Today is fellow beer writer Don Russell’s 64th birthday. Don wrote a beer column for the Philadelphia Daily News under the nom de plume Joe Sixpack. He also writes a blog online, Beer Radar. His most recent book, What the Hell Am I Drinking?, was published a few years ago and can still be ordered directly from the author. Don also became the first executive director of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, the trade group for New Jersey breweries. More recently, he accepted a position as the editor-in-chief of Broad Street Media. Don is also a fellow Pennsylvanian, a crack card player, and one of my very favorite people to share a beer and discuss the issues of the day with. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.
Today is fellow Pennsylvania beer writer Jack Curtin’s birthday. You can read his writings and rantings on a variety of subjects at his Liquid Diet Online, Curtin’s Corner, I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing and The Great Disconnect. If you think I don’t know when to stop, check out Jack’s voluminous output. Plus Jack is one of my favorite people to kvetch about politics with, over a pint, of course. Join me wishing Jack a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Peter Barbey (November 9, 1825-February 15, 1897). He was born in Bavaria, though the actual town seems to be in some dispute, and learned brewing at his uncle’s brewery there from the age of fourteen. As an adult, he worked at breweries throughout Europe, then entered military service for a four-year tour of duty. After that, at age 25 he came to the United States and found work in Philadelphia. But he found a better job in nearby Reading working at the brewery of Frederick Lauer.
He apparently liked Reading (my hometown) because he founded his own brewery there in 1857, with Abraham Peltzer, which they called the Peter Barbey & Abraham Peltzer Brewery. Barbey must have bought him out, because in 1861 it was renamed the Peter Barbey Brewery. His son John joined him at the brewery in 1880, and they called it Peter Barbey & Son after that, until it closed in 1920 because of Prohibition. But it did return in 1933 as Barbey’s Inc. In 1951, they completely rebranded it as the Sunshine Brewing Co. before closing for good in 1970.
This is from “Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals,” by Morton Montgomery, published in 1909:
Peter Barbey, the founder of Barbey’s Brewery at Reading, Pa., was born Nov. 9, 1825, in Dierbach, Canton of Bergzabern, Rhinepfalz, Bavaria, son of Christopher Barbey. He attended the schools of his native place until he was fourteen years of age, when he entered the brewing establishment of his uncle, Peter Barbey, for the purpose of learning the business. After remaining there three years, he found employment in France and Switzerland in different brewing establishments during the next four years, in observance of a German custom to increase his knowledge of the business in this way by practical experience. He then returned home, and being twenty-one years of age, entered the army in a cavalry regiment where be served as a soldier for four years. At the expiration of his term of service, be emigrated to America, proceeding immediately to Philadelphia, and for several years he was engaged there in different breweries; he then located at Reading, and entered the employ of Frederick Lauer, also a German, who had by this time established himself in the brewing business at Third and Chestnut streets. In 1860 Mr. Barbey embarked in business for himself as a brewer, and carried his affairs on with increasing success until his decease in 1897.
Mr. Barbey was a Democrat in politics, but never inclined to fill any public offices. He assisted in organizing the Keystone National Bank in 1883 and served as a director until his decease in 1897. He was prominently identified with Teutonia Lodge, No. 368, F. & A. M., in which he was a past master, and with Germania Lodge, I. O. O. F.
Mr. Barbey married Rosina Kuntz, daughter of Philip Kuntz, of Rhenish Bavaria, and they had two children: Katrina, who died in infancy; and John, who, after arriving of age, engaged with his father in the brewing business under the name of P. Barbey & Son. Notwithstanding the decease of his father in 1897, the firm name has been continued until the present time.
And here’s an obituary, from the “Allentown Morning Call,” from February 16, 1897:
Peter Barbey, the well-known Reading brewer, died yesterday morning at his home, aged 71 years. Mr. Barbey was a native of Dierbach, Canton of Borgzaben, Rhinepfaltz, Bavaria. He attended the schools of his native country until the age of 14, when he entered the brewery establishment of his uncle, Peter Barbey, for the purpose of learning the business. When about 23 years of age, he came to America. He entered the employ of Frederick Lauer, in Reading. Later he conducted several saloons and then started in the brewery business. Deceased was married to Rosina, daughter of Philip Kuntz, of Rhenish Bavaria. They had two children, Katrina, a daughter, deceased; and John Barbey. In politics he was a Democrat, but never was an aspirant for any office. He was a director of the Keystone National Bank, a member of Teutonia Lodge, No. 568, F. and A. M., and of Germania Lodge, I.O.O.F.
