Gowdy’s Medicated Beer, Manufactured 10 Ormond Place, Trademark L&S (Smith & Layton)

 

The L&S trademark embossed on the bottle represents the Brooklyn, N.Y. business of James E. Smith and Elbert (sometimes Albert) Layton. The roots of the business date back to 1875 when Smith was listed individually in the Brooklyn City Directory at 10 Ormond Place with the occupation of “root beer.”

Layton apparently joined Smith in business sometime in the early 1880’s and the partnership of Smith & Layton was first listed at the Ormond Place address in 1883. It remained listed in the Brooklyn directories up through 1911, always with the 10 Ormond Place address.

Their bottling notice was published in several February and March, 1889 editions of the Brooklyn Citizen.

The letters “L&S,” trademarked on July 24, 1890, and the pictorial representation of a five-pointed star highlighted in the notice are clearly visible, embossed on the subject bottle.

An August 7, 1892 story in the Brooklyn Citizen featured the business and their products.

It is often a question of a great many people during very warm weather such as we have been experiencing during the past two weeks, what it is best to drink…

While he is making his examination it would be well for him to remember that there is nothing more refreshing than a drink that is impregnated with carbonic acid gas. At the same time such a drink is quite healthful, and provided the flavoring extracts are not injurious, there is no reason why a carbonated beverage should not be the one chosen by the seeker after healthful, and at the same time refreshing drinks. Among the manufacturers of these carbonated beverages is the firm of Smith and Layton, whose establishment is at No. 10 Ormond Place. They have established a reputation that is more than local, because of the delightful flavor of the goods they turn out, and above all, because of the purity of the flavoring extracts with which they impart the palatable flavor that has helped to make their goods so popular. Then the water used by this firm is all filtered and distilled, and thereby is freed from the possibility of its being impure from organic matter or microbes. They manufacture lemon soda, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, and have recently placed a new drink on the market which they call Neopolitan cream.

Later that decade, a company advertisement in the February 13, 1898 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that their mineral waters had won an award at Brooklyn’s annual Food Show.

As early as the late 1880’s the company’s territory had expanded beyond Brooklyn, reaching east to parts of Long Island as evidenced by their inclusion in this July 1, 1889 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement for the Northport (Suffolk County) business of Green & Wheeler.

While the company could certainly have served as the bottler for a brewery (PABST was making a medicated beer in the 1890’s), there’s no mention that I can find for a Gowdy’s brewery. That, coupled with the fact that the business was always listed in the directories as a manufacturer of mineral water and soda, leads me to believe that their medicated beer was actually a root beer. A description of root beers in a July 2, 1875 Brooklyn Union Times Story seems to bear this out, referencing medicated beer as a class of root beer.

Of root beers there is an endless variety of names, but they are much the same in composition. Birch beer, spruce beer, root beer, Ottawa beer, medicated beer, Green Mountain beer, Otaki beer, Madoc beer, and scores of others are of about the same taste, chiefly compounded of essential oils of sarsaparilla, sassafras, birch, dandelion, dock, wintergreen and other healthful botanical substances. They are ready for use in a few days after brewing, as yeast which is the “working” principle operates very speedily upon the whole mass. Molasses and sugar are used for sweetening , and the compounds are either manufactured in the shops where they are sold, or exported from the factories in store bottles and kegs, and placed on draught. Root beers are generally healthful, but should, like all fermented drinks, be used moderately as they are liable to exercise a purgative influence.

Whether the name Gowdy’s was their brand or the brand of another business that they manufactured and bottled for is unclear.

The Smith & Layton business dissolved in July, 1911. The Dissolution Notice, published in the July 25, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle indicated that neither original partner was still associated with the business at that time.

As fas as I can tell, Wilson Smith was the younger brother of James E. Smith and William Marquart was a grocer whose store was listed within several blocks of Smith & Layton at 1165 Fulton Street.

Note: Elbert Layton was no longer listed in the Brooklyn directories by 1907 so its possible he retired, moved or passed away around that time with his place in the firm being taken by local businessman Marquart. Smith was still listed individually in 1910 but not in 1914 so his younger brother may have inherited the business in 1911 with no interest in continuing it. (All conjecture on my part.)

Ormond Place, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, was later renamed Claver Place. According to street easy.com, the current building at 10 Claver Place was built in 1930 so it doesn’t date back to the days of Smith & Layton.

The bottle I found is approximately 27 oz. with a tooled blob finish. It fits the time frame from 1890 (registration date embossed on the bottle) to 1911 (dissolution of the business).

 

L. Steinberger, 496 to 502 Pavonia Ave., Jersey City, N.J.

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The L stands for Louis Steinberger. His business was listed in every Jersey City directory I can find between 1883 and 1925. The directories listed his occupation as either mineral water or soda with an address of anywhere between 496 and 502 Pavonia Avenue. According to his obituary in the March 14, 1933 issue of the Plainfield N.J. Courier News, he served as president of the Steinberger Beverage Company up until his death in 1933.

