Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Louis Ullman and "The Great Whiskey Mart"

                    
“The great whiskey mart of the Continent.”  That is how Cincinnati was described in 1890.  There were sixty-seven firms engaged in whiskey distilling, rectifying and wholesaling in the “Queen City.”   Total product for that year was worth $18,852,000, roughly equivalent to $470 million today.  Add to that the total from Kentucky distilleries that flowed through Cincinnati and the city enjoyed dominant status in the U.S. whiskey market.   Competition was fierce as liquor houses vied for business but Louis Ullman, president of Beech Hill Distilling Company, was up to the challenge.


Ullman was a wholesaler and rectifier, competing in 1890 with fifty-seven other firms with a total gross income of $9,427,000.  His success was determined by the merchandising steps he took, some of them common in the industry, but nonetheless crucial to the quarter century his business endured.  They included:

Selling a menu of brands:  While some whiskey wholesalers concentrated on just two or three brands and others offered as many as fifty, the norm was about a dozen.   Ullman featured eleven, including "Beech Hill,” "Blue Grass Queen,” "J. C. Bond,” "J. C. Tucker Old Rye,” "Kentucky Thoroughbred,” "Midget Jr.,” "Old 99,” "Old Judge,” “Pembroke,” “Remington," and “Wadsworth.”  He trademarked only Beech Hill and Wadsworth, registering them in 1906.  He likely bought the names “Kentucky Thoroughbred” and “Pembroke” from Freiberg & Myer, a Cincinnati house that had trademarked the brands in 1905 and apparently went out of business shortly after.

Bottling in glass:  In 1903 Mike Owens, a self-taught American inventor, propelled the glass industry into the mechanical age. In 1903, he unveiled the world's first completely automatic glass-forming machine—a machine for making bottles.  The result was drastically to cut the cost of glass bottles which up to that time had depended on humans blowing molten glass into molds.  Savvy operators like Ullman were quick to adopt the machined bottles in sizes from quart and pint to smaller sizes.   Ullman pioneered with a “midget” bottle, likely four ounces, of whiskey that sold for 15 cents, a flask that could be tucked away neatly in a pants pocket.

Keeping some ceramic:  Although cheaper bottles caused many whiskey houses to move from glass from ceramic,  Ullman and Beech Hill continued selectively to package products in pottery containers.   An example is an “Old Judge Rye” jug, a two-toned bottle with a paper label.  Such an item was meant to stand out on a liquor store or saloon shelf as being different from the glass quarts of whiskey around it issued by other suppliers.  Small ceramic jugs were also commonly used for “giveaway” items to special customers, often at holidays.  Ullman issued one for Old Judge, one of his featured brands.  Another was  “Pembroke Whiskey” but for this label he issued a highly unusual ceramic figural bottle.  Looking very much like a cigar it contained about one swallow of liquor.

Issuing shot glasses:  Still another common ploy among Cincinnati liquor houses was issuing shot glasses advertising their proprietary brands.  Ullman used this marketing tool by issuing such glasses, some elaborately etched, and given to bartenders in saloons and restaurants carrying his brands, “Beech Hill,” “Old 99” and “Wadsworth,” the last dubbed “The Real Stuff.”

Providing back-of-the-bar bottles:  Compared to shot glasses, glass bottles meant for display back of the bar were pricey items for a liquor house.  They were meant to contain the brand of whiskey advertised on the bottle.  Too often they did not and at the Repeal of National Prohibition, were made illegal. Pre-Prohibition Ullman issued them for both Beech Hill and Wadsworth whiskeys.

By using these several methods of marketing his whiskeys, including newspaper ads, Lewis Ullman was able to operate Beech Hill Distilling successfully for a quarter century.   Born in 1868 in Malden, West Virginia, not far from Charleston, he was the son of Joseph and Amelia Wolf Ullman.  While he was still a baby the family moved to Cincinnati, where Lewis grew up and was educated.  In 1896 he married Cora Ganz, a woman six years his junior.  Two years later their first child, a girl, Alisie, was born.  She was followed by two sons, Joseph in 1900 and Edward in 1902.  

