HOME - Red Hook Liquor Stores, Bars, Saloons and Restaurants - India Wharf Brewery - Adams Lumber - Sugar Refineries at India Wharf - Red Hook

Atlantic Flour Mills, Electric Sugar Refinery and Sonoma Wine & Brandy

Hamilton Ave on the India Wharf Near the end of the Atlantic Basin

Listed on the 1861 map as "Smith and Jewell Flour Mill". Structure shown but not labeled on the 1869 map. Listed on the 1880 map unnamed "flour mill". I have found two 1886 maps. One lists the propert as "vacant" the other as "Atlantic Flour". The 1889-90 map of the area lists "Somonia Liguor" in the old mill building. The 1907 map lists the "Sonoma wine & Brandy co. The 1916 map lists Somoma Wine Co. No longer standing.

Atlantic Flour Mill

In 1865 an immense mill was built on Hamilton Avenue by Frederick W. Smith and was subsequently bought in 1866 by his son Francis E. Smith. The Atlantic Flour mill was located at 8, 10 and 12 Hamilton avenue in 1868 and 1870 and 18, 20 & 22 Hamilton Ave. in 1872 and 1875. - Messrs. F. E. Smith & co.

Frederick Smith had been a partner with Jewell and Brothers who owned the Brooklyn Flour Mill on Fulton Street. In 1860 their mill was destroyed by fire. The partnership disolved for various reasons and Smith built the mill on Hamilton ave.

In 1870 Atlantic Flour Mills at Nos 8, 20 and 12 Hamilton Ave was manufacturing FAMILY FLOUR and ATLANTIC and HUDSON from New Wheat. F. D. Smith and Co, (BE, March, 16, 1870)

In March 1871 Atlantic Flour advertised for a cooper.

In 1872 Atlantic Flour advertised PERFECTION F. E. SMITHS' CO.'S CRUSHED WHITE SHEAT, Atlantic Flour Mills, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Atlantic Flour Mills of Brooklyn sold "Smith's Crushed White Wheat Flour" in grocery stores in 1875. They also made "superlative Graham flour".

"Crushed White Wheat." - In answer to many inquiries in regard to crushed white wheat, recently advertised in The Sanitarian, the article known as such is the product of the Atlantic Flour Mills, Brooklyn (Messrs. F. E. Smith & Co.), one of the most complete and perfect establishments in the country. While the proprietors of these mills turn out immense quantities of the finest grades of flour, they are notwithstanding alive to certain conditions not fulfilled by flour in its ordinary aspect; and acting upon the well-known fact that the most highly refined flour is divested of some of its most valuable nutritive elements, they determined to manufacture a coarse flour from the most choice qualities of wheat, for the special benefit, not only of dyspeptics and other invalids, to whom it is particularly well suited, but for all who "prefer to get the most for their money." The process of manufacturing the "crushed white wheat" consists in "thoroughly softening the grain in every part. The hard crust containing the gluten or nitrogeneous elements is put into proper condition to cook quickly and uniformly with the soft and crumbly portion of the centre, being the carbonaceous portion. The wheat used is of the Choicest kind, raised in the best wheat-growing sections of the United States. It is first thoroughly cleaned and purified from all extraneous admixture, by the most complete and severe mechanical contrivances, and prepared in such a manner that all of the elements of the grain are preserved. The iron and silex are preserved in the outer or true bran; in this portion of the berry also lies the greatest amount of waste, which is a natural stimulant, and greatly assists nature in keeping the bowels and digestive organs in proper and healthful action. Excepting for those who have particularly irritable digestive organs, this is certainly one of the most wholesome preparations of wheat ever produced."

The Sanitaian 1875

CRUSHED WHITE WHEAT. We question if there is a better food than tins article, manufactured by F. E. Smith & Co., at the Atlantic Flour Mills, Hamilton Avenue, Brooklyn. While the appetite not unfrequently inclines to reject the commoner kinds of "cracked wheat," it speedily comes to crave this delicate, sweet and light-colored crushed grain. We are constantly using it in our family, and can say, truthfully, that our "children cry for it." Eaten with cream and sugar it is a delicious dish. With this bruised grain as a basis, a multitude of most appetising and healthful dishes can be fabricated, as may be seen by a pamphlet issued by Messrs. Smith & Co., which they will send on application.

