Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Raising the Flaggs Over Massachusetts


No American pedigree could be higher than to have an ancestor who was a “Minuteman” involved at Lexington, Massachusetts, the first battle of the American Revolution.  That was the banner carried by the Flagg family whose credentials included their name on a Boston liquor house for some seventy years — and beyond.


The story began with Josiah Flagg, a Worcester, Massachusetts, jeweler, engraver, and singing master, a man credited with forming the first colonial band and providing Colonial audiences with classical music.  Josiah also was a patriot, a member of the secretive “Sons of Liberty” whose goal was to win independence from England.  That pursuit found him firing at redcoats on April 19, 1775.  During the ensuing war Josiah was raised to sergeant in George Washington’s army.

Josiah’s son was a Worcester minister whose son, Barnabas “Barney” Flagg seemed to have strayed from the path of righteousness and in 1813, at the age of 21, landed in the Worcester jail, shown here.  Barney was accused of stealing $200.  Likely as a result of family influence he was released in May of that year.  Later Barney would marry and raise a family of whom the second-born in 1816 was Dennis F. Flagg, the whiskey man of this post.

This Flagg, born Francis Dennis, chose early in life to reverse his given names, and to honor his family’s military heritage by joining The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.  Founded in 1638 and the oldest chartered military organization in North America, the unit would become an important part of his life.  The Artillery Company insignia is shown here. 

According to Flagg records, Dennis founded his liquor business in 1836 in Boston.  During approximately the same period he married his first cousin, Nancy Flagg, also a descendant of the famed Josiah.  They would raise a family of seven children, including three sons — Frederick D., Charles P., and Henry D. — all of whom would be involved in the Flagg liquor and wine business.

Flagg selected his location well at 165 Blackstone Street.  The avenue had been opened only shortly before on a landfill completed in 1833.  The name was an official tribute to the Reverend William Blaxton, a missionary to the Shamut Indians and considered the first non-native inhabitant of the area.  With other landfills following and development of the Town Dock for the nearby Quincy Markets, this section of Central Boston became increasingly retail and market oriented.  As new four and six story brick buildings were built, Flagg occupied one of them at ground level, taking advantage of the growing crowds jostling each other on market day, as shown here.


Flagg’s front window was a showpiece of the neighborhood, changed regularly to reflect the season of the year and holidays.  A trade publication, Liquor Store & Dispenser, noted and photographed the singularity of one of Flagg’s Spring display, shown above, featuring bottles of rum.

  Flagg’s Blackstone window also frequently featured hisflagship brand “Kentucky Bourbon,” sold in amber glass bottles with an elegant label from D. F. Flagg & Co.  The label featured an elaborate monogram and indicated that the proprietor also dealt in wines and teas.  

By the 1860s Flagg was financially able to move his family into a newly constructed home, shown here, in fashionable Union Park on Boston’s south side.  Considered today to be the largest urban Victorian neighborhood in the country, Union Park houses were built circa 1860 and gave the area a distinctly English look.  As soon his sons reached their mid-teens Dennis Flagg brought them into his firm and taught them the business.  The 1870 census found Fred, 25, in management and Henry, 16, and Charles, 15, working as clerks.

By this time Flagg had expanded to a second enterprise, a grocery store located at 150 Cambridge St. operated as “Flagg & Favor” with a partner, E. W. Favor.  In time Dennis Flagg’s health seemingly declined.  By 1880 he was no longer involved in the grocery or the liquor house that bore his name.   His three sons, with an older partner, George Hart, were operating Dennis F. Flagg & Company.  In October 1884 Flagg died at the age of 68 and was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plains, Suffolk County.  

With her husband’s death, his widow, Nancy, sought a change of scene.  Two months after his interment, she purchased land from the State of Massachusetts and commissioned a new house at 206 Commonwealth Avenue.  Designed by Allen and Kenway, noted Boston architects, the Flagg home was completed in July 1886.  Two of Nancy’s children lived with her: Henry Flagg and Elizabeth (Flagg) Simmons, a widow.  They all previously had resided at  the Flagg home in Union Park.  Nancy had only a few months to enjoy the new home, however,  dying in November 1887.


