Hegeman & Co., New York


The namesake of the business, William Hegeman, was a native of New York City, born in 1816. His career story, as told in court records of “Hegeman & Co. against Johnston N. Hegeman,” begins with the drug business of Rushton & Aspinwall.

In 1827, one William L. Rushton established, in the city of New York, a business in the sale, by wholesale and retail, of drugs and medicines, with which was put up of medical prescriptions, and of special preparations known by names of his own creation or adoption. In 1832 he associated with him one Aspinwall, and in 1843 William Hegeman, who had originally been in Rushton’s employment, became a partner in the place of Aspinwall.

A publication called “The Old Merchants of New York” by Walter Barrett, published in 1863 picks up the story from there.

 After Rushton & Aspinwall dissolved, I think Mr. Aspinwall kept on the wholesale store in William Street, and Rushton the retail store on Broadway, under the firm of Rushton & Co. Mr Rushton took in a Mr. Clark who had formerly been a partner in the firm of Clark & Saxton, in Broadway. Shortly after, Rushton died.

In 1855, as a result of Rushton’s death the name of the business was changed to Hegeman, Clark & Co. The notice announcing the name change appeared in the January 25, 1855 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The notice mentioned three Broadway locations; 165, 273 and 511 Broadway.

Later, advertisements published in the fall of that year indicated a fourth location at 756 Broadway. Their wholesale depot was located at 165 Broadway while the other three were retail outlets.

Apparently manufacturing chemists as well, the most heavily advertised product under the Hegeman name was their “Celebrated Genuine Cod Liver Oil.” This advertisement that appeared in the December 3, 1856 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union mentioned nine years experience which would date the product back to the Rushton & Aspinwall days.

Beginning in 1859 Clark was dropped from the company name, now referring to it as Hegeman & Co. in both the directory listings and advertisements.

Around this time the company advertised a number of proprietary products under the Hegeman name. In addition to their cod liver oil, 1859  advertisements mentioned Hegeman & Co.’s Camphor Ice With Glycerine and Concentrated Benzine.

Sometime in the early 1860’s it appears that the company moved their main depot to 203 Broadway and would continue to list it along with three retail locations, also on Broadway, up through the mid-1870’s. Between 1861 and the early 1870’s they also listed a fifth location at the corner of 4th Avenue and 17th Street.

In 1867 William’s son, Johnston N Hegeman, joined the business in partnership with him and both were listed with the company up until William’s death in October, 1875. At that point, according to a January 12, 1878 story in the New York Times:

Mr. J. N. Hegeman, his son and only partner, continued the business, but, since his father’s death, has gradually disposed of the numerous branch stores once owned by the firm. The last one, at No. 603 Broadway was sold for $10,000 in November 1876.

The story went on to say that with Johnston, confined to his house in Orange New Jersey suffering with inflammatory rheumatism and under the influence of morphine treatments, the company went into receivership in January, 1878.

Subsequently court records indicated that some of the company’s stock along with it’s trademark, goodwill and as connected with it the business name, all preparations, recipes, formulas, prescriptions and recipe books, labels, plates, proprietary rights, and proprietary articles were sold and ultimately transferred to a newly formed corporation, also called Hegeman & Co., whose certificate of incorporation was filed on March 14, 1878. Associated with the new corporation was George B. Marcher who had been previously employed by William Hegeman, much of it supervising the compounding the Hegeman preparations.

At around the same time J. N. Hegeman, now apparently fully recovered, associated with J. W. Ferrier, another employee of the old firm and began business in a store a 756 Broadway, which had formerly been one of the branch stores of the old firm that had been sold previously and now reacquired.

In 1880 Hegeman & Co  was listed at the old firm’s 203 Broadway location and J. N. Hegeman & Co, Wholesale and Retail Druggists was listed at 756 Broadway. Both claimed to be successors to the original Hegeman Company which resulted in this note that accompanied J. N. Hegeman’s listing in the 1880 NYC Directory:

Mr. Hegeman has no connection with any other drug house in the City.

Both firms continued to operate independently up through the early 1900’s.

J. N. Hegeman & Co. incorporated in February, 1894. The notice of incorporation was published in the February 14, 1894 edition of the New York Tribune.

J. N. Hegeman & Co. filed a certificate of incorporation yesterday. The concern will do a general drug business with a capital of $50,000. Its directors are J. Niven Hegeman, Joseph Glenny, John W. ferrier, Lucius A. Wilson, Herbert S. Barnes and Acton C. Bassett.

Later that year, in October 1894, J. N. Hegeman passed away. However, the J. N. Hegeman business remained listed in the NYC Directories up through through 1906. At that point, the 1907 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory indicated that the J. N. Hegeman Co. had been absorbed by Hegeman & Co., Inc.

The corporation of Hegeman & Co. was listed through 1909 and in 1910 was merged with the William B Riker & Son Co. A 1910 issue of American Druggist summarized the merger:

At a meeting of the officials of the William B Riker & Son Company and Hegeman & Co on August 4, negotiations were completed merging the two concerns into a new company. The corporation is to be known as the Riker & Hegeman Company. No details as to when the combination is to become effective have been given out but October 1 is said to have been decided on… At the time Hegeman & Co was capitalized at $6 million and Riker & Son at $2.5 million. John H Flager, president of Hegeman will be president of the new organization… The result of the combination and probably what brought it about is the desire to abolish competition between stores in both chains. In several spots of the City, Riker and Hegeman have stores on opposite sides of the street. Establishments in such close proximity will be given immediate attention, according to plans, and expenses reduced by closing down one or more in a neighborhood… It’s quite likely the new corporation will expand it’s retail business to other cities with a view of ultimately opening a chain of sores across the country.

Just before the merger, Hegeman & Co. still had their main store at 203 Broadway, 19 branch stores (17 in NYC, 1 in Jersey City and 1 in Yonkers) and a warehouse at 66 W 132nd Street. Riker had 25 stores in the NYC vicinity and several in Boston.

In 1916, Riker-Hegeman merged with the United Drug Company resulting in a company with 152 retail drug stores.

Over the years I’ve found two Hegeman bottles. One is mouth blown with an applied finish and approximately 4-5 oz. in size. Embossed in small letters under Hegeman & Co are the words “a corporation.”

The other is a small 1 ounce brown bottle embossed “The Corporation of Hegeman & Co.” It’s also mouth blown.

This “corporation” reference embossed on both indicates they were manufactured between 1878 when the company incorporated and 1910 when it merged with Riker & Son. The larger one with the applied lip likely dates slightly earlier than the brown one.