According to the “History of Long Island” dated 1903, Elbert Matthews was a life-long resident of Hempstead. At the time of his death in 1891, he was proprietor of the Long Island Hotel and ran a business bottling soda and mineral waters. He ran the hotel for twenty years (dating it to 1871), but the story is not clear on how long he had the bottling business. The 1880 census listed Matthews as a manufacturer of soda water so it probably dates to the 1870’s as well.
After Elbert passed away, his widow Mary managed both the hotel and bottling business for the next eight years. According to an article in the December 7, 1892 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Mary Matthews is the widow of the late Elbert Matthews whose success in the bottling of mineral waters brought him a fortune and an extended acquaintence in Queens County. Mr. Matthews died a year ago leaving his property to his wife. His real estate included the bottling establishment and the Long Island Hotel, a well-known hostelry in Hempstead Village. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Matthews employed a superintendent to run the bottling business and also concluded to run the hotel with the assistance of a hired man.
Mary conducted the business until 1899, when two of her sons, Irvin A. and Charles S. purchased the business. Subsequently both the hotel and bottling business were continued under the name of “E. Matthews Sons.”
The August 1, 1947 issue of the “Nassau Daily Review Star” made mention of the Matthews’ business saying that at some point they took on a brewery agency and sold to all sections of Hempstead and North Hempstead. Takeover of the brewery agency had to occur prior to the sons purchasing the business in 1899 because I’ve found bottles embossed “lager beer” both prior to and after the name change.
By the early 1900’s the business was bottling beer, liquor and mineral water as evidenced by this 1906 advertisement that appeared in the Hempstead Sentinel. This advertisement is the first and only time I’ve seen the name “Nassau Bottling Company” associated with their operation.
It’s not clear exactly when the business ended but it was likely sometime between 1906, when this advertisement was published, and 1910, when both sons listed their occupation as “trucking” in census records.
On a final note: In the “Hempstead” section of the 1890 Lain’s Business Directory, E Matthews was listed as a ” bottler,” Main c. Centre, and “hotel” at 57 Main Street. The Hempstead Public Library has several historic photographs of the hotel, some after the blizzard of 1888. It was a three-story wood frame building not much bigger than a house with a canopy extending out over the sidewalk. According to the 1903 History of Long Island:
The object of the hotel was to maintain a cozy, home-like hostelry for the accommodation of the traveling public and for those who seek quiet and pleasant surroundings.
A total of five bottles have been found, all different styles:
- A Hutchinson embossed E Matthews.
- A champagne style (12 oz) with an applied blob finish embossed E Matthews, Lager Beer on a slug plate.
- A champagne style (12 oz) with a tooled blob finish embossed E Matthews, Lager Beer on a private mold.
- A champagne style (12 oz) with a tooled blob finish embossed E Matthews Sons, Lager Beer on a slug plate.
- A honey brown champagne style (12 oz) with a tooled crown finish embossed E Matthews Sons on a slug plate.
The first three date to before the sons took over the business so they’re pre-1899. The first two are probably early 1890’s. The third was found together with the fourth so they probably date to right around the take over date; say 1898 (E Matthews)-1900 (E Matthews Sons). The fifth is a crown top and likely dates to the early 1900’s.