Friday, August 17, 2018

Chief Red Jacket‘s 60-Year Buffalo Distillery

Named “Red Jacket” after a Seneca Indian chief, a Buffalo distillery founded in 1848 survived the Civil War, at least two national financial panics, and federal rules that shut down other New York distilleries, to flourish for six decades under the guidance of two remarkable whiskey men, Thomas Clark and his successor, James M. Merritt.

Born in England in 1921, Clark first settled in Perry, New York, then moved to Geneva where he likely learned the distillers’ trade.  He arrived in Buffalo about 1848 at the age of 27 and almost immediately opened his own small distillery in a frame shanty on Seneca Plank Road.  It is unclear why Clark named it after an Indian leader who had fought on the side of the British in the American Revolution and was named Red Jacket from his wearing British red coats.  The Seneca chief, whose real name was Sagoyewatha (He Keeps Them Awake), was adamant against the white man, his ways and especially his Christian religion. Red Jacket had died only sixteen years earlier, detested by many New Yorkers. 

Starting small, Clark seems to have met almost instant success. He not only was making his own whiskey, he also was a rectifiying spirits, that is, blending whiskeys to achieve desirable taste, smoothness and color.  By 1858 Clark was mashing 175,720 bushels of grain annually and producing 709,000 gallons of whiskey, a figure that increased to 790,542 gallons the following year.  

His production was assisted by the availability of grain in Buffalo, a major port on the eastern shore of Lake Erie.  In 1868 seeing an opportunity for further expansion and heading a stock company, Clark erected a grain elevator on the banks of the lake.  Towering 135 feet high, the elevator was called “one of the largest grain receivers in the country.”

Meanwhile Clark had married; his wife was Naomi Macey, a woman eight years younger than he and, like him, born in England.  The 1870 census found the couple living in Buffalo with a daughter and three servants, including a butler, a housekeeper and a gardener.  Indicative of the success Clark had enjoyed were census data on his net worth, $150,000 in business holdings and $60,000 in personal property, the total worth more than $5 million today.

By 1880 Clark was mashing some 600 bushels a day in the Red Jacket facility.  His plant, located on an acre and a half plot on Buffalo’s Seneca Street included a malt house, large warehouse and adjunct buildings.  According to one account, the distillery boasted:  “…The aid of every modern improvement…to produce a production as perfect as possible.”  Whiskey rectifying was carried out at a separate location at the corner of Washington and Perry Streets in a sizable four story building, shown below. It featured capacious storage space and large cellars for aging the liquor,

Clark’s strong production numbers both saved him and advanced his profitability. When he began, New York boasted multiple distilleries, many of them small.  With the Civil War the federal government began taxing whiskey heavily, levying 90 cents per gallon.  The feds also demanded that companies manufacture to at least 80 percent of their capacity, whether it meant a profit or a loss.   Many distilleries were forced to shut down, reportedly leaving only three in the entire state of New York.  One of the survivors was Clark’s Red Jacket.

Although financial “panics” in 1857 and 1873 menaced the distilling industry, Clark weathered both.  The Englishman’s success caused him to be recognized as a leader in Buffalo’s business circles and drew this commentary from a biographer:  “The position which he has invariably occupied in the transaction of a diversified business, has been justly rewarded in the brilliant success achieved, and the high esteem in which he is regarded.”  

As he aged, Clark’s health faltered and he died in September 1882 at the age of 61.  As his wife and daughter looked on at his graveside, the entrepreneur was buried in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.  His wife, Naomi, would join him there twenty years later.  Their graves are marked by a large monument.

With no sons to take over the business,  Naomi sold the distillery to James M. Merritt, a native New Yorker who had come to the liquor trade initially as a federal government “guager,” that is, someone who inspected distilleries to determine the amount of alcohol they were producing and thereby set the tax.  The 1870 census found Merritt, age 42;  his wife, Helen (nee Derrick), 34, and two children, Cora and Frederick, living in Buffalo.