This is from an article in the January 1942 issue of the Historical Review of Berks County:
Reading naturally felt the effects of this movement as can be witnessed in the Peter Barbey Brewery establishment. Peter Barbey, the originator of this brewery, was born November 9, 1825, in Dierback, Canton of Bergzabern, Rhinepfalz, Bavaria, the son of Christopher and Katrina Barbey. Until the age of 14 Peter attended the schools there, after which he entered the brewing establishment of his uncle, where he remained three years learning the business of a brewer. At the age of thirty-two (in the year 1857), Barbey emigrated to the United States, and proceeding at once to Philadelphia engaged for two and one-half years in the pursuit of his trade. In 1859 he settled at Reading, where he entered the employ of Frederick Lauer for one year, and soon after opened a saloon. Peter Barbey began his prosperous career as a brewer here in 1869, when he established a brewing plant at River and Hockly Streets. Montgomery wrote of the Barbey Brewery: “the buildings are a three-story brewery, a six-story brick malthouse, two refrigerators and two ice houses-they cover a tract of three acres. In the malt house are five germinating floors, one storage floor, and two large drying kilns. Two engines, producing 60 horse-power, and two large duplex boilers, of 75 horse-power, are used. Thirty hands are employed.” Barbey’s son, John, became a partner in 1880, the firm henceforth trading as P. Barbey and Son. During the year 1885 twenty thousand barrels of beer and porter were manufactured and sold, although the full capacity was thirty-five thousand barrels, and the full malting capacity seventy-five thousand bushels of barley malt.
Thus by 1880 the foundation had been laid for one of Reading’s important industries. Developed as a normal, if not necessary, adjunct to the life of the German population, it brought to this community the industry and craft of the old country. As Reading grew, so did her brewing industry, and its importance was more than local. Frederick Lauer was one of the organizers, and president, of the United States Brewers’ Association, and he was also a leading citizen of Reading. As a public servant and philanthropist he was honored by his fellow citizens, and his statue now stands in our city park. There it symbolizes the social as well as the economic significance of the early industry.
And this is from “100 Years of Brewing:”
Today is the birthday of John N. Straub (November 6, 1810-November 1891). He was born in Darmstadt, Germany, and emigrated at age 20 to the U.S., in 1830, landing initially in Baltimore, but as soon as he was able moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1831, he founded the John N. Straub Brewery and became what is believed to be the first lager brewer there. As far as I can tell, he is not related to the Straub Brewery in nearby St. Marys, Pennsylvania, although its founder Peter Straub did work for John N. Straub when he first came to America, before starting his own brewery. The John N. Straub Brewery also had a branch in Allegheny, and in 1899, it became a branch of the Pittsburgh Brewing Co.
This biography by his son is from “100 Years of Brewing:”
This short obituary is from the Brewers Journal:
And this is a short history of the brewery itself, also from “100 Years of Brewing.”
Today is the birthday of Franklin Pierce Lauer (November 2, 1852-March 10, 1926). He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and was the son of Frederick Lauer. He followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a brewer. After being sent to learn brewing in Germany, upon his return he became the brewmaster at his family breweries, and began running the breweries after his father retired in 1882.
Here’s a biography of Lauer from “Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals” by Morton Montgomery, published in 1909:
Franklin Pierce Lauer, brewer at Reading since 1882, was born in Reading Nov. 2, 1852, the day on which Pierce was elected President of the United States. He received his preliminary education in the common schools, which he attended until 1866, when he and his brother were sent to Germany for their advanced education, and they remained three years, spending two years in the institutions at Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart, Germany, and one year at Lausanne, Switzerland. He directed his studies more especially toward the scientific manufacture of beer, porter, and ale for the purpose of qualifying himself to take charge of his father’s breweries upon his return home. While at Lausanne he showed great proficiency in music, and though still a boy the vestry of the French Lutheran Church elected him as the organist, which position he filled in a very satisfactory manner during his sojourn at that place.