The February 15, 1904 Issue of the American Carbonator and American Bottler referenced him as a manufacturer of all kinds of mineral waters, root beer in fountains, fruit syrups and extracts.

He apparently was the local bottler for regional/national brands as well. The American Carbonator item stated that he was the sole agent in Jersey City for Sheboygan Mineral Water and he was the local Jersey City bottler for Ward’s “Orange (and Lemon) Crush.” This is confirmed in several “Orange Crush” advertisements printed in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” between June and August of 1920.

Apparently his directory advertisements didn’t change much over the years. The advertisement on the right is from the 1893 directory, the one on the right is from 1922.

  

The business appeared to be a small, family run affair. Some directories listed Louis’s residence as 502 Pavonia Avenue with the business address at 496 or 498 Pavonia Avenue. So he probably lived adjacent to the business. The 1910 census records listed Louis’s occupation as the proprietor of a mineral water manufacturing business. His sons Louis Jr. and Claude were listed as superintendent and wagon driver respectively.

By 1920, Louis Jr.’s occupation was listed as “manager, soda factory” and Claude was “salesman, soda company,” but it wasn’t until 1925 that the sons were reflected in their Jersey City directory advertisements.

The business continued into the late 1930’s and possibly early 1940’s. The 1930 and 1940 census records listed Claude as “treasurer, beverage industry” and “salesman, beverage manufacturer” respectively. In addition, advertisements for Steinberger Beverages were prevalent from 1934 to 1936 in the Courier News. Most involved Steinberger Beverages association with the Plainfield Courier-News Cooking School.

The end date of the business is not clear, but I don’t see any advertisements for Steinberger Beverages in the 1940’s.

According to Zillow.com, 502 Pavonia Avenue is a single family home built in 1877. This fits with the directories that list 502 Pavonia as Louis Steinberger’s residence. Today, the building at 496 Pavonia Avenue appears to be a renovated four-story walk-up that’s been converted to apartments. It could also date back to the business.

Steinberger obtained a patent for his bottle design on November 14, 1922 although he was apparently using similar designs as far back as the late 1800’s. (There are examples of mouth-blown bottles with blob finishes on the Internet.)

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The bottle I found is machine made and similar in design to the patented design although it’s missing the double ring at the base of the neck that’s shown on the plans.

Steinberger also obtained a patent for the trademark “With The Taste That Tempts.” Trademark 210,660 was registered on March 16, 1926 but the documents indicate that it had been continuously used in the business since January 15, 1915. Note that the phrase was used in the 1925 advertisement shown above.

G. B. Seely’s Son, Inc., 319-331 E 15th St., New York

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Early company advertisements stated that the business was established in 1857 by Gilliam B Seely.  It first appeared in the 1859 NYC directory, listed as soda water and located at 80 Commerce Street.

It continued to be listed as G.B. Seely up through the 1884 directory at the following addresses:

  • 1859 – 1860: 80 Commerce Street
  • 1861 – 1871: 281/2 Commerce Street
  • 1872 – 1874: 431 West 28th Street
  • 1876: 401 West 26th Street
  • 1877 – 1879: 271 Ninth Avenue
  • 1880 – 1883: 57 Gansevoort Street

In 1884, the business moved to 319 West 15th Street where it remained listed through the late 1920’s. A company advertisement in the 1884 directory stated that they were manufacturers and bottlers of soda water, sarsaparilla, ginger ale and root & raspberry beer.

It is apparent that Gilliam’s son, Frank, took charge of the company in the late 1880’s. The company name was listed as G.B Seely & Son in the 1887 and 1888 directories.

Then in 1889 the company name listed in the directory changed again, this time to G.B. Sealy’s Son.

Frank Seely is the only company principal named in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory in 1890. It’s not clear whether Gilliam retired or died but he was no longer listed in the NYC directories.

According to the Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors of the State of New York, in the year ending November 30, 1899 G B Seely’s Son had 50 male employees working a 60 hour week .

The business was listed as a New York Corporation for the first time in the 1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory. Frank Seely was listed as President, Hugo Eiche as Secretary and Carl Klingelhoeffer as Treasurer with a capital of $200,000. In 1919, Hattie Seely was listed as president and Frank was not mentioned.

An early 1910’s advertisement for G B Seely’s Son states: “Drink Seely’s Carbonated Beverages and Forget It’s Summer.”

A story in the April 30, 1909 Brooklyn Daily Eagle about G B Seely’s Sons exhibit at the Food Show provided some insight into the company and their products at the time:

One of the many attractive booths at the Pure Food Show, which is being held in Prospect Hall is that of G B Seely’s Sons, dealers in carbonated beverages. Harry Coll and James Morgan are in charge of this booth and are prepared at all times to serve soft drinks to everyone attending th show. The Seely exhibit is one of the best in the entire show and well merits the praise which has been bestowed upon it. The list of beverages exhibited comprises ginger ale, sarsaparilla, lemon soda, cream soda, root beer, birch beer, orange phosphate and raspberry soda.

