Born in 1860, Charles Mau was the proprietor of a New York City bottling business that was active in The Bronx during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
N.Y.C. directories first listed Mau in 1895 as a bottler of lager beer with an address of 561 East 156th Street. That address puts the business near the corner of St Ann’s Avenue and 156th Street, which was within or adjacent to the confines of the Ebling Brewery. This suggests, though I can’t confirm, that Mau may have started in business serving as a local bottler of the Ebling product.
In 1898 Mau moved to 687 East 159th Street but his relationship with Ebling may well have continued. Now located near the intersection of Eagle Avenue and 159th Street, it appears that the business was still within the same overall block as the brewery.
In 1907, things may have changed when the business moved again, this time several blocks away, to 429 East 159th Street. Around the same time directory references to beer were being replaced with “mineral waters.”
Thirteen years later, the 1920 “White-Orr Reference Register” continued to list Mau as a mineral water manufacturer with an address of 429 East 159th Street, however, census records that same year describe Mau as retired. This points to 1920 as the likely end date of the business.
The bottle I found is mouth blown, with a blob finish. It’s embossed with Mau’s initial address of 561 East 156th Street, dating the bottle sometime between 1895 and 1898 when he listed that address in the directories. It likely contained an Ebling brew.
Whistle is an orange soda that hit the U. S. market in the Spring of 1916. Still sold today, it’s height of popularity occurred in the 1920’s when, according to one newspaper source, it out-sold Coca Cola in New York. Early on, it’s advertising slogan was:
Thirsty? Just WHISTLE
The Whistle story begins with a native Texan named Vess (Sylvester) Jones. According to a feature on Jones published in the July 20, 1922 edition of an advertising publication called “Printer’s Ink,” his business career began, not in the soda business, but in the garment industry.
He had been in the clothing specialty line and had built up a profitable trade, but he finally went broke as a result of a prolonged garment strike.
As early as 1912, he had become engaged in the syrup/soft drink business in Oklahoma City where several local newspaper accounts indicate he was serving as the Oklahoma representative for a Texas firm called the Jersey Cream Company of Fort Worth. By 1914, he had moved to St. Louis, Missouri where the 1914 city directory listed him as the vice president of the Orange Julep Company.
The 1922 “Printers Ink” feature picks up the story from there.
In 1916 Vess Jones thought of an idea for a new soft drink…
Having observed that the orange is an unusually popular fruit, Jones figured that a good beverage with orange juice as its chief ingredient should be almost equally as popular. Now Jones wasn’t the first person to hit upon the orange as the nucleus of a palatable beverage, and he knew it, but his formula called for something different from anything he had ever tasted. He aimed to mix a beverage that would make the majority of persons imbibe several drinks at a single sitting.
So, with an idea and $5,000 in savings Jones established the Orange Whistle Company, setting up shop (the “Printers Ink” story referred to it as a shack) at 315 North Main Street in St. Louis where he was initially listed in the 1916 directory. The company’s incorporation notice was published that February in the “Southern Pharmaceutical Journal.”
Though he settled in St. Louis, according to the “Printer’s Ink” feature, his first client was located in Illinois, not Missouri.
When his first batch of syrup was ready for marketing he hired a horse and wagon and started out to make the people of St. Louis acquainted with, as well as cultivate a liking for his new beverage. The bottlers of that city, however, didn’t display any particular interest in Whistle, even when Jones promised to create a demand for it, for at the start it meant no more to them than a hundred and one other soft drinks that have come and gone. Disappointed but not discouraged, Jones shifted his activities to Illinois, just across from St. Louis.
“I’ve got the best soft drink you ever drank.” Jones informed the first bottler he interviewed in Illinois, “and if you will bottle some of my syrup according to my formula and send it out to your dealers, I’ll spend my own money to move it from the counters.”
The proposition appealed to the dealer and he purchased some of the syrup, promising to bottle it immediately. By the time Whistle was ready for the public, Jones had made a tour of the city with his horse and wagon and put up signs and tacked posters around the stand or store served by that particular bottler. He supplemented his outdoor advertising with copy in the newspapers. Two weeks later the bottler, realizing that he had a valuable commodity, asked for and obtained the exclusive bottling rights to the city.
At first glance the above story appears to be nothing more than a fictional tale pumped out years later by an advertising agency, however, recognizing that the earliest newspaper advertisements for “Orange Whistle” appeared in Mattoon and Bloomington, Illinois, two cities located just north of St. Louis, lends credence to the story.
In Bloomington, this April 22, 1916 advertisement in their local newspaper called “The Pantograph” associated Orange Whistle with the H. Quosick Bottling Company.
In Mattoon, it was the Union Bottling Works, whose similar ad was published in the April 25, 1916 edition of Mattoon’s “Journal Gazette.” In fact, in Mattoon, according to this April 18th advertisement in the “Journal Gazette,” Orange Whistle was already being dispensed at the soda fountain in Frank J. Ritter’s Drug Store.
The following month, Orange Whistle newspaper ads were appearing in nine nearby states and by year end that number had increased to 15 states, all in the south and midwest. This rapid growth required the geographical expansion of Whistle’s manufacturing capabilities as evidenced by this story announcing the opening of a new plant in Greenville N.C. It was published in the January 21, 1917 edition of the “Greenville News.”
The Orange Whistle Company…has completed its plant on South Main Street and is now shipping its product to the bottlers of the Carolinas. The concern is one of five in the United States in which the Orange Whistle syrup is made..
Orange Whistle is a comparatively new drink, having been placed on the market only in the last year or so. It originated in St Louis and until the first of the present year, all of the syrup was made there. The demand for the new drink, however, was so great that it became necessary to establish additional factories in various parts of the country.
The story went on to say that Greenville, apparently like Jones’s other newly established plants, was supported by local capital and management.
When the city was selected local capital was invited to take stock in the enterprise. As soon as the fact became known that the company in St. Louis had determined upon Greenville as the logical place for supplying the Carolinas, a number of local business men made a hasty trip to St. Louis with the result that the Greenville Orange Whistle Company was formed.
A similar company, called the Orange Whistle Company of Indiana, was formed later that year around a newly established plant in Evansville Indiana. The pitch to local investors there was included in the July 6, 1917 edition of the Evansville “Courier and Press.”
By mid-1917, less than two years after being established, the company operated a total of seven factory locations, Six were located in the southern and midwestern U.S. cities of St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee, Greenville, South Carolina; and Evansville, Indiana, the seventh in Havana, Cuba.
By 1918, in addition to manufacturing Orange Whistle, Jones had begun to establish companies to bottle and distribute it as well. According to a September 15, 1918 story in the St. Louis “Globe Democrat:”
Organized in January, 1916, its operations for the first two years were limited to furnishing syrup to bottling concerns. Last January it embarked in the bottling business on its own account, and has plants in several other cities, principally in the South.