Ullman’s early business career has gone unrecorded.  As early as the 1900 federal census, however, he was recorded as a liquor dealer.  According to Cincinnati directories by 1893 he had established the Beech Hill Distilling Company.  That wholesale liquor establishment operated for most of its existence at several locations on both East and West Pearl Streets.  About 1904 Ullman took as  a partner Edgar J. Mack.

The 1890 report on Cincinnati’s liquor industry quoted above was singularly optimistic about the future.  “It is apparent that the conditions are permanent and peculiar and that Cincinnati [will] continue to hold her dominant status as a whiskey market and therefore remain the great whiskey mart of the continent.”
The authors had not reckoned on the anti-alcohol prohibitionary tide growing in the country.   In 1917 Ohio voted to go completely “dry.”  The Cincinnati whiskey trade came to a screeching halt.  That multitude of wholesale liquor houses and rectifiers were forced to close, including Ullman’s Beech Hill distilling.  Cincinnati would never recover from the blow, ceding to Louisville, Kentucky, the title of  whiskey “capital.”

With Repeal in sight in 1933, Ullman and Mack got back into action.  Using the closed-up Hauck Brewery on Central Avenue in Cincinnati, they began to brew Red Top Beer, a brew that proved very popular.  Selling 50,000 barrels of beer in the beginning, the partners expanded to 259,000 barrels by 1939.  They then bought the Cliffside Brewery and increased production to 650,000 barrels, making Red Top the 14th largest brewery in America.  After a run of 24 years, the brewery closed in 1957.

A year later, Lewis Ullman died at the age of 90.  His wife Cora had preceded him  sixteen years earlier.  They lie side by side in a large pillared mausoleum in Section 4, Lot 92 of the Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery.  Active during the heyday of the Cincinnati whiskey industry, Ullman prospered magnificently as he pursued the trade and left behind a plethora of artifacts to remind us of his success.


















  







Saturday, July 22, 2017

Whiskey Men in Love

                     
Foreword:   This is the fourth in a series of posts that examines the activities of whiskey men that previously have been profiled on the blog, grouping them for analysis under various headings.  In this case the common thread in their life stories was their love life. The love of a woman eventually led each man in a different direction.

Romantic Love:  As Louis Hossley came home each day from his liquor house a figure of cupid like one shown right, greeted him on a newell post at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor.  It has been placed there by his wife, Annie, to grace the couple’s mansion in Canton, Mississippi, a house she called “Heart’s Content.”

Whether it was love at first sight, we do not know, but a photograph taken of Louis and Annie not long after their 1898 marriage shows the couple in close, romantic encounter.  He was 23 at their nuptials and she was 20.  Annie clearly is a beauty, her figure shapely, her face comely and her dress stylish.  Louis’ clothes are formal, his hair tidy and his appearance of a young man “on the way up.”

Louis was the son of a widow with no family resources and the couple’s early years found them apparently unable to own their own home.  The 1890 Census found them living with Annie’s brother, John Wohner, and his family.  John ran a saloon called Wohner’s Corner on Canton’s town square.  Beginning by working for Wohner,  Hosseley eventually took over the business and successfully expanded to wholesaling whiskey throughout Central Mississippi.


In 1911his newly-acquired wealth allowed Hosseley to buy for his wife a two and a half story Greek Revival mansion on a half acre lot with landscaped gardens.  The centerpiece of this luxurious dwelling was a grand mahogany staircase rising from a central hallway.  There Annie had placed the statue of Cupid, likely a symbol of the romance that characterized the Hosseleys’ union.  

When Mississippi went “dry,” Hosseley was forced to shut down his saloon and liquor business but had gained sufficient wealth and prestige in Canton as to be  relatively unconcerned.  He went into finance and became president of a Canton bank.  He also served as mayor of the city.  “Heart’s Content” became the social center of the town’s elite.  