After Frederick Flagg died in 1891 at the age of 47, management changes occurred at the liquor house.  Now Charles was listed as proprietor, along with Hart.  Charles and Henry also owned a real estate firm that operated from the 185 Blackstone address with Henry taking the lead in that enterprise.  Charles sponsored a large ad in a local business directory citing 1836 as the year his father founded D. F. Flagg & Company at 165 Blackstone Street and noting 69 years of continuous operation.  Although his date of death is unknown, Charles Flagg disappeared from Boston directories after 1909.  About that time, the company name and liquor stock appear to have been sold.  By 1913 D. F. Flagg & Company was recorded as operated by Harry B. Golden.

Although shut down by National Prohibition, the company name was revived after  Repeal.  A 1948 directory listing indicates that with T. H. Hagan as manager, the Flagg firm was featuring the “finest in imported and domestic liquors” and located at 206 Dartmouth Street, Boston.  A 1954 listing shows Harry Nathanson as manager.  A 1960 directory recorded D. F. Flagg & Co. still in the liquor and wines  business at the Dartmouth address.  

Accepting 1836 as the year Dennis Flagg founded his establishment on Blackstone Street, the run of some seventy years under family ownership is certainly a record for Boston liquor houses.  Moreover, the fact that despite National Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War Il, the name D. F. Flagg survived in Boston’s liquor trade for at least 125 years is reason enough to celebrate the Flaggs, a family born with the Revolution and a multi-generational American success story.

Note:  The story of the Flagg family was brought to my attention by Peter Samuelson, a New England collector of labeled whiskeys who frequently asks my thoughts on pre-Prohibition brands.  After he sent me the two photos of Flagg bourbon shown here, I was spurred to undertake the research that resulted in this post.  Thanks, Peter, for providing the photos — and my incentive.  



























Friday, September 14, 2018

Whiskey Men Rough on Authority

                  
Foreword:   Having provided two recent posts on whiskey men who were heavily engaged in building up their communities, I think it appropriate here to feature three who defied authority in states from North Carolina to Wisconsin to Iowa.   Although the three are linked by their clear distain for government controls and the officials designated to enforce them, each had his own way of dealing with them.

“Old Nick.”  It is a common term for the Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, or what ever you call the evil spirit.  Nicholas Glenn Williams, a North Carolina whiskey man, not only ran a distillery business called the “Old Nick Williams Company,” but demonstrated repeatedly during his life, that he truly had the “Old Nick” in him and indeed was capable of “raising Hell.”

Established in the distilling business at Panther Creek plantation, shown below, Williams was constantly harassed by temperance forces in North Carolina, for a time outsmarting them..  Early in the 1900s he got crosswise with the Federal Government by failing to pay his liquor taxes.  The story is that during a visit to nearby Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Williams was confronted by a  revenue officer who accused him of tax evasion.  A powerfully built man, Williams is said to have pulled the official out of the Federal Building and onto the street where he beat him with a buggy whip.  So potent was Nick’s political clout that he was never charged or arrested for the assault.

  
As everyone knows, however, the Feds are not easily discouraged.  Williams was hauled into Federal Court for failure to pay his rectifier tax. In addition to distilling spirits he also was rectifying (blending) them for sale.  Already paying a stiff federal tax on each gallon of whiskey he was distilling, the law directed him to pay the government to blend them, a levy he and other rectifiers bitterly resented.   Found guilty. Williams was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000, more than twenty times that amount in today’s dollar, and assessed court  costs.  

Ever the stubborn rebel,  Williams fought the decision, claiming that the original Federal Circuit Court had erred in setting the payment date and thus nulled the verdict.  He claimed to owe nothing. First heard in Federal Appeals Court, the case eventually made its way to the United States Supreme Court. That body in 1905, rendered a decision that, in effect, told Old Nick to pay up.  

Soon after, Williams was out of the whiskey trade.  In 1908 North Carolina by a substantial vote of the populace banned all alcohol production and sales.  The Williams distillery was forced to close.  Some of his work force moved on to Kentucky, reportedly taking the stills with them.  Panther Creek reverted purely to farming.  In the 1910 census, Williams would list his occupation as running a horse farm.  He was 45 years old.  

William Bergenthal was well known for his ferocious temper.  The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, distiller and liquor dealer, it is said, once physically threw a deputy sheriff out of his office who had come to collect a bill because the lawman made a remark impugning his honesty.  Bergenthal would have been well advised to do the same when corrupt Federal revenue officers came looking for bribes.  He did not and thus became implicated in the giant 1870s criminal conspiracy known as “The Whiskey Ring.”  

