SeacoastNH Home

Seacoast New Hampshire
& South Coast Maine

facebook logo

facebook logo

SEE ALL SIGNED BOOKS by J. Dennis Robinson click here
Sing Frank Jones Brewery Song



While rummaging through family artifacts a Portsmouth family discovered these lyrics. Published exclusively on SeacoastNH.con, they offer insights to life in the city and to the political ambitions of the city’s richest man.




JUMP directly to SONG LYRICS 
READ about the discovery of MANUSCRIPT

Jones Beer Drives Away All Pain

We know a good deal about Portsmouth tycoon Frank Jones, but we know little about the men who worked in his breweries. This rare manuscript takes us into the West End brewery to meet the men themselves, men like Yankee Denny "with his beautiful big nose" and Paddy Haloran.

The song also references Frank Jones’ campaign for governor of New Hampshire. Jones had served as Portsmouth mayor and a state congressman, but was unsuccessful in his bid for the governor’s mansion. This song seems designed to stir up workers at the brewery to support their boss during his 1880 campaign. The manuscript was discovered recently by a long-time Portsmouth family.

brewsong01.jpgBorn on a nearby Barrington farm in 1832, Frank Jones' rags-to-riches story is still popular local history. Fueled by cheap immigrant labor, Jones grew his local brewery into a large brick complex, some of which survives today. He parlayed his profits into ownership of the Rockingham and Wentworth by the Sea hotels, insurance companies, banks, the local railroad, racing horses and more.

Despite his wealth and power, Jones was seen by some as the champion of the working man, as this political ballad suggests. By 1880 he was an extraordinarily wealthy man and became, according to one local historian, "the titular head of the Democratic party in New Hampshire. Jones and other local politicians shifted the political power of the state from its capital at Concord, back to the Seacoast.

Nominated to run for governor in 1880, Jones was introduced as "a household word in New Hampshire." Although owner of a mansion in Portsmouth with its own racing horse stables, Jones ran as a friend to the common working man.

Jones, who would later swap political parties, was strongly opposed by Concord Republican William Eaton Chandler who owned the Concord newspaper (and is known to readers as the husband of Lucy Hale who was originally engaged to John Wilkes Booth). Chandler and the wealthy Republican party attacked alemaker Jones as the source of drunkenness. Both sides were not unknown to purchase votes and there were no moral giants amid the muckraking campaign. And, in the end, with the powerful influence of Chandler, Jones lost to Republican Charles Bell, 44,432 to 40,813 votes.

In his biography of Frank Jones, Ray Brighton mentions a pro-Jones political group called the "Jones Cadets of Christian Shore." This was, and remains for some, the pet name for the old Protestant neighborhood to the north of the city. Locals say that a number of Irish families moved "up the Crick" to Christian Shore when Italian immigrants began arriving in Portsmouth. The local newspaper, according to Brighton, noticed that Irish supporters of Jones had joined this Christian Shore group which had previously been exclusively Protestant. The following brewery song, signed by "P. Ryan," may have been the anthem of this political group.

SEE Frank Jones ROPE PULLING team 

Sources: (1) Richard Winslow, "Frank Jones of NH: A Capitalist and Politican in during the Gilded Age, UNH History Dept Master's Thesis, 1965; (2) Ray Brighton, "Frank Jones: King of the Alemakers" Peter E. Randall Publisher, 1976.

© 1999 by J. Dennis Robinson. All rights reserved. Reprinted in 2008.

CONTINUE to READ and SEE the song

Click to SEE the manuscript   

Frank Jones Brewery Song
Circa 1880

Editor’s Note: Discovered in 1999, this delicate one-page manuscript was transcribed by Mike O'Keefe exclusively for In fact, we’ve never seen another one. The tune remains unknown, but sing it to the melody of the popular "MacNamara's Band" and you will capture the feeling.