My guess is that Merritt was known to Clark because his was one of the distilleries regularly visited by the federal official.  The 1880 census suggests that Merritt subsequently was hired by Clark as his plant superintendent.  Merritt’s early advertising showed considerable deference to the deceased owner emphasizing that he was “Distiller, Rectifier and Manufacturer of all the Celebrated Thomas Clark Brands.” Merritt also maintained Red Jacket as the name of the distillery.  With the passage of time the reputation of the Native American chief had risen considerably among New Yorkers, some of whom recalled Sagoyewatha had received a medal from President Washington, evident in the picture above.

Merritt successfully piloted the Red Jacket Distillery for the next eleven years,  gradually putting his own brand on the company.  Although he continued to operate out of Clark’s four-story “rectifying” building, he substituted his own name.  In time Merritt no longer was citing the founder in his ads.  He also added his own flagship brand, “Canoe Club Rye.”  As his son Frederick reached maturity, the father brought him into the firm, first as a clerk and then as a traveling salesman, taught him the business, and circa 1900 made him the sole vice president.

Prosperity in making and selling whiskey meant that the Merritt family, which boasted family ties back to the Revolutionary War, could move into a house in a more fashionable Buffalo neighborhood.   Shown here as it looks today, according to the 1900 census, it provided a home for James; wife Helen; son Frederick; daughter Cora; her husband, Harry Reynolds; granddaughter Bessie; and two female servants, one Irish and one Scots.

Born in 1827, James Merritt no longer was a young man when he assumed control of the Red Jacket Distillery.  As he entered his mid-70s, Merritt’s health failed and he died in 1903 at the age of 76.  Like Clark, he was buried in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, his grave located in Section 9, Lot 193.  Red Jacket Distillery continued to operate for the next several years but was shut down in 1906.  

By this time Red Jacket had become Buffalo's favorite Indian. Streets, awards, memorials, and contests were named after him. Feeling guilty about the past, community leaders decided to exhume the chief’s body from an out-of-the-way Indian burial grounds and move it to Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Red Jacket’s remains were placed under a huge statue of himself.  This occurred in direct opposition to Sagoyewatha’s specific wishes that no white man dig his grave and that no white man bury him.  Moreover, the chief now lies not far from the graves of Thomas Clark and James Merritt, the two palefaces who appropriated his name for sixty years of successfully making and selling whiskey.

Note:  This post draws on multiple sources, principal among them the “History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County:  Volume II,” edited by H. Perry Smith and published by D. Mason & Co., Syracuse N.Y. in 1884.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Whiskey Men Who Helped Build Cities

Foreword:  In the course of writing some 625 posts devoted to the distillers, liquor dealers, saloonkeepers and others from the past, I have been impressed by how often they have used the profits from their activities to the benefit of the communities, both large and small, in which they lived.  From time to time I will be highlighting those contributions, joining the stories of three or four whiskey men who exemplify this characteristic.  This post celebrates three who helped to create major cities through their personal exertions, investments and philanthropy.  

Philip Engs, whose liquor business survived more than 100 years, recognized the requirements of a burgeoning, pre-industrial New York City and answered with his time and money to fight fires, provide for public health care, educate poor children, and house the destitute.  The picture right is based on a portrait given posthumously by his family to the City of New York to honor Engs, truly a “first responder” to the needs of his fellow New Yorkers.

Born into a merchant family in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1789 , Engs arrived in New York City as a young man, showing his civic spirit by immediately becoming a volunteer firefighter.  Within a few years he established his own wholesale liquor trade that from the start was highly successful and profitable.  Meanwhile the population of New York City had grown to 122,000 with virtually no social services for the poor.  With increasing wealth and influence, in December 1817 Engs was among what he called “a number of philanthropic gentlemen” who met on the problem.  Out of those discussions came several initiatives including creation of an alms house to provide shelter for the indigent, a medical dispensary, and free public schools.  Philip Engs would play a pivotal role in each of those efforts.