Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paxtons, Diehls and the Edgewood Whiskey Man



“Daddy, who is that fat man standing on top of the saloon?”  That question probably was asked frequently in the early 1900s and Daddy likely knew the answer: “He’s the Edgewood Whiskey Man.”   Two closely related Cincinnati families also knew the answer.  The Paxtons and the Diehls had created the Edgewood Man and the liquor that the figure represented.

Thomas Paxton was born in the Ohio in 1844, the son of Samuel and Hannah Paxton, whose ancestors had emigrated from Northern Ireland in the 1700s. He would be joined in the family by a sister, Adelaide,  born in 1849, and a brother, John born 1851.  In 1874, age 23, Adelaide married A. G. Diehl, an enterprising young merchant.

In 1874 Cincinnati city directories A.G. Diehl & Co. Wines and Liquors first is listed, located at 32 East Second Street.  A separate listing for the same address lists Paxton & Diehl, Distillers.   A year later the company name became Diehl & Paxton Brothers. The brothers were Thomas and John. Two years later, the business listing was changed again to Paxton Bros. & Co., designating them as “wholesale dealers in wines, brandies, and whiskies.”  The directory noted that the house had been established by A.G. Diehl.

Paxton Bros. occupied a large brick building, four stories in height and 20 by 100 feet.  According to a contemporary report,  the company “enjoyed a large and permanent trade throughout all this section of the country.”  It stated 10 persons were employed at the company to supply its public and wholesale customers.

The Paxtons’ business was highly successful and mentioned prominently in an 1886 book of leading companies in Cincinnati.  At this time, Thomas Paxton was president and Samuel Paxton, his father,  was an officer.  John Paxton had died in 1881, only 30 years old.  Moreover, A.G. Diehl was no longer in the picture.

During the late 1870s or early 1880s the company made Edgewood Whiskey its flagship brand of blended whiskey of both sour mash and rye.   As an advertising gimmick the Paxtons selected the figure of a man wearing a Shriner’s fez and a tuxedo.  His most prominent features were a wide spreading belly and the words written across his chest:  “I drink Edgewood Whiskey everywhere."

He quickly became widely known as the Edgewood Man and his bulging figure became a familiar one both on top of and inside saloons across much of the United States.  He was presented to the public in painted plaster  and ceramic  statues, as well as figural decanters and on back of the bar bottles.  The Fat Man even appeared on a corkscrew,  lying prone. 






Edgewood Whiskey was sold to the public in several types of glass and ceramic containers.   Among them was a fancy jug created by Fulper Pottery of Farmington, New Jersey, shown here.  Other company labels included “Bellbrook, “Bullied,” “Coney Island Club,” “Cuvier Club,”  “Island Queen Rye,”  “Paxton’s Private Stock,” “Pearl XXX Rye,” “Purewater Rye,”  and “Queen City Club.”

Throughout its existence Paxton Bros. was principally identified with the Fat Man and in 1887 it changed its name  to the Edgewood Distilling Co.  The Edgewood Man’s celebrity was such that at the 1906 National Homeopathic Convention, an audience presentation described a subject male:  “He stares before a convex mirror and sees himself broadened into the proportions of an Edgewood Whiskey advertisement.” Describing San Antonio, Texas, in the early 1900s, an author stated: " There were big signs all over town of the Edgewood Whiskey fat man....”






After A.G. Diehl’s son, George, joined the firm, ultimately to become its chief executive officer,  a publication devoted to Cincinnati business leaders included a caricature  that portrayed Diehl as the Edgewood Man.  Diehl succeeded Thomas Paxton in running the company, when his uncle, a diabetic,  died in 1904 of  “pyemia,”  This was a disease said to be caused by a massive bacterial infection. Paxton was buried in Loveland Cemetery in Clemont County, Ohio.  He lies in the same plot with his mother and his father.




