Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
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Red Hook, Brooklyn, Liquor "Dealers" Mid to Late 1800s

My family were German and Norwegian immigrants who lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn circa 1882 to 1890. Both families subsequently moved to Hoboken, New Jersey where there was large German population and a fair number of Norwegian immigrants.

Until the relatively recent artist revival, Red Hook had a reputation as an unsavory place. How and when did Red Hook's tough reputation come about? What was Red Hook like in the 1880s and 1890s?

Red Hook in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s.

In the 1860 and 1870s Red Hook was the home of sailors and "working class" laborers. It was also the home of small business men and local politicians. The population was predominately Irish and German (with as sprinkling of other nationalities, mostly northern Europeans: Scandinavians, Scotts, English). In the 1880 the neighborhood was embracing more Scandinavians and Italians, but its foreign born population was still predominantly Irish and German.

Both the working class AND the Irish and Germans had reputations as "drinkers". From its inception Red Hook was a port which meant that seamen from around the world stopped at its shores and visited its saloons, eateries and boarding houses.

Red Hook Liquor Dealers

The 1860 Census for Ward 12 indicates only 27 people who gave their occupation as liquor dealers. In 1860 there are 54 grocers and the later records show that many grocers also sold liquor. In May 1867 sixteen excise licenses (licenses to sell alcohol) were granted in the 12th Ward.

In Ward 12 in March 1870 124 liquor licences were granted. The majority of those receiving these licences were "retail liquor dealers". This number may be exaggerated and reflect duplication or just plain old misinformation. In any event, there was a large increase in the number of licenses granted between 1867 and 1870. Many of these licenses were granted to men and women who had other business in the neighborhood. Having a liquor licences appears to have been a lucrative business move.

The population of the 12th ward increased from about 11,107 to 18,360 between 1860 and 1870 - an increase of almost 65%.

There was a difference in the fee between those licensed to sell only beer and those licensed to sell "spirits". In 1875 there was a $75 annual fee to sell spirits and a $30 annual fee to sell lager beer. In 1875 there were 3,500 to 4,000 licensed liquor dealers in Brooklyn.

What were these establishments like? Some of the "retail liquor dealers" were also the proprietors of "grocery stores". Did this mean they had a "bar" or "saloon" next to their grocery store or did they sell by the bottle out of a store? Were they selling by the glass? by the bottle? whiskey? poteen? wine? and or beer?

Based on news reports some of these establishments did have a "bar" with the bartender on one side and the customers on the other side. Some saloons had barrels for seats. Some bars served lager beer and at least one served burbon. Many of the saloons/restaurants which served liquor had back rooms. Some had upstairs rooms.

Retail liquor dealers paid "excise" taxes. An excise tas was/is a tax paid on a specific good, in the case of Red Hook in the mid 1880 this meant more of less "liquor". The liquor dealers were members of associations. Many saloon owners, especially among the Irish and Germans, were minor elected officials. If the census is a true indication they frequently had servants and owned property.

Laborers, factory workers, dock workers, etc. worked 6 days a week. The only day they had off was Sunday. This was the only day a working man and his family could relax and perhaps go to a beer hall or bar.

Excise and Sunday laws mandated that establishments which sold alcohol had to be closed between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday.

The Sunday "blue laws" changed over time. The Raines Law passed in March 1896, still prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday but made an exceptions for hotels - a place where one could get a bedroom and a meal. A "hotel" had to have at least ten rooms and serve at least sandwiches. Many Raines Law hotels were opened above saloons. Some of the sandwiches served in Raines Law hotels were composed of bread with a brick in between. These hotels contributed to prostitution making the moral situation worse instead of better.

My plan is to focus on the section of Red Hook that was in Ward 12 and is/was bounded by Hamilton avenue on the north, the Erie Basin on the south, Dwight street on the east and the East River on the west. I have included a few places not within these boundaries.

