Historic Beer Birthday: John Gardiner

Today is the birthday of John Gardiner (July 11, 1825-July 5, 1903). Gardiner was born in upstate New York, in Albany, where he learned brewing from his father. He moved to Philadelphia when he was 24, in 1849, and worked for Massey’s Brewery before buying the James Smyth Brewery in 1874, renaming it John Gardiner & Co. Brewery. In 1883, Gardiner renamed it again, this time the Continental Brewing Co., which remained its name until it closed at the start of prohibition in 1920.


He appears to have married an Anna E. Snyder, and not Caroline Schmidt (as I’d earlier believed). According to one commenting relative, it was Gardiner’s son, John Jr., who in 1866, married one of brewery owner Christian Schmidt’s daughters, Caroline, and according to a history of Schmidt’s Brewery, he began working for his father-in-law’s brewery at that time. But it’s unclear if there is any relationship to Gardiner’s purchase of the Continental Brewery. Unfortunately, Find-a-Grave’s listing for both John Gardiner and Anna do not list a son named John Francis Gardiner Jr., only a daughter, Mary, and a son, George.


Here’s how Gardiner and his family are mentioned in the history of Schmidt’s Brewery:

For generations the name of Gardiner had been well known in brewing circles. The family owned the Continental Brewing Co. in Philadelphia. John Gardiner married a daughter of Christian Schmidt. John Gardiner Jr., and Edward A. Gardiner, sons of John Gardiner, joined Schmidt’s to add new luster, in, respectively, sales and finance., to the family management team.

During the entire period of relegalization- including the peak year of 1955- and through to 1958, John Gardiner Jr., a grandson of the founder, was sales and advertising manager for the brewery. Mr. Gardiner, now a vice president, saw sales rise under his management from 106,000 in 1934 to almost 2 million in 1955.

Edward A. Gardiner, his brother, now chairman of the board, was responsible for the financial arrangements which made possible the various expansions of the brewery in the 1930’s, 40’s and early 50’s. It was Mr. Gardiner’s raising of the funds to accommodate the expansion of the company in 1947 and 1948 which kept the brewery abreast of modern changes and in a position to meet the difficult competitive challenge of the postwar years.


He’s an obituary from Gardiner from Find-a-Grave:





  1. Lisa Gardiner says

    This is my Great Great Great grandfather (John Francis Gardiner) , I am trying to figure out HIS fathers name. According to my research John F Gardiner that owned the brewery had a son named Frank, he isn’t mentioned here. In fact that is his name. Unless he was also known by Edward. My Grandfather John Francis Gardiner, his Great Great grandson just passed away this past July. Do you know the name of John Francis Gardiner’s father? (The one who owned the brewery and learned brewing from his father) I can not find it anywhere. Thank you!

    • Emily says

      Hi Lisa,
      I found your comment when looking for information about John Gardiner. I am a volunteer Grave Gardener at the Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, and I tend John Gardiner’s grave. His is grave in “the French style” and is built for plants and flowers and it is my duty to plant a little garden on his final resting place. It’s really lovely to find one of his decedents!
      – Emily

      • Lisa Gardiner says

        Thats really really cool!! Today I was doing some more research, and I think some of the info on this page is incorrect haha. I think that whoever made this page is getting John Francis Gardiner Sr. mixed up with his Son John Francis Gardiner Jr. This page says he married Caroline Schimidt when in fact he married Anna Snyder, and the death certificate for Jr Gardiner says he was married to Caroline. This is all very cool! I am trying so hard to find John Francis Gardiner’s father name, the one born in 1825. The one pictures here is the John Francis born in 1857..I think. Thank you so much for tending to his grave! Please let me know if you fnd anything else out! So nice to meet you!

        Lisa Gardiner

  2. Lisa Gardiner says

    Hi!!! I can send you the census records from 1870 showing John Francis Jr as one of John Francis Sr.s sons. He had another son Frank, and a daughter Mary and another daughter Anna. I am decended from Frank Gardiner. Frank had a son and named him also John Francis Gardiner (fought in World War 1, grandpa would tell me stories of his dads time in WW1) who married into the famous Willard family (same family that the Willard grandfather clocks came from), Mildred Willard. Together they had my grandfather John Francis Gardiner in 1929. Everyone is named John Francis LOL, so I was confused for about a year until I finally found the death certificate of John Francis Jr born in 1857 and died in 1931 and listed are his parents John Francis Gardiner and Anna Snyder. My grandmother still has the patent to one of his beer making machines of the main John Francis Gardiner born in 1825, I only have a picture of the patent (I want the real thing though!). Please feel free to email me! lisa.m.gardiner@gmail.com

    • Lisa Gardiner says

      OH I am not sure why the find a grave lists a George, im thinking it may have been a nickname, because my grandmother told me they had nicknames for all the Johns to tell them apart. My grandpa was known as Jeff Gardiner, although his name was John Francis, he recently died last year.

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