The nephew guided the company successfully for the remaining 12 years of its life.   When Ohio voted complete prohibition of alcoholic beverages in 1916,  Edgewood Distilling and Paxton Bros. Co. went out of business forever.  The Edgewood Man, as a result, faded from the scene.   Left behind were a great many artifacts to remind us of the fat gentleman with the fez.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S.J. Greenbaum Put Bell(e)s on His Whiskey

S. J. Greenbaum, a Kentucky distiller and wholesaler, produced two brands that rang out strongly to the public:  “Belle of Anderson” and “Bell of Lexington.”  Both found national audiences and are significant elements of the whiskey history of the Bluegrass State.

According to U.S. Census figures,  Greenbaum was born in Germany in 1821.  Although in his business life he always was “S.J. , his given name has been recorded variously as Samuel or Simon.  Facts about his early life are scanty.  We do not know when he arrived in the U.S. or he settled in Kentucky. We know he married later in life, circa 1857, to a woman named Jeanette (called Jennie) who was 17 years his junior. They had two children, Eva,  born in 1858, and  Morris, born a year later.

The 1880 census found him in Louisville, age 59, listing his occupation as salesman for a liquor house.   Author Sam Cecil says that Greenbaum early owned a distillery in Midway, Kentucky,  a Woodford County railroad town on a single track between the cities of Lexington and Frankfort.  The town, shown here in a drawing, had a population of only few hundred. Greenbaum reportedly sold his Midway facilities in 1877 to a grain storage company.  They later burned.  He also is said to have run a distillery in Jessimine County, Kentucky, in the 1880s.  By 1883, according to Cecil,  Greenbaum was back in Midway with a new distillery and producing Belle of Anderson and Bell of Lexington whiskey.  His company quickly became the largest employer in Midway.

Greenbaum’s flagship brand was Belle of Anderson.  He advertised the rye whiskey vigorously, each bottle displaying the distinctive red Star of David on the label. It is shown here on a reverse glass sign provided to saloons.  He merchandised his whiskey in clear glass as well as in small ceramic “scratch” jugs  and milkglass containers.  The latter were llikely meant as back of the bar bottles.  Note the embossed Star of David on the front.  Greenbaum trademarked the label in 1882.

Among other giveaway items advertising Belle of Anderson label several different shot glasses, including one sporting the distinctive red star. Greenbaum also distributed an 1891 New Years greeting, featuring color pictures of two Southern belles in unusual costumes.  A winsome lass with a high peaked hat appears to be holding a riding crop;  the other charmer carries a muff and a cane.  Opened up, the folder holds a calendar and an ad for Belle of Anderson.

In addition to featuring his rye whiskey, Greenbaum also gave major attention to sour mash whiskey, a liquor that was becoming increasingly popular with the drinking public.  He called this brand, Bell of Lexington.  It sold in both quart and flask size, the latter shown here.  Its label notes a Chicago outlet for the firm that was shortlived, showing up in Windy City directories for only one year, 1894.  This whiskey was shipped in strong mitered crates via the railway running through Midway. In one instance Greenbaum sued the railroad company, apparently unsuccessfully, for charging considerably more to ship from Midway than from Lexington or Frankfort.

Greenbaum’s letterheads of the period list him as the president of his corporation and D.J. Lincoln, a Louisville local of Irish descent, as the secretary-treasurer.  Their Louisville offices, about 60 miles from Midway, were located initially on 135 Third Street and from 1887 until 1915 at several addresses on West Main Street.  Over the years Greenbaum featured a number of additional liquor brands,   including "Arlington,” "Glenarme,” "Green Mountain,” "Jessamine,” "Old Bald Mountain Corn,” "Penna. Club Rye,” and "Reading Rye.”  He also issued a "Belle of Bourbon" label on the milk glass Belle of Anderson bottle.

 S.J. Greenbaum died in 1897 and his son Morris took over the operation.  In the 1880 census Morris was 21 years old, living at home, and gave his occupation as “stenographer.”  His father unquestionably had taken him into the whiskey business shortly after and at the age of 38 the son was ready to take on the management of the firm.   In August 1908 a disasterous fire destroyed the warehouses of the Greenbaum Distilling Company in Midway.  About 47,500 barrels of whiskey were burned in one of the largest confligrations ever seen in Central Kentucky.  The loss, which was insured, was about $1 million to the firm and a tax loss to the U.S. Government estimated at $2 million.