Not blessed with children, the Hosseleys lived there together until Louis died in 1936 at 60 years old. When Annie passed away twenty years later the couple were reunited, their grave markers laying side by side.  Heart’s Content still stands and is rented out upon occasion as a wedding site. Thus, the Hosseleys’ love story is kept alive in Canton, Mississippi.

Practical Love:  Benedict Joseph (B. J.) Semmes literally had been born into whiskey-making.  But it was not until he had wooed and won the love of his life, the daughter of a New York congressman, that with her support he was able to steer Semmes distilling through many crises into business success and prosperity.

Sprung from a family that had run distilleries in the District of Columbia since 1823, Semmes courted  19-year-old Jorantha Jordan for 18 months before she consented to marry him.  During this period, he came to appreciate her intelligence, writing her:  “…You have an inquiring mind — speak precisely — act readily, and are not Dull at figures.”  The couple is shown here in a fuzzy photograph.

Benedict was later to test all those qualities in Jorantha when in 1859 he saw brighter horizons westward and moved the family to Memphis, Tennessee, eventually opening a liquor house there.  Before the store could earn significant profits, however, the Civil War erupted.  Semmes enlisted and marched off, leaving the business to his wife.

While he was away, Jorantha — now caring for six children — showed considerable commercial initiative.  In 1863 she reported to her absent husband that she had earned a profit of $150 by bottling and selling whiskey and brandy to supplement the Semmes family income.  By the end of the war, however, she was forced by the fighting in Tennessee to flee to Mississippi.

The liquor house reputedly had been burned out during the war, with no insurance.  With Jorantha’s help, however, Semmes was able to recoup quickly.  One observer has said:  “The early success of Semmes & Company rested in part upon the…activities of the…family, particularly the labor of his wife.”  In ensuing years Semmes owned and operated a major Tennessee distillery and wholesale liquor house, one that included mail order sales.

After 52 years of marriage, Benedict Semmes died in 1902, Jorantha still by his side.   She lived on another 23 years, passing in 1925.  Today in Memphis’ Calvary Cemetery their gravestones lie side by side, as shown below.


Impetuous Love:  Samuel Taylor Suit was a school drop-out who gain wealth and power as a Kentucky and Maryland distiller.  Friend of American presidents, he built a mansion on an estate outside Washington, D.C., where a town called Suitland now is named for him.  “Love” was Suit’s Achilles heel.  Said to be “tenderhearted and kind,” Sam had a definite weakness for the ladies.  

Shown here as a youth, Suit found his first love, Sarah, when he was about 25 and she was still a teenager.  She bore him one child and then after only a few months as his wife, she died.  Deeply affected by her passing he moved to New York where he met the daughter of a wealthy insurance executive.  She was Aurelia, a woman eleven years his junior, known more for her needlework than her looks.  After twenty years of marriage marked by discord and one child, they divorced.

In 1878 when Suit was in his mid-40s, he met and fell in love with 17-year-old Rosa Pelham, the daughter of a congressman, shown here.  Because of the age difference she initially rejected him.  Five years later they encountered each other near what is now Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.   At this time Suit was being drawn away from Suitland and his distillery by prospects of developing a health spa at that location.

When Rosa mentioned that she had always wanted to live in a castle, Suit immediately pledged to build her one if she would marry him.   She agreed and three days later they were wed in Washington, D.C.   Not long after Suit began construction of Rosa’s 13-room castle on a ridge overlooking the Berkeley Springs baths.  Built to a one-half scale of Berkeley Castle in England, the project took almost five years to complete.  In the meantime, the couple had three children.


Suit never took up occupancy in the castle, dying in 1888 at the age of 56.  Rosa was left a very wealthy 28-year-old widow with three small children, living in a castle.  Although she had many suitors she never remarried, reputedly because of a stipulation in Suit’s will that if she did she would lose everything he had bestowed on her.  That did not prevent her from spending many nights with her suitors.  One night, following an argument, one of them fell or was pushed from the castle roof to his death.  He is said to have cursed the heiress and haunted the castle.  Rosa eventually lost both her money and her mind.  In the 1920s she was evicted from the castle, went West with a son, and died there.  Suit’s castle still stands prominently on the highway leading to Berkeley Springs, a testament to impetuous love.

