Newport's First Brewery


by Margaret Strebel Hartman
Original article at the Campbell County Historical Society


The earliest record that I have found of a brewery was that of James Smith in Newport.  James may have come from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, for that is where his father, James, died prior to January 18, 1786.  The widow, Susannah, and perhaps the mother of our James, then married a John Smith and moved to the Spanish dominion of the Mississippi. Our James had a sister, Susannah, who married Isaac Davee about the year 1793.  Whether our James went to Mississippi is unknown, but, as early as September 5, 1796, he purchased the lot #17 in the town of Newport, which was located. on the esplanade, the second lot from York Street.  Later he purchased other in lots and outs lots; he also owned land in Boone and Pendleton counties in Kentucky.

The first proof I have that he was a "Brewer" was on April 5, 1798 when he sold out lots 15 and 18 to Richard Southgate. By the 11th of May 1807, James had died and among the items in the inventory of his estate were two barrels containing beer, tubs and barrels in "Brue house" and steel mault mill &c. The closest that I can come to pinning down the exact location of the brewery is from a record where Sarah, the widow of James, rented "two lots of ground near the old Brew House" on April 24, 1815 to Joel Hill  "for the making of bricks thereon."

 James had purchased in lot 103, at the southeast corner of Bellevue (Fourth) and Cabot (Central) streets; in lot 9l, at the northwest corner of Bellevue and Cabot streets and in lots 99 and 100 located on Bellevue Street between Cabot and Isabella streets.  It would appear that the "Brue house" was on lot 91 or 103 and Joel Hill made his bricks on lots 99 and 100.

Sarah signed the following note which was witnessed by John McClure:

"Cincinnati Dec 19, 1807; received of James McClure on account of Joseph Todd two barrels of Beer the Barrels to be returned to J McClure. I say Recd by Me. Sarah (X) Downard"


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