Morris became involved with one of the Kentucky “Whiskey Trusts,” called the Kentucky Distilling and Warehouse Co.  From the Trust he acquired all the inventory of the Lexington-based Ashland Distillery, estimated at 18,000 barrels.  Buying a small plot of land adjacent to the distillery warehouse,  he constructed a plant that bottled 40 barrels of whiskey per day and was kept running for a number of years.  The Greenbaum firm reorganized in 1912, changing the name to the Belle of Anderson Distillery.  Morris was listed as president and D.J. Lincoln continued as secretary-treasurer.  In 1915, however, the firm went into bankruptcy and the firm’s whiskey interests in Midway were purchased by outside investors. In 1920 National Prohibition brought an abrupt end to the distillery.  One of the Midway whiskey warehouses S. J. Greenbaum built still survives and is on the National Register of Historical Places.

Note:  There are several differing histories for S. J. Greenbaum regarding other distilleries and companies in which he and later his son might have had an interest.  I have tried to avoid confusing details and concentrate on those facts that seem reasonably well established.  As other information is received, this post will be amended to reflect it. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Devil Dan,” The Cowboy Whiskey Man










In 1886 a 26 year old Missouri-born ranch hand rode his horse up to a South Dakota stage coach station that held a saloon. The next day he owned the place and thereupon was launched the career of Daniel P. Roberts, also known as “Devil Dan.”

The stage stop, similar to the one shown here, was called the DeMores Station. It was named for the Marquis de Mores, a French nobleman who had established a stage line between Medora, North Dakota, and Deadwood, South Dakota. Dan Roberts was employed by the VVV Ranch on the Belle Fourche River and was heading for Deadwood for the Christmas holidays when he dropped into the saloon to warm up from the frigid Dakota weather.

A holiday dance was in progress and the saloon owner, who had been nipping at his own booze all day, was heading to bed to sleep it off. He asked Devil Dan, who did not drink, to look after the business. The well-likkered cowboy crowd got rowdy and began to break up the furniture and knock out windows. Dan let them have their way but as the men sobered up he made them pay for the damages. The next morning the owner sold the place to Roberts for $125 and departed.

Roberts repaired the damage and appears to have taken to the role as saloonkeeper. After running the DeMores establishment for a few months, he apparently sold it and leased the Cliff House, a larger stage coach station and saloon, in nearby Deadwood. A year or so later, for unknown reasons, Roberts relocated to Montana and the lively cow town of Livingston in Park County. Along the way he married Sarah Jane Grimmett. At least two of their four children were born in Livingston, including their only son, David Henry Roberts, known as Henry.

Meanwhile back in South Dakota, the area around the DeMores Station was booming. A frontier marshal and prosperous rancher named Seth Bullock donated land across his land and convinced the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad to build its tracks there. In 1890 a depot was constructed next to the stage stop and the new town of Belle Fourche was launched. Four years later as the result of some chicanery by Bullock, the place was chosen as the seat of Butte County. By 1895, Belle Fourche was shipping 2,500 carloads of cattle per month in the peak season, making it the world's largest livestock shipping point. The town, shown here in the early 1900s, grew quickly.

Roberts, no doubt aware of the activity taking place in his former patch of South Dakota, returned to Belle Fourche with his wife and children. In 1905 he opened a new drinking establishment on the main street of town that he called The Stand-Up Bar. In addition to providing whiskey by the drink, he also sold it “wholesale” in large jugs. Robert’s saloon was a major cut above the stage stops. As the centerpiece of the house he bought an ornate Chicago-made Brunswick bar and saloon outfit, similar to the one shown here, purchasing it from the owner of the Derby Saloon in Deadwood. It featured an elegant cherry wood back bar and matching front counter.

