Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Early Salem Beer Press: 1866 Notice of Westacott's Ale

As a pleasant coda to the Minto/Westacott story, here's an unexpected find: What we believe is the first notice of Westacott's brewery, from June 1866, just one year after the civil war ended and seven after statehood:
THE ALE BREWERY - Very few of our citizens are aware of the many improvements being slowly but constantly added to the city. It will be news to most of our readers to learn that Westacott & Co. have recently erected and just put in operation an Ale brewery, a short distance above town, where the best quantity of pure malt dale may be had for a reasonable price. We have tried some of the ale made at the brewery, and for all the uses of a malt liquor we believe it to be far superior to any imported article, for the reason that it is a pure article, and entirely free from the drugs which make up most of the other ales generally sold.
There are lots of interesting things going on in this!

First, the ongoing Salem theme that its citizens aren't aware of the good things going on in the city. Seems to me that's a perennial theme among Salem bloggers!

More specific to beer is the implied denigration of Sam Adolph's beer locally (est 1862) and of "imported articles" (probably from Portland). Third is the pervasiveness of adulterated foods and the claim that other beers are "drugged" - though of course we also have to allow for some newspaperly exaggeration. Fourth, is the notion that the base of Mission street was "above" town. The brewery was upstream. This was 12 years before Bush House was built in 1878, and the Salem settlement was concentrated north of Pringle Creek, several blocks from Mission. The Willamette's course also changed in the 1881 flood (Minto & Brown had islands up to this point), and what we call the slough today was still, I believe, connected to the main stem in 1866.

Also interesting is that Lewis (Maxwell gives Louis, who is a son) Westacott's obituaries omit mention of his brewery.

And as a bonus to the bonus, just above the beer note, is this notice, which gives a little more flavor for early Salem:
MATHENY'S WHARF - We made a visit on Saturday last to the new wharf now in course of construction at the foot of Trade street. The wharf will front 170 [?] feet on the river, with a depth of fifty feet the whole length. It will run back on Trade street 362 feet, including the two-story warehouse. The warehouse in front will be 40 [?] feet front by 80 feet deep and one story in height. The warehouse for general storage, in the rear, is 40 [?] by 35 [?] feet, and two stories high, and will be connected with the water front by railway and cars. The whole improvement is to be of the most substantial character, the front wall being ten feet at the bottom, narrowing to four at the height of fourteen feet, and of solid masonry. It will cost from seven to eight thousand dollars, and will be a great credit not only to the enterprise of Mr. Matheny, but also to the Capital city, and a valuable improvement.
Matheny, of course, is the family after whom the Wheatland ferry boats have been named. This Salem Matheny is Jasper, while the Wheatland one is his father, Daniel.

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