When Milwaukee distillers found that Chicago whiskey was selling in town for $1.15 a gallon, they quickly understood that the Illinois distillers were not paying the tax but paying off the tax collectors.  Some Milwaukee whiskey manufacturers, including William Bergenthal, were enticed by crooked revenue agents to join them.  

In 1875 the Department of the Treasury conducted a series of raids in Midwestern cities, arresting distillers and liquor wholesalers.  Bergenthal was among them.  Apparently taking the fall for William was his brother August who, with another company employee, spent four months in the Milwaukee County Jail for “misrepresenting the company’s alcohol tax records.” 

William Bergenthal himself was far from being off the hook.  In 1876 the U.S. District Attorney brought an indictment into Federal Circuit Court in which the Milwaukee distiller was cited as a material witness.  The government charged that he had met with a group of co-conspirators two month after the raids to plot with them the theft and destruction of incriminating documents that were believed held by Federal authorities in Chicago.  For this heist the alleged thieves demanded $50,000, the present day equivalent of $12.5 million.  

If the government had been able to prevail in this case, it was only a matter of time until Bergenthal and other colleagues would be in the dock.  The Court, however, ruled that the theft had never gotten beyond the discussion phase and that “some act must actually be done” to constitute a conspiracy.  While far from exonerated, Bergenthal continued to be a major figure in Milwaukee business circles until his death in 1909.

To suggest that Kinsey “Stormy” Jordan was a complicated character is an understatement.  The famous Prohibitionist preacher, Billy Sunday, hailed him “as the only liquor owner who told the truth about booze.”  On the other hand, Jordan was described by another anti-alcohol zealot asa man, known the State and nation over for his shameless, law-defying wickedness….”  Stormy’s reputation spread far beyond Ottumwa, Iowa, and rendered him the subject of national attention and controversy.


Gaining the respect of Prohibitionist Billy Sunday, shown here, for calling his saloon “The Road to Hell,” Jordan prospered in his Ottumwa drinking establishment.  Despite the Iowa legislature voting the state “dry” in 1881, he filed a suit in Federal Court and continued to run his saloon.  Local authorities regularly jailed him only to have sympathetic judges let him go.  With his releases and the continued operation of his saloon — Stormy’s defiance made headlines across America.  

Almost overnight Jordan became a national figure, attacked by some, lauded by others.  Appleton’s Magazine opined:  “Let us not do injustice to “Stormy” Jordan, in some ways the most picturesque figure that emerged from the dust of the fight and the most irreconcilable fighter of them all….Jordan kept his place wide open day and night, paying penalties, fighting, and gaining national fame as a consequence.”  Jordan continued to run his establishment for years in Ottumwa, shown below, as the only operating saloon in Iowa, while his case toiled through the federal judicial system all the way the way to the United States Supreme Court.  


After the Supremes decided against him, however, Jordan decided on a drastically different course.  According to the Ottumwa Courier, he called the newspaper to say he would succumb to the inevitable and quit the saloon business.  Perhaps remembering his salute from Billy Sunday, Stormy Jordan became a traveling Methodist evangelist. Reported the Wines and Spirits Journal“His appeals now to his old associates are eloquent and hundreds are flocking to hear him.”  

Each of these whiskey men were notable for their defiance of law and government officials —  two of them employing bodily violence. Yet all three managed to avoid any prolonged incarceration for thumbing their noses at authority and, as they aged, each of them settled down to less contentious occupations.

Notes:  More complete vignettes on each of these whiskey men may be found elsewhere on this website:   Nick Williams, October 4, 2013, William Bergenthal, September 1, 2014, and “Stormy” Jordan, March 30, 2017.























Monday, September 10, 2018

The Vicksburg Ad Competition — Brennan vs. Crayton


In any Advertising Hall of Fame, Charles Austin Bates, left, deserves a statue.  Beginning in the late 1880s, writing in the publication “Printer’s Ink,” Bates judged American advertising for the effectiveness of the sales pitches and was instrumental in its improvement.  In 1898, Bates happened on competing ads from two Vicksburg, Mississippi, whiskey dealers, John Brennan and Wesley Crayton.   As a result, he pitted them against each other for quality and delivered his verdict.

Bates had clipped two long advertisements from a Vicksburg newspaper that he believed indicated the whiskey business in town was good.  Which ad was more likely to draw customers?  What Bates almost certainly did not know was that the social divide between Brennan and Crayton was immense.  In “Jim Crow” Mississippi, Brennan was white;  Crayton was black.