Meanwhile, back at their St Louis headquarters, the company was also expanding. Their original “shack” on North Main Street had been replaced with a factory located at 1035 North Grand Avenue and offices at 1418 Pine Street. In addition, the September 15th “Globe Democrat” story announced that a new, upgraded bottling plant was also in the works. Located in what was called the Cadillac Building, at 2920-22 Locust Street, it was described like this:
Equipment that will surpass that of any bottling concern in the United States, it is declared by Jones, will begin to arrive not later than October 15, under terms of the contract, and the cost will aggregate $80,000. Much of the machinery is being constructed under specifications furnished by the head of the Orange Whistle Company, to give it national leadership and also to effect an increase in capacity over the present plant of 500 percent, while lowering the labor force by 50 percent.
The new plant will have a capacity of 144,000 bottles a day. It is what is known as a low-pressure system. Empty bottles are cleaned, sterilized, given a double rinsing, filled, labeled and capped by machinery, without once being touched by human hands.
Early in 1918, the company was also expanding into the northeast and in February they established the Orange Whistle Company of N.Y. The incorporation notice was published in the February 20th edition of the “New York Times.”
The following year, the Whistle Bottling Company of Manhattan was established.
The above incorporation notice, published in the June 5, 1919 edition of the “New York Tribune,” located the bottling company’s offices at 111 Broadway in lower Manhattan. A week later the company leased a building on East 19th Street to serve as their new bottling plant and by August 12th, advertisements in the Tribune announced that “Whistle was now on sale in New York,” and invited the public to inspect their new plant.
Bottling plants in The Bronx and Brooklyn were added in the early 1920’s. According to a December 15, 1922 item in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” the Brooklyn plant was established on Clifton Place.
The industrial department of Bulkley & Horton Co. have leased to The Whistle Company of America the entire building at 197-199 Clifton Pl. to be used as their main distributing and bottling plant to handle Brooklyn and Queens territory.
In the Bronx, the plant was located at 1360 La Fountaine Avenue
What was happening in New York was also happening in other parts of the country and by 1922 the business had certainly achieved a national presence. Around this time the company formed a Delaware corporation called the Whistle Company of America to serve as a holding concern for the various Whistle entities. The holding company’s incorporation notice was published in the April 14, 1922 edition of the “New York Times.”
The new parent corporation was headquartered on Washington Street in New York City , where it was listed in the 1922 N.Y.C. Directory along with both the Manhattan and Bronx bottling companies.
The 1922 “Printers Ink” story put some numbers to their exponential national expansion.
The old shack in St. Louis certainly enjoyed a rapid and healthy growth. Its only a memory now, but its offspring in the form of robust syrup plants are flourishing in sixteen large cities in this country and three in Canada. And these same plants furnish syrup to 1,200 bottlers, who, in 1921 sold 150,000,000 bottles of “Whistle.”
The story went on to credit much of their success to advertising, which at the time totaled $300,000 annually in signs, posters and newspapers. According to the “Printers Ink” feature:
For every gallon of syrup a bottler purchases the company agrees to spend at least ten cents advertising Whistle in that bottler’s territory. As a rule however, it invests from fifteen to twenty cents, and not infrequently it has spent three dollars a gallon at the start in order to create a demand for a new bottler.
It appears the company also supplemented these locally targeted advertising dollars with some rather unique general campaigns as well. One, likely considered “state-of-the-art” at the time, caught my attention as well as the attention of the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” who described it in a November 30, 1919 story.
MOBILE BILLBOARD TO ADVERTISE SOFT DRINK
A novel motor truck with a specially built body to be used for advertising purposes by the Whistle Bottling Co. has made its appearance on the streets of St. Louis during the last few days.
Miniature billboards, the length of the truck and about three feet high, are built on either side of the truck and in the rear. Each of the boards is electrically illuminated for display at night and artistically decorated. Pictures of various Whistle plants throughout the country are painted on each side.
C. L. Griggs, national advertising manager of the Whistle Bottling Co., said the truck would be sent to Chicago to attend the National Automobile and Truck Show in January and later would make an ocean-to-ocean journey, calling on many of the plants of the concern throughout the country. Motion pictures during the summer will be shown on a curtain attached to the rear of the truck. The pictures will show how a soft drink is made.
And that wasn’t the company’s only tricked-out truck as evidenced by this undated photograph exhibiting one with a hand-held bottle of Whistle popping out the top.
Also contributing to the company’s success was the attention given to “quality control.” According to Vess Jones in his own words:
“It’s a simple matter to sell anything once,” Mr. Jones said. “But unless you have a standard and see that everyone connected with it lives up to the standard, you’re not likely to hold your market, for confidence that is once betrayed is rarely regained. We could hand out franchises and then forget about them, but we don’t. It’s our duty to see that every franchise is kept valuable, and we do this in various ways.
Before we grant a bottler a franchise we get his rating, learn how he stands with the retail trade, investigate his plant to discover his daily capacity, see how many trucks he operates, and what else he bottles. If he doesn’t own an up-to-date bottling machine we insist that he install one before we will give him a franchise.
Provided a bottler seeking a franchise meets certain prerequisites, we have him sign a contract in which he agrees to keep his plant fit at all times for visitors’ inspection, to buy all his syrup for Whistle from us, to manufacture Whistle strictly according to our formula, to use only bottles with the name ‘Whistle’ blown in, to use them for nothing but Whistle, to see that every bottle of the product carries a Whistle label before it leaves his plant, and to paint his trucks with Whistle colors – orange and blue.”
Sometime in 1927 or 1928 Jones began manufacturing other favored drinks in addition to Orange Whistle. Marketed under the brand name “Vess,” one of the earliest was a ginger ale called “Vess Dry.” An introductory advertisement that appeared in the April 3, 1928 edition of the “Scranton (Pa), Times Tribune,” described it as :
Containing the purest spices available-genuine JAMAICAN GINGER- Pure Cane Sugar and blended FRUIT Essences.
As far as I can tell, at this point the manufacturing arm of the business was now called the “Vess Beverage Company.” At the same time, they continued to bottle and sell the Vess flavors and Orange Whistle utilizing the “Whistle Bottling Company” and its local franchises.
All that aside, there’s little doubt that the success of the overall business was due primarily to Orange Whistle. That success continued until the late 1920’s when the fluctuating price of sugar served as the catalyst for a downturn that ultimately lead to Jones selling the business to long-time employee, Leroy O. Schneeberger. The circumstances that lead up to the sale were recounted by Schneeberger’s son, Donald, in an interview published years later, in the March 29, 1981 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”
“In those days, Whistle provided sugar for its bottlers,” Schneeberger said. “The price of sugar rose sharply. Went from 4 cents to 20 cents a pound, and kept going. Whistle negotiated a contract at 20 cents, but the sugar producers wouldn’t deliver at that price. They had buyers for 30 cents.