As a jumping off point I have used an 1886 map of Ward 12 which includes the above boundaries and an 1870 list of liquor dealers in Ward 12. The map shows buildings, some with addresses, and indicates whether they were of wood frame, brick or stone. The 1875 Census also listed the type of construction.

Red Hook Growth

The 1860 Census for Ward 12 (which was basically Red Hook) was taken in two sections:

  1. District 1: 118 pages with 40 people per page plus one page of 27 for a total of 4,747 people in 433 dwellings which housed 1,063 families. There were 31 "grocers", 2 boarding houses, 6 butchers, 18 liquor dealers, 1 hotel keeper 2 druggists and 1 candy store in District 1.

  2. District 2: 159 pages with 40 people per page plus one page of 4 people for a total of 6,360 people in 819 dwellings which houses 1,375 families. There were 23 grocers, 9 butchers, 7 liquor dealers, 3 storekeepers, 1 apothecary and 12 liquor and grocery. There was also one photographer.

  3. Totals for Ward 12 in 1860: Dwellings 1,252, Families, 2,439, People 11,107, Groceries, 54, Liquor dealers, 27.

The 1870 census for Ward 12 Brooklyn was taken in two sections:
  1. Page 1 to 220 was recorded with 987 dwellings and 1922 families in "August".

  2. Pages 1 to 239 was recorded with 911 dwellings and 2041 families in "July".

There are 459 pages with 40 lines per page - each line representing one person. The estimate (plus or minus a few people) would be 18,360 people in a total of 1,898 dwellings - 3,963 families. There were 124 liquor venders listed on the 1870 Brooklyn Eagle list - one liquor store for every 32 families. Of course, it must be remembered that there was a high transient population in Red Hook - mostly sailors and boatmen of various kinds.

In the 1880 Census Ward 12 was divided into 8 Election districts. There were 50 people listed on each page (more or less):

  1. 2nd ED, 53 pages plus 40 people on page 54, total 2,690, dwellings 236 families 488

  2. 3rd ED, 58 pages plus 20 people on page 60, total 2,920, dwellings 355 families 597

  3. 4 ED, 60 pages plus 28 people on page 61, total 3028, dwellings 228, families 646

  4. 5th ED, 58 pages plus 22 on page 59, total 2,922, dwellings 363, families 613

  5. 6th ED, 37 pages plus 5 on page 37, total 1,855, dwellings 283, families 408

  6. 7th ED, 56 pages plus 21 on page 57, total 2, 821, dwellings 150, families 371

  7. 7th ED 14 full pages total 700, dwellings 73, families 149

  8. 8th ED 58 pages plus 22 on page 59, dwellings 286, families 548

Totals: People 19,858, Dwellings 1,973, Families 3,820

Question: Was there a 1st ED?

Increases between 1860, 1870 and 1880:

1860 1,252 2,439 11,107
1870 1,8983,963 18,360

1860 liquor dealers = 27 versus 1870 = 124


Temperance is the virtue of being moderate in action, thought, and feeling. The word became attached to the "Temperance movement" which preached total abstinence from any type of alcohol.

Much of the population in Red Hook came from cultures where drinking was commonplace. The Irish were known for their love of whiskey. The Germans were big beer drinkers, even German children drank beer. The Scandinavians were also imbibers of beer. Sailors were notorious for being intoxicated while ashore. The drinking habits of the population of Red Hook were in conflict with a growing temperance movement in the United States in the mid to late 1800s.

In 1874 "lady crusader" were active across the county holding "Prayer Meetings" in front of saloons.

When the Norwegian Seamen's Mission was established in Red Hook in 1878 "the object was to give spiritual aid to these many wanderers and provide interventions against the many evils besetting strangers in this city and New York."

Scandinavians later established the Sailor's Temperance Hall on Hamilton Ave and the Bethesda mission on Woodhull street.

