The Hawkins and Weeks story begins with a retired ship’s captain named Thomas E. Hawkins. A resolution honoring him was passed by the Bayport Fire Department shortly after his death on May 29, 1907. Published in the June 7, 1907 edition of the Suffolk County News, the resolution revealed a glimpse into his early life at sea.
RESOLVED that we record upon the minutes of this meeting an expression of our sorrow and our profound respect for his memory. Captain Hawkins was one of the last of the blue-water sailors who were once the boast of Suffolk County, and of whom, alas, there are now so few survivors. The title of Captain which is nowadays bestowed on every owner of a catboat, was earned and worthly maintained, by him on full rigged ships in every ocean of the world.
The resolution went on to say:
After his retirement from the sea, he displayed in his business the same energy and honesty that had combined with his coolness and courage to raise him to the quarter deck.
His business career began in 1880 when he purchased a half interest in what was referred to as a “gingerine business,” called Johnson & Bishop. A June 12, 1880 story in Amityville’s “South Side Signal,” under the heading “Bayport News” made it clear that his intent was to transform it into a bottling business.
CAPT. THOS. E. HAWKINS, of our village has purchased one half interest in the gingerine business. The firm will hereafter be known as Johnson & Hawkins, instead of Johnson & Bishop as heretofore. Everything will be put in order, a quantity of bottles purchased necessary to supply the trade, and hereafter hotel, store and saloon keepers and others have but to send a postal card to Johnson & Hawkins, when any quantity will be sent to their address.
Over the course of their first year, several items published in the South Side Signal provided evidence that while the business was small, it was apparently active and doing well.
May 14, 1881:
We notice in passing by the manufactory of Johnson & Hawkins they have increased their large stock of bottles, as we saw many cases filled with new ones recently purchased by them.
July 2, 1881:
Johnson & Hawkins’ business has increased to such an extent that they now employ two extra persons.
September 17, 1881:
Johnson & Hawkins have purchased a handsome wagon to be used in their soda water business.
A July, 8 1882 advertisement in the South Side Signal made it clear that while they focused on plain soda, sarsaparilla, ginger ale and lemon soda, their entire menu of carbonated beverages was almost endless. The jingle at the end of the ad is worth a read!
Johnson & Hawkins continued to sporadically publish their business card in the South Side Signal up through March 23 1883. Then, on April 14, 1883 the firm name on their business card was changed to “Hawkins & Weeks.”
This suggests that James T. Weeks bought out Frank C. Johnson sometime in late March/early April 1883. Weeks and Hawkins would remain business partners for the next twelve years.
As early as January, 1888 their advertisements began to refer to the business as the Excelsior Bottling Company.
By this time, it appears that they began expanding their reach to the neighboring village of Bayshore as evidenced by advertisements that appeared in the Bayshore section of the Suffolk County News.
Hawkins and Weeks have established an agency at the saloon of Chas. Brown where any person wanting cases of soda, sarsaparilla or any mineral waters can leave their orders with the assurance that they will be filled at once
Leave your orders for soda water, ginger ale, vichy, seltzer, and all the best brands of mineral and aerated waters manufactured by Hawkins and Weeks, at the barber shop of Wm. Thuring, which has been designated as a branch depot. The retail trade supplied here.
It was also around this time that the company expanded into the coal business. According to a story in the December 15, 1888 edition of the Suffolk County news:
In our town we have a number of businessmen who are worth recognition and public note. Of these none more so than Hawkins & Weeks, the widely known soda manufacturers, who have been in business here a number of years. Their success has been phenomenal from the outstart and this fact has caused them to enter into still another departure of business – that of coal dealers. In this new branch of industry we wish them a prosperous career. They have commenced the erection of a large coal house, which they will soon fill up with this needed article.
Updated advertisements referencing their new coal business began appearing in January, 1889.
That being said, a Suffolk County News story published on November 22, 1890 made it clear that the bottling end of the business was still going strong.
Hawkins & Weeks have enjoyed a good business this summer, owing to the superior quality of their mineral waters, root beer, soda water and sarsaparilla, together with the prompt manner in which they deliver goods. They have the latest and best machinery for the successful prosecution of their big business and both men are very popular with the public. It is quite interesting to watch the modus operandi of making and bottling at the factory. The material used is first class and everything about the premises is as neat as wax. Hawkins & Weeks goods consequently take the lead on Long Island. The factory is a help to Bayport.
In 1894 Weeks, in an effort to pursue other interests, sold his share of the business to Hawkins. The dissolution of their partnership was announced in the September 28, 1894 edition of the Suffolk County News.
Hawkins & Weeks who have been in the mineral water business for the past twelve years, have dissolved partnership, Mr. Jas. T Weeks having sold out his interest to Mr. Hawkins, since which he has bought the Bayport bakery of Geo. J. Mallmann. He expects to make many improvements in the same.
Hawkins continued the bottling/coal business ultimately partnering with his son, Clifton (sometimes Clifford) in 1896. A feature on the business, published in the August 13, 1897 edition of Suffolk County News told the story.
