Hegeman & Co., New York


The Hegeman story dates back to the early 1800’s. According to “The Old Merchants of New York” by Walter Barrett, published in 1863, William Hegeman started working in the New York City Drug House of Rushton and Aspinwall at age 12. After Rushton and Aspinwall dissolved, Rushton kept one of the retail stores under the firm name of Rushton and Co and Hegeman became a partner. Rushton died and the firm became known as Clark, Hegeman & Co. When Clark left and his son joined the firm the name changed to Hegeman and Clark.

At this point the NYC Directories pick up the story:

1855-1859             Hegeman, Clark & Co is listed at four different Broadway locations.

1859-1867            Hegeman & Co is listed for the first time in 1859. The locations listed are four Broadway locations and a Fourth Avenue and 17th Street location. William Hegeman is also listed with each location.

1867-1868            Hegeman & Co continues to be listed and in 1867, Johnston N Hegeman (assuming it’s a son?) is listed for the first time at each of the company locations.

1869-1877            In 1877 only two company locations are listed (203 and 673 Broadway) and William is no longer included at each location.

Around 1880 there appears to be some type of a split. Hegeman & Co remains listed at 203 Broadway but now J N Hegeman & Co, Wholesale and Retail Druggists are listed seperately at 756 Broadway. Included with the listing is the following note: “(J Niven Hegeman & J Willard Ferrier) Mr. Hegeman has no connection with any other drug house in the City.”

A similar note is included in the 1886 Directory under J N Hegeman & Co: “Mr. Hegeman is the only surviving partner of the old firm of Hegeman & Co and is the only Mr. Hegeman doing drug business in NYC. He has no connection whatever with any other drugstore in NY. In the same 1886 Directory Hegeman & Co is listed at 203 Broadway and it is now indicated as a corporation.

J N Hegeman died in 1894 but the business remained listed in the NYC Directories through 1905.

The corporation of Hegeman & Co remained 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 had a main store at 200 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.

The bottle I found is a small (approximately 4-5 oz) medicine with an applied finish. Embossed in small letters under Hegeman & Co are the words” a corporation”. This indicates that it was manufactured between the early 1880’s when the company incorporated and 1910 when it merged with Riker & Son. The applied lip tells me it probably skews more toward the earlier years.