Whistle sued. The sugar companies delayed until sugar went down to 4 cents. Whistle won – and had to pay 16 cents more than the market rate.
That drained the company. When the crash came, well, it killed them. My father bought the company for $10,000.
Schneeberger went on to say that only the midwest portion of the business survived.
Vess was never again anything more than a regional brand – the midwest region that the Schneebergers owned. The country was divided into four equal areas. The other three were not aggressive. They let it slip away. You can imagine what it was like trying to get four people to agree on advertising and marketing. That’s what really held it back…
The company operated under Leroy Schneeberger for the next 30 + years. As early as the mid-1930’s they introduced several new brands, one of which was Cleo Cola.
The Cola had a short but noteworthy history as told by Don Schneeberger in another interview, this one published in the June 27, 1994 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”
One name got its start from his father’s habit of smoking Cleopatra cigars, Schneeberger said. “He took the drawing of a girl in an abbreviated costume off the cigar label, put it on a drink bottle and called it Cleo Cola.”
The bottle looked good, Schneeberger said, but it brought protests that it would not be appropriate for a church picnic.
So his father took the girl off the bottle and substituted a shield. He fooled around, changing the bottle and script for the name.
That turned out to be a bad move, Don Schneeberger said. The company was hit by a suit from Coca-Cola, charging trademark infringement in the way the C’s were written. Coca-Cola won and Cleo had to pay a royalty on every case.
The name Cleo is clearly visible in the photograph of this 1935 Vess delivery truck, found in the June 28, 1970 edition of the “Kansas City Star.”
Another new 1930’s brand was a lemon-lime soda called “Bubble Up, advertised as “THE BILLION BUBBLE BEVERAGE.” Both Cleo Cola and Bubble Up made an appearance in this June 25, 1939 Vess advertisement published in the “Chillicothe (Mo.) Gazette.”
The company must have liked the “Billon Bubble” phrase because it wasn’t long before they were lumping the entire menu of Vess beverages under that phrase.
And…Orange Whistle had not been forgotten, as evidenced by this February 13, 1941 “St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times” advertisement that touted its “modern-styled BIG 12-ounce bottle.”
In late 1946 the company became one of, if not the first, to market a caffeine free soda. The December 10, 1946 edition of the St. Louis “Star and Times” announced it like this:
NO CAFFEIN IN NEW VESS COLA DRINK
A “First” has just been achieved by Vess Cola with the announcement by company officials that they are now featuring an entirely “caffein-free” cola drink. Distribution of the new Vess Cola, with no caffein, has now been completed in this area.
The removal of caffein from Vess Cola adds to the appeal of this popular drink. With all the true cola flavor, sparkle and refreshment quality in, and the caffein out, its the wholesome drink for children as well as adults
A known stimulant, caffein is capable of hindering sleep and of aggravating caffein sensitive nervous systems. Normally over-active children often react to caffein by becoming more jumpy and high-strung. With the caffein out, Vess Cola can be drunk early or late without risk of this over-stimulation.
Vess Cola with no caffein has now been distributed to retail outlets and is available throughout this area. Bottled under license of Vess Beverage Company by Vess Bottling Company, St. Louis. Mo.
In the late 1940’s ads like this were appearing in several midwest states.
Many ads went on to include this little jingle:
So whether you drink it early or drink it late,
Vess Cola doesn’t over-stimulate.
No wonder mothers say “Yes” to Vess Cola
The favors keen with no caffein,
According to Donald Schneeberger’s 1994 interview, their caffeine-free soda turned out to be an innovation that appeared well before its time.
Caffeine-free drinks got popular in the 1980’s. But in the 1940’s Vess didn’t have enough money to advertise the no-caffeine drink fully. It passed on without a lot of notice – no big deal.
Still headquartered in St. Louis, throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s it appears the company, now called Whistle & Vess Beverages, Inc., continued to utilize the facilities of the former Whistle company. Then in late 1949 they began construction of a new St Louis facility, a rendering of which was included in the December 25, 1949 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch”
According to the story that accompanied the rendering
Work has started at the southwest corner of Hereford Avenue and Arsenal Street on a new building to house the offices of Whistle & Vess Beverages, Inc. and the company’s locally franchised bottling agency, the Vess Bottling Co.
The parent concern…now has its office in the Arcade Building and the local bottling agency at 2925 Locust Street
At this point, according to another item in the story, the company was once again branching out geographically with “150 franchised bottlers, all located west of Indiana to the Pacific and south to the border.” That being said, the bulk of their newspaper advertising continued to be focused on Missouri and the surrounding states.
Leroy Schneeberger continued to run the business until 1968 when, according to a March 29, 1981 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, he sold Vess to a conglomerate. In an effort to continue the “truck’ theme, here’s the conglomerate’s 1970’s version of their delivery truck.
The 1981 St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” feature went on to say that under the conglomerate:
Vess went flat- lost 70 percent of its St. Louis business, 90 percent of its out-of-town trade.
The above statement is bolstered by the fact that in the two years between 1974 and 1975, at least two of their bottling franchises, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Kansas City, Missouri, filed for bankruptcy.
In 1975, Donald Schneeberger, who had been working at Vess with his father until the mid-1960’s when he left to form another bottling/canning operation called Custom Packaging Corp., bought the company back. He promptly published this notice in the December 3rd edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”
The younger Schneeberger served as president of Vess from 1975 until 1994.
During his term as president the business apparently made a comeback as evidenced by this item that appeared in a June 27, 1994 “St Lois Post-Dispatch” feature on the company.
In 1975, when he bought the company, it was turning out about 650,000 cases of soft drinks a year. In the last year it has turned out almost 18 million cases and had revenue of $50 million.
By then, according to a June 1, 1994 St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” story the company was still turning out its Orange Whistle along with 13 other sugar-sweetened flavors, eight varieties of diet soda and spring waters.
It was around the same time, in June, 1994, that Schneeberger sold both Vess and the Custom Packing Corporation to the Cott Corp. of Toronto. The June 27th St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” feature went on to say:
In buying Vess for $27 million, Cott gets a 235,000 square-foot plant here in the Westport area, plus a 130,000 square-foot warehouse and the 154,000 square-foot (Custom Packing) plant in Sikeston.
Donald Schneeberger passed away on December 27, 2019. His St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” obituary stated, in part:
Today his iconic flavors; Whistle Orange, Cream, Grape and Strawberry as well as many others are family favorites to this day.
Here’s an advertisement depicting today’s version of Orange Whistle’s packaging.
At least two St. Louis buildings occupied by the various Whistle/Vess companies over the years remain to this day. One is the Cadillac Building, leased by the Orange Whistle Company in 1918 to house their bottling plant. Located at 2020-22 Locust Street, here’s its present look, courtesy of Google Maps.
The other is the one built in 1949-50 at Hereford Avenue and Arsenal Street to house Vess. Again, here it is courtesy of Google Maps.