The modes, processes and materials used in the production of the carbonated beverages manufactured by G B Seely’s Son are explained by the men in charge who are careful to point out that everything is properly tested and found to be absolutely pure before it is made use of. The result is that a line of goods is produced which the manufacturers claim cannot be excelled for quality or purity.”

G B Seely’s Son must have been an annual participant in the Food Show. An advertisement ten years later in the March 13, 1921 issue of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” said “Sample our Beverages at Booth at the Food Show.”

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Canada Dry acquired Seely’s in 1928. Under Wall Street Topics, a June 26,1928 article in the Milwaulkee sentinel stated:

June 25,1928 New York. Directors of Canada Dry Ginger Ale today voted to offer stockholders the right to subscribe to new stock at $60 a share on the basis of one new share for every ten held at present. The funds raised will be used to acquire G.B. Seely’s Son, Inc…the purchase price has not been announced.

Canada Dry was still using the Seely name in advertisements in 1929: “Seely’s Delicious Beverages, incorporated, owned and operated by Canada Dry.” Around this time they moved from their long time W 15th Street address to 625 W 54th Street but continued to be listed separately in the NYC Directories through at least 1932. It’s not clear when Canada Dry dropped the Seely name.

Today the West 15th Street addresses are incorporated in a large 20th century apartment building.

The bottle I found is machine made (28 oz) with the “Inc” embossed after the name, which puts it in the vicinity of 1914 or later. The back of the bottle is embossed with their trademark picture of a bartender pouring drinks. Frank Seely filed the trademark application on July 11, 1905 (No. 10,063). In the application he stated that it had been in use since 1870.

 

Wm. Dieckman & Son, 59-63 Stockholm St., Brooklyn N.Y.

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“A History of Long Island From Its Settlement to Recent Time” Vol 3 by Peter Ross; published in 1902 included a short biography of Frederick William Ernst Dieckman. The biography contains the following paragraph about the start and early years of his mineral water business:

In 1878 he began the manufacture of mineral water at No. 125 Elm Street, there conducting a successful business until 1884 in which year he purchased the three lots at No.s 59, 61 and 63 Stockholm Street. There he erected the dwelling and other buildings used in his manufacturing business and in addition he secured the accessories and other conveniences for the successful operation of his trade. In his undertaking he has prospered and the volume of his business is constantly increasing.

The early Brooklyn City Directories confirm and add a little to the story. William Dieckman was first listed in the 1880 Directory at 125 Elm Street. He was also listed as pop/beer and vinegar in the 1883 and 1884 Directories respectively. By 1886 he was listed at the 63 Stockholm address as vinegar and by 1890 he was listed primarily as a bottler of soda and/or mineral water. During these yearly years he was sometimes listed as having two n’s in his last name.

Around 1899 the son, also William, becomes associated with the business. The 1899 Trow Business Directory refers to the business as Wm Dieckman and Son and the 1902 General Directory lists both William and William Jr at the Stockholm Street address. Sadly, William Jr died prematurely of pneumonia in June of 1911 at the age of 36.

The business is still listed in the 1929 Brooklyn Red Book but I haven’t been able to find any listings in the 1930’s. Born in 1844, William Sr would have been in his 80’s by then.

Dieckman was one of several bottlers who incorporated the Brooklyn and Long Island Bottler’s Protective Union. The April 13, 1890 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported:

The Brooklyn and Long Island Bottler’s Protective Union has been incorporated by James Ward, Hugh Goodwin, George Russell, William Dieckman, Charles Maurer, John J. Dunn, F.W. Witt, J.F. Knoble, Daniel Bahr, Ebenezer Seely, P. Klein, George Bohlen and Henry Ahrens, of this city; Robert Finan of Long Island City, and Phillip Schweickert, of Coney Island.

Today, the Stockholm Street address is a vacant lot.

The one bottle I found is machine made, quart size (27 oz) probably from the last decade of the business.

I came across a humorous episode involving Dieckman in an item printed under the heading “Court News” in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Published in the February 17, 1881 Issue, it occurred early in his career.

William Dieckman is a dealer in root beer in the Eastern District, and he left the compound at various candy stores and other places where the stuff is sold. One Frederick Feltman was also interested in the root beer business, and Dieckman charged him with stealing his beer bottles and substituting his own in their place. He caused his arrest, but on the hearing before Justice Semler the complaint was dismissed, because it appeared that the Dieckman business really belonged to Mrs. Dieckman. Then the lady in the case had Feltman arrested on the same complaint, but that case was also dismissed by the justice. Now Feltman took his innings in the game and sued Mr. and Mrs. Dieckman for $5,000 each for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The case was tried yesterday afternoon before Judge Reynolds and a jury. The suit against Mrs. Dieckman was dismissed, and in the suit against the husband the jury gave Feltman a verdict for six cents damages. Honors may be said to be easy between the root beer litigants.