11 November 2013

First impressions with online courses

Just a brief note on my first impression about the online course that I am taking from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I am taking a course called Using the Internet.  Although the course only began last week, I am very pleased with it.  The course lasts for six weeks but you can move ahead quicker if you desire. So far I am slightly ahead of the schedule.  You can truly work at your own pace.  The "reading" load is not heavy and is interesting.  Assignments are only required if the student is working on a certificate in one of their programs.  Also I am finding out about many different "gateway" websites that were previously unknown to me.  These sites will definitely further my online research.  I will post a complete review after I complete the course.

08 November 2013

Brief history of German Brewers in Albany

Although I am interested in and research all of my ethnic lines, I have accumulated a huge amount of
German-American history in Albany from my Masters Thesis research .  The following is an excerpt from my 2005 MA Thesis, From Acceptance to Renunication: Das Ende von Albanys Deuschtum. The sub-chapter gives a brief history of Albany's German brewers and the a brief synopsis of the times.

Bier, Joviality, and Celebrations = Gemütlichkeit:[1]
Ethnic membership in any national group holds with it specific cultural characteristics, and German immigrants brought with them to America traits such as a love for beer, singing, festive celebrations, and camaraderie.  These German attributes were opposed by the temperament of mainstream Anglo-America.  The first local organization to disapprove and to attempt to suppress alcohol consumption was the New York State Temperance Society, which was formed on April 2, 1829.  The group also ventured to limit the sale of intoxicating beverages.  The society was supported by numerous philanthropic citizens, and its influence spread throughout the state.  By March 1832 the society was publishing its principal organ, The Temperance Recorder, in Albany.[2]  Also in 1832 there were fourteen temperance societies in Albany with a membership of 4,164.[3]  Many temperance members were native born Americans who desired the arriving Europeans to completely accept the attitudes of Anglo-America for thorough assimilation into American society.  Their belief held that immigrants must discard their cultural heritage and submit to Anglo-conformity.  Historian Andrew P. Yox vividly describes and contrasts the German neighborhood to the “English” district;
Unlike the sedate neighborhoods of the Anglo-Americans, the German district rustled with sounds.  Beer gardens, brass bands, shops, dance halls, and “slumber-breaking” bells, installed in the steeples to rouse the artisans for work, teamed up to deprive the Yankees of their once quiet weekends.  The German community was much younger and more tolerant with regard to beer and dancing and more populated than the Anglo-American sectors.[4]

The temperance movement was viewed by Germans as an issue of Anglo-American Puritanism.  German-Americans opposed laws against alcohol consumption and Sabbath-breaking activities.  From their perspective, such laws reflected the Puritan Sunday.  German-Americans preferred a “Continental Sunday,” where they would spend an afternoon with the entire family at picnics and festivities.[5] Geselligkeit, or sociability, was strong in family settings and in the community feasts attended by German-Americans.  Union College English Professor Codman Hislop describes the Puritan Sunday in Albany during the early nineteenth century;
By order of the Common Council all amusements ceased…The only noise to be heard throughout the city was the occasional rattle of a stagecoach as it toured the city from tavern to tavern to pick up its passengers.  Albanians were expected to be in one of the nineteen churches which held services on that day.[6]

Music, alcohol, and food formed the foundations of German holiday celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, weddings, and baptisms.  Consumption of beer was common practice in German culture. The 1884 Albany Handbook reminds readers that “Twenty years ago lager beer was almost unheard of outside of Germany.  Today it may be called the national drink of America.…” Also, “For many years Albany had been noted for its ale, but it was not until 1878 that it became equally famous for lager.”[7] In 1973 the Knickerbocker News reported that “…by the end of fiscal year, May 1, 1884, 359,203 barrels of malt liquors were produced in the city, an increase of 26,409 barrels above the previous year.”[8]  It is estimated that the total number of barrels can be broken down to approximately 263,500 barrels of ale and almost 95,000 barrels of lager style beer.[9]

