled aspect. In 1769, Israel, Junior tries to sell the property which consisted of a house and lot of ground, a slaughter house and barn. Two years later land is for sale again as five lots at Brooklyn ferry, adjoining the house of Israel Horsfield, Junior, situated on a rising ground “which commands a prospect of the City of “New York, and very commodious for gentlemen to build small seats on, or for gardeners or butchers. And again in 1772: “to let, “The large, new brick house, in which Israel Horsfield, Junior, now lives, at the ferry; is “very convenient for a butcher.” Soon after that, Israel, Junior, engaged in brewing with Thomas about eight years after Leadbetter moved on to the Harrison brewery on Manhattan’s west side.

nymiddaghmap1776Middagh Street is still there in Brooklyn, the west end of which faces southern Manhattan. Click on the thumbnail to the right. That’s John Hinton’s map “A plan of the city and environs of New York in North America” from 1776. It shows what is almost certainly Middagh Street, then Horsfield Street, as a country lane to the south of the very small community of Brookland Ferry proper. This detail from the 1770 Ratzer map’s panorama view gives a sense of how small it was. See also this blurry detail from Ratzer’s later 1776 map. [I am now telling myself that paying attention to keeping the three maps distinct is important.] Notice from the notice up there from October 1764 that the brewery is both “opposite the Ferry” and facing their wharf. Is the Horsfield butchery and brewing complex on the shoreline at the end of Middagh Street or closer in to the main community? Middagh is currently over 300 metres from the suspiciously named Water Street in Brooklyn which I expect was near the actual original shoreline. Although Water Street is between the shore and the even more suspiciously names Front Street. Look at this comparison of the 1776 Hinton and today’s Google maps image. Middagh now appears to be a boundary line between fields back then. Land moves over time. Or at least shorelines do. Maybe the family owned multiple parcels. You can read about more of the later history of the area at the ever excellent Forgotten New York.

nymerc02nov1767landh2To the left you see something of the motherlode. The golden moment you dream of finding. It is the notice of the apparently unsuccessful sale of the brewery placed in the New York Mercury of 2 November 1767. It contains an incredible… or perhaps an extremely credible volume of detail about the brewery. First, notice that the ad is placed by Israel Horsfield, Senior. The old man is still around and in charge of the assets even though it was son Thomas who was operating the business with Leadbetter. Wow.

[Too much wow. I need a break. It’s 10 am. My brain hurts. More later.]

Later: OK, 11:20 am. What do we see in the notice of 2 November 1767. The lot is 112 fronting the river and it has its own dock with a certain depth – “a ten or twenty cord boats could discharge along side. The maps by Bernard Ratzer are largely formed from surveys taken in the same year. As an official British government document, locations of wharves and docks would be an important bit of data. But there is other information in the notice, too. There was 46 barrel capacity in two kettles. There seems to be five structures, four in brick. It has drains. A significant investment. They can steep 140 bushels of malt at a time. The 3:1 ratio of malting a bushel to brewing a barrel looks right.

Why was it for sale? Well, it appears that after Leadbetter left in 1765 for the greener pastures of the boy millionaire George Har(r)ison and his plaything of a brewery, the Horsfields were left without quite the same business position they might have imagined for themselves. In June of 1765, the dissolution of the partnership is announced and, ominously, 300 bushels of malt is offered for sale. The next month, they are offering to sell hundreds of pounds of hops. And in September 1765, even though they are offering beer for sale at the brewery as well as, interestingly, their cellars in the city itself, they are also looking for an investor to buy a 50% stake in the brewery. It appears not to have worked out in 1766 for them at all. By the end of the year, there is a writ of execution being exercised against Thomas Horsfield. Daddyman Israel Sr. must have stepped in at that point given, as we see above, the brewery is up for sale under his name. The Horsfield family’s prospects keeps waffling as brother William with the store in the city goes under but by the middle of 1768, Thomas is sufficiently secure to be the co-receiver of his sibling’s debts and in 1769 get the insolvency discharged.

In 1770 the brewery is still in the hands of the father. He had had brewing tenants earlier but in January one is Garret Rapelje is selling off all the beer and other stock – but not the equipment – while in April of the same year William D. Faulkner takes the same route as Leadbetter did five years before and shifts his operation to Rutgers old brewery on Maiden Lane in the city where another twenty years of success await. By June 1771, the Brookland Ferry brewery is again up for sale. A notice for its sale from February 1772 helpfully adds the dimensions of the buildings. It is still for sale in May 1772 with two interesting addition to the notice. It’s more clearly stated that it is Israel, Sr involved and he brags up the kettle capacity a bit. Maybe it’s just me and tell me after 244 years if it is still too soon – but do you think one issue might be the Horsfields might not be exactly the people you want to do business with?

While this goes on and on, something I appreciate being on the typing end of it all, notice one thing. Or rather one person. In at least the outset of 1770, Garret Rapelje is running the brewery. In one of the Razter maps of New York, there is a reference to the property of one “Mr. Rapailie” right next to one of the two wharves at Brookland Ferry. If the name is Dutch, “Rap-el-yee” would be the pronunciation. Which probably tells us that this doomed brewery was located on the north and east side of the road. Israel Sr dies soon thereafter and in December 1772 his house and the brewery are all up on for sale at an estate auction.