Hall's journal of health, Volume 20, 1873

The property was a brick building 75 feet by 200 feet five stories and a basement. The mill backed up to the Atlantic Basin and bragged of a "powerful" elevator whereby the grain could be be taken directly out af the vessel and transported to any floor of the mill. The mills had an output of 600 barrels of flour a day.

An 1880 map lists "Flour Mill" at this address.

In 1880 the flour was backed in 200 pound bags and sent down a shoot, a distance of 43 feet, into awaiting lighters. (BE)

The Atlantic Flour Mills at No 20 Hamilton Avenue was sold under foreclosure to James D. Fish (another article says Joshua Fisk) of New York for $103,000 (BE Sept 7 1881). In August 1882 the Atlantic Flour Mill, Foot of Hamilton Avenue was sold in foreclosure. The mills were said to have been built in 1865 by Frederick W. Smith and sold in 1866 to his son, Francis E. Smith, for $250,000. At that time a mortgage of $8,000 was held by Josiah M Fisk. Francis E. Smith executed multipul mortgages on the property to various lenders including to Richard H Vaughan for $91,435 in 1879. Vaughan and Smith went into the flour business together. Vaughan eventually took title and added machinery and improved the refining to an output of 600 barrels a day. The building was said to be a 5 story brick with a basement 75 feet by 200 feet.

Richard H. Vaughan of the firm of f. E. Smith & co. proprietors of the Atlantic Mills, Brooklyn died in the Remsen House of pneumonia in April 1882. He was 53 and a well known member of the New York Produce Exchange. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

In late 1882 the mills were for sale by the sheriffs office. Vaughan's personal property was valued at $50,000.

In 1882 the old Atlantic Flour Mill on Hamiton Ave was described as having a frontage of 70 feet and "forming the back ground of the North Pier" of the Atlantic basin for a total depth of 200 feet. At the rear of the building was a powerful grain elevator "by which the grain can be taken right out of the vessel in bulk and conveyed to any portion of the edifice." The mill was to be sold at foreclosure in August 1882.

In 1884 three brother, four sisters and one nephew were vying for the fortune left by Richard H. Vaughn who had died intestate. The mill on Hamilton was heavily mortgaged and sold for less than the amount of the mortgages. The personal estate was insolvent and and was only sufficient to pay about 60% of the claims against it.

By 1888 the large former flour mill and warehouse on Hamiton Avenue was deserted.

Electric Sugar Refinery

For at least a short while circa 1889 the "Electric Sugar Refinery" occupied the old flour mill. Several articles in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1889 indicated a level of secrecy surrounding this establishments. In January 1889 The Evening World ran an article about the Electric sugar Refining Company which had been operating in the old Atlantic Flour building. The stock had bee as high as $450 a share but had dropped to "less than nothing". In 1890 the "Electric Sugar Refinery" was listed at Atlantic Basin. Interestingly "Electric Sugar" refining was a fraud. The "inventor", Prof. Henry S. Friend, claimed he could refine sugar faster and cheaper than other methods. He also claimed that he could produce 100 pounds of refined sugar from 100 pounds of raw sugar - nothing lost in the process. He and his collaborators insisted on keeping their method secret indicating only that it involved electricity. After duping investors it turned out that they simply switched refined for raw and hid the evidence. Being near the river was an important component of the swindle. The raw sugar was dumped into the sewer and taken away with the tide. There were international repercussions as many of the investors were from England. The scandal and the insuring events were written up in the New York Times and trade journals of the time. There is a lot on the internet about the sugar refining fraud. It is an interesting story.

Mrs. Friend, W. O. Howard (the stepfather of Mrs. Friend) and his wife, her father and mother, and Gus and George Halstead were also implicated in the fraud. Others involved in the sceme were: J. U. Robertson, William H. Cotterill, Englishmen, and Mr. Woodworth.

An Irishman, Jerry Flanagan, was the "stalwart" watchmen, who kept the all but the "electrical experts" at bay.

Professor Friend died in March 1888. His wife, who claimed to know the secret, carried on for a while in the Professor's name. Eventually, when she could no longer maintain the facade, she fled to Milan, Michigan, her former home. She was followed by Mr. Robertson and Mr. Conterill who pleaded with her to reveal the secret. Soon the truth was disclosed.

