Tracy & Wilkinson Brewery Notes
Compiled by Ed Vidunas

October 15, 2020
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This work is a collection of notes that tries to prove the existence of the Tracey & Wilkinson brewery. It has no conclusion. I can’t point to anything that shows that it did exist but there are too many unanswered questions to say it did not. This started in a 1857 book that has been repeated over the years without verification by third parties.

Key Dates: Rhodes – Tracy & Wilkinson
1854 Tracy & Wilkson brewery assumed to have been a brewery.
1854 Pittsburgh Brewery established, Rhodes & Verner.
1863 James D. Verner no longer with the brewery.
1866 Rhodes leases the brewery to Carson, Darlington & Co.
1868 Carson, Darlington acquires the brewery from Rhodes.
1868 William Tracy is a malster on Scott Alley.
1869 Darlington established a brewery on First Street.
1871 Rhodes re-acquires the brewery.
1881 Pittsburgh Brewery closed.

Oregon Brewery
Pittsburgh as it is: Or Facts & Figures (1857)
Pittsburgh As It Is, Facts & Figures has the Oregon Brewery being at Penn Street, Pittsburgh, being operated by Rhodes & Verner and “established” by Rhodes & Verner in 1854. Penn Street could or should have been noted as Pennsylvania Avenue, which at the time is now Forbes Avenue. David Fawcett and Thomas Walker established the Oregon Brewery in Uptown in 1861.
Pittsburgh in the Centennial Year has the Oregon established in 1840. The location given was Stevenson and Forbes and owned by Pier, Dannels & Co. This is well before Fawcett took over. None of the Pittsburgh Directories even hint of a brewery here before the 1860’s.

Being written only three years after “being established” this assertation has legitimacy.
Richard Ober in 200 Years of Brewing, gives the names Coyle and Bell but the directories do not offer anything to show them with a brewery of at Stevenson.
Ober has the name as Tracy & Wilkins.
See the Oregon Note at the end of this paper.

Tracy & Wilkinson Brewery – Stevenson Street
History of Allegheny County (2008), page 563
Pittsburgh as it is: Or Facts & Figures (1857)
Joshua Rhodes: He then engaged in the brewing business, as head of the firm of Rhodes and Verner, who purchased the brewery of Tracy & Wilkinson. After building a brewery and warehouse, Mr. Rhodes bought the interest of his partner, and afterward sold to Darlington & Co.

Tracy & Wilkinson White Lead Factory
Industries of Pittsburgh (1870)
Rhodes & Verner were to have “bought the building from Fawcett and converted the white lead factory to an ale brewery”. This is wrong as Fawcett operated it as a brewery with Walker, who then sold it to Pier and Dannels. Industries has the white lead building going to Rhodes & Verner who converted it to a brewery and then sold it to Fawcett. I am unable to verify a white lead factory here.

In 1859 Fawcett was an agent at The Point Brewery on Pitt Street. It was owned by George W. Smith. It was after this that in 1861 Fawcett and Walker opened their first brewery on Stevenson Street.

Tracy & Wilkinson Brewery – Barker Alley
We do know that the Oregon Brewery under Fawcett was on Stevenson Street. We also know that Rhodes was on Barker Alley and some suggest that he was on Penn before he was on Barker. There is some evidence to support the Penn Street brewery. We should not discount a white lead factory on Penn.

Anton Benitz Brewery
Anton Benitz’s brewery was at 204 Penn before moving his brewery to the Strip District. He was near Barker and also near James Verner’s malt house. Benitz’s is listed in the 1852 Pittsburgh Directory. Verner, who was a brewer was at 209 Penn. There is no Pittsburgh Directory for 1854 but the 1856 directory has Rhodes and Verner at Penn and Barker.
This strongly suggests that Rhodes and Verner bought Benitz’s brewery.

Rhodes & Verner Brewery – Barker Alley
Sometime after 186 Rhodes and Verner moved from Penn and Barker to Duquesne Way.
What we know:
Benitz was at Penn and Barker in 1852
Rhodes’ first venture in brewing was with Verner in 1852 or 1854.
Rhodes & Verner were at Barker and Penn before being at Barker and Duquesne Way,
No evidence that Rhodes had any connection to a white lead factory.
No collaborating evidence that Rhodes had a connection to Oregon.
No idea where Pittsburgh as it is: Or Facts & Figures (1857) got their information.

Assumptions about Tracey & Wilkinson
Other than the books referenced in this work, no reference to Tracy & Wilkinson can be found.

1847 James Keogh, brewer, lived on Tunnel Street (not far from Stevenson)
1847 Martine Keogh, brewer, lived on Stevenson between Penna Ave. and Margaretta
1847 Thomas Wilson, brewer, Duncan St. Pitt Township (Minersville)

1850-1852 has James Wilkinson, gentleman, retired grocer living at 60 Stevenson.
1852 & 1853 Pittsburgh Directory has Wilkinson Row, Stevenson Street.
This places one of the names at or near the site of the brewery.

Could it be that the name Thomas Wilson was corrupted to Tracy Wilkens?
Could it be that it was further corrupted to Tracy Wilkinson?
The Pittsburgh Directories have used different spellings for people as have officers at Ellis Island recording the names of immigrants.

Reference

200 Years of Brewing in Allegheny County
Richard Ober and Robert Munson, Zepp Publications, 2015

History of Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania, Including its Early Settlement and Progress to the Present Time,
VOLUME 2 PART 2
Published 2008
(This is a republishing of the 1857 book Pittsburgh as it is: Or Facts & Figures)
John Werner: Purchased and rebuilt a brewery. (No timeframe given) Did not obtain a license under the Brooks Law and most of the brewery was confiscated in 1888.

Hughes’ Minors Appeal
Rhodes & Verner offered to rent the Hughes Brewery in the Strip in 1857.

A Genealogical and Biographical History of Allegheny County by Thomas Cushing – 1889 has Rhodes & Verner buying Tracey & Wilkinson.

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Including its ... - Page 563 books.google.com › books
2008 is a direct copy of Cushing’s work.

Industries of Pittsburgh
Published 1870 by the Chamber of Commerce
Identifies Fawcett and Pier & Dannels as having the Oregon Brewery.
Rhodes & Verner bought the building from Fawcett and converted the white lead factory to an ale brewery. This is wrong as Fawcett operated it as a brewery with Walker.
Industries has the white lead building going to Rhodes & Verner who converted it to a brewery and then sold it to Fawcett.

Pittsburgh as it is: Or Facts & Figures
Published 1857
Identifies the Oregon brewer established by Rhodes & Verner in 1854 on Penn St.
Other breweries were identified and all appear to be done so correctly.
The 1854 date and the location seem credible as the book was published only three years after.
The only other documents that could dispute this book are newspaper clippings.

Pittsburgh in the Centennial Year
Published in 1876

Rhodes-Verner-Carson Court Case
Not pertinent to the origin of the Oregon Brewery.
Activity of the Barker Alley brewery after 1866.
The case is Verner versus Carson, et al.
The Baker Alley property was owned by Thomas Scott. It was purchased by Rhodes and Verner.
Rhodes sold to Carson on September 1, 1866. The case involves money but also gives a bit of historical information.
Note: If the link takes you to a Google page simply click the search inside button.

Oregon Note
James Ross had a home on the lot that is now occupied by the City-County Building.
It became known as the “Oregon Lot”. I do not know how this became. Others have used the Oregon Lot and Oregon Brewery in the same breath but I cannot find validity in this nor can I find how the Oregon Lot originated..