The bottle I found is machine made and contains 6-1/2 ounces. In addition to “WHISTLE,” embossed prominently on the shoulder, the words “WHISTLE BOTTLING CO., GLENWOOD LANDING, N.Y.” are embossed in small lettering along the heel of the bottle.
The Glenwood Landing reference almost certainly associates the bottle with the bottling company of a man named George Sessler. Sessler operated a bottling business in Glenwood Landing on Long Island, N.Y.’s north shore from 1907 until sometime in the 1930’s and possibly longer. The 1925 “Beverage Blue Book” specifically identified his business as a “Whistle” franchise.
In addition to his Glenwood Landing plant, Sessler also operated one on Long Island’s south shore in Baldwin, N.Y., as evidenced by this introductory advertisement that appeared in the May 10, 1923 edition of Rockville Centre (L. I.)’s “Long Island News and Owl”
More on George Sessler can be found in another post on this site.
John J. Kane was a bottler in New York’s Far Rockaway during the first two decades of the 1900’s. During much of the same time he was also associated with hotels located in both Far Rockaway and nearby Arverne, Queens.
Kane’s bottling operation was first listed under the heading “Wine, Liquor and Lager Beer,” in the 1904 Trow Business Directory for the Borough of Queens. He was not listed in the 1903 directory, suggesting that the business was established at around that time. Up through 1907 he just bottled beer then, according to an item in the April 15, 1907 edition of the “American Bottler, he expanded his operation to include soda water as well.
John J. Kane, a beer bottler at Far Rockaway, is going to engage in the soda water and siphon trade as well.
Queens directories and New York State liquor tax records always listed the business with a White Street (now Beach 21st Street) address in Far Rockaway; typically “White Street 200 feet south of Mott.” Likely a saloon as well as a bottling operation, Queens telephone books between 1910 and 1920 described the business as both a “cafe” and bottling establishment. No longer listed in the early 1920’s, the business was likely a victim of prohibition.
New York State liquor tax records also name Kane’s wife, Minnie, the certificate holder for a Far Rockaway Hotel located at Remson and McNeil (now Redfern and McNeil) from 1911 to 1914.
In addition to his Far Rockaway business endeavors, a 1910 report prepared by the New York State Superintendent of Elections, named Kane as the proprietor of a hotel in nearby Arverne, located at the northwest corner of Bouker Place (now Beach 64th Street) and the Long Island Rail Road tracks.
Back in the day many hotels included a bottling operation so it wouldn’t surprise me if Kane was bottling beer in Arverne as part of his hotel operation there. At the very least, he was certainly supplying that location from Far Rockaway.
It’s possible (but I haven’t been able to confirm) that both the bottling and hotel businesses involved other members of the Kane family besides his wife. A bottle, similar in style to Kane’s, but embossed “Kane Brothers, Far Rockaway,” can be found in the collection of Mike AKA Chinchillaman1 at http://mikesbottleroom.weebly.com (no relation to this web site).
In further support of this supposition, liquor tax records for the Arverne hotel list other Kane’s as the certificate holders; namely James P. Kane in 1907 and later, Andrew Kane in 1913 through 1917.
It’s not clear exactly how long the Kane’s continued in the hotel business. Census records in 1920 named John J. Kane’s occupation as the: “Proprietor of Hotel,” but by 1930, census records indicate that he and his wife Minnie, were living in Miami Florida.
I’ve found two identical bottles, each with a blob finish and embossed with both a Far Rockaway and Arverne location. They could date as early as 1903 (when the bottling business began) but likely closer to 1907 (the date of the earliest liquor tax certificate I can find for the Arverne location). Anything much later and I would expect a crown finish.
The town of Bad Kissingen, located in the heart of Germany, has a reputation for its mineral waters that dates back to the mid-16th century. Over 170 years ago, the 1850 edition of the “Handbook for Travelers in Southern Germany” described Kissingen like this:
Kissingen is a town of about 1,500 inhabitants pleasantly situated on the Franconian Saale. It possesses 3 mineral springs. The Rackoczy and Pandur Brunnen furnish saline and chalybeate waters, which are tonic and aperient without flying to the head; the Rakoczy is used for drinking, the Pandur for baths: they are highly recommended as a remedy for chronic diseases, gout and complaints of the stomach; 40,000 bottles of Rakoczy are exported annually.
Around the same time that the above description was written, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Samuel Smith, who referred to himself by his middle name Hanbury, began to artificially reproduce the water from Kissingen’s Radoczy Spring. He would go on to artificially manufacture a host of other natural spring waters as well including the well known Vichy and Congress waters that, according to his advertisements, were:
Identical with the natural in composition and effects, more effervescent, and less liable to change.
The motivation for Smith’s endeavor was the medicinal properties that these waters were thought to possess. In a paper authored by Smith, published in the January, 1856 edition of the “Cincinnati Medical Observer” he explained:
Whenever a novelty is pressed upon his notice, the Anglo-Saxon instinctively puts the question, “Cui bono?” “What is the use and the value of the thing?” The question I will endeavor to answer in the following lines…
That there is a large series of chronic diseases, and anomalous disordered conditions, best cured by the use of mineral waters, and a similar series often incurable by any other known means is a postulate which will undoubtedly be granted by every practitioner of reputation throughout the whole continent of Europe . That, moreover, in another series of cases, mineral waters efficiently aid ordinary therapeutic measures, and that in a fourth the effects produced by their employment afford a valuable source of diagnosis, will be readily granted. The well established facts, the long catalogue of observations recorded by competent observers, leave no room for dispute or cavil about the truth of these propositions…
An April, 1858 editorial in the Cincinnati Lancet and Observer credited Smith with introducing this thinking, which was prevalent in Europe at the time, into the United States. Written several years after Smith established his business, the Lancet editorial opined:
Carlsbad. Spa – We take pleasure in calling the attention of our readers to the effort which has been persistently made for nearly two years, by Dr. S. Hanbury Smith, to introduce to the notice of the profession and the public the factitious Mineral Waters. We have always thought it strange that an art so important to the development of the therapeutics of chronic diseases, should have so long remained a terra incognita on this side of the Atlantic, awaiting the advent of some adventurous pioneer…
…At the “Carlsbad Spa,” as Dr. Smith has christened his establishment, the waters of the most celebrated springs of Continental Europe are reproduced with wonderful exactness. Many of our physicians have already prescribed them quite extensively, and they are on sale by most respectable apothecaries in this city, especially Kissingen, a water resembling Congress – tonic, alterative, aperient and depurative, but very much stronger.
One of Smith’s early advertisements listed several disorders that his mineral waters were specifically prescribed to address.
So, with that as background, here’s Hanbury Smith’s story which according to his obituary found in the September 15, 1894 edition of the “Brooklyn Citizen,” began “across the pond” in 1810.