No sooner had Roberts opened the Stand Up Bar, however, than he was embarked on the trip of his life. Seth Bullock had been a Rough Rider during the Spanish-American War and had become a friend of Theodore Roosevelt. When Roosevelt was inaugurated as President in 1905 Bullock conceived the idea of having a cowboy section in the inaugural parade. He recruited 62 cowboys from around the West for the ride. Among them were five from Belle Fourche, including Dan Roberts and son Henry, the youngest rider in the group.

Shipping their horses by rail ahead of them, the cowboys, including future movie star Tom Mix, followed in their own railroad coaches, having a raucous time. In Washington, as shown here, Roberts and the others were reunited with their ponies and rode around streets of the Nation’s Capitol to exercise their mounts. For the parade, security agents allowed the riders to carry pistols in their holsters as part as their costume, but the guns were unloaded. Riding eight abreast in the parade, they were cheered lustily by the waiting crowds. As they passed the reviewing stand President Roosevelt is said to have jumped up, clapped his hands and shouted: "That's bully! That's excellent, Captain Bullock!"

Returning to Belle Fourche, Roberts took up the role of saloonkeeper in earnest. Like other Western cow towns, Belle Fourche was a wild, wide open place. The main street was known as Saloon Street because of all the “watering holes” located there. Brothels and gambling dens were also a mainstay. As one early resident put it: “The ranchers would come in town to ship and if we didn’t have any entertainment, they would take all that money to Deadwood. The cowboys wanted to gamble, to drink and dance, and they wanted girls. The merchants of Belle Fourche saw that the cowboys had what they wanted.”

Dan Roberts was among them. Apparently he cut quite a figure in Belle Fourche. Although called “Kid” during his days as a VVV ranch hand, he drew the nickname, “Devil Dan,” for reason unknown. He apparently was widely known as such and that nickname is part of his web memorial. From the whiskey jugs he left behind, Roberts appears to have bought quality ceramics from the Red Wing Potteries of Minnesota. The combination pocket mirror and bar token issued in his name shows similar good taste.

“Devil Dan” ran his Stand Up Saloon until National Prohibition in 1920. He apparently was in Belle Fourche in 1926 when the town celebrated the first reunion and 21st anniversary of the inaugural ride. Tom Mix, now a famous motion picture star, said he would come but later sent regrets. Roberts lived to see Repeal and the beginning of World War II. He died in 1942 at the age of 82 and is buried in the Roberts family plot at Pine Slope Cemetery, located on West Highway 34 near Belle Fourche.

After Repeal, the Stand Up Saloon was reopened as a Belle Fourche tourist attraction, operated by the town itself. In 1960s the building burned and only Robert’s ornate Brunswick bar was saved. The saloon was rebuilt, sold to private interests in 1967, and has had several subsequent changes of ownership. The name has been changed to Cowboy Back Bar, but the ornate Brunswick bar remains.

The Western saloon has been a staple of motion pictures. Few are Hollywood’s silver screen cowpokes who have not prowled their haunts. Dan Roberts knew the Western saloon better than any of them. He started in the liquor business from a rough cabin in the bleak South Dakota wilderness, moved to a more commodious barroom in Deadwood, and finally operated an elite drinking establishment in rowdy Belle Fourche. “Devil Dan” truly was a cowboy whiskey man.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

With a Name Like Guckenheimer the Whiskey Had to Be Good











Where Asher Guckenheimer learned about making good whiskey is not clear, but he and his extended family made the Guckenheimer brand tops in America, winning 99 out of a possible 100 points for quality at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and a gold medal. The Guckenheimer name was on every bottle

He was born Asher Guggenheimer in 1825, in the town of Adingen, Wuttemberg, Germany. The date of his emigration to the United States and arrival in Pittsburgh is unclear but once here he and future generations changed their name to Guckenheimer. After his father’s death his mother married again, a man named Wertheimer.

After receiving some early experience in the U.S. whiskey trade, in 1857 Asher with his half-brother, Samuel Wertheimer, established his own company, calling it, A. Guckenheimer & Bro. They obtained their liquor from Thomas Bell, who in 1845 had founded a distillery at Freeport, Pennsylvania, and whose product was highly regarded. Guckenheimer absorbed the entire output and after Bell’s death in 1865, with Wertheimer, he bought the distillery, enlarged it, and improved even on Bell’s quality. The distillery produced 2,000 barrels a year.