Upon returning home his father placed him in charge of the two breweries as brewmaster and he displayed great skill in the production of malt liquors of a superior character. He discharged the duties of this responsible position with increasing success for twelve years, until 1882, when his father retired, and he organized the Lauer Brewing Company, of which he became the manager and principal owner. Since then, covering a period of twenty-six years, he has directed the affairs of the company in a most successful manner, bringing its productions to a high state of perfection and purity (as evidenced by the analysis of the State authorities), and giving them a popularity equal to that of any others in Pennsylvania. Its trade has been developed to extend into all the surrounding counties, and to numerous distant places, the large shipments being made on the railroad in improved refrigerator cars.
Mr. Lauer’s responsibilities at the head of his company have kept him so closely confined that he could not devote any time to political or social affairs. He, however, has been a liberal contributor to various public causes; and he has assisted in organizing several financial institutions at Reading, and participated in their management as a director: the Schuylkill Valley Bank since 1890; the Colonial Trust Company since 1900; and the American Casualty Company, since 1903. His only relaxation for some years has been an annual vacation of several weeks with his family to Pike county, where he enjoys the privileges of membership in the Porter’s Lake Hunting and Fishing Club, which owns several thousand acres of timber land on the top of the Allegheny Mountains, elevated 2,000 feet above the level of the sea. In August, 1891, he made an extended tour of three months through the principal countries of Europe.
In 1874 Mr. Lauer married Amelia Dora Heberle (daughter of William Heberle), by whom he had six children: Florence, who married William Y. Landis, of Reading; Carl Franklin; and four who died in youth. He owns and occupies a costly home on the site of the homestead on South Third street, near Chestnut, where he was born, and where his parents and grandparents had lived since 1826. In politics he is a Democrat; in religion a Lutheran, being a member of St. John’s German Lutheran Church, of which his father was one of the organizers in 1860.
This is the description of the illustration of the Lauer Brewing from the National Archives:
Image of an elevated landscape view of the Lauer Brewing Company brewery in Reading, Pennsylvania; a large industrial complex of factory buildings is pictured including the breweries, smokestacks, ice plant, boiler house, hop storage, office, malt house, band stand, hotel, garden, and several others including a bowling alley in Lauer’s Park; railroad cars labeled “Refrigerator Line. Ale Porter and Lager Beer” a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad passenger train, cable car, and horse-drawn vehicles are visible along the street in the foreground; small inset image at bottom right features an earlier view of the much-smaller brewery captioned “Lauer’s brewery in 1866”; a Greek sphinx is pictured in a circular ivy-bordered frame captioned by the words “Trade mark” at bottom center.
Today is the birthday of George Weisbrod (October 31, 1851-January 1, 1912). Weisbrod was born in Germany, and that’s about all I could find out about the man who co-founded, along with Christian Hess, the George Weisbrod & Christian Hess Brewery, usually shortened to just the Weisbrd & Hess Brewery, and also known as the Oriental Brewery.
Both Weisbrod and Hess were German immigrants, and originally their intention was simply to make enough beer to supply their Philadelphia saloon on Germantown Avenue. Some sources say they began as early as 1880, but most put the founding at 1882. The brewery was going strong until closed by prohibition. They managed to reopen in 1933, but closed for good in 1938.
A brewery poster from 1905.
In 1994, Yards Brewing renovated the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery, but after the partners split, it became the Philadelphia Brewing Co., while Yards under the direction of Tom Kehoe moved to another location.
In the Philadelphia Brewing Co. tasting room upstairs, an old photo of the employees of the original brewery on the premises, Weisbrod & Hess Oriental Brewing Company.
The brewery was designed by famed local architect Adam C. Wagner, and this is an illustration of his design for the brewery from 1892.
Today is the birthday of William H. Anderton (October 23, 1866-January 27, 1928). He was the son of James Anderton, who founded the Spring Water Brewery, later renaming it the Anderton Brewery. After his father died in 1905, William “took over management of the firm and it was merged in 1905 to become part of the Pittsburgh-based Independent Brewery Company (1905-1933). The local facility was closed in 1920 (like many other breweries) with the enactment of nationwide prohibition.”