Homocidal Love:  Stanley Cooney was part of a family that operated J. Cooney & Company, wholesale liquor house in Nashville, Tennessee.  About 1887 he met Mary Isabelle Wheeler, the daughter of a politically prominent Texas family.  A talented artist, as a teenager she was sent to the Columbia Female Institute, located not far from Nashville.  

Stanley and Mary met there, fell in love, and were married in 1888.  He was 28 and she was 21.  After a year of living in Nashville while her husband sold liquor, Mary became homesick and persuaded her spouse to relocate to Texas and open a business there.  The town they selected was New Birmingham, a boom town based on iron ore smelting, a place had attracted a number of millionaires and seemed destined to become a major Texas city.

No millionaire was more closely associated with “The Iron City,” as New Birmingham was called, than William Harrison Hammond, a former Confederate general, shown here. Hammond's was a major booster of the town's economic prospects and his wife was the sister of the iron works owner.


How the General and Stanley Cooney chanced to be acquainted has gone unrecorded.  Despite being remembered as “notably quiet and gentlemanly in his demeanor,” Cooney was neither when he encountered Hamman.  Blinded by anger, he used both barrels of his gun to shoot down the former Confederate in the street.

Cooney’s motive was said to be that Hamman had defamed the character of his beloved wife.  Some whispered, however, that it was the General’s wife, perhaps jealous of her social status, who had traduced Mary.   Caught with the gun in his hand, Cooney was arrested, quickly convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison.  Meanwhile Hamman was buried.

Two years later, likely with help from Mary’s politically potent Wheeler family, Stanley was pardoned and released from jail.  The news appears to have unhinged the Widow Hamman.  “In a fit of outrage and grief,” as it is told, she ran through the streets of New Birmingham screaming to the heavens to ”leave no stick or stone standing” in the town.  Her curse proved prophetic as economic conditions worsen and New Birmingham slowly died, becoming a ghost town with  just a plaque today indicating where it had once thrived.

Meanwhile, Stanley and Mary spared no time getting back to Tennessee.  The 1910 census found the couple back in Nashville where Stanley was working in the liquor house as if nothing had happened.  Mary was launched on her career as landscape artist.  Her works, like the the painting below, called “The Old Farm House,” are still featured by Southwestern art galleries.

Here we have met four whiskey men, learned four stories of their strong attractions for a woman, and encountered four very different outcomes.  Love is like that, I guess.

Note:  More elaborate vignettes on each of the four men featured here may be found elsewhere on this blog:  Louis Hosseley, April 12, 2016; B. J. Semmes, May 11, 2015;  S.T. Suit, August 4, 2011, and Stanley Cooney,  April 22, 2015.















































Tragic Love

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Rocky Life of Martin Breen, “Smooth” Operator


"Smooth whisky - good! Smoother whisky - better! Smoothest Henderson Bourbon - best! “   That was the mantra of Martin J. Breen, president of a Chicago wholesale liquor house.  Breen found, however, that while he was asserting “smooth,” being active in the whiskey trade had its own particular rocky  times in store for him over a foreshortened life.

For example, in 1905, after Congress had strengthen trademark laws,  Breen decided to register three of his brands.  Among them was “Comrade Whiskey” that involved the word “Comrade” beneath which was a picture of a soldier and a sailor, each with a glass of whiskey in his hand and between them a monogram that spelled out “B & K”  for Breen & Kennedy, the name of the firm.  Filed in April 1905 it was federally approved the following July.  The name was received by the trade without comment.