In the year 1894 Mr. T. E. Hawkins, better known as Captain Hawkins, became sole proprietor and conducted it successfully until one year ago, when he associated with his son Mr. Clifford Hawkins. The firm now being known as Hawkins & Son.
The story went on to say:
They have a large family trade as well as a wholesale business. Five large wagons are kept constantly on the road delivering their many orders. Messrs. Hawkins & Son also have a coal and wood business in connection with the bottling where all the best grades of coal and wood can be had at short notice.
According to his obituary, the senior Hawkins retired in July, 1906 and passed away 10 months later. Clifton Hawkins continued to run the company, ultimately selling the coal piece of the business. The sale likely took place in 1911 as evidenced by this advertisement that appeared in the October 6, 1911 edition of the Suffolk County News. It references C. K. Green as the “successor to Clifton W. Hawkins.”
Hawkins continued to operate the bottling business throughout the remainder of the decade, promoting what he called his “Premier Brand,” in this August 6, 1915 Suffolk County News story. Note that by then, auto trucks had replaced his horse and wagons.
“PREMIER BRAND SOFT DRINKS
Absolutely Pure – Manufactured by C. W. Hawkins of Belport
For thirty-five years Mr. C. W. Hawkins, of Bayport has been established in the same location manufacturing charged waters and a complete line of beverages, non-intoxicant in character.
These products have achieved a wide popularity under the name of the “Premier” brand, and the growing demand for these beverages is eloquent testimony concerning their quality. At present the “Premier” plant has a capacity of 400 boxes per day.
All the syrups used in flavoring are made at the plant in Bayport, extracted under scrupulously clean and sanitary conditions. The supreme importance of this fact cannot be emphasized to forcibly for such beverages are largely consumed by children, and mothers may feel absolutely safe in allowing the kiddies to partake of “Premier” drinks. A specialty of the “Premier” brand is its ginger ale, delightful in flavor and purity.
Auto trucks make deliveries covering the territory between Brookhaven and Islip, a distance of twenty miles, serving family trade also, of which Mr. Hawkins makes a special feature.
A July 2, 1920 advertisement for a grocery business called Henry Borchers indicated that you could pick up “Premier” ginger ale or sarsaparilla for $1.80 a dozen (ninth one down).
Ultimately Hawkins sold the bottling business in 1920. The sale was reported in the November 5, 1920 edition of the Suffolk County News.
Clifton W. Hawkins, manufacturer of carbonated waters, who has had his business on the market for some time, this week sold it to Arthur Sherry of Patchogue. Mr. Sherry is to take possession of the plant on the 15th of this month and is to keep the present place as his headquarters for the time being. In the spring he intends to move the business to Patchogue.
A November 19th follow up story reported:
On Monday Arthur Sherry, of Patchogue, the new proprietor of C. W. Hawkins soft drink manufactory, took possession of the plant. In a week or so Mr. Hawkins, former owner, who manufactured and supplied this part of the county for the past 28 years with carbonated beverages, is to leave for Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he is to live and take charge of his oil interests.
The following summer, a June 21, 1921 article in the Patchogue Advance confirmed that Sherry followed through on his intentions to move the business to nearby Patchogue.
Arthur J. Sherry, who bought out Hawkin’s Bottling Works, of Bayport, has purchased a plot of ground from T. P. Marvin situated at the corner of Bay Avenue and Norton Street, for the purpose of erecting a factory for the manufacture of soft drinks. L. S. Fulton has the contract for building the plant and work is to be begun at once. Mr. Sherry proposes to put up a two story frame building, 25 x 50. New and modern machinery will be installed throughout and the business will be known as the Premier Bottling Works.
On a final note, according to a story in the June 9, 1922 LongIslander, on May 23, 1922 the Premier Bottling Works of Patchogue was taken over by Fred W. Wilson and incorporated under that name, with a capital of $50,000. Wilson was named president and Arthur Sherry remained with the corporation as a vice president.
So you ask…what became of James T. Weeks?
He took over management of the bakery, calling it the South Side Bakery as evidenced by this December, 1894 Suffolk County News advertisement.
The next summer another advertisement, this one in the June 14, 1895 Suffolk County News made it clear that by then he had established an ice cream business as well.
A feature on Weeks, published in the June 24, 1898 edition of the Suffolk County News picks up the story from there.
The bakery he disposed of the following year to Mr. Joseph Douglass but the ice cream business he retained. He removed his family to Rockville Centre where he is engaged in the business of bottling soda and mineral waters and has a large and growing trade. He gives his personal attention to both establishments dividing his time between the places and his efforts to cater to the public are ably seconded by his estimable wife who resides in Bayport and has charge of the ice cream factory and of the parlors connected with it where ice cream, soda water, fancy cakes and confectionery are on sale.
There’s more on Weeks’ Rockville Centre bottling business elsewhere on this web site. Jas. T. Weeks.
The bottle, found in the bays by a friend, is mouth blown and designed to accept the gravitating stopper closure. It’s embossed with the company name “Hawkins & Weeks,” dating it between 1883 and 1894, when Weeks was associated with the business.