A keg of beer aided any festivity and usually prompted a successful venture.  Germans regarded beer as “healthy and nourishing,” and unlike the English language press, German newspapers always printed advertisements for beer and wine, as well as for German Biergartens.[10] A letter to an American in Baltimore was printed in the Albany Evening Times that describes the scene at beer gardens in Vienna;
Beer gardens and beer rooms are everywhere in Vienna and the drinking of beer seems to be regarded as one of the necessaries of life.  It is drank [sic] freely at all the restaurants and is brought as a matter of course to every one as soon as they take a seat at a table.  A man who would undertake to eat without beer would be regarded as a curiosity…Beer is the daily and hourly drink of almost everyone, old and young.  It is part of their daily food, just as coffee and tea is with us.  When families are dining at the restaurants, the beer mug stands by the plate of old and young, male and female, and it is even put to the lips of infants.  Vienna beer does not; however, seem to have any intoxicating effect and it never occasions a headache.  We have seen and been in the company of men who will drink a dozen large glasses in an evening without observing the slightest inebriating effect.  We doubt if they could drink as much American beer with impunity.[11]

The German love for beer is quite evident in the number of German breweries, both large and small that were located in Albany.  John F. Hedrick founded the first large German Lager Bier brewery, the Hedrick Brewing Company in 1852. 
1907 Ad
The Hedrick Brewery produced only one thousand barrels of beer in 1856, but its output increased; by 1878 the brewery was producing three thousand barrels per year, and by 1901 the volume had reached eight thousand barrels per year.  The brewery was located at 426-430 Central Avenue. 

 It ceased producing beer in 1919 and closed down completely in 1925.  However, the brewery survived prohibition and reopened in 1933.  There is conjecture that the reason why the brewery survived was due to the fact that it was owned by Daniel Peter O’Connell (1886-1977), the chairman of the Albany County Democratic Committee.  It has been suggested that it was literally impossible for a tavern owner to obtain a license if the proprietor did not sell Hedrick Beer.[12]  The original brewery buildings have been long torn down; presently the site is home to the Central Towers, owned by the Albany Housing Authority. 

            In 1852 Prussian-born Frederick Hinckel (1832-1881) and Windsheim, Bavarian-born Johann Andreas Schinnerer (1827-1876) established the Cataract Brewery.  Its premises occupied half a city block, bounded by Swan Street, Myrtle and Park Avenues.  By 1864 Hinckel was the sole owner of the business- Schinnerer opened another brewery in Schenectady. 

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In the early 1880s, the brewery’s name was changed to the Hinckel Brewery.  In the 1850s, the brewery produced somewhat small quantities of beer, approximately five hundred barrels of beer a year.  Yet as years passed the brewery substantially increased its output.  In 1886 alone the Hinckel Brewery produced at least thirty-five thousand barrels of beer and employed seventy-five employees.  After the death of Frederick Hinckel Jr. in 1916, family involvement with the brewery ceased.  In 1922 the Hinckel Brewery closed.[13]  In the mid 1980s, the vacant brewery buildings were transformed into a luxurious apartment complex. 

Around the corner from Hinckel brewers was Dobler Brewing Company, bordering Swan and Elm Streets and Myrtle Avenue.  John Dobler founded the business in 1865.  By 1897 the capacity at the brewery was sixty thousand barrels per year, with sixty employees.  The Doblers succumbed to competition from premium breweries throughout the country and sold the Dobler name to the Hampton-Harvard Company of Massachusetts in 1968.[14]  The brewery buildings have long vanished from the streetscape. 

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  Smaller scale breweries owned and operated by German proprietors included Frederick Dietz’s, located on the southwest corner of South Pearl Street and McCarty Avenue.  Today the former site is covered by a bridge with Interstate 787 traveling over it. 