Breen then trademarked his flagship brand, Henderson Bourbon.  That application was filed about a month later and involved the word “Henderson” on a ribbon design, beneath which the B & K monogram appeared.  Almost immediately the Buchanan-Anderson-Nelson Company of Louisville, representing a deep pockets conglomerate of Kentucky distilleries, opposed the registration.  That firm claimed that “Henderson” was a fraudulent attempt on the part of Breen to appropriate their trademark and “calculated to deceive and mislead the public into the false belief” that his whiskey was from the Buchanan-Anderson-Nelson Co.

When the Examiner of Interferences of the the Patent & Trademark office dismissed the Kentucky company complaint, it sued in the Federal Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, requiring Breen to bear the expense of a bruising court battle.   After hearing the evidence, the judges in June 1906 held that “…There is not the slightest similarity between the two marks except as to the words ‘Anderson’ and ‘Henderson,’ that both are well-known names of persons, counties and towns, and there is no reasonable ground of confusion between them.”   Breen had won, but at a significant financial cost.

The passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 posed another challenge for Breen when in 1908 new modifications were added requiring the “proper labeling” of bottles, jugs and casks.   One of the features of the new law was an attempt by Kentucky bourbon interests to brand only straight, unblended, spirits as real whiskey.  Blends such as those provided by rectifiers like Breen were threatened with being labeled “imitation whiskey.”  Some rectifiers openly talked of trying to evade or nullify the new clauses.

With his liquor sales grossing $400,000 a year, equivalent to $10 million today, Breen had become a representative voice for Chicago’s rectifiers who numbered in the dozens.  Quoted by the Chicago Tribune, Breen took this new challenge in stride.  While blaming the new regulations on “some radicals of the Whiskey Trust” who were seeking to injure independent dealers, Breen claimed that it was the Trust not the rectifiers who were hurt.

“The Trust has dealt in straight whiskey and we deal in blends,” he told the newspaper.  It is almost impossible for anyone to utilize a straight whiskey.  It must be blended.  The Trust is unable to do so because they lack proper equipment to handle a blend.  Hence we benefit by the new law and the boot is now on the other foot.”  Although Breen’s assertions were grossly optimistic, they were published widely and may have helped stall calling blends “imitation whiskey.”

Breen’s third challenge was not so easily met.  In November of 1908 he was arrested on a charge of giving liquor to a minor in Englewood, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and released only after posting a $500 bond.  He was arrested on a warrant from the secretary of the Englewood Law and Order League, a group dedicated to stamping out all forms of illegal drinking, gambling and other vices apparently rampant in town.

The warrant claimed that nine-year-old Elmer Flodin had been enticed to drink  whiskey.  “My boy had left the house on his way to school and was standing on the front porch when a man came up to him and gave him a bottle of whiskey,” his father related. “He hardly knows what whiskey is and is certainly not fit to handle it.”  Down the street Flossie Thompson, age nine, and Emma Lindquist, thirteen, also reputedly were given bottles of liquor. 

Little Elmer’s outraged father,  A. S. Flodin, a member of the Law and Order League, was reported to be determined to push the prosecution of Breen.   The law provided a fine of from $20 to $100 or a jail sentence of from ten to thirty days, or both, and the League promised to ask for a jail sentence.  In his defense, Breen issued a statement admitting that his firm had been distributing sample bottles of whiskey but insisted that they were being given only to adults.

In checking with the individuals distributing the bottles, Breen asserted, all of them had strongly denied delivering any bottles of liquor to children.  He intimated that Breen & Kennedy were being framed by prohibitionary forces:  If bottles of our whiskey were delivered to children it probably was done by persons not connected with us in any way and who desired to prejudice the public mind against us merely by reason of our being engaged in the wholesale liquor business.”   I have been unable to discover the outcome of this case but while there is no evidence Breen ever went to jail, it marked another rocky incident.

This whiskey man was born about 1866 in New York, the son of Thomas and Sarah (Byrne) Breen, both immigrants from Ireland.  Details of his early life and his eventual move to Chicago are not readily available.  Breen first surfaced in the Windy City in an 1891 city directory working as a cashier at 10 Wabash Avenue.  A year later, at 26 years old, Martin married a woman named Mary.   They would have one child, Julia.