He was born in England in 1810 and studied medicine in a London college, from which he graduated in 1831. He continued to study in a college in Stockholm, Sweden, and during the cholera epidemic in 1834 was senior physician of the cholera hospital in that city. He came to America in 1847…
In the United States he settled in the State of Ohio where he remained for the next 13 years. His time there included stays in Columbus, Hamilton and Cincinnati were, among other things he served as editor of the “Ohio Medical and Surgical Journal,” and superintendent of the Ohio State Lunatic Asylum. It was also in Ohio where Smith began to manufacture his artificial mineral waters
According to later advertisements, it was in 1855 that Smith established what he called the “Carlsbad Spa,” in Cincinnati. An introductory story on the business appeared in the July, 1856 edition of the Western Lancet.
We deem it an agreeable duty to call the attention of our readers to the establishment which, under this name, Dr. Hanbury Smith has opened at the N. E. corner of Walnut and Seventh Streets, in this city. Here, by ingenious processes, are reproduced in the laboratory exact imitations of the more active and valuable medicinal mineral waters of the known world; and thus an opportunity is afforded to the large class of sufferers in whose cases mineral waters are especially indicated, to avail themselves of them at comparatively very small cost of money, time or labor, – and to the physicians of the country to make themselves practically acquainted with a series of remedies heretofore out of their reach.
The story went on to present the spa’s varied menu of mineral waters.
The waters are drank at the Spa, as a rule, early in the morning, say between five o’clock and eight, directly out of the apparatus in which they are prepared and preserved. Among those to be procured are Carlsbad, Eurs, Marienbad, Pyrmont, Vichy, Ergs, Spa, Kissingen, Heilbrunn, Hombourg, Fachingen, Geilnau, Selters, Seydschutz, Pullna, etc. Some of these are purgative, others deobstruent, some tonic, others alterative; and yet others are possessed of two, three or more of these properties in a large series of varied combinations, thus affording advantages of choice and change unknown at any one watering place, and an inexhaustible store of therapeutic resources.
This initial story did not mention bottling so it’s not clear if Smith bottled his waters from the start. That being said, by the following year he was certainly bottling and distributing Kissingen Water locally, as evidenced by this August 16, 1857 advertisement in the Cincinnati Enquirer that listed several Cincinnati drugstores and one, across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky, where Hanbury Smith’s “Kissingen Water” was available.
Sometime in the late 1850’s the business moved from their original 7th Street location to the Burnet House on Third Street where they were listed in the 1858 Cincinnati directory. In late 1858 an item in the October edition of the Lancet announced that they moved again, this time to 128 West Fourth Street.
Dr. Hanbury Smith. – The Carlsbad Spa of Dr. Smith is removed from the Burnet House basement, on Third Street to rooms in Neaves’ building, corner 4th and Race. This is quite an improvement, giving our friend, Dr. Smith, the advantages of a much better location, and more pleasant rooms.
An advertisement featuring this new location appeared in the 1860 edition of Cincinnati’s city directory.
These physical moves implemented over a short period of time were likely necessitated by the growth in popularity of both their spa and bottling business; a fact made clear in the April, 1858 Lancet editorial.
We are agreeably surprised to learn that the quantity consumed last year, partly in bottles, and partly direct from the fountains, considerably exceeded 30,000 pints.
The editorial then went on to say:
This seems a large quantity, but at the low rate at which it is sold, and in view of the very heavy expense attending the enterprise a much larger consumption will be required to prove remunerative. Fifty thousand bottles per annum is a common sale at quite insignificant European establishments , exclusive of the quantity drank out of the apparatus, and we should not be so sorry to learn that the “Carlsbad Spa” rivals these already the coming year.
Sometime in 1859 the growth and economic realities mentioned in the editorial forced Smith to establish an operation in New York City. He apparently left Cincinnati’s “Carlsbad Spa” in the charge of a man named Alex M. Berger; a fact confirmed in this May 11, 1860 item found in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Who actually owned the Cincinnati spa at this point is unclear, however, what is clear is that Berger continued to advertise the Hanbury Smith mineral waters up through the end of the decade, as evidenced by this September 18, 1869 Cincinnati Enquirer advertisement.
Meanwhile, Smith was up and running in New York City in the summer of 1859; a fact confirmed in this August, 1859 announcement published in the “New York Monthly Review and Buffalo Medical Journal.”
The Spa. – Under this name, Dr. S. Hanbury Smith has established at 833 Broadway, near 13th Street, fountains of artificial mineral waters, several of the most valuable of the German springs being reproduced as regards chemical composition and temperature. Four springs, models of different classes, have been selected by Dr. Smith, and the waters exactly imitated. They are, first, the Carlsbad Spring, which is hot and alkaline, the sulphate of soda being the largest medicinal ingredient; second, the Manerbad, which is cold, and resembles closely, in other respects the Carlsbad; third, the Kissingen, in which the muriate of soda is the most prominent ingredient, resembling in this respect, the Saratoga waters; and fourth, the Pyrmont, a chalybeate spring.
Advertisements in the medical journals soon followed.
Not long after Smith had settled at 833 Broadway, he opened what he called a “Branch Spa” in Caswell, Mack & Co.’s Drug Store located in the Fifth Avenue Hotel.
At the time, the hotel was located on Broadway between 23rd and 24th Streets.
Not long at 833 Broadway, sometime in 1862 Smith moved his primary location to 808 Broadway where it remained listed through 1866.
A description of 808 Broadway, included in an 1860’s “tourist” publication called “American Travel,” revealed that it was as much a “destination” as it was a manufacturing facility.
To the citizens of New York, not less than to those visiting it during the spring and early summer months, mineral waters and baths have become a necessity. Dr. Hanbury Smith’s famous mineral water establishment, “The Spa,” is pleasantly and centrally located at 808 Broadway, near its intersection with Eleventh Street. Its health-giving waters, agreeable shade, and proximity to other objects of interest, combine to make it one of the pleasantest lounging-places of the metropolis.
During this time, Smith continued to operate branch locations as well. The 1867 N. Y. C. directory listed two; one at 32 Pine Street and the other at 83 Wall Street. Smith’s waters were also available, on draught or in bottles, at local drug stores around town. A May 9, 1865 Brooklyn Daily Eagle item highlighted a Williamsburg, Brooklyn drug store named Jenson’s as one such location.
By the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, its apparent that Smith’s distribution network had grown well beyond the New York metropolitan area with mention of his mineral waters now appearing in drug store advertisements of other major U. S. cities including Baltimore, Md., Washington D. C., Hartford Conn., Richmond Va., and even New Orleans, La.
In May, 1868 an item in the New York Medical Journal announced the business had moved again, this time to 35 Union Square.
Not long after he moved, Smith partnered with William S. Hazard changing the company name to Hanbury Smith & Hazard. The name change was reflected in both N. Y. C.’s 1870 directory and this early 1870’s advertisement that appeared in the The Pharmacist and Chemical Record.