Temperance versus Indulgence

In 1866 Elizabeth Stackpole testified in a murder hearing:

"On Sunday evening the 15th my husband went to the temperance meeting and I went to Terry O'Neil's for a quart of ale".
I found this very funny. But the Temperance Hall was used for meetings of all kinds including the 1884 MEETING OF LIQUOR DEALERS
"A meeting of the twelfth ward Liquor Dealers' Protective Association will be held in Temperance Hall, on Hamilton ave, at 3 o'clock for the purpose of perfecting their organization."

Temperance Hall, Hamilton Ave at Hicks 1865 - 1881, seating 1,500

Temperance Hall was a 94 feet by 22 feet Doric style brick building with brown trim build by James Ashfield and P. M. O'Brien. It consisted of two large rooms - one in the basement and the other on the main floor. There was a stage at the end of the main floor room. The building's insides were unadorned except for two paintings. A description written in 1867 of "two very excellent paintings" "representing in tragic contrast the home of the drunkard and that of the total abstainer." The painting on the left showed a middle aged drunkard, with "startling eyes and unkempt locks" with his wretched family, his wife and children, attired in rags, surrounding an empty table. The opposing image is of a well clad, handsome man and his family at a well ladened table. The suggestion being that abstinence makes one "happy, wealthy, younger, and better looking."

Temperance Hall was used for Fenian meetings in 1865, Land League meetings in 1881 to 1883. Many political meetings were held in Temperance Hall. Plays were presented. Lectures were given. In 1872 it was used to hold mass for the German Catholic population of South Brooklyn. It was also the home of worship for other dominations and sects. In 1880 it was the venue of a boxing exhibition by Mike Donovan, a middle weight champion. It was the site of numerous benefits and fairs. Temperances meetings were also held in the hall.

See Temperance

The Excise Laws

Ward twelve saloons and liquor stores were frequently found operating "full blast" in "flagrant violation" of the Sunday Excise laws.

Violations included serving liquor on Sundays and serving liquor to minors. No age limit is given but there is mention of selling liquor to 7 and 8 year olds. When I was 5 or six years old (circa 1950) my family lived in a small town on Long Island. My parents frequently sent my brother (then 7 or 8) and I across the street to the grocery store for beer. No problem.

A Red Hook Saloon

From various contemporary news articles some elements of the Red Hook Bar can be surmised.


Many saloons served lager beer. In 1866 bourbon was served in at least one bar. Ale could be bough by the pint or quart to be carried away. In 1877 lager beer was 5 cents a glass. Beer was available in a "can" in 1885.


In March 1877 a liquor and oyster saloon was up for a 3 to 5 year lease on Hamilton Ave. (The number is smudged so I cannot read it.)


Barrels were used for stools. In 1887 a bar at 179 Richards street had a sideboard behind the bar. Also in 1887 men were standing at the bar at 149 Hamilton avenue. In 1889 at the same address there were tables with empty beer glasses on them.


In 1877 the bar owned by Thomas Doran was illuminated by gas lamps.


Most saloons and grocery stores were heated by stoves. Coal boxes and wood boxes were mentioned.


In 1877 the Doran family were living above the saloon they ran. They had a "bar" which separated customers from the barkeeper.

Back rooms are frequently mentioned. John Behnken had a back room at his store on Commerce and Van Brunt. See Behnken

Names of Establishments

In 1873 a liquor store on Elizabeth near the Erie Basin was known as the Bay House when its owner died and the place was but up for sale.