Here’s a biography of Anderton, from “Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, published in 1899:
WILLIAM HENRY ANDERTON, secretary, treasurer and general business manager of the Anderton Brewing Company of Beaver Falls, Pa., whose portrait we present on the preceding page, received his primary education in the Beaver Falls schools,-taking a collegiate course at the Iron City Business College of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1883, he entered the employ of the Hartman Steel Co., of Beaver Falls, in the capacity of clerk, remaining in their employ until 1889. He was a prime mover in, the organization of the Union Drawn Steel Co., and was secretary and treasurer of that company, until December, 1890. At that date, Mr. Anderton became secretary, treasurer and general business manager of the Anderton Brewing Co., which position he still holds. He assisted in organizing the People’s Water Company in 1897, and is its vice president. He is a believer in the principles of Democracy, and an active worker for that party. Socially, he is a member of the Ma-sonic fraternity, being included among the members of Beaver Valley Lodge, No. 478; he is also treasurer of the B. P. O. E. lodge, No. 348.
William Henry Anderton is one of a family of five children. He was born October 23, 1866, is a son of James and Betty (Green-wood) Anderton, and grandson of James and Sarah (Morris) Anderton. His grandparents came to America from England in 1856, accompanied by their son James, and settled at Fallston, Beaver county, Pa., where their two sons, John and Joseph, had located a few months previously. There father and sons worked in the mines for some years. John died at Fallston, in February, 1899, but Joseph now resides in Rochester, Pa. The be-loved father departed this life in May, 1879, at the age of seventy-nine years, and was preceded to the grave by his faithful wife and companion, who died in March, 1878, in her eighty-fifth year.
James Anderton, the father of William Henry, was born in Streetbridge, Royston, Lancastershire, England, June 26, 1830. He worked for eighteen years in the mines in his native place, beginning at the early age of eight years. In his youth he had no educational advantages whatever,-his only mental training being a night school organized by himself and his fellow miners, known as the “Youth’s Seminary.” There the boys taught each other, being too poor to afford an experienced teacher. The school organized by these lads has grown into a famous institution of learning, and is now known as the Literary Institute of Oldham, England.
James Anderton accompanied his parents to America when twenty-six years of age, worked in the mines at Fallston, until 1866, and then removed to New Brighton, Pennsylvania. He continued to follow this occupation at the latter place until March, 1868, when he removed to Beaver Falls, purchased his present residence, and engaged in the hotel business. The following year (1869), he went into the brewing business in a small frame building, situated quite near the elegant structure in which he at present officiates. The first brewing was made November 30, of the same year, and consisted of only nine barrels. In 1875, Mr. Anderton built the old part of the present structure, and with a much increased capacity, he continued to brew ale and porter until 1895, when he built a large brick addition, with all the modern improvements, and began brewing beer. The Anderton Brewery is now one of the most complete up-to-date breweries in Pennsylvania, and has a capacity of 30,000 barrels per year. There are many larger breweries in the Keystone State, but none more complete.
While, still in his native land, James Anderton was united in marriage with Betty Green-wood, a daughter of Joseph and Mary Greenwood. This event took place in 1852, and their union is blessed with five children, viz.: Jonathan ; Mary G.; William H. ; William H., second ; and Sarah A. Jonathan was born June 2,2, 1853; he is vice president of the Anderton Brewing Company. He wedded Margaret Hart, a daughter of Hilton and Ann Hart, and their home is made happy by the presence of four sons: James, Hilton, Jonathan, Jr., and William H. Mary G. was born February 1, 1858. She became the wife of C. W. Rohrkaste, who is now superintendent of the Anderton Brewery. They have three children: James A.; Mary A.; and Florence E. William H., the third child, died at the tender age of five years, and the same name was given to the next child. William H., the fourth child, is the subject of this brief sketch. Sarah A., the fifth child, was born October 14, 1869, and died in early childhood, aged three years.
James Anderton is a fine illustration of a self-made man, which in a great measure is due to his progressiveness, reliability and integrity. He ranks among the most esteemed citizens of Beaver Falls, and takes an active interest in fraternal organizations, being a member of Lone Rock Lodge, K. of P.; Valley Echo Lodge, I. O. O. F.; Mechanics Lodge, A. O. U. W.; and Beaver Valley Lodge, F. & A. M., of which he has been treasurer for the past nineteen years. He was one of the organizers and original stockholders of the Union Drawn Steel Co., and is one of the stockholders of the People’s Water Co., of Beaver Falls. In his religious convictions, the elder Mr. Anderton is an Episcopalian, of which denomination he and his family are members. Politically, he is a stanch Democrat, but could never be persuaded to seek or accept public office.
William Henry Anderton chose for his wife Emma J. Bailey, a daughter of James and Emma Bailey. In his business ventures he has met with success and, like his father, he is known to be an upright, honorable man. His home bears evidence of comfort in all its surroundings, and he always lends his aid and influence to the support of measures which he believes will be conducive to the general good.