John Brennan was born in Scotland of Irish parents and was brought to the U.S. as an infant.  Apparently unmarried, the 1900 census found him at the age of 49 living on Walnut Street in Vicksburg’s Fourth Ward at the home of his brother-in- law, Felix Hoerner.  Hoerner apparently was working with Brennan in the liquor business located at 330 South Washington Street, a major Vicksburg commercial avenue, shown below. 


In his advertising Brennan claimed that his was “The Oldest Liquor House in Mississippi,” established in 1868, only three years after the end of the Civil War.  Since he would still have been a teen, it is likely that he inherited or purchased an existing whiskey business.  Brennan also claimed to be the “The Cheapest Liquor House in America on Delivered Case Goods.”  Note the claim — not just cheapest in Mississippi, but America.

Brennan was not a distiller but a whiskey wholesaler and rectifier, someone blending whiskeys made elsewhere and decanted into his own containers for sale.  He was notable for having used stoneware covered in brown “Bristol glaze” with his name scratched in the surface.  Because of the method used, each jug was individualized, as shown here. 

 

They ranged in size from quarts to two gallon containers.  With time and technological improvements Brennan switched to a salt-glazed stoneware with a cobalt blue top and his name and address stenciled across the body, as well as using glass bottles.


Just off Washington Street at 507 Veto Street, Wesley Crayton was running a saloon and liquor store.  Although he was listed in city directories just below Brennan, there was a “c” behind his name that designated him as “colored.”Crayton had been born in 1859 in Mississippi of native-born Mississippians and had married in 1882 at the age of 23.  His wife, Henrietta, was from Virginia.  The 1910 Federal census found him living with her, a boarder, and a 75-year-old man listed as a servant.

As a successful businessman, Crayton had stature in the black community. In 1908 he was named a delegate to the Republican national convention, shown below, to select a successor to President Theodore Roosevelt.  Since the event was held in Chicago he would have ridden a train there, some of the time in the South in a segregated “Jim Crow” car.


Despite discrimination, Crayton sold liquor to blacks and whites alike.  Like John Brennan, he advertised extensively in Vicksburg newspapers like the Herald, challenging the Irishman by claiming that his was “The Oldest Whiskey House in the City.”  He would sell whiskey by the barrel or half barrel, he advertised, and “Wesley Crayton will fill your jug for you.”

This brings us back to Charles Austin Bates seizing on ads by each whiskey man and providing his analysis and judgment.  Both Vickburg dealers opened their ads with essays.  Brennan headlined his, “Whiskey Man Talks!”  There followed a screed on drunkenness:  “A man who is drinking for the mere brutal indulgence to satisfy an abnormal appetite, loses his good temper, watch, money and any other valuables he may have concealed on his person….”  Brennan dismissed that lout as a desirable customer in favor of “a sober, sensible man” who will appreciate that the Irishman sold “nothing but the best” brands of liquor.

Crayton began his ad by commenting on “The Peace Commission” that was arranging a final settlement with the Spanish government after its loss to the United States in the brief Spanish-American War.  He linked the Commission effort to the performance of duty and saw the current times (ignoring “Jim Crow”) as “a flourishing age of advancement” in which he himself had demonstrated “especial justice” in his conduct of the jug trade in Vicksburg.

Brennan followed his essay with a list of the liquor brands he featured with prices and ended with a special endorsement of his “Eight Year Old Brennan’s Choice” whiskey, likely a blend mixed up at his Washington Street establishment.“One drink to a well person,” he claimed, “is a guarantee of six months longer life of usefulness to the community in which he resides.”  In concluding his ad, Crayton headlined “Honesty is the Best Policy” with the assertion, countering Brennan, that:  “Wesley Crayton has the oldest Whiskey House and Jug Trade in the City of Vicksburg” and that he marketed to one of the largest territories for liquor sales in Mississippi.


Bates then provided his 1898 analysis of both ads, in keeping with his well known basic creed of advertising: “Show price.  Use simple English.  Never overestimate the consumer’s IQ.”  Finally and most important:  “Be truthful.”  He found Brennan’s lengthy discussion of drunkeness “questionable” but liked his pricing of brands, despite wondering how the dealer reconciled carrying nothing but the best whiskey with selling some for $1.50 a gallon.  Bates did not comment on the Irishman’s claim that drinking his “Brennan’s Choice” added six months of useful life.