By the late 1890s, Breen was in the wholesale liquor trade with a seemingly silent partner named Kennedy.  According to business records the pair had taken over the business from H. M. Wager who had been managing Farmer, Thompson & Co., whiskey wholesalers.  Breen was president of the firm and owned one-third of its stock.  Initially located at 187-189 Washington Street, the firm, apparently needing more space for its wholesale liquor sales moved to 128-1390 Franklin.

By this time, Breen & Kennedy were marketing their Henderson Whiskey over a broad area of the Midwest and beyond.  Using the slogan "Smooth whisky - good! Smooother whisky - better! Smoothest Henderson Bourbon - best!,” they were making the figure of their Kentucky colonel an icon in Chicago through a variety of ads featuring the bearded gentleman.  He often was portrayed telling a joke.  Sample from 1908:  “You have, doubtless, heard of the man in Kalamazoo who, by mistake, drank gasoline thinking it was cough medicine.  Now, suh, instead of coughing, he honks.”  As shown here, Breen’s Colonel had several looks.


Like other rectifiers of the time, Breen & Kennedy claimed to be distillers, with a facility in Frankfort, Kentucky, a bogus assertion since the firm was buying its whiskey from various sources and blending it for proprietary brands like Henderson and Cedar Creek.  Like other wholesalers, the company also provided preferred customers with a range of giveaway items.  As shown here, paperweights and corkscrews were common gifts. 
Despite the several challenges Breen had faced after opening his liquor house in Chicago, it proved to be a highly profitable operation.  Unfortunately, however, he had too few years to enjoy his wealth.  At the early age of 54 in April 1911, Breen died, leaving a wife and three-year-old daughter.   Available records do not reveal the cause.  Had his legal problems contributed to his early demise?

Breen was interred in Mount Carmel Cemetery, a burial ground located in the Chicago suburb of Hillside that holds the graves of Cardinal Bernardin and Al Capone, among others.  Located in Section R, Breen’s gravestone is laid in a grassy plot in the shadow of a large granite monument.  His widow, Mary, would join him there 24 years later.

Despite Martin’s passing, the firm of Breen & Kennedy continued to operate successfully until 1919.  Finally the same “dry” forces that had accused Breen of giving whiskey to children prevailed on the Nation to adopt a complete ban on sales of alcohol.  The liquor house shut down permanently.  For decades the name Henderson disappeared as a brand.  More recently, however,  Henderson has reemerged from a boutique distillery in Texas as a small batch, 80 proof American whiskey, the label shown here.








































Friday, July 14, 2017

When the Wolf at the Door Brought Whiskey

  
“The wolf at the door”  is a common American idiom for the privation, including starvation, that can occur when a household lacks financial means.   When this particular Wolf — Wolf Dworkovitz — was at the door, however, it meant that the postman had just brought a fresh supply of mail-order liquor from Kansas City, Missouri.

Dworkovitz had a an excellent location from which to dispatch his whiskey and other alcoholic products.  A number of Western bodies charged with writing a state constitution had been taken over by prohibitionary elements who wrote into them anti-alcohol provisions.  Still other states through their  legislatures and referenda had adopted the “dry” position.   Until 1914, however, it was still legal to ship booze into every state and territory, regardless of its orientation.  As a railroad hub, Kansas City was perfectly placed for the mail order liquor trade.
Dworkovitz indicated in his ads that he was sending whiskey into both “dry” and “wet” states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida,  Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Washington.    Four quarts of “Wolf’s Private Stock Whiskey” could be had for $4.00, with a bottle of “Wolf’s Superior” and “Wolf’s Favorite” thrown in for free.
  
In his “Special Offer No. 2” the proprietor for $5.00 would send four quarts of “Wolf’s Autograph,” one quart of “Wolf’s Favorite,” and two quarts of cordials, apricot and blackberry, and a quart of California port wine.  All this would have express charges pre-paid and Dworkovitz would throw in a free whiskey shot glass and a cork screw.  Who could resist such a deal?