Types of Buildings

Ads for places for rent or sale give some indication of the size and type of buildings that housed the Red Hook liquor and/or grocery store:

  • 1862: FOR SALE 3 story brick s[outh] corner Van Brunt and Tremont; occupied as a bakery would be good for grocery

  • 1871: FOR SALE 3 story frame high cellar, 12 rooms with store 38?x24 stable in rear, good location for grocery or liquor store n. e. corner of Van Brunt and Dikeman (Note: 361 Van Brunt, Daniel Doghtery ran a liquor store at this location from 1873 to 1877, MLB)

  • An ad for 143 Conover Street ran for several months in late 1887 early 1888:
    • October 1887 TO LET STORE AND THREE ROOMS water, plate glass front, good order, thickly settled neighborhood not far from ferry, good location for grocer, barber, confectioner, etc, rent $15, balance of month free. 143 Conover st near King

    • December 1887 TO LET - STORE AND TRHREE ROOMS, with water, plate glass front, counters, shelves, and fixtures, all in good order, immediate possession rent $16, balance of month fee. No 143 Conover st. near King.

    • February 1888 GROCERY STORE FOR SALE NO other grocery on the block; reason for selling leaving city, 143 Conover st.

    • 143 Conover was between Sullivan and King. In 1896 143 Conover was described as a four story brick apartment house with store on a 25x100 lot. This is not necessarily what the building was like in 1888.

  • Another add in 1891 was for the sale of a liquor saloon "cheap one of the best paying corner liquor saloons in Brooklyn."

  • April 07, 1891 Ad for
    A First Class and Handsomely fitted up saloon with billiard tables, etc, for sale by a party now engaged in another business. For further particulars apply at the India Wharf Brewing Company Co. Hamilton av Brooklyn.
  • Cliental

    I would assume that the Irish went to Irish bars and the German to German bars but I have not found absolute proof of this. A story about a bar on the Inda Wharf indicated that it was frequented by German seamen. On June 25, 1895 a two story brick building at the corner of India Wharf and Atlantic dock was condemned as unsafe. There were five families living in the building and a liquor store on the first floor. The saloon was "frequented by officers and seamen of the Hamburg line and other German lines also by longshoremen."

    Women in Bars and Liquor Stores

    Walt Kuhn (1880-1949) "Eye Opener" 1906

    Walt Kuhn was born in Red Hook in 1880 to German immigrant parents. Kuhn

    Bar Fights

    Bar fights were common: In 1877 during a quarrel at a liquor store at Van brunt and Dikeman one man threw a seven barreled loaded revolver at another man.

    1875 August: A fight at the corner of Conover and Reed resulted in one man being cut in the back with a broken beer glass.

    1876 March: A fight at Michael Costello's bar at the corner of Conover and Reed followed several rounds of drinks and several hands of cards. It culminated with one man stabbing another in the abdomen with a knife. The perpetrators tried to keep the incident from the police but the seriousness of the wound necessitated calling a physician who reported the event to the authorities.

    1884, April, about eight young men "most of them under the influence of liquor" attempted to enter the liquor store of charles Smith at the corner of Richards and Wolcott. When Smith refused to let them in they threatened to break the windows and kick the door down. Smith fired a shot at them "through the door".

    Walt Kuhn "Bar Fight" 1919 one of 29 pieces from "An Imaginary History of the West"

    Walt Kuhn parents owned a boarding house where he quite likely saw a bar fight or two. See Kuhn

    Liquor Dealer shot his Wife and Then Himself

    September 24, 1861 Bernard Reenan, age 40, who ran a grocery and liquor store at the corner of Conover and Reid where he lived with his wife and children, shot his wife, Ellen age 38, and then threw himself in the water off Red Hook Point where he drowned. They were survived by three children including their eight year old son, Peter, a daughter and a infant sex not mentioned. The house that they owned at the corner of Conover and Reid was described as a three story brick. "Reenan was in good circumstances, if not quite wealthy. The parties were natives of Ireland"

    Card Playing

    1889 April 1, Edward Meyers a saloonkeeper of Conover street and India Wharf was arrested for violation of the Excise Law. Police officers entered the saloon from a side door and "found half a dozen men playing cards".

    August Swanberg at 147 Van Brunt and Neighborhood Opposition to Saloons

    August Schwanberg (Swanberg) was born in Goteborg [Gothenborg?], Sweden in 1857. Note: According to his descendent Eileen Swanberg he was born in 1852.