Bavarian born Jacob Kirchner (1811-1882) operated out of 9 Central Avenue and 8-10 Sherman Street.  Today the sites are vacant lots.  Christian Rapp worked out of 65-67 Central Avenue.  Presently, the edifice houses apartments above small business on the ground level.

1876 Ad
William Schindler labored from 393-403 South Pearl Street.  Today the site is home for dilapidated buildings and vacant lots.

At present a vacant lot, 44-46 Third Avenue housed the former brewery of George Weber (1825-1906), brewer of weiss beer.  His business was established in 1858.


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[1] Gemütlichkeit is defined as a convivial atmosphere of genial sociability.
[2] John Homer French, comp., Gazetteer of the State of New York (Syracuse: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860), p. 147.
[3] Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y, p. 340.
[4] Yox, “Bonds of Community: Buffalo’s German Element,” New York History 66(2): 141. O’Connor, German-Americans, pp. 288-292. Regarding Anglo intolerance, see, Reimer, “Ethnicity in Albany, N. Y., 1888-1908,” p. 10. Reimer notes that “by 1811, the Dutch had become so powerless that the new Yankee majority on the Common Council could forbid their main cultural event, the Pinksterfest, as being too boisterous and disorderly to their New England taste.” Similarily, Cuyler Reynolds wrote “No person shall erect any tent, booth or stall within the limits of this city, for the purpose of vending any spirituous liquors, beer, mead or cider, or any kind of meat, fish, cakes or fruit, on the days commonly called Pinxter; nor to collect in numbers for the purpose of gambling or dancing, or any other amusements, in any part of the city, or to march or parade, with or without any kind of music, under a penalty of ten dollars or confinement in jail.”Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, p. 409.
[5] Tolzmann, The German-American Experience, p. 234. Luebke, “The German-American Alliance in Nebraska, 1910-1917,”Nebraska History 49(2): 173-174. Frank C. Nelson, “The German-American Immigrant Struggle,” International Review of History and Political Science 10(1): 39.
[6] Codman Hislop, Albany: Dutch, English, and American (Albany, The Argus Press, 1936), pp. 263-264.
[7] Henry Pitt Phelps, comp., The Albany Hand-Book: A Strangers’ Guide and Residents’ Manual (Albany: Brandow & Barton, Printers and Publishers, 1884), pp. 99-100.
[8] Knickerbocker News, June 7, 1973, 6C:1.
[9] Times Union, July 6, 1986, Supplement, 57:2.
[10] Jay P. Dolan, The Immigrant Church: New York’s Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1975), p. 128. For an advertisement of Ferdinand Lange’s hall and garden located at 72-81 Central Avenue and 293 Washington Avenue, see Albany Freie Blaetter, November 7, 1877.  See, the Albany Evening Journal, July 20, 1888; for a summary of the entertainment at Lange’s, which was provided by visiting German-American singing societies. Morris Gerber reprints a Van Olinda article from the Times Union describing Lange’s in Old Albany, Volume 3, p. 214. Lange always provided music and dancing. The pavilion was always filled to capacity.  He was also famous for his sauerbraten, potato pancakes, kalbschmierbraten, and wienerschnitzel.
[11] Albany Evening Times, July 12, 1878, 1:4.
[12] Stanley M. Axelrod, “A History of the Brewing Industry in the City of Albany, 1683-1965.” (Seminar paper, State University of New York at Albany, 1969), pp. 25-26. Paper in possession of the Albany Hall of Records.
[13] Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y., pp. 559-560. Axelrod, “A History of the Brewing Industry in the City of Albany,” p. 24. Knickerbocker News, June 7, 1973, 6C:1; July 28, 1980.
[14] Axelrod, A History of the Brewing Industry in the City of Albany, 1683-1965, pp. 29-30. n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy (Albany: Albany Taeglicher Herold, 1897), p. 176.
[15] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy (Albany: Albany Taeglicher Herold, 1897), p. 228.