Jerry Flanagan turned states evident. Mrs. Friend, Mr. and Mrs. Howard, and the Halsteads were to be prosecuted. No arrests had been made as of January 5, 1889 Mr. Robertson said this of the Friends and Halsteads:

Friend was born 1812 in New York. His father was French and his mother was Welch. He had a magnetic personality.
"Howard is fifty-two years old, 6 feet 1 1/2 inched in height and affects a ministerial air. He is a swindler from way back. Mrs. Howard is a blooming bonny woman of thirty three.


Mrs. Friend is a monster. She weighs 350 pounds and I could not circle her waist with my arms. She waas addicted to drink.

The Electric Sugar Refinery was said to be a six story building with 100 feet frontage on Hamilton street, near the ferry.

Sonoma Wine & Brandy

The 1889-90 map of the area lists "Somonia Liquor" in the old mill building. The 1907 map lists the "Sonoma wine & Brandy co. The 1916 map lists Somoma Wine Co.

In May 1901 the Sonoma Wines and Brandy Company at 18, 20, and 22 Hamilton Ave Brooklyn suffered a major fire at their five story storage, refining, and distributing plant. The aroma and fumes of the burning liquor cause the firemen to have to repeatedly retreat from the blaze. The fire started around 9:30 on the top floor of the five story building. Four alarms were sent in and the fireboats Seth Low and David A Boody were called to the scene. "It was said that between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 gallons of wine, brandy and other spirits were stored in the building, mostly on the lower floors." Damage was estimated between $100,000 and $150,000. Thousands gathered to watch the fire. (NYTimes, May 14, 1901)

In July 1902 the building was occupied by the Sonoma Wine and Brandy company when a four alarm fire broke out. The hugh five story brick building was ablaze from the cellar up. A brick wind was blowing threatening to spread the fire to other buildings. Since the building contained a large amount of potentially explosive spirits the firefighters had to be very careful as they tried to contain the fire. There was an explosion causing a "shower of brick and blinding mortar" when the cornice and rear wall was blown out. The fire was fiercest on the Atlantic basin side and the fireboat David S Boody continually sprayed the building with bay water. The building contained hugh cases of wine and brandy some of which burst in the intense heat. An immense crowd gathered and had to be contained by the police. Miraculously the firefighters saved the building and even most of the rear wall. Most of the stock was saved. The loss was estimated at $40,000. The loss was later revised to $79,822. (BE)

Sonoma Wine and Brandy Co was listed at 18 Hamilton Ave in 1899, 1913 and 1917.

Sonoma Wine and Brandy Co of Brooklyn was incorporated in 1903.

Edmund Yates Kittredge of the Harvard class of 1894 was associated with the Sonoma Wine & Brandy co since 1895. (Annual record of assessed valuation of real estate in the city of ... - Page 55) 1897

Michael H Curley born 1840 in Tuam Co Galway, Ireland died 1918. After numerous business ventures in various parts of the US he became on of the owners of Sonoma Wine & Brandy of Stockton Cal and Brooklyn New York.

Atlantic Flour Mills F. E. Smith & co.

The Evening World, 5 January 1889


1880 Map, New York Public Library

India Wharf with The Atlantic Flour company, J. Birkbeck and Company sugar refinery and the abandoned Santa Rosa Sugar Refinery. the red indicates brick buildings. The yellow indicates a wood frame building. The "white" indicates open spaces including yards, streets, piers etc. The grey lines indicate water.

See India Wharf Brewing co. and/or Sugar Refineries

1886 Map, New York Public Library

India Wharf with The Atlantic Flour company, Sugar House and the abandoned Santa Rosa Sugar Refinery as a storehouse in 1886. The red indicates brick buildings. The yellow indicates a wood frame building. The "white" indicates open spaces including yards, streets, piers etc. The grey lines indicate water.

1906 Map, New York Public Library

India Wharf with Sonoma Wine and Brandy co. Atlantic Sugar Co. India Wharf Brewing company. The red indicates brick buildings. The yellow indicates a wood frame building. The "white" indicates open spaces including yards, streets, piers etc. The blue indicates water.

If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at maggie@maggieblanck.com

Adams Lumber
India Wharf Brewery
Sugar Refineries at India Wharf
Red Hook
Liquor Stores Red Hood 1870 and later
Red Hood Industry mid to late 1800s
Life in Red Hood mid to late 1800s

If you wish to use any of the images or information on this page please feel free to do so provided that you give proper acknowledgement to this web site and include the same acknowledgments that I have made to the provenience of the image or information. Thanks, Maggie

© Maggie Land Blanck - Page created January 2013 - a branch of a page created in 2004 - updated October 2014