The Anderton Brewing Co. was located in Beaver Falls, between 23rd and 24th streets near the railroad tracks. The local owners would sell their company in 1905, but the brewery remained in Beaver Falls producing beer until 1922.
And here’s Anderton’s obituary, from Western Brewer, an industry trade newsletter.
Today is the birthday of William G. Ruske (October 21, 1842-May 2, 1915). Ruske was born in Germany and came to Western Pennsylvania, co-founding the Keystone Brewing Co. 1886, and was its president. In 1899, Keystone became part of a regional trust known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which was formed by the merging together of thirteen Allegheny County breweries. Ruske was initially secretary of the trust, but became president when his predecessor died. The brewery survived prohibition and today is known as the Iron City Brewing Co.
This is his obituary, from the American Brewers’ Review the year he passed away:
And here’s part of another history of Iron City Brewing, from the merger through the end of prohibition, from PA’s Big House:
As the century came to a close, breweries in the Pittsburgh area merged to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). The twelve local breweries included: Wainwright; Phoenix; Keystone; Winter Brothers; Phillip Lauer; John H. Nusser; Eberhardt & Ober; Hippely & Sons; Ober; J. Seiferth Brothers; Straub; and Iron City. In addition to these initial twelve breweries, nine more were included in the merger. Now, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation with combined assets worth an estimated $11 million. For the next three decades, PBC boasted a brewing capacity of more than one million barrels per year.
The onset of Prohibition in 1920 brought serious strain to breweries across the nation. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, however, was able to survive by using its facilities to produce ice cream, soft drinks, and non-alcoholic “near-beers.” When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, PBC was one of only 725 breweries in the U.S. still operating.
After Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained market share and produced the same products it had made prior to the act. The president of the company at that time also created a new subsidiary and reinstated the original name: the Iron City Brewing Company (ICBC). ICBC’s products included Iron City Pilsner, Iron City Lager, Tech Beer, and Blue Label Beer. In 1947, the company again expanded and Iron City Brewing Company continued to grow in the market. By the mid-1950’s, ICBC became the best selling beer in Pittsburgh.
I really couldn’t find very much information on Ruske, or even his original Keystone Brewery. But one curiosity I came across was this undated tintype. But since tintypes were popular for around twenty years, from the 1860s through the 1870s, I think it’s safe to conclude that’s what this one was created. The two beer bottles on the posts are from the Keystone Brewery and the label apparently reads Cabinet Export Beer.
Today is the birthday of John Barbey (October 19, 1850-December 24, 1939). He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter Barbey, who founded what would become the Peter Barbey Brewery in 1857. His son John joined him at the brewery in 1880, and they called it Peter Barbey & Son after that, and he owned and ran the brewery after his father’s death in 1897 until it closed in 1920 because of Prohibition. But it did return in 1933 as Barbey’s Inc. In 1951, they completely rebranded it as the Sunshine Brewing Co. before closing for good in 1970.
This is his obituary from the Reading Eagle on December 25, 1939:
Prominent Businessman Dies on Christmas Eve
Funeral services were held today for John Barbey, prominent Reading businesss man, who died at his home 733 Centre Ave, on Christmas Eve following several months illness. He was 89.
The Rev. Dr. HeismannF. Miller, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, of which Mr. Barbey was a member, officiated at services held from the home. Entombment was made at Charles Evan Cemetery.
Mr. Barbey who was widely known in business circles, was chairman of the board of directors of the Vanity Fair Silk Mills and president and treasurer of Barbey’s Inc.
He was born in Philadelphia, a son of the late Peter and Rosina (Kuntz).
Barbey when he was 4 years old the family moved to Reading, where the father engaged in the manufacturing of malt liquors. He received his education in the local public schools and at a business college and then joined his father’s organization.
In 1800 he became a partner in the concern and the business became Barbey and Son. At the death of his father in 1897 he succeeded as head of the organization.For many years Mr. Barbey was actively identified with several local banking institutions and at the time of his death served on the directorate of a number of local industrial institutions.
Mrs. Barbey, the former Mary Ellen Garst, died many years ago. Surviving are these children: Mrs. Ida Lewis, NY. Mrs. Wiliam K Eckert, and Mrs. John H McCauley, both of Reading.