I was thinking that was it. That the operation died with the old man. But eighteen years later, one more notice was posted in the newspapers of the time which adds one more fact. In the New York Daily Advertiser for 6 August 1790, the property is up for sale or lease offered by the owner Cary Ludlow. He doesn’t seem to get rid of it until 1795 when it appears to be in the hands of a Mr. Sing. Good luck to you, pal. In addition to the name of the owner, the address is given in Ludlow’s notice. And 184 Water Street still exists. It looks like this – like something out of a police drama, one end of the Brooklyn Bridge rising in the background.

Who Else Misses Georgian Mass Drinking Events?

A year ago
, we read about certain Georgian era drinking habits of the early decades of the colony of Upper Canada – what is now Ontario. It includes my favorite observations included in Ontario Beer – in fact, one of my favorites in the entire history of drinking in Canada. It is from the events of 12 and, I suppose, 13 August 1827 at Guelph on the celebration of the King’s birthday:

…all sat down and enjoyed a hearty meal. “After the cloth was removed,” toasts were drunk to everybody and every conceivable thing, the liquors, of all imaginable descriptions, being passed round in buckets, from which each man helped himself by means of tin cups, about two hundred of which had been supplied for the occasion… those who remained continued to celebrate the day in an exceedingly hilarious manner, most of them, who had not succumbed to an overpowering somnolency, celebrating the night too, many of them being found next morning reposing on the ground in the market place, in loving proximity to the liquor pails, in which conveniently floated the tin cups…

A particular achievement in Pete Brown’s book on the history of the origins of IPA, the excellent Hops and Glory is how in contextualizing the history of the beer in the history of, you know, history – a rare enough thing in itself – he describes how the Georgians were quite unlike their grand-children, the Victorians. While they were cultural imperialists, they were not exactly racists. Leadership of the East India Company would intermarry into the royal classes of India just as how in mid-1700s upstate New York a man of the status of William Johnsonwould partner with a woman of the status of Molly Brant. We are in a sense as much or more the inheritors of Georgian free-spirited materialism as Victorian clenched paternalism. Maybe. One thing, however, we now definitely miss out on is the Georgian officially sanctioned staggeringly plastered public celebration.

Consider the celebration described in the newspaper report from 26 May 1766 as set out in the New York Gazette. If you click on the image you will see a bigger image of the first paragraph. A pdf of the whole article is here. A great dinner is described celebrating the repeal of the Stamp Act, that most sensible piece of imperial legislation aimed at helping the American colonies pay the cost of their own protection. Ingrates. Anyway, after the dinner twenty-one 
separate toasts were given. No wonder the article begins with the statement that the evening didn’t devolve into the riot and the mob “as is common on such Occasions“! My favorite toast is the fourth one: “may the illustrious house of Hanover preside over the United British Empire to the End of Time.” Not a long time. To the end of time. Such ingrates. The list is important in itself as it arises just before the interests leading to the Revolution are fully severed but what is also interesting is the last bit of the paragraph just below the toasts.

The Cannon belonging to the Province, being placed in the State-House Yard, the Royal Salute was fired on drinking the King, and Seven Guns after every succeeding Toast. The whole concluded in the Evening with Bonfires, Ringing of Bells, and Strong Beer to the Populace, and gave general Satisfaction to every Person concerned…

How was riot avoided? Free smashings of strong beer to the populace? What a time! What a splendid form of government!! And it was not just at state events or events of general public importance. Click on that thumbnail to the left. It’s from the New York Gazette of 12 August 1751 but it describes a celebration of another sort of birthday in England, a twenty-first birthday party held on 25 May that year for the Marquis of Rockingham at Wentworth House in Yorkshire. I grew up in Nova Scotia – first made a British colony just two years before this celebration – where both Rockingham and Wentworth are place names. Look what happens at the party:

Liquors drank that Day were three Hogsheads of Small Beer, 13 Hogsheads of Ale, 20 Hogsheads of Strong Beer, 8 Hogsheads of Punch, and 4 Hogsheads of Port Wine; besides 8 Hogsheads of strong Beer drank the Day following. There were 10,000 Guests in the whole; 3000 of which, or upwards, were entertained in the House; and after they had dined, the Victuals were carried out into the Booths to the Populace who had strong Beer and Ale much as they pleased… The strong Beer was most of it brewed in the Year 1730…

A few years ago, Martyn wrote about these coming of age, twenty-first birthday celebrations and their massive 21 year old beers brewed in the year of a child’s birth to celebrate their future adulthood. In fact when I came across this story I was just going to send it to him… until I read him “there is little or no evidence of 21-year-old ales before the 1770s or 1780s.”* It seems the news of these celebrations at Wentworth House for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham** might represent a wee advance in brewing history. Maybe. Martyn might already know this. Probably does.

So there you are. Three mass gatherings of Georgians well prepared for and well able to meet the demands of massive public intoxications celebrating joy. I don’t think I could survive even a few hours of it. Damn Victorians.

*Being a wee bugger, I kept it for myself. Well, really, I kept it for this story. I would otherwise have sent it to Martyn, the very best sort of colleague in this beer writing game.
**A man who, if listened to, may have altered history to a greater degree.