Alex Campbell Milk Company


Alexander H., Alexander and Alexander C., appear to be three generations of Campbell’s all associated with the milk business in Brooklyn NY.

Alexander H was first listed in the 1863 Brooklyn City Directory and remained listed through the late 1870’s as milk. He remained listed in the directory through the 1880’s but no longer as milk.

Alexander was first listed as “milk” in 1876 and sometime between 1890 and 1897 the Alex Campbell Milk Company was listed for the first time. (I don’t have access to 1890 to 1896) with Alexander named as president. Alexander C was first listed in the early 1900’s. The 1913-1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory continued to name Alexander as President and named Alexander C as Secretary and Treasurer. This Directory also named William F Campbell as a Vice President. William’s occupation was a physician and he was probably not directly involved in the day to day operation of the company.

Through the late teens, the main office of the Alex Campbell Milk Company was 802 Fulton Street and by 1917 they were operating branches in Brooklyn at East New York (14 Williams), Flatbush (811 Flatbush), Flushing (Linden & Myrtle), Coney Island (220 West Ave) and Richmond Hill (N Village). Around this time they were also extensively serving Long Island. A June 6, 1914 advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle defined the extent of their reach on both the north and south shores.

An advertisement in October of 1915 described how the automobile made this extensive service possible.

Like most milk companies of the day, they also maintained plants/bottling stations in rural areas. During the mid-teens, a partial list of locations included; Grand Summit, Kirkwood, Monroe and Oxford, all in upstate New York.The company also maintained similar facilities in New Jersey.

It appears that by 1920 the success of the business had begun to turn. Only two of the six Brooklyn locations (Flatbush and Flushing) were listed in the 1920 telephone directory and in 1924-1925 only Flatbush was listed. There were no listings for them by 1927.

While they were in business, the company was apparently innovative, kept abreast of current trends and was quick to incorporate new ideas and technology into the business. They were also not shy about informing the public of this through advertising.

The first milk pasteurization equipment installed in the United States was by Sheffield Farms in 1891. Campbell must have been right behind them because by September of 1894 they were advertising pasteurized milk. New York did not require it until 1914.

They also claimed to be the first company to use glass milk bottles in lieu of the can and dipper method. This 1915 advertisement implies that they accomplished this 37 years prior, circa 1878.

The industry standard, Dr Henry Thatcher’s “Common Sense Milk Jar” wasn’t patented until 1884 and wasn’t in general use for a few years after that, so Campbell was either ahead of the curve or stretching the truth in his advertisements.

There’s no sign of 802 Fulton Street today. The Brooklyn Tech High School athletic field now occupies the site.

I’ve found both a quart size’d milk bottle and a half pint cream, probably from the mid-teens. The quart exactly matches the bottle in a March 1915 Campbell advertisement.