Wolf Dworkovitz was born in Germany about 1872 and came to the United States as a young man.  He first appeared in Kansas City directories as a 17-year-old bartender working for J. Joffee in his saloon and living in a rooming house.  After being naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1892, he opened up a saloon of his own at 335 Southwest Boulevard.   He called it “Wolf’s Place.”  By 1905, likely needing larger quarters, he moved his establishment to 117 West Ninth Street and the following year opened a second saloon at 1213 Grand Avenue.

In the meantime, Wolf had found time to marry.  His bride was Susie Goldman, born in Ohio of Russian Jewish immigrant parents.  He was 28;  she was 24. They were married by Rabbi Harry H. Mayer on February 20, 1900  at his synagogue at Oak and Eleventh Streets.   Their first child, Josephine, was soon born, followed eight years later by a second daughter, Miriam. 


About 1914 Dworkovitz rather abruptly changed direction with his liquor business.  Perhaps it was the responsibility of a growing family and recognition that an opportunity lay in mail order sales of liquor that was significantly more profitable than selling shots for dimes over the bar.  In succession, both his Grand Avenue and West Ninth Street saloons disappeared from Kansas City directories.  In their place at 115 West Ninth Street was “Wolf’s Famous Distilling Company.”  An artist’s drawing seems to indicate that the place operated around the clock.

In actual fact, Dworkovitz was not a distiller, but a “rectifier,” mixing a variety of whiskeys to achieve a particular taste, smoothness and color.   Although he might advertise “Wolf Springs Straight Whiskey” as “unadulterated, no spirits, no coloring,”  it did not guarantee that this brand was from a single batch and that no blending had occurred.   

He also strongly advertised that his whiskey, having been bottled in bond and bearing the green tax stamps meant “that your government has approved this barrel of straight whiskey.”  In truth, the stamps meant only that the taxes had been paid and had no bearing on quality.  Nevertheless, Dworkovitz had no compunction about showing Uncle Sam on a trade sign for “Wolf’s Monogram Whiskey” asserting “That stamp means quality, strength, purity.”

Despite the enthusiasm of his advertising, the reality was that Wolf had come a bit late to the mail order whiskey trade.   Increasingly the railroad express option, using the many trains originating in or running through Kansas City, was constricting.  Because of harassment by local officials in dry towns, counties and states, local express agents were refusing to accept liquor shipments.  More important the U.S. Congress was passing laws narrowing the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution where alcohol was involved.

By 1916, Dworkovitz’s outstate mail order business was at a virtual end.  Even in still wet states like California and Florida, certain towns and counties would be off limits under “local option” laws.  Missouri, however, continued to be reliably open to liquor sales.  Nevertheless, Wolf decided to diversify.   By 1919, he had opened a restaurant at his former Grand Avenue address.  That eatery subsequently was followed by his opening a soft drink bottling plant.

Nonetheless, when queried by the Federal census taker in 1920 as to his occupation, the answer was “liquor house.”  That census found Dworkovitz living in Ward 10 of Kansas City at 2515 Benton Boulevard, the house shown here.  In addition to his wife, Susie, and two daughters, the household included Susie’s mother, Anna Goldman, and Susie’s unmarried brothers, George, a jeweler, and Abe, a doctor.  Three live-in servants, one of them listed as a “telephone operator,” completed the residents.

With the imposition of National Prohibition, Wolf’s Famous Distilling Company was forced to shut down.  After 1920,  Dworkovitz and his family disappeared from Kansas City directories.  Since Wolf was only 48 at the time the assumption must be that he continued to be in business, but I can find no record of his further activity in city directories. 
I am hopeful that descendants will see this vignette and help fill in the blanks.   

We are left with the “giveaways” and colorful — if sometimes exaggerated — sales materials Wolf Dworkovitz left behind. Shown below, the building that once held his mail order liquor house still stands in Kansas City.