The business operated as Hanbury Smith & Hazard for 15 years adding a second location at 309 Broadway in the early 1870’s and a third at 39 West 4th Street in 1882. It was during this time, they introduced the manufacture of their “granular effervescing salts to compliment the mineral water business. An advertisement announcing this addition appeared in the 1877 Vermont Medical Register.
Sometime in 1883 or 1884, the partnership with Hazard was apparently dissolved and the business was once again listed in the directories as simply Hanbury Smith. With Smith in his 80’s, the business was last listed in 1892 with only one address; 39 West 4th Street. At that point, Smith was living in Brooklyn, where he passed away in September, 1894.
The history of the business during the rest of the 1890’s is sketchy. According to a classified item appearing in the January 26, 1899 edition of The (New York) Sun, a man named John Morgan claimed to have acquired the rights to Smith’s formulas.
Then, less than two years later, in 1901, Moody’s reported that Hanbury Smith was one of several firms consolidated under the name John Matthews, Inc. The Mathews business was a long established soda water operation that dated back to 1832.
The consolidation was likely the end of “Hanbury Smith” as a company name but not as a brand name. Hanbury Smith’s mineral salts appear in a Fuller & Fuller Co. price list as late as 1906/1907. Both Matthews Inc. and John Morgan were still in business at that time but who actually had rights to the brand at that point is not clear, at least to me.
The subject bottle is mouth blown with a crudely applied finish. It’s embossed with both the “Hanbury Smith” name and the words “Kissingen Water.” It’s doesn’t have a pontil mark so I suspect it dates from the late 1860’s to the mid 1880’s, likely from the Hanbury Smith & Hazard era. (I’ve never seen an example that included the Hazard name in the embossing, so that’s no help.)
Typically supplied in two bottle sizes; half-pint and pint….
…this is certainly the half-pint size.
In addition to “Kissingen Water,” recent examples of Smith’s bottles, similar in shape and size, that are are embossed “Vichy Water” and the generic “Mineral Water,” have recently appeared for sale on the internet.
Finally, if I’m to believe this advertisement found in the August, 1868 edition of the Druggist Circular and Chemical Gazette, he also sold “Soda Water in a “torpedo” shaped bottle.
Although there’s no location embossed on the bottle, I’m quite sure Marshall & Co. was a short-lived New York City soda water manufacturer. In fact, the year 1866 embossed on the bottle could be the only year that the business was in existence.
There are only two directory listings that I can find for the business. The first was found in the 1866/1867 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory; the other in the 1867 New York State Business Directory (likely compiled in 1866). Both listings include the same address in lower Manhattan, 182 Thompson Street.
In further support of this supposition, the only advertisements I’ve been able to find for the business were all published in the New York City newspapers during July, 1866. One ad, found in the July 20, 1866 edition of the New York Daily Herald, was a collection of three adjacent items, each touting their Sarsaparilla as well as something called Mingo Beer.
Another, published in the July 12, 1866 edition of the Herald, identified hotels, saloons, fruit stores and the family trade as their targeted market.
Similar July, 1866 advertisements also appeared in the New York Times and New York Tribune.
The subject bottle is a pony with an applied blob finish that almost certainly dates to 1866.
Duhme & Meyer was a New York City mineral water manufacturer and a bottler of soda and beer that operated in lower Manhattan during much of the 1870’s and 1880’s. The proprietors were German immigrants Henry Duhme and Wiliam Meyer.
Census records indicate that Duhme arrived in the United States from Hanover, Germany in 1848. By the early 1850’s he had apparently joined his brother Martin in the grocery business under the name “Duhme & Brother.” The 1851 N.Y.C. directory listed the business in lower Manhattan with an address of 17 Grand Street. By the mid-1850’s the name “Duhme & Brother” had disappeared from the directories however, both Duhme’s continued to be listed as grocers at several lower Manhattan locations up through the mid-1860’s.
It was around this time that Henry Duhme opened a saloon at 198 Bleeker Street as evidenced by the occupation he listed in the 1870 census records: “Lagerbier Saloon.” This likely occurred in 1868 when his occupation in the directories changed from “grocer” to “liquor.”
Sometime in the early 1870’s Duhme partnered with William Meyer and together they established Duhme & Meyer. Meyer had immigrated to the United States from Prussia and I suspect he had recently arrived in New York City after first settling in New Jersey.
The business of Duhme and Meyer was initially listed in the 1871 N.Y.C directory at 112 Prince Street where they remained for over ten years. Early directories (1871 to 1875) referenced the company as a “soda” business while later directories called them “bottlers.” They were certainly bottling beer as well as soda in 1875 as evidenced by a Duhme & Meyer bottle found in a collection presented on brucemobley.com. The bottle is embossed “Lager Beer” on the front, with the year 1875 embossed on the back.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the bottling business was actually an outgrowth of Duhme’s saloon business and they were bottling beer from the start but that’s entirely conjecture on my part.
Sometime in 1883 Duhme & Meyer moved to 115 Christopher Street where they were listed in the N.Y.C. directories until 1886 when Duhme apparently left the business. He ultimately moved to Brooklyn where 1900 census records listed his occupation as a real estate agent. He passed away in March 1909.
The bottling business continued to operate under the management of the Meyer family after Duhme’s departure. In 1887, both William Meyer and Henry W. Meyer, were listed with the occupation “waters,” at 115 Christopher Street. Henry was almost certainly William’s son, who, according to 1880 census records, was born in 1871.
The following year William Meyer was no longer listed, apparently leaving the business in the hands of his son who continued to operate it at 115 Christopher Street up until 1898.
A bottle embossed Henry W. Meyer exhibiting the 115 Christopher Street address was found in the collection of Mike AKA Chinchillaman1 at http://mikesbottleroom.weebly.com (no relation to this web site).
Sometime in 1898 Meyer moved the business to 218 West 22nd Street. The move was almost certainly associated with a reduction in business due to New York State’s enactment of their 1896 liquor tax law, popularly referred to as Raines Law. Among other things, the law included an $800 license fee making it difficult for much of Meyer’s small business clientele to remain in business.
Shortly after the move the business came to a tragic end when Henry W, Meyer committed suicide. A story in the May 21, 1899 edition of the New York Tribune provided the sad details.
Henry W. Meyer, head of the firm Henry W. Meyer & Co., manufacturers of soda water, committed suicide yesterday afternoon at his home, No. 215 Tenth Ave., by taking muriatic acid. The shrinking of his extensive business to a condition of poor trade by the closing up of many small dealers with whom he had a monopoly of trade is thought to have caused Myer’s act. Myer lived with his wife and four children on the second floor of the Tenth Ave. house. His factory is in Twenty second Street between Tenth and Eleventh Aves. The man had built up a large business among the small saloons in the city, especially on the East Side. The Raines Law license drove a great many of these dealers out of business, and Meyer’s trade suffered, as he found himself unable to compete with the larger dealers.