Crayton’s ad puzzled Bates:  “All his talk about the Peace Commission doesn’t seem to have much of anything to do with jug promotion in Vicksburg.”  Bates also noted of Crayton that:  “He starts out in the first person singular, switches over to third person singular, and then in the last three lines he takes a hack at the subject in the first person plural.  Possibly that’s the effect of writing about whiskey.  The longer a man dallies with whiskey, the bigger and more numerous he thinks he is.”

In rendering his final judgment to his national audience, Bates gave the nod to the Irishman:  “Mr. John Brennan is distinctly modern in his methods.”  As for his rival:  “Mr. Crayton has made a desperate effort to break away from the old-style ad but he hasn’t succeeded.”

Although the assessment of Charles Austin Bates may have given Brennan some temporary bragging rights, both men would soon be facing reduced markets as Mississippi localities increasingly went “dry” under local option laws. When a statewide ban on making or selling on liquor was enacted in 1908, both Brennan and Crayton were forced to shut their establishments.  Brennan seems to have retired, spending his latter days rooming at Vickburg’s Royal Hotel.  Crayton in 1910 was recorded as running a billiard parlor and later working for a lumber company.  

Note:  Although it is clear that Wesley Crayton catered to the “jug trade,” I have been unable so far to find containers with his name on them to complement those of Brennan.  Crayton was one of several African-American liquor dealers in pre-Prohibition Vicksburg.  Vignettes of two others, Jerry Blowe (April 6, 2013) and N.C. Cannon (March 26, 2018) also can be found on this website.
















Thursday, September 6, 2018

The “Bitters Truth” of Wellington Hartman

          
Operating a liquor house in the small Pennsylvania town of Schuykill Haven, Wellington Hartman concocted and marketed his “Old Virginia Bitters,” asserting, among other claims, that it was “an infallible cure for all stomach troubles” and “a man restorer.  Nonetheless, his wife was judged to have died of a stomach ailment and Wellington himself — well, that story is best left for later.

Hartman was a native Pennsylvanian, born in 1854 of parents also native to the state.  His early life has gone unrecorded.   Wellington surfaced in the 1880 federal census living on St. Peter Street in Schuylkill Haven, a town of about 5,000 located six miles south of Pottsville and 90 miles north of Philadelphia.  He was married to Esther Skean (also “Skeen”), born in Pennsylvania, the daughter of Edward and Hannah Adams Skean.  The Hartmans had one daughter, Catherine.  Wellington was working as a laborer.


Fast forward a decade.  Obviously demonstrating a talent for business, Hartman in 1900 had graduated from physical labor to become proprietor of a drug store he called Gem Pharmacy.  At the same time he was operating a saloon located on Schuylkill Haven’s Main Street, shown above, adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad depot.  Now the family was living on Main Street, likely above one of the businesses.

In 1904, Hartman sold his pharmacy to an employee and went full bore into alcoholic spirits.  An item in the local newspaper, “The Call,” told the story:  “Mr. Hartman has for some time been manufacturing specialties for the drug and liquor trades and has recently established a wholesale liquor house and he retires from the retail drug business in order to devote his time to the manufacture and sale of his specialties….

A photograph exists of Hartman’s “Family Liquor Store” that shows two men standing in the doorway.  Given that Wellington would be middle-aged by 1904 my guess is that the gent at right is Hartman.   Note too that the sign over the door vigorously promotes the former druggist’s “Old Virginia Bitters,” advertised as “Tonic, Appetizer, & Man Restorer.”  The proprietor also was creating his own brands of whiskey and gin.  

Not a true distiller, Hartman was getting his alcoholic supplies from the many distilleries that dotted the Pennsylvania landscape.  He was buying spirits by the barrel, blending it, and then selling it under his own proprietary labels.  Shown here is a flask that held “Bo-Bo Whiskey, a blend that Hartman claimed, likely truthfully,  was “compounded with straight rye whiskey and other grain distillates.”  Less truthful was the claim that “Bo-Bo” was guaranteed under the National Food and Drugs Act of 1906.  That act guaranteed nothing and, in fact, many officials considered a blend such as this one to be “artificial whiskey.”   

“Bob White Whiskey,” shown in a dark amber quart bottle, also was branded as a compound.   Hartman made the same claim about the contents being guaranteed by food and drug legislation.   Such statements enraged Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, first head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and he levied fines against those who used them, gradually ending such claims.  