    In the 1892 Brooklyn Census he was listed as a 35 year old liquor dealer born in Sweden - no address listed. In 1895 August Swanburg was denied a liquor licence for his establishment at 147 Van Brunt because his saloon was too close too a church.

    Again in February 1896 the saloon of August Schwanberg at 147 Van Brunt was declared to close too a Church. It was said to be 167 feet from the Alice Chapel and less that 200 feet from a kindergarten school conducted under the auspices of the Children's Aid Society. It was decided that the saloon had to close. The Exercise Commission met on February 27th and denied renewal of the license to August "Schwanberg, 147 Van Brunt (NY Times).

    This does not appear to have happened because in 1897 August "Swanberg" had a restaurant/saloon" at 147 Van Brunt. Swanberg August liquors Carroll and Van Brunt h 147 Van Brunt (1897 City Directory).

    The building had a rear door though which customers could enter.

    There was a major case and trial of a policeman involving an incident in February 1897 at 147 Van Brunt. A young woman was in the establishment around 2'o'clock in the morning drinking coffee. Two men entered; one was a policeman. They tried to enter into a conversation with the young woman and she rebuffed them. They ordered the bartender, John Johnson "a brawny Swede", to take the young woman to a room upstates. He refused. A fight ensued. In September 1897:


    HE CLUBBED BARTENDER JOHN JOHNSON IN A SALOON. Policeman William Baker, who was jointly indicted with Thomas Mahan for assault in the second degree, was convicted by a Jury before Judge Hurd, in the Supreme Court, yesterday afternoon. Baker was accused of clubbing John Johnson, a bartender, of 282 Columbia street, in August Swanberg's saloon, at 147 Van Brunt street, on the morning of Feb. 4 last. Baker was a probationary policeman attached to the Eleventh precinct. He entered the rear room of the store, and when Johnson refused to order a woman who was sitting there to go upstairs, he drew his club and struck the bartender a heavy blow on the forehead, inflicting a dangerous wound. Mahan will be tried separately for the same offence. (Brooklyn Standard Union)

    August (Gustave) Swanburg was a family man by 1896. By 1900 he and his wife, Martha (nee Anderson), had two children August Swanburg age 2 and Abraham Swanburg age 2 months. He was still running a saloon.

    1905: August Swanberg 47, born Norway, Martha Swanberg 33 August Swanberg 7 Abraham Swanberg 5 Lillie Swanberg 1 Ingobor Anderson 70 (wong page comes up on Martha Swanberg died in 1907.

    In 1907 August Swanberg of 4123 Third Avenue and a member of the United Liquor Dealers Association, fought against paying the city to install a water meter on the premises where he lived and ran a liquor store. 4123 Third is in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

    He received a notice to install a Water Commission approved meter or the Water Commission would do it at his expense and put a lien on his property. Mr. Swanberg brought suit against the city and the officers of the Water Commission to prevent the installation. Mr. Swanberg won his case. There was no dispute that the city had the right to sell the water by measure, but it was contended that the city could not put the water measuring machinery on private property and make the customer pay for it. In May 2016 Swanberg descendent Eileen wrote to inform me of this case.

    In 1910 August was listed on Third street with Arnold Hansen 49, born Norway, fireman power station, Pauline Hansen 45, wife, Margaret Hansen 17, daughter, Emma Hansen 14, daughter, August Swanberg 53, ---ther [brother?], born Sweden, saloon keeper, cafe, August Swanberg 11, cousin, A-- Swanberg 10, cousin, Lillian Swanberg 6, cousin, Andrew Swanberg 4, cousin, Berg Anderson 70, mother in law, widowed