Asher also enjoyed family life. About 1857 he married Idea Weise in Pittsburgh. Their first child, a girl Emma, was born in 1858. She was the first of nine children, the last two of whom were born 20 years later in 1878. At least two Guckenheimer children died before maturity.

In 1866, as the demand for Guckenheimer Rye was outpacing the supply, Asher constructed a new and much larger facility at Freeport, shown here in an illustration. According to a contemporary history, the facilities included a three-story brick distillery building, a grain house able to hold 30,000 bushels, a 150-ton capacity ice house, a three story brick malt house capable of malting 100 bushels per day, a 50-barrel per day cooper shop and a three-story bonded warehouse with the capacity to hold 8,000 barrels. Some 25 workers were employed at the facility which usually operated at less than full capacity, customarily producing twenty-two 42-gallon barrels a day.

As the Freeport facility was gearing up, Guckenheimer purchased a second distillery in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, to make a brand of whiskey called “Wyandotte,.” The distance from Pittsburgh prevented the brothers from giving it the attention it needed, so they soon sold it. They then turned to opportunities closer by and in 1876 bought a distillery that had been established earlier in Buffalo Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. Shown here in an engineer drawing, it operated under the name of the Pennsylvania Distilling Company and made the firm’s “Montrose” brand. The Guckenheimer offices were located on First Avenue in Pittsburgh.

Asher sold his whiskey in bottles ranging from quart to flask size. Shown here are three of the latter, demonstrating the variety of well-designed labels the company employed. Guckenheimer even reached out to the Fulper Company of Flemington New Jersey for one of their “fancy jugs” with his name in gothic gold letters across the front. The company also made and merchandised other brands including “Fairy Breath,” “Freeport,” “Golden Cupid Rye,” and “Pennbrook.”

Guckenheimer’s Rye became one of America’s most famous whiskeys and in 1893 won top honors at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, scoring 99 points out of 100 in the whiskey judging. As shown here, the firm took full advantage of the honor in its subsequent advertising and in reverse glass signs provided to customer saloons.

That same year, 1893, Asher Guckenheimer died, age 67, much mourned in the community. Always a family affair, company management fell to his son, Isaac, and his two half-nephews, Emanuel and Isaac Wertheimer. In July 1899 the Buffalo Township distillery burned to the ground but was rebuilt and by1900 was back in operation producing 50 barrels of whiskey daily.  In 1905 the company consisted of Isaac Guckenheimer, the Wertheimers, Samuel’s son, Morris, and Isaac’s son, Leon -- a third generation. The Freeport Distillery was producing 20,000 barrels of rye a year and the Buffalo Twp. facility about 12,000 barrels of Montrose whiskey annually. The company continued to be successful until shut down by Prohibition in 1919. In deference to Asher Guckenheimer, the business continued to be run under his name until the very end.

In the post-Prohibition era, the Guckenheimer brand name was sold several times, eventually becoming a commercial-grade bourbon. Asher, whose product emphasis had been high quality, probably would not have been happy. But he continues to be a presence with a huge stain-glass window dedicated to his memory in a major Pittsburgh synagogue. Shown here in a detail, the Guckenheimer window depicts Moses in prayer.

Note: Much of the material for this article is derived from the pre-pro.com website where the originator, Robin Preston, has provided a digest version of a 1908 article published by the Pittsburgh Gazette-Times.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Earl Lee Sold Drinks Both to Cheer and Cure



Earl Lee of Sydney, Ohio, had a dual approach to selling spirits. On one account he claimed to make the “world’s best” liquor to provide drinks of cheer. On another account, he produced highly alcoholic proprietary medicines as drinks to cure all manner of ailments. He also issued beverage glasses to deliver both.


Lee was a self-made man in the American tradition. He was born in 1879 in Wiley Station, Darke County, Ohio. His father was a timber merchant who moved his family frequently from place to place throughout the Buckeye State, limiting educational
opportunities for his children.  The town's main street is shown below.