Come all you Jolly Sportsmen and listen to a song,
I will sing to you a verse or two I won't detain you long,
Concerning Jones' Brewery, indeed it look so neat,
The like of it you'll never find in any other state,

Hurrah for Jones' brewery, may it never fail
Brew us beer and porter and beautiful stock ale,
That's the stuff for me, my boys, it drives away all pain,
Whenever I can get a glass of it I'll have it just the same.

It is a splendid building, as we all well know,
The like of it you'll never find, no matter where you go,
It is so well constructed, kept so neat and clean,
The mash floor and the cellar and the tun room just the same

Brewers they are so clever in brewing this splendid beer,
Jones golden cream ale, called for far and near,
Drank in Philadelphia and in the State of Maine,
In New York and Boston is called for just the same.

If you go cellar, what a splendid sight,
You'll see a staff of hearty young fellows, full of mirth and glee,
Chiming up the barrels, just like any train,
Racking, or rolling out, or shipping, just the same.

There you'll see Yankee Denny with his beautiful big nose,
Placing the barrels so neatly into rows,
If you never knew him or heard of his name,
You'll know him by his bawling and hollering, just the same.

There you'll see Paddy Holoran, he is just like any bull,
No matter where you'll find him, he is sure to be full,
If he don't get it at the cupboard, he cannot be blamed,
He will have it out of Jerry, or the rack tub, just the same.

I went to the hall the other night, there I did behold,
A house full of fine democrats, both noble, stout and bold,
Going to fight the republicans and uphold the country's fame.
Republicans and democrats will drink it just the same.

It's there I noticed Mr. Jones among the noble throng,
He is always agitating for the cause of the working man.
As for this coming election, he need not be afraid,
I hope I'll see him governor of this New Hampshire State.

All these oily druggists boast of their little pills,
And they say they can cure all diseases from the toothache to the "jims."
What are they to Jones' ale? I am sure it is quite plain,
When all these pills and drugs do fail, it will cure you just the same.

Now to conclude and finish, I am feeling a little dry,
I sung to you a verse or two all without a lie,
If you take me to the bar I am sure you'll get no blame,
And give Paddy a schooner of it, he will have it just the same.

Yours truly,

SEE poem manuscript

How the Song Was Discovered

READ the song lyrics received this rare original piece of ephemera from reader Mike O'Keefe of Washington, DC. Born in Portsmouth, NH, Mike graduated from the local high school in 1965 and taught history at nearby York High in Maine. When he first notified us of his discovery, Mike currently works at the refugee bureau of the Department of State in DC where he lives with his wife Ann. He has worked in Botswana, Costa Rica and other locations and was responsible for programs for two million refugees in the Sudan.

Mike's mother Mary of Portsmouth discovered the fragile manuscript in 1999 among the family papers. Mike's grandfather worked at the Frank Jones Brewery toward the end of the last century, as did many Irish immigrants. The O'Keefe family arrived in the Seacoast in the 1850s.

His great grand-uncle, Corneilus O'Keefe, owned a saloon on Market Square and represented a Portsmouth ward in the New Hampshire General Court during the 1890s. In a strange twist of fate, Mike too represented Portsmouth Ward 4 in the General Court of NH from 1972-80. Corneilus followed the typical Irish job immigrant progression, Mike says. First, he was a "sole sorter" at Gale Shoe Factory, then a barrel maker at the Jones Brewery, and finally worked at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. He was the only survivor of an accident at the Yard in the 1920s when a construction building he and several other men were on fell into a dry-dock.

. "I was so delighted to find," Mike writes. "I have never seen a web site like it. You have done a great job. Whenever I feel homesick, I turn to your excellent web site and remember Portsmouth.

Copyright © 1999 All rights reserved. Updated 2008




Please visit these ad partners.

News about Portsmouth from

Sunday, February 18, 2018 
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.

Copyright ® 1996-2016 All rights reserved. Privacy Statement
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Site maintained by ad-cetera graphics