The bottle I found is a pony with an applied blob finish that includes the embossed Christopher Street address. The monogramed back includes the embossed year 1883, suggesting it was manufactured specifically to reflect Duhme & Meyer’s move to new quarters that year.
Streeteasy.com reports that today the building at 115 Christopher Street was built in 1904, so it does not date back to the time frame of the business.
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.
Owen Clark operated a mineral water manufacturing and bottling business in Long Island City, New York from the early 1870’s through the turn of the century. Over the life span of the business Clark was forced to completely start over on two separate occasions as a result of devastating fires.
Census records indicate that Clark, an Irish immigrant, arrived in the United States in 1849. While his first decade in the United States is a mystery, by the early 1860’s he was serving as a Union officer in the Civil War. According to his obituary, published in the October 17, 1906 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union:
He served through the Civil War as a second lieutenant of Company C, Seventy-seventh Regiment, N. Y. V.
After the war he settled in Long Island City, New York. Located just across the East River from Manhattan, Long Island City operated independently of New York City at the time. It wasn’t until 1898 that it was consolidated with New York City becoming part of Queens County.
Clark’s Obituary went on to say:
In old Long Island City he served several terms as Alderman, and also served as Police Commissioner under former Mayor Petry, and was a member of the General Improvement Commission under former Mayor Gleason. He conducted a bottling business and owned considerable real estate in Long Island City and vicinity.
As early as 1868, Curtin’s Long Island Directory listed Clark with an address of “Jackson Avenue, near 5th Street,” and the occupation “liquors.” It’s not clear if the bottling business was up and running at this point but it was certainly active by the early 1870’s.
The business listed that address until 1875 when a fire swept through the facility. The June 15, 1875 edition of the New York Times reported on the blaze.
About 2:20 o’clock yesterday morning a fire was discovered in the mineral water establishment of Mr. Owen Clark, on Jackson Avenue, Hunter’s Point, and before assistance could be rendered the building, together with two others adjoining, were enveloped in flames…
The loss is estimated at $14,500. Mr. Clark’s establishment, together with two horses and a crate of bottles valued at $3,000 was totally destroyed; there was no insurance.
Afterwards Clark re-established the business. Likely nearby or at the former location, it was listed at 53 Jackson Avenue in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. (I don’t have access to any directories from the early 1880’s).
Tragically another fire claimed this facility as well. The blaze was described in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s July 21, 1893 edition as “the most disastrous conflagration that ever occurred in Long Island City.”
The most costly square block in the city was entirely wiped out with the exception of a few gutted buildings and standing walls, which today tower above the smoldering debris. The loss is very heavy and roughly estimated by the sufferers at between $500,000 and $600,000 of which fully two-thirds is covered by insurance in the various companies. Beside the entire square block obliterated two other blocks were partially destroyed…
The story went on to describe the fate of Clark’s property.
…At this point the wind shifted a little to the east and the fire swept down Fifth Street in the direction of Jackson Avenue, where two three two story frame dwelling houses owned by Samuel Dennison helped the flames creep down to the new $75,000 triangle building of Colonel H. S. Kearney that was nearly completed on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Fifth Street.
Around the doomed triangle building the flames burned fiercely and communicated with Clark’s soda water establishment, a two story frame dwelling and sheds. The fire spread to Clark’s brother’s house, a three story tenement adjoining on Jackson Avenue, and from there to a new four story brick house owned by Owen Clark…
Clark once again rebuilt nearby, now listing his factory and home address as 130 5th Street (now 49th Ave.). A news item published in the January 22, 1905 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle indicated that the Clark family lived on the second floor above the business. This coupled with the fact that 1900 census records reported that two of Clark’s sons, James and Edward, were also involved in the business, all lead me to believe that it was a small family run operation.
The business was still located at 130 5th Street at the time of Owen Clark’s death in October, 1906. I suspect that he remained active in the business until the end as evidenced by an item that appeared a little over a year before his death in the March 15, 1905 edition of the American Bottler.
OWEN CLARK, the worthy veteran bottler, 130 Fifth Street, Long Island City, N.Y., still marches right along with the boys and never gets left.
After Clark’s death the business was not listed in the directories under the Clark name and 1910 census records don’t appear to connect any of his sons with the business. This all suggests that the family was not involved after 1906. That being said, an item published in the American Bottler noted that on April 21, 1908 detectives raided the 5th Street location, levying a fine against the company for using bottles owned by another business.
April 21st: made a seizure of ten filled siphons from Owen Clark’s mineral water establishment at No. 130 5th Street, Long Island City; he was fined $15 by our Board of Directors. This was his second offense.
Recognizing that Owen Clark had passed away over a year earlier, it’s not clear who was actually operating the business at that point.
The found bottle is a mouth blown pony with a blob finish. It includes the embossed address of 23 Jackson Avenue. This address doesn’t correlate with any of the addresses that are associated with the business in the directories or newspapers. This leads to several possibilities:
1. The bottle is associated with the earliest location listed for the business; simply referenced in the directories as “Jackson Ave near 5th Street” (early to mid-1870’s) or
2. The embossed 23 is a typo and should have been a 53 with the 5 mistaken for a 2 by the bottle maker (late 1870’s to 1893).
That being said, the company included Jackson Avenue within their address from the early 1870’s up through 1893, so I suspect it’s safe to say that the bottle’s manufacture falls somewhere within that time frame.
Theron L. Neff, and later T. L. Neff’s Sons (sometimes T. L. Neff & Sons) were soft drink bottlers that operated in Brooklyn, New York from approximately 1869 to 1935.
Theron Neff was born in Windham Connecticut in 1842. His obituary, published in the April 5, 1906 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union, mentioned that his arrival in Brooklyn came after his service in the Civil War.
When the Civil War broke out, Mr. Neff enlisted with Company H, of the Twenty -fifth Connecticut Volunteers, and during a number of engagements served as corporal in the Department of the Gulf under General Hanks. He participated in the Battle of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson.
The obituary goes on to say that after the war he settled in Brooklyn and joined the business of Mason O. Fuller, an old-time Brooklyn bottler whose business dated back to the late 1850’s. M. O. Fuller Neff ultimately took over the business in the late 1860’s.
Mr. Neff came to Brooklyn in 1865. He went to live in the Fifteenth Ward and accepted a position with Mason O. Fuller, who was the originator of the soda water business. The plant at that time was located in Grand Street near Graham Avenue. Mr. Neff worked for Mr. Fuller for three or four years, and finally took control of the business and afterwards conducted it under the name of T. L. Neff.
Neff’s obituary also credits him as being the originator of bottled root beer.
At that time yeast was used in the making of root beer and the beverage was put in stone jugs. Mr. Neff originated the idea of putting the root beer in bottles under the present carbonated system.