In 1891 the elder Lee retired to Sidney in Shelby County, shown here in the late 1800s. The town was named after Sir Philip Sidney, a well-known poet and member of British Parliament, and formed from a parcel of land located along the west side of the Great Miami River. The construction of the Miami and Erie Canal between 1825 and 1837 had connected Sidney in a north/south direction with major trade centers in Ohio. In addition to opening the first significant "outside" trade for Sidney, the construction of the canal also attracted an influx of settlers to the area.



In Sidney Earl was able to get just a bit of public schooling. Recognized early as a smart youngster, Lee was only 19 years old when he started a liquor business in Wapakoneta, Ohio, up the road in Auglaize County Three years later, without closing this outlet, he returned to Sidney. There at age 22 he joined with an older brother, Valentine, to establish the Earl Lee Company.

That business not only sold whiskey, it made and merchandised a line of patent medicines. Despite having no medical education of any kind, Earl Lee turned out a series of nostrums under the intriguing brand name “Lee-Cur-U.” Highly alcoholic, they proved very popular. A contemporary account asserted about the Lee-Cur-U remedies: “They have a wide sale and are considered specifics for many diseases.”

When the Tax Act of 1898 was passed to help finance the Spanish American War, the revenue burden fell, in part, on proprietary medicines. Until 1902, each bottle of a remedy had to bear a stamp attesting that a tax had been paid to the Federal government. Lee was very careful to keep on the right side of the law and all his potions bore the necessary U.S. Government tax stamps, like several shown here. Unfortunately my research has not turned up any pictures of Lee-Cur-U bottles or labels.


By contrast several varieties of Lee’s beverage containers are known. Shown here are examples of three of his shot glasses. Some declared that Lee’s products were “America’s best.” Others raised the ante, claiming his were the “world’s best” liquors. Others make no claims but list both his Sydney and Wapakoneta outlets. In addion to his shots, Lee also issued larger drinking glasses, an example shown here. Another giveaway to saloons carrying his liquor were corkscrews bearing his name.

The presence of the Miami-Erie Canal meant that Lee could send his products from Sydney to a wider market on a canal boat, like the one shown here. They transported his liquor and proprietary medicines north to Toledo and the Great Lakes area, and south to Cincinnati, the Ohio River and eventually to markets down the Mississippi River. Every indication is that he took full advantage of this good transport system to expand his customer base for both whiskey and cures.

Lee married a local girl named Flora Heil, the daughter of Henry and Minnie Heil of Sydney. They had two children, Forest and Esther. He housed his family in a mansion on South Main Avenue. From his liquor and Lee-Cur-U sales he had grown wealthy and had invested heavily in buying and selling properties in Sydney and the surrounding area. It was recorded that: “In handling real estate, Mr. Lee makes auction and private lot sales a specialty and offers reliable realty, home owning and business investment propositions.”

He also was active as an elected Democratic politician, representing the First Ward in Sydney. His adherence as a Democrat probably had a lot to do with his profession, as that party generally was considered “wet,” that is, opposed to prohibition. Many Republicans, on the other hand, were in league with anti-drinking forces.

The Sydney Daily News of March 17, 1910, recorded that Lee and two colleagues serving on the town council made a study of the feasibility of a municipally-owned light plant in Sydney. The team had visited two nearby towns with such an arrangement but apparently were not impressed. Lee and the others returned to recommend that bids be sought from private corporations. He was re-elected in 1912, serving a total of three terms.

When a “History of Shelby County” was published in Sydney in 1913, Earl Lee was one of the local businessmen the author featured. The book called Lee a “leading citizen” and commended him for “his intense public spirit and the business acumen which is needful in public matters as well as personal enterprises.” That same year Lee shut down his liquor enterprise, perhaps as the result of the “local option” prohibition that was then sweeping the State of Ohio. The fate of his alcohol-heavy medicines is not recorded.