    August Nicholas Swanberg 4123 Third Ave, Brooklyn, born Sweden, saloon keeper, age 54, widower, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 24, 1912. It was said he had owned a saloon on Third ave for 15 years. He left 3 sons, August, Abraham and Andrew a daughter, Lillian, a brother Andrew, and two sisters, Annie and Mrs. Emily Olson. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery - the tombstone listed August Swanberg birth May 21, 1857 death Mar 24 1912 - wife, Martha, died January 13, 1907, age 35

    In July 1885 147 Van Brunt was said to be the saloon of John Willis (or Williams) when John Mulvey was found by the local patrolman with his hands in the money drawer. Also in 1885 Hugh Murray and some friends were refused drinks by the bartenter at 147 Van Brunt because they had no money. They responded by breaking bottles and glasses and "were n a fair way to wreck the saloon when the bartender hit Murray several times on the bead with a club. His companions deserted him and after his wounds were dressed he was looked up."

    In 1891 Sweeney, Jas. J liquors was listed at 147 Van Brunt.

    Arrests and Fines for violating the Excise Law

    • 1882: March, William Fee a saloon keeper at Henry and Nelson was arrested for violating the excise law. The saloon was open at three o'clock in the morning and three men were "throwing dice" at a table and two were drinking at the bar. One was drinking beer and the other was drinking whisky.

    • In July 1895 three Brooklyn bartenders were arrested for violating the excise law on an excursion of the Jerome Club of South Brooklyn


    Since owning a liquor store was often a lucrative enterprise liquor stores and saloons were the object of many robberies in Red Hook.

    • In an attempted burglary 2 men tried to enter the liquor saloon of Fred Dippermann on India Wharf Feb 19, 1878.
    • In March 1886 the door of liquor store of James Reilly on Richards street was forced with a jimmy. $8 and a silver watch valued at $5 were taken.

    • At around 2 o'clock on February 17, 1887 in the morning four young burglars ranging in age from 19 to 27 forced their way into Charles Wolfarth's liquor store at 179 Richards street. Police found two of them "helplessly" drunk in the bar, the other two were arrested at their homes. In addition to the liquor they obviously drank they stole three demijohns of liquor and some counterfeit coins - two half dollars, two quarters, and a dime.

    • 1888 Peter McCabe's grocery at 274 Van Brunt was robbed of 12 bottles of cologne and 20 cents.

    Other Problems

    A frequent problem was the customer who came in the bar, had a few drinks and then refused to pay. Sometimes this resulted in a fight. Sometimes it resulted in the police being called. Mostly the saloon just lost the money.

    Patrons tried to pay with counterfeit currency.

    A Red Hook Restaurant

    In 1894 a customer came into as "small restaurant" at 155 Van Brunt. He ordered a hearty meal and "washed it down with a bottle of the best Milwaukee in the house" then started for the door without paying the bill. Two waiter tried to stop him. There was a scuffle and a knife was drawn. No one was seriously hurt. The "customer" was arrested on two charges of felonious assault.

    Moonshine and Poteen

    1869: An illicit still with a capacity of 100 gallons was raided at Conover near King. Several hogsheads of mash were destroyed. The apparatus and one barrel of whiskey were confiscated by the US marshalls.

    1871: James Shannon, a Fire Department, employee, was sentenced to 18 months in prison at the Albany Prison and a $1,000 fine for running an illegal still in the 12th ward. Michael Donnely, a family man with a wife and small children, was convicted of the same offense. He was given the same sentence.

    1873: Despite the report of an illegal still running in the 12th ward the officials were not able to locate it. The revenue department said there was a lot of illicit distilleries in the 12 ward and that ward was being constantly watched.

    1874: August, The IRS uncovered an illicit still in South Brooklyn at 21st near 3rd Ave. One barrel of rum which had already been drawn off and 10,000 gallons of mash were seized. The IRS agents also seized a still and some molasses from the cellar of a blacksmiths shop at 106 Third street.

    1876: April an illicit still neat Columbia and Nelson was raided and a quantity of mash destroyed by the US marshalls.