As many liquor dealers did, Hartman issued giveaway items for favored customers.  Among them were a finely etched shot glass for his Bob White Whisky, a pocket mirror advertising both flask and quart sized bottles of his “Pure Corn Gin,”  and a cork screw bearing the name and address of his liquor house.


Hartman’s flagship, however, was neither of his whiskey brands but his “Old Virginia Bitters.”  While highly alcoholic, bitters were considered “medicine” and as such taxed by federal authorities at a lower rate.  Moreover, bitters were more acceptable to prohibition-leaning religious organizations. In 1880 both Wellington and his wife Esther, however, were “dismissed” from the Lutheran Church in Schuylkill Haven, possibly because Hartman was selling liquor.  Later both were accepted into communion at St. John’s United Church of Christ.  

Hartman advertised Old Virginia Bitters as:  An infallible cure for all stomach troubles. One wine glassful taken immediately before or an hour after meals will be a swift and certain cure for dyspepsia, indigestion, liver complaint, catarrh of the stomach, etc.”   As comforting as those words might have been, the nostrum seems not to have been a “swift and certain cure” for the stomach ailments of Esther Hartman.   When she died in 1907 at the age of 50, her death certificate put the cause as “acute indigestion.”

Hartman’s Old Virginia Bitters was touted as a “man restorer.”  His pitch was: “Drink it plain or in whiskey three or four times a day, and you will feel like a new man. It is a fine bracer in the morning, builds up a broken down system in short order, is in fact a perfect restorer.”  He also sold “Hartman’s Celery & Damiana Compound” another nostrum that, he said: “…Braces the nerve and gives you courage.”  Damiana was an herb widely sold for prevention and treatment of sexual problems.  It also was believed to be an aphrodisiac.  The compound, like Hartman’s bitters, also provided a considerable alcoholic load.  Both were advertised in a trade card that when opened revealed a risque’ scene.


Event suggested that Wellington may have been juicing himself liberally with both nostrums.   Just six months after Esther’s death, he married again.  His bride was Elizabeth M. Thompson, an 18-year-old local girl.  Hartman was 53, a
37 year difference in age.  Regardless of that disparity Hartman appears to have been up to the husbandly task.  Ten month after the marriage Elizabeth gave birth to a son.  They named him Wellington Junior.  

This period also saw Hartman elected as the Chief Burgess of Schuylkill Haven. The chief burgess was the presiding officer of town council meetings, had a full voice and vote in all deliberations, and was also the chief executive charged with the preservation of order and administration of the borough government.  Hartman appears to have been a strict “law and order” official, quick to arrest all offenders.

He himself, however, ran afoul of the law.  A local merchant named Schumacher had a rain pipe on his store that extended over a sidewalk.  Every time it rained the pipe, one that featured a large hole, drenched passersby.  In line with his duties as burgess, Hartman went to the store and supervised removal of the pipe.  Schumacher was irate, stormed to the burgess office, and strongly berated Hartman.  The latter, possibly fueled by one of his male restorers, slugged Schumacher in the mouth.  Unamused, the merchant hauled Hartman into court where a friendly judge called the charges trivial and dismissed the case.

Throughout his career in government Hartman, according to local business directories, also maintained his liquor house, shown here as it looked circa 1910.  Although Pennsylvania was generally considered a “wet” state, it adopted a statewide ban making or selling liquor eleven months before the advent of National Prohibition.   Likely understanding the situation, Hartman shut down his liquor house about 1918 and turned to manufacturing soft drinks.

Hartman was in Philadelphia when he died in November 1924, just short of his 70th birthday.  His body was brought back to Schuylkill Haven and buried beside his first wife in Union Cemetery.   A final revelation into the sex life of a man who made a fortune selling alcoholic “man restorers” is offered by Hartman’s death certificate. After an inquest into the whiskey man’s demise the Philadelphia coroner gave his verdict on its cause: “chronic syphilis.”  This conclusion suggests that upon occasion Wellington Hartman might have become over-stimulated on his own nostrums and wandered off course.

Note:  In November 2013 Ferdinand Meyer V, immediate past president of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors, featured on his “Peachtree Glass” website an article on Hartman’s Old Virginia Bitters. Ferd took much of his information and illustrations from the Schuylkill Haven History Web Page maintained by Richard J. Nagle.  While trying to give Hartman’s story a somewhat more personal treatment, I have borrowed from — and thank — both.