This biography of John is from “Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals,” by Morton Montgomery, published in 1909:
John Barbey, son of Peter and Rosina (Kuntz) Barbey, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 19, 1850. When he was four years old his parents moved to Reading, where his father became engaged in the manufacture of malt liquors. He was educated in the local schools, taking an extra course in a business college, and was then placed in his father’s brewery for the purpose of learning all the details of the brewing business. In this he was very successful, and in 1880 the father admitted him into partnership, and they traded under the firm name of P. Barbey & Son. The father died in 1897, but the son has continued the business under the same name with increasing success up to the present. In 1906 the capacity of his large plant was the greatest of any at Reading, a fact which evinces the superior judgment of the son in conducting the complicated affairs of the brewery for the years it has been under his management.
Mr. Barbey has become largely interested in a number of the financial institutions of Reading, particularly the Keystone Bank, Farmers Bank, Colonial Trust Company, and several industrial institutions, in a number of which he is a director. He has been prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity at Reading since 1876, becoming a Mason in Chandler Lodge, No. 227, and a Knight Templar in the Reading Commandery, No. 42, of which be was Eminent Commander in 1886. He has reached the thirty-second degree.
Mr. Barbey married Mary Ellen Garst, daughter of George W. Garst, of Reading, a prominent building contractor for many years. They have seven children, six daughters and one son, John.
And this is from “100 Years of Brewing:”
Apparently, Peter Barbery was just a brewer, but John was more of a shrewd businessman, and apparently made a fortune in the textile industry, which was quite prominent in Reading, PA. Though most of its gone now, the Reading Factory Outlets are still a reminder of that time. This account of his other business interests is from Forbes:
The roots of this family fortune date back to 1899, when a banker named John Barbey and five partners started the Reading Glove and Mitten Manufacturing Company in Pennsylvania. Using profits from his father’s Sunshine Beer, Barbey bought out his partners and expanded into underwear (though he banned the term). In 1939, his son John Edward “J. E.” Barbey became vice president of the company, then known as Vanity Fair Silk Mills. After he took it public in 1951, the family was no longer involved in operations. Today, fewer than a dozen members of the Barbey family still own nearly 20% of VF Corporation (as it was renamed in 1969). It’s one of the world’s largest apparel firms, with $12 billion in revenues and brands such as Lee, Wrangler and North Face.
Today is the birthday of William Penn (October 14, 1644-July 30, 1718). He “was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.
In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to Penn to appease the debts the king owed to Penn’s father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn immediately set sail and took his first step on American soil in New Castle in 1682 after his trans-Atlantic journey. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony. Afterwards, Penn journeyed up the Delaware River and founded Philadelphia. However, Penn’s Quaker government was not viewed favourably by the Dutch, Swedish, and English settlers in what is now Delaware. They had no “historical” allegiance to Pennsylvania, so they almost immediately began petitioning for their own assembly. In 1704 they achieved their goal when the three southernmost counties of Pennsylvania were permitted to split off and become the new semi-autonomous colony of Lower Delaware. As the most prominent, prosperous and influential “city” in the new colony, New Castle became the capital.
As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply. He developed a forward-looking project for a United States of Europe through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies that could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully. He is therefore considered the very first thinker to suggest the creation of a European Parliament.
A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.”
Of course, that’s his mainstream history, he also made contributions to America’s nascent brewing history. For example, here’s an account, “William Penn And Beermaking in Colonial Pennsylvania,” excerpted from Stanley Baron’s “Brewed in America,” published in 1962:
Pennsylvania and New Jersey were latecomers among the American colonies. True enough, there had been in their development a Swedish period and a Dutch period, but the real establishment of the two colonies had to wait for the time of the English “proprietors.” It was in 1680 that William Penn received his famous grant of land from Charles II, as payment of a debt owed to Penn’s father, the celebrated admiral. By this means Penn became sole proprietor of a colony which he foresaw as a place of refuge for his fellow Quakers — the nonconformist sect whose faith earned them nothing but contempt and persecution in England (as well as in most of the established American colonies). Before he set out in 1682 he sent ahead a government plan of his own devising, and also a number of representatives to map out a city to be called Philadelphia. Penn’s concept of government was extraordinarily liberal, in many respects tantamount to a genuinely democratic scheme; moreover, he guaranteed complete freedom of worship, and delegated much more administrative authority than any other of the colonial governors saw fit to allow.
