When Hawley, Pennsylvania underwent a major growth period with the arrival of the Pa. Coal Company gravity railroad in 1850, many new businesses were added. Among them was a brewery.

HAWLEY - When Hawley, Pennsylvania underwent a major growth period with the arrival of the Pa. Coal Company gravity railroad in 1850, many new businesses were added. Among them was a brewery.

The first tavern in Hawley opened in 1838. The 1850’s saw the addition of numerous saloons and hotels, in need of a regular supply.

The diverse and growing community also welcomed the establishment of several churches in this decade. Perhaps as a counter weight to the concerns with over indulgence in alcoholic refreshments, an active temperance movement sprang up. Some of the churches are named, associated with the temperance view, in articles found in local newspapers.

The earliest mention of a brewery in Hawley that has been found was in an advertisement in the Wayne County Herald, from Jan. 10, 1860. The ad implies that there was already a brewery here. The ad announced that John N. Hargreaves had leased the Hawley Brewery, and “is now prepared to furnish hotels and saloons with the best quality of beer, porter & c., at all times and at the lowest prices.” Families could also purchase small quantities, “to suit their convenience.”

The 1860 map of Hawley locates a brewery sandwiched on a narrow strip of land between the D&H Canal and the Lackawaxen River, with a nearby bridge over the canal that led to what is now U.S. Route 6, the Texas-Palmyra Highway. In that era this was the Honesdale- Hawley Plank Road, a toll road paved with wooden planks. It was also referred to as First Street, in Hawley.

This is in Palmyra Township, Wayne County west of Hawley Borough, and approximately across from Progressive/Paupack Insurance Agency and “D” Lane.

The 1872 Hawley map, however, shows nothing on the site of the brewery indicated 10 years before. Instead, Samuel Case was operating a brewery just down the road, on the other side, and closer to what is now the borough line.

These two breweries may have made use of the nearby D&H Canal, to transport orders or bring in supplies.

The cave

You may have seen the cave.

Driving by on Route 6 one may glimpse an opening in the hillside, the opening of this blackened cave lined with stone. It sits in the backyard of Leo R. Compton Sr.’s house (which he rents out), and is private property.

Compton stated that the cave is 25 feet deep and is completely lined inside with stone. His grandfather, Clarence Frisbee sold the property to his son John and daughter-in-law Mary Compton, about 1942. Leo was born in Tafton, but he and his older brother and parents moved in 1942 to the property by Hawley which had this cave in the backyard.

John Compton started the automotive repair business across the street.

At that time there were large flagstones on the floor of the cave. Leo recalls that the cave was always cool and “mucky”, and kept the backyard cool. There were stalactites inside, and it was a haven for bats.

It is thought that this is where the brewer, Samuel Case, stored his barrels of beer.

There was also a small structure next to the cave where the Comptons operated a gas station, and had pinball machines. The structure was later expanded to make their house that stands there today.

Samuel Case

The Pa. Coal Company, on November 7, 1861, conveyed the lot to Charles Daniels. He subsequently contracted and sold the property to John H. Hargreaves, on April 29, 1862. A large brewery was erected here. Hargreave’s contract and interest was assigned to Robert Arnold, on May 14, 1862. Charles Daniels then filed suit against Hargreaves in November of 1862.

An early map, which is unfortunately not dated, shows that Charles Daniels owned the brewery at this location. The neighboring property (west of the brewery) was owned by W. N. Case, which is presumably William N. Case, Samuel’s father.

On January 31, 1866, Charles Daniels conveyed the property to Samuel Case. It contained “a large brewery, dwelling house, ice house and other improvements.”

Samuel Case was born about 1834 in Orange County, NY. His father was William N. Case. In the 1870 census, Samuel was listed as a brewer in Hawley, and was 36. His wife was Caroline G. Ketchum Case, and was 30. Children at home were Katie, age 6; Herbert, 4 and Frederick, 3.

Herbert was not listed in the 1880 census.

Mr. Case was active in Wayne County Democratic politics, serving as a delegate in the 1870’s. In February 1879, he was elected as Poor Master for Palmyra Township, along with Jon Weinns. In February 1880 a news brief in the Hawley column, in The Tri-States Union (Port Jervis) mentioned that Case was a candidate for both Poor Master and Supervisor” for Palmyra Township. He has done well for the past year, why not reelect him?,” the correspondent added.

Previous to moving to Hawley, he had served as an Associate Judge in Orange County, and was elected as Justice of the Peace.

Tragedy struck in January 1881. Samuel Case was harvesting ice from the Lackawaxen River, for his brewery, when he fell through the ice. He caught a severe cold, and died soon after at home from its effects, on Saturday, January 29.

He was about 44 years of age, and left behind his wife and his two surviving children.

Later years

Record of what became of the brewery for several years later was not found. It appears that his widow, Caroline, moved back to Orange County. In 1900 she was 59, living in Middletown with her son Frederick, his wife Anna and their daughter, Grace. Frederick Case was a locomotive engineer.

It appears that she died at the age of 87, in Wurtsboro, NY, on Feb. 3, 1924.

Patrick McNally purchased the brewery property at a sheriff’s sale, December 31, 1897. The property was described as having a large frame brewery, frame barn and other improvements. It was seized and taken as the property of Hans Distler’s property at the suit of Patrick McNally.

In February of 1897 he was listed as having applied in Wayne County Court for a license as a brewer. It is not clear if this was a license renewal, or how many years Distler had operated the brewery.

Burned down

The operation, known as Hawley Brewing Company, ended in flames, Tuesday, October 28, 1898.

The fire occurred between 1 and 2 a.m.; the cause was listed as unknown. Hawley Fire Department, described as a “hook and ladder company,” was credited with a prompt response. They were on scene in less than 10 minutes from the first alarm.

“No other buildings were endangered an the boys returned,” The Wayne Independent reported.

Fire had nearly consumed the interior when the flames broke through the roof and the entire structure burned to the ground.

Loss was estimated at $10,000; there was $8,072 worth of insurance. Patrick McNally, of Honesdale, held the mortgage.

A license renewal application had just been filed for the Hawley Brewing Company.

Hans Distler had applied for a hotel license; which hotel he may have operated was not reported.

The Herald newspaper (Honesdale) commented that the Hawley brewery had a history of troubles since it was erected.

A jug

Another possible artifact of the brewery might have been located a few years ago. Just down the street entering Hawley, there was a public bridge that crossed over the canal. This was located west of the present corner where Route 6 turns at the traffic signal, and behind The Settlers Inn. In the 19th century, the canal entered the canal basin across from the site of The Settlers Inn.

The bridge is long gone, but the stone abutments can be made out. Located in the canal bed to one side of the bridge was what appeared to be a fragment of a broken, earthenware jug. It is not unreasonable that some customer of the brewery was heading over the bridge and lost his newly purchased jug. Whatever it may have contained, would have contributed to the flow of the canal.

No information has been found that Samuel Case’s brewery was ever rebuilt.

In September 2017, a new, modern brewery in the Hawley area opened, the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company, also along Route 6 but on the other side of town.

Main sources:

Early newspapers found at fultonhistory.com

Atlas of Wayne County, PA, F. W. Beers & Co. (1872)

Map of Wayne County, PA (1860)

Wayne County Historical Society

Leo R. Compton Sr.