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Guide to the Pierrepont family papers ARC.263

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Teresa Mora (1999), with modifications by Larry Weimer (2011).

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 09, 2022
eng using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Last updated by John Zarrillo Updated by Maggie Schreiner to reflect the incorporation of additional materials Updated by Alice Griffin to include CBH language.  , March 2017 , March 2019 , May 2022

Biographical / Historical

Missing Title
1768 Hezekiah Beers Pierpont born in New Haven, Connecticut
1790 H.B. Pierpont moved to New York City
1793 Mercantile partnership Leffingwell and Pierpont founded
1800 Leffingwell and Pierpont dissolved
1802 Marriage of H.B. Pierpont and Anna Maria Constable
1804 Pierponts moved to Brooklyn, New York
1808 Henry Evelyn Pierrepont born in Brooklyn, New York;H.B. Pierpont purchased Livingston brewery
1819 Anchor Gin Distillery closed
1836 H.E. Pierrepont purchased stock in a Brooklyn ferry lease
1838 Death of Hezekiah Beers Pierpont
1841 Marriage of H.E. Pierrepont and Anna Maria Jay
1844 H.E. Pierrepont and Jacob R. Leroy organized Union Ferry Company
1845 Henry Evelyn Pierrepont II born
1849 John Jay Pierrepont born
1856-57 Pierrepont Stores erected
1864 H.E. Pierrepont appointed President of Green-WoodCemetery
1869 Marriage of H.E. Pierrepont II and Ellen A. Low
1876 Marriage of John Jay Pierrepont and Elise de Rham
1879 H.E. Pierrepont authored Historical Sketch of the FultonFerry
1881 Fire at Pierrepont Stores (June)
1888 Death of H.E. Pierrepont. Pierrepont Stores leased to Empire Warehouse Company
1895 Pierrepont Stores sold to Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse Company
1911 Death of Henry Evelyn Pierrepont II
1923 Death of John Jay Pierrepont

Hezekiah Beers Pierpont:

Hezekiah Beers Pierpont amassed a fortune through the operation of a farm and gin distillery, and through real estate investments in the Village and City of Brooklyn during the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Born in New Haven, Connecticut on November 3, 1768, Hezekiah settled in New York City in 1790 where he worked as a clerk in the Customs House. By 1793, Hezekiah had set out on his own ventures, forming the mercantile partnership Lefingwell and Pierpont. The partnership dissolved in 1800 and Hezekiah moved to Brooklyn in 1801 after purchasing the brewery of Philip Livingston and converting it to a distillery for what became Anchor Gin. The following year he married Anna Maria Constable, daughter of Anna White and William Constable of Philadelphia. The couple came to have twelve children together, including Henry Evelyn Pierrepont.

During this period, Pierpont became known for his support of the development of the Village of Brooklyn. He began to invest in local real estate in 1802, focusing his investments around present-day Brooklyn Heights, directly across the East River from lower Manhattan. Pierpont supported the Fulton Ferry, which began the first steam ferry service between Brooklyn and Manhattan in 1814, making Brooklyn even more accessible to New York City. At this same time, Pierpont acquired additional wealth through the inheritance and purchase of more than 150,000 acres of land in upstate New York from the estate of his father-in-law.

Hezekiah retired from active business in 1819 and closed the distillery, which was sold in 1824. He committed much of his time to the improvement of both residential and business sections of Brooklyn Heights, proposing such developments as a promenade to be situated along the bluffs overlooking the East River and New York Harbor. Hezekiah Beers Pierpont died in Brooklyn on August 11, 1838.

(Note on the Pierpont name: For a period of time the original spelling of the family name, Pierrepont, was superseded by the anglicized spelling Pierpont. Hezekiah Beers Pierpont requested that his wife and children be known by the original spelling of Pierrepont around 1802, but did not himself adopt this spelling for business reasons.)

Henry Evelyn Pierrepont:

The second son of Hezekiah Beers and Anna Maria Constable Pierrepont, Henry Evelyn was born in Brooklyn on August 8, 1808. Henry Evelyn was educated in New York City and quickly acquired his father's prominence among Brooklyn's elite. Upon the death of H.B. Pierpont, William Constable, the eldest Pierrepont son, took over the family's upstate properties while Henry Evelyn remained in Brooklyn, maintaining the family's influence on, and commitment to, the city's development. On December 1, 1841, Henry Evelyn married Anna Maria Jay, daughter of Peter Augustus Jay and Mary Rutherford Clarkson, and granddaughter of John Jay, governor of New York (1795-1801) and the first Chief Justice of the United States. Together the couple had six children, including Henry Evelyn Pierrepont II and John Jay Pierrepont.

Henry Evelyn Pierrepont spent much of his life working to establish Brooklyn as a flourishing metropolis. In 1844 a Brooklyn ferry lease was granted to Henry Evelyn Pierrepont and Jacob R. Leroy, who combined the five existing Brooklyn ferries into the Brooklyn Union Ferry Company. The venture created a more frequent and regular service between Brooklyn and New York City, and effectively monopolized transportation across the East River prior to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.

By 1857 Henry Evelyn and William Pierrepont had established a joint venture, the Pierrepont Stores, "a United States bonded warehouse where ships' freight was received and stored for the owners, insured by the government, until duties were paid." The Stores was a major port of entry for a number of different cargoes (primarily sugar and molasses) from locales ranging from the Caribbean to Manila. Upon Henry Evelyn's retirement from business, his two sons took over the Pierrepont Stores, which they operated until leased to the Empire Warehouse Company in 1888, shortly after the death of their father on March 28, 1888.

Henry Evelyn Pierrepont dedicated much of his time to the cultural development of the city, as well as its commercial expansion. He held a number of prominent positions, such as Trustee of Brooklyn Hospital, Trustee and President of Green-Wood Cemetery, Director of the Academy of Music, Director and President of the Brooklyn Club, and Director of The Long Island Historical Society.

Henry Evelyn Pierrepont II:

The eldest son of Henry Evelyn and Anna Maria Pierrepont, Henry Evelyn II was born in Brooklyn on December 9, 1845. Henry Evelyn, Jr. studied at Columbia College, receiving his B.A. in 1867. In 1869 he married Ellen A. Low, daughter of Ellen Almira Dow and Abiel Abbot Low, with whom he had six children. He and his brother, John Jay, soon took charge of the Pierrepont Stores, joining forces with Ferdinand N. Massa in the firm of Pierrepont Brothers. The brothers sold the Stores in 1888 and Henry Evelyn, Jr. retired from active business ventures, devoting his time to the further development of his real estate holdings. He continued his commitment to work within the community, most notably at Grace Church, of which his father had been a founding member and senior warden, a position which Henry Evelyn, Jr. also came to hold. Henry Evelyn Pierrepont II died in Brooklyn on November 4, 1911.

John Jay Pierrepont:

The younger of Henry Evelyn Pierrepont's two sons, John Jay was born in Brooklyn on September 3, 1849. John Jay married, on April 26, 1876, Elise de Rham, the daughter of Charles de Rham and Laura Schmidt, and the couple had one child who died before reaching one year of age. Elise Pierrepont died less than two years later on October 17, 1879 and John Jay Pierrepont lived out the rest of his life in the family house at One Pierrepont Place in Brooklyn, remaining an active member of Brooklyn society until his death on September 25, 1923.