Penn understood the wisdom of securing friendly relations with the Indians from the start. In 1683, he established a “Great Treaty” with them. In exchange for property rights which they were willing to grant him, he made a practice of giving them a variety of goods — in at least one instance, a barrel of beer.
Shortly after Penn’s arrival, an Assembly was held in Chester, the former Swedish settlement of Upland. At this meeting his Frame of Government was adopted; and there were also laid down certain laws regulating the licensing of taverns, taxing of beer, sale of alcoholic beverages to Indians, etc. Such laws were sooner or later passed in every one of the American colonies and differ only in the merest details.
Penn himself was enough of a beer-drinker to have a brewhouse constructed at the estate he built in Pennsbury, Bucks County, twenty miles upriver from Philadelphia. At a cost of about £7000 and over a period of many years, the manor-house was erected under Penn’s supervision, although he was most of that time back in England. He made a start on the project soon after his arrival in 1682, but he had to return to England in 1684. He commissioned his trusted friend James Harrison as “Steward of the Household at Pennsbury,” and from that date until his return, he wrote frequent letters, filled with details about the house’s specifications, the gardens, the servants, slaves, etc. “I would have a Kitchen,” he wrote from London after he returned there in 1684, “two larders, a wash house & room to iron in, a brew house & in it an oven for bakeing.” During the following two years he felt the need to repeat these instructions, which in time were fulfilled.
Penn was not able to see the results at Pennsbury until 1699. At that time, as things turned out, he remained only a year; thus he spent in all only three years in America. Nonetheless, he made good use of Pennsbury while he was there; “Indians almost every morning were waiting in the hall, seated on their haunches.” Penn also entertained in that house the governors of Maryland and Virginia, as well as what are usually referred to as “visiting dignitaries.” None of Penn’s descendants cared for the house as the proprietor himself had, and it was permitted by sheer neglect to go to ruin. It was finally torn down at the time of the Revolution, but somehow the brewhouse structure managed to survive until 1864. It is described as being 20 by 35 feet, “with solid brick chimney and foundations, 10-inch sills and posts, and weatherboarded with dressed cedar.”
That there was beer in the earliest stages of Philadelphia’s settlement is attested to by the immigrant Thomas Paschall in 1683: “Here is very good Rye . . . also Barly of 2 sorts, as Winter and Summer, . . . also Oats, and 3 sorts of Indian Corne, (two of which sorts they can Malt and make good beer as Barley).”
In a 1685 account of progress in his colony, Penn wrote:
“Our DRINK has been Beer and Punch, made of Rum and Water: Our Beer was mostly made of Molasses, which well boyld, with Sassafras or Pine infused into it, makes very tolerable drink; but now they make Mault, and Mault Drink begins to be common, especially at the Ordinaries and the Houses of the more substantial People. In our great Town there is an able Man, that has set up a large Brew House, in order to furnish the People with good Drink, both there and up and down the River.”
Farther along in the same document, he identified this “able man” as William Frampton, and to demonstrate the first Philadelphia brewer’s prosperity, he added that Frampton had recently built “a good Brick house, by his Brew House and Bake House, and let the other for an Ordinary.” Frampton — Quaker, merchant, provincial councillor and landowner — originally emigrated to New York and did not arrive in Philadelphia until 1683. If he was as prosperous as Penn makes out, he did not enjoy this state for long: he died in 1686.
In those early days of Philadelphia, many inhabitants are said to have owned their own malt-houses in order to make strong beer at home, and Gabriel Thomas stated in his account of the town (as of 1696) that there were three or four “spacious malt-houses, as many large brew-houses.” Thomas, a Welsh pioneer who lived in the colony for fifteen years, also described Philadelphia beer as “equal in strength to that in London,” selling for 15s. the barrel — cheaper than in England. In addition, he speaks of Philadelphia beer as having a “better Name, that is, is in more esteem than English Beer in Barbadoes and is sold for a higher Price there.” This would be an extremely early, if not the first, instance of American beer being exported outside of the mainland, though there is no indication of the regularity or volume of business thus entailed. In the course of the eighteenth century, Philadelphia beer began to make a resounding reputation for itself: the origins of that fame may lie right here, in this remark of Thomas’s comparing the beer favorably with the English product. On the other hand, Thomas’s unbridled enthusiasm must not be discounted — he may very well have been trying to paint the prettiest possible picture of conditions in America, and particularly Pennsylvania.