With the demise of his liquor business, Earl -- shown here in later life -- with wife Flora moved to Southern California where he died and was buried.  His life had epitomized the ability of young Americans of his time with sparse education to rise in the world through their inventiveness, hard work and sense of civic obligation.  As the History of Shelby County indicated, Earl Lee's life epitomized one of success "in public matters as well as personal enterprise."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

S. Jacobson of Buffalo: Moving in Time











As shown here, Solomon Jacobson, a prominent Buffalo, New York, whiskey dealer, provided a bottle-shaped clock to favored saloon customers for display behind the bar. It was an entirely appropriate gift from Jacobson given the role his good business timing played in his success.

Jacobson began business as a rectifier and wholesaler of whiskey during the heyday of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes sailing ships. The port area, shown here in an illustration, teemed with dock workers and sailors, many of them hard drinking lads. Jacobson supplied spirits to the proliferation of sailors’ bars along Canal Street and adjoining avenues. During the latter half of the 1800s, the area was reputed to hold more than 100 saloons, brothels and dance halls.

Jacobson’s first Buffalo address was 662 Williams Street, not far from Canal. He supplied saloons with liquor delivered in pottery jugs. Many of those early containers, as shown here, were beehive shaped and decorated with cobalt script. Some bear the mark of the Fisher Pottery, which made jugs in Lyons, New York, from about 1878 until 1902. Others bearing Jacobson’s William Street address were unmarked.

Canal Street was a rough place. Hidden under its streets and back alleys were whiskey dens where young seamen, freshly landed off the Lakes, were lured, fed drugged drinks, robbed of their wads and sometimes murdered. Their bodies reputedly were slipped into the canal with stones around their necks as though they had committed suicide. Jacobson eventually opted for a less dangerous, more advantageous environment.

Having prospered in the port area and with a growing reputation for the quality of his liquor, Jacobson moved his operation to 978-980 Broadway. His company first shows up in local directories at that address in 1900. Jacobson’s timing was indicative of Solomon-like thinking. The timely change offered him several important advantages: First, it gave him larger quarters for his rectifying activities and sales. Second, it put him closer to a new and rapidly growing client base, the large German and Polish immigrant population settling in Buffalo and living in the vicinity. Third, Jacobson must have intuited that the Broadway area soon would become the center of a major retail hub, eventually boasting the largest department store in the city. His liquor establishment was right in the midst of it all.

Jacobson quickly added the new address to his whiskey jug, moving as well to more ”modern” shoulder jugs that were less expensive and easier to stack. Although most of those ceramic containers have no marks, the third shown here is from the Robinson Ramsbottom Pottery of Roseville, Ohio. During the approximately 12 years Jacobson was located on Broadway, he also issued a number of giveaway items to favored customers, mostly saloons. They included the bar clock shown earlier, a paperweight. and at least two designs of tip trays. Shown here, the trays advertised “Buffalo Star Rye Whiskey,” Jacobson’s flagship brand. The first tray depicts three dogs in a paddock looking up at a horse and her colt. The second tray, with a comely lady on the telephone, was made about 1913 by the American Art Works of Coshocton, Ohio.

Although the Broadway address continued to be listed in local directories, Jacobson reputedly made a final move to an address about 1918 to Buffalo’s Washington Street. Again, he moved apparently because the timing was right. According to one observer: “As the neighborhood became more family oriented and new merchants were primarily retail clothiers, linens and housewares suppliers and grocers, Jacobson's business became less fitting for the area. Pressure from a major church located only a block away certainly helped influence the decision to move back closer to the downtown area.” Shortly thereafter, time ran out on Jacobson and his liquor business as National Prohibition was imposed and he was forced to close in 1919.

Details about Solomon Jacobson’s personal life, including birth and death dates, marriage and family, are virtually nonexistent. Relatives seeking genealogical information about him online seem to have little to go on. There is a record of his being being very generous to charitable causes, including the donation of $1,000 toward erection of a new Jewish hospital in Buffalo. Jacobson also was active in Temple Beth El Synagogue and was elected a trustee and first chief usher of that congregation in 1923.

Labels: Solomon Jacobson, S. Jacobson, Buffalo Star Rye Whiskey, Fisher Pottery, Robinson Ramsbottom Pottery, American Art Works