1067 Ferry Avenue

The BRASS CAFE, also known as the BRASS TAVERN, sat at the corner of Ferry Avenue and Charles Street, adjacent to a small cemetery for black Civil War veterans. 

Jacob Hiesiger was the proprietor of the bar from at least 1918 through 1921. He had come to America from Alsace-Lorraine, then part of Germany in 1902. At the time of the 1920 census he lived over the bar with wife Mary and widowed daughter-in-law Rosalie. 

Fabian Brass had operated a saloon in Philadelphia at 601 South Front Street, the corner of South Front and South Streets from December of 1916. He bought the bar on Ferry Avenue in 1921, and disposed of the Philadelphia bar in May of 1922. Fabian Brass passed away at some point in the 1920s. 

Daughter Emma M. Brass is listed as the proprietor in the City Directories for 1928 through 1929. The 1929 Directory states that the bar was known as the Ferry Avenue Cafe. The 1947 Directory indicated that Fabian Brass' widow, Helen Brass, was the proprietor of the bar. She ran it until her passing in December of 1951, and ownership fell to her son Charles. 

Son Charles and daughter-in-law Barbara Brass operated the establishment for many years. Charles Brass passed away in June of 1972 at the age of 71. Barbara Brass remained at the address as late as 1977. The building has been a private home since the 1980s. 

1067 Ferry Avenue - February 2003

Fabian Brass & Family
Fabian & Helen Brass
Emma Brass
Charles Brass
Not in picture: Bernice Brass

Bernice Brass at 1865 Charles Street - Late 1920s

Camden Courier-Post
Evening Courier - September 17, 1934

Lieutenant Walter Welch, new commander of the Second Police District, conducted an intensive cleanup of his bailiwick over Saturday and Sunday, raiding 25 alleged violators of liquor and gambling laws.

Numbers Baron Nabbed

Aided by Patrolmen William Marter and Carmin Fuscellaro Sr., Lieutenant Welch conducted a series of raids Saturday night and yesterday morning. The saloon of Mary Niewinski, at 400 Mechanic Street, was raided early yesterday and two customers arrested.

Lieutenant Welch Leads Raiders

Welch, who took over the duties Lieutenant Ralph Bakley when the latter was suspended by Mayor Stewart yesterday, declared he was seeking violators of the city’s Sunday closing ordinance, which states that places selling liquor must close “between the hours of 2:00 AM Sunday and 7:00 AM Monday.”

Saloon Raided

A saloon operated by Helen Brass, 52, at 1067 Ferry Avenue, scene of an unsuccessful holdup attempt Friday, was next raided. Frank Dipeto, 42, of 829 Sylvan Street; Edward Podyezmek, 47, of 783 South 2nd Street; Joseph Orbin, 53, of 963 Florence Street; and Angelo Del Rossi, 70, of 430 Emerald Street, were arrested and held as frequenters. Mrs. Brass was charged with violating the closing ordinance.


December 22, 1951

My grandparents, Fabian and Helen Brass, owned the Brass Tavern. My mother Bernice Brass lived there with her sister Emma and brother Charles. When my mother married she moved to Haddonfield, N.J. My Aunt Emma married Frank Percival and moved down the street to 1889 Charles Street. Charles Brass lived in the tavern until his death.

I spent many days visiting them above the bar on Ferry Avenue as a child.

A Mystery: In the 1930 Census a Florence Brass, aged 16, lived at the Brass Tavern along with Bernice, Charles, and Emma. No one in the family has ever heard of Florence Brass, my mother never mentioned her. WHO IS SHE?

If you, the reader, knows anything about this, please e-mail me. I am 72 ad don't know if there is anyone still alive who could solve this mystery.

Irene Dunn
November 24, 2014