Another brewer of this earliest Philadelphia period was Joshua Carpenter, whose brother, Samuel, had come over from England several years before Penn’s arrival. Samuel Carpenter, a Quaker, was responsible for building Philadelphia’s first wharf, between Walnut Street and Dock Creek. Joshua, who had followed his brother to Philadelphia some years later and who was himself not a Quaker, did so well out of his brewing enterprise that he was rated as the second richest inhabitant of the town in 1693; his brother was first.
The brewery established by Anthony Morris in 1687, south of Walnut Street, on the riverbank side of Front, was a longer-lasting establishment. Morris (the second of his name) was another Quaker, provincial councillor and second mayor of Philadelphia. He had sailed for America in 1682, and settled first in Burlington, New Jersey. Three years later, however, he went to Philadelphia, and soon set up his brewery there. His son, Anthony, Jr., prepared himself for the business by becoming in 1696 an indentured apprentice to another brewer operating in Philadelphia at that time, Henry Babcock. It was stated in the indenture that he was to spend seven years learning “the art or trade of a Brewer.” He undertook to keep the brewing “secrets” of Babcock and his wife Mary, “& from their service he shall not absent himself, nor the art & mystery of brewing he shall not disclose or discover to any person or persons during ye sd term.” His father paid the Babcocks the sum of twenty pounds, and they undertook not only to teach him for seven years, but also to lodge and board him, and “mending of his linen & woolen cloaths.” They on their side promised not to put him to “slavish work,” such as grinding at the handmill and the like.
It must have been this younger Anthony Morris who signed his name, “Morris junr,” at the bottom of a receipt that read: “Reed of Hannah Ring Eighteen Shillings for barrel Ale delivered for funeral of her husband 7mo 4th 1731.”
The Morris brewery was conducted as a family business, handed down from generation to generation, until 1836, when ownership of the concern was taken over by outsiders. Through marriage with the Perot family of French Huguenot background, however, the Morrises have maintained an unbroken connection with the brewing industry. In 1823 Francis Perot married the daughter of Thomas Morris, in whose brewery he had spent six years as apprentice. With brothers, sons and then grandsons in charge, the Perot family have been malting in Philadelphia ever since.
Pennsylvania had made an encouraging, even a spectacular, beginning. It had grown like a balloon; within twenty years, by the end of the century, its main city had a population equal to that of New York (4000). And yet, after about twenty-five years, it began to bog down. Penn died in 1718, but a good many years before that he had relinquished personal control of the province, while remaining proprietor. Relations with the Indians deteriorated; boundary conflicts, like sores, kept irritating the relations between Pennsylvania and her neighbors; and the fine promise of commercial prosperity had been disappointed. The bold Philadelphia printer, Andrew Bradford, was hauled before the Council in 1721 for publishing a pamphlet called “Some Remedies proposed for the restoring of the Sunk Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania.” He was reprimanded for so-called libelous statements.
Yet at the same time, the Council, under Governor Sir William Keith, passed laws designed to improve just those conditions which it had called untrue in Bradford’s case. Among those was an act “for laying a Duty on Wine, Rum, Brandy and Spirits, Molassoes, Cyder, Hops and Flax, imported, landed or brought into this Province.” The self-evident purpose of an act like this was to give aid to home manufactures and, by placing a duty on imported hops, of course, the Council encouraged Pennsylvania farmers to cultivate them locally. Another reason for this act was undoubtedly the wish to cut down supplies of beverages with high alcoholic content, in favor of beer (which did not appear among the list of dutiable items) — but the barn door may have been closed too late, for by the eighteenth century rum was universally available in America, and increasingly popular. Acts of the same kind were passed at intervals by the Provincial Council — in 1738, 1744, etc. — but they appear to have been less than wholly effectual.
And this short history is from the online Museum of Beer and Brewing:
The William Penn Brewery — the staid Quaker build one of the earliest breweries in America near what is now Philadelphia. Part of his lands were colonized by immigrants from the German Palatinate who found Penn’s Product, prepared under the supervision of a Master Brewer from Europe, highly palatable. The first brewery in America was built in New Amsterdam (now New York) in the 17th century about 30 years before Penn’s.
And this is the labels from a beer created to honor William Penn by the now-defunct (I believe) William Penn Brewing Co., which appears to have been a contract beer.