    1876: In April an illicit still in "full operation" near Columbia and Huntington streets among the shanties of the twelfth ward was raided by the revenuers. They were greeted by "several hundred" men women and children who threw rocks and mud "and other missiles" at the government officers. The still had a capacity for 150 gallons and 40 gallons of rum were seized by the US marshalls. They also destroyed about 500 gallons of molasses mash.

    1876: April The revenuers raided another illicit still near Hicks and Church streets in the 12th ward. In a one story shanty they found a still with a capacity of 200 gallons, in full operation. John Farrell was arrested. The US marshalls destroyed about 2,000 gallons of mash. The marshalls were guarded by the local police against the possible interference of the local residence.

    An Alternative Source of Alcohol

    In 1884 in response to stricter enforcement of the laws against selling liquor on Sundays some people were getting their liquor in drugs stores which were allowed to operate on Sundays.

    Some Red Hook Druggist were:

    1. Gerhard H Sporleder was born in Hamelin, Germany circa 1838. From 1870 to at least 1875 he had a drug store on the corner of Van Brunt and Tremont. He died in 1879 of consumption living a widow, Wilhelmina and no children. He had three surviving brothers, August, Ernst and Herman in Germany. Wilhelmena Sporleder age 83 was still alive in 1920.

    2. Henry A Cammus was born in Hanover circa 1820. He served in the American Civil War. He was listed in the 1860 census as a druggist with his wife Catherine, and children, Herman, Mary and Caroline. Catherine was born in Holland. In 1863 Henry A Cammus had an apothecary on Sullivan street. In 1878 Henry A Cammus was listed as a druggist at 115 Wolcott. From as early as 1873 he was listed at various addresses on Wolcott and Van Brunt. By 1879 he was at 357 Van Brunt. He died in 1885 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

    Liquor Dealers and Local Politics

    Several of the Red Hook liquor dealers were involved in local and state politics including Fred Black, Henry Finkeldey, Fred Graeff, Thomas Dawson, John Dempsey, John Curran, John Kelly, George Higgins, William Hoehn, James (Jimmy) Donovan (an alderman), Thomas (Tommy) Sheridan (an assemblyman) .

    Coffey street is named for Michael J Coffey, a spike driver and a ship caulker who became a ward boss in the 12th Ward circa 1882. Being a ward boss was an avenue to riches. It was said to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among other things ward bosses controlled who got liquor licenses. Michael J Coffey was born in Ireland circa 1841. He became a Brooklyn alderman and then a member of the state assembly. The 1900 census listed him at 42 4th place with his wife Mary, children, Joseph, Florence, James, Marie and a servant. He was said to wear a waxed mustache, a diamont "front", shiny stove pipe hat and patent leather shoes.

    Depperman[n]'s Store, 81 Ferris Street circa 1900. Courtesy Douglas Depperman, June 2013.

    See Depperman

    Leonhard Michel (1847-1926), Brewer

    See Mikes Bottle Room for an image and some information on L Michel Brewing Co. and other wonderful images of old beer bottles.

    Leonhard Michael, brewer, was born to Sebastian Michel at Wald-Michelbach, Hesse Darmstadt, [Germany] September 2, 1847. He immigrated to America from Bremen on March 13, 1865. His son Leonhard Michel Jr was born August 25, 1870 in Richmond Virginia. Leonhard Michel became a US citizen in May 1882. He established India Wharf brewery at Hamilton Ave. Brooklyn in 1889 after working for Yuengling brewery for thirteen years. India Wharf brewery had a capacity of 150,000 barrels a year and maintained one of the largest ice plants in Brooklyn. Leonhard Michel subsequently founded Leonhard Michel Brewing Co. with himself as president and brewmaster, his sons, John Michel, vice president, and Leonhard Michel Jr., treasurer and superintendent. The Michel Brewery was located on Bond Street in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.. The family was listed in the 1900 census in Ward 6 Brooklyn: 25 First Place, Leonhard Michels 53, brewer, Barbara Michels 50, born New York, Leonhard Michels 29, brewer, Frank Michels 26, machinist, John Michels 24, sawyer, all the children born in West Virginia.