By 1875, and possibly earlier, the company’s factory was located at 105 Maujer Street where according to their 1889 “bottle registration notice, they bottled and sold soda water, root beer and other beverages.
Theron conducted the business until 1895 when he retired. At that point he turned the company over to his sons Lewis and Edwin, changing the name to T. L. Neff’s Sons. Lewis was in charge of the business end of the house, while Edwin oversaw manufacturing.
A story featuring Brooklyn’s mineral water industry published in the July 7, 1912 edition of the “Brooklyn Citizen” provided this early 1900’s snapshot of the business:
In the manufacture of soft drinks T. L. Neff & Sons, Inc., 105 Maujer Street, Brooklyn, N. Y., is one of the largest and most prominent in the city.
They occupy a two-story building 25 x 100, used exclusively for bottling their drinks, and also maintain a stable at 52-54 Ten Eyck Street where their many horses and wagons are kept.
The plant has capacity of fifteen hundred boxes of soda per day, and employs about thirty men. The business was established about 1858, and has served one customer for forty-six years.
A May 12, 1914 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement, made it clear that the Neff company, with large contracts up and down the east coast, served more than just the New York City area.
Among the customers they are serving are the New England Navigation Company, which operates the Fall River Steamers, the Panama Steamship Company, the Central Hudson Steamboat Company and the U. S. Government Reservations between West Point and Governor’s Island, as well as the American Sugar Refining Company.
The Brooklyn Citizen feature went on to say that the company was in the process of planning the construction of a new modernized factory.
They are at present planning a new three-story building of concrete construction, and upon its completion they will have one of the finest plants for the manufacture of soft drinks in the country. The new plant will be equipped with all new and model machinery for the washing and sterilizing of bottles, which is one of the most important features of the business.
The company moved to their new accommodations, located at 179-181 Powers Street sometime in mid-1914.
According to a July 17, 1921 Brooklyn Citizen story, by the early 1920’s their daily output had increased from 1500 to 2,000 boxes and the business had established an international clientele.
Not only in Brooklyn are the products of the company supplied to hundreds of dealers in the city, but they are shipped throughout the country and Europe. Steady customers are on the company’s books with their business houses in Japan and other Asiatic countries.
The Neff’s Sons apparently remained in business until 1935 when the corporation was dissolved. The dissolution notice was printed in several November, 1935 editions of the Brooklyn Times Union.
Edwin Neff’s obituary published in the March 10, 1940 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle mentioned that he retired in 1935 so it’s possible that his retirement triggered the ultimate dissolution of the corporation.
The bottle I found is machine made with a crown finish and an approximate capacity of 28 ounces. “T. L. Neff’s Sons”is embossed on the front, along with their Powers Street address. This dates the bottle no earlier than 1914.
The back of the bottle exhibits their trademarked case of soda bottles.
Today, the building located at 179 – 181 Powers Street appears to be the same building built and occupied by the the company in 1914.
Daniel Bahr conducted a mineral water business in Brooklyn, N. Y. from 1889 to approximately 1908. The business itself however dates back to the mid-1880’s when it was apparently established by his older brother, Jacob G. Bahr.
German by birth, the Bahr brothers immigrated to the United States in 1853 settling approximately 100 miles north and west of New York City in Ellenville, New York. According to Jacob’s obituary published in the January 26, 1917 edition of the Middletown Press:
Mr. Bahr was a native of Bavaria, Germany and came with his mother to Ellenville when he was but eight years old. He was employed for a time in the old Ellenville Glass works and had continued in that business ever since. As young man he went to New York where he remained until 11 years ago….
By 1870 Jacob had made the move to New York City where he was listed as a demijohn manufacturer in Manhattan up through the mid 1880’s. Then, in 1885, he moved to Brooklyn where he associated with Henry P. Bahr, who I suspect was his father, and together they started what was likely the predecessor of the subject business. That year, both were first listed at 679 Grand Street, Jacob with the occupation “bottler” and Henry as “glass.”
Meanwhile, his younger brother Daniel had also relocated downstate to Brooklyn where he was listed throughout most of the 1880’s as an oyster dealer and restaurant owner with an address of 11 Ewen Street (now Manhattan Avenue).
Then, sometime in 1889 Daniel apparently took over the mineral water business. His “bottle registration notice” published in several February and March, 1889 editions of the Brooklyn Citizen and (Brooklyn) Standard Union made it clear that while he was still using bottles embossed with Henry P. Bahr’s name and monogram, by then he had begun using bottles embossed with his name and monogram as well.
A year later, in 1890, he was the only Bahr listed at the 679 Grand Street address. (At that point Henry was no longer listed in the Brooklyn directories and Jacob was back in the demijohn business with his son, Henry J. Bahr.)
Brooklyn city directories continued to list Daniel Bahr at 677/679 Grand Street until 1891 when he relocated the business to 911/913 Grand Street. It was also in 1891 that Bahr partnered with Harry Jaquillard under the name “Bahr and Jaquillard.” An August 24, 1904 feature on Jaquillard published in the (Brooklyn) Standard Union told his story.
In 1889 he was named Record Clerk in the County Clerk’s office, and held it about a year when he resigned to go into the mineral water business. He formed a partnership with Daniel Bahr, of Grand Street, and for nearly four years could be seen every day driving one of the mineral water wagons through the streets of the ward.
The story goes on to say that sometime in 1893 (or 1894) Jaquillard left the business and entered politics. By 1904 he was serving as Brooklyn’s Port Warden.
After Jaquillard’s departure Bahr continued the mineral water business and by the late 1800’s was expanding his facilities on Grand Street. Building permits issued in 1898 and 1899 show that he added a three-story frame building as well as a two-story stable and one-story wagon shed, all on the north side of the block between Olive and Catherine Streets. That being said, the business always remained a small, local operation as evidenced by New York State’s Report of Factory Inspections for the fiscal year ending November 30, 1900 which stated that the business employed a total of 10 workers (all working a 60 hour week) during that period.
In the Spring of 1908 Bahr purchased property in Lynbrook, Long Island and shortly thereafter retired, resulting in the end of the business.
According to a December 7, 1909 story in the Standard Union:
Some months ago Mr. Bhar carried on a mineral water business at 899 Grand Street, but he gave up the business when he moved to the country and his Grand Street place has since been occupied by his brother, a manufacturer of demijohns.
Daniel Bahr passed away in June, 1930.
The bottle I found is a mouth blown pony with a blob finish. It’s embossing matches the description included within the 1889 bottle registration notice:
Glass bottles on which is “Daniel Bahr” and the letters “D.B.” in a monogram…
The bottle exhibits the 679 Grand Street address dating it to the first two or three years of the business, prior to their 1891 move to 911/913 Grand Street. A bottle recently offered for sale on the internet exhibited this later address.