    Leonhard Sr. was listed in the 1920 Census in Ward 12: Prospect Park West, Leonhard Michel 73, widowed, brewer, Emma L Michel 43, daughter in law, widowed, Marie Michel 15, granddaughter, Leona Michel 12, granddaughter, Virginia Michel 11, granddaughter, Leonhard Keller 22, grandson, Augustus Keller 18, grandson, Anna Seidel 29, servant, Lena Hogler 27, servant.

    Greenwood: MICHEL, LEONARD P. 1916-09-13 34047 38 (Michel Leonhard P 46 y Sep 10 1916 18808 Kings), MICHEL, LEONHARD 1926-12-09 34047 38, MICHEL, JOHN 1940-01-27 34047 38, MICHEL, EMMA LOUISE 1939-08-13 34047 38, MICHEL, FRANK 1914-12-19 34047 38, MICHEL, BARBARA 1915-06-29 34047 38

    India Wharf Brewing Company 48-60 Hamilton Ave and 14 to 30 Conover Street, Brooklyn New York

    See R. W. Adams Lumber Yard, Atlantic Sugar Refinery - Santa Rosa Sugar Refinery - India Wharf and the India Wharf Brewing co.

    In August 2013 Beth Mcloughlin invited me to "view this photo".

    See Red Hook Streets

    See McGrath

    Life in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the mid to late 1880s

    Retail in Red Hook

    Red Hook Butcher Shops

    Red Hook Restaurants

    Red Hook Celebrities

    1870 Census Brooklyn Ward 12, Liquor stores and saloons

    1870 Census Brooklyn Ward 12, Liquor stores and saloons

    Red Hook Liquor Dealers

    A Survey of Liquor Dealers in Red Hook mid to Late 1800s

    Red Hook Liquor Dealers - The Families

    Balfe - Ball - Baumann - Behnken - Bell - Black - Boysen - Bray - Brickwedel - Callaghan - Carberry - Cassin - Cavanagh - Collimore - Collins - Coogan - Cordes - Curran - Daly - Dawson - Dempsey - Depperman - Devan - Dixon - Dockery - Donovan - Doran - Ehrichs - Fay - Finkeldey - Fitzgerald - Garahan - Gillen - Graef - Haack - Henry - Higgins, Hugh - Higgins, George - Hoehn - - Hoffman - Hughs - Hunold - Hussey - Judge - Kassenbrock - Keleher - Knoop - Krohler - Kuhn - Lamont - Lever - Little - Looney - Madigan - Mahnken - McAvanny - McGee - McGrath - McKenna - McQuade - Meyers - Molloy - Mooney - Moran - Mullady - Munsinger - Murray - Noble - O'Brien - O'Hara - Oberdieck - Powers - Ropke - Schmadeke - Schwanemann - Shea - Sheridan - Siebe - Simmons - Struve - Sullivan - Weinphal - Winkelman -

    If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at

    Norwegians in Red Hook
    Life in Red Hood, Brooklyn mid to late 1800s
    Churches and other institutions in Red Hook
    Industry in Red Hook mid to late 1800s
    By 1920 the five houses between 3 and 9 Second Place were inhabited by Swedes and Norwegians:
    • 3, Norwegian family
    • 3 A, the Gunderson boarding house Swedes and Norwegians,
    • 5, the Johnson boarding house Swedes and Norwegian
    • 7, Norwegian family
    • 7A, The Knudson boading house - Swedes and Norwegians 9, Not known

    Second Place, Brooklyn

    Other Images of Brooklyn

    Please feel free to link to this web page.

    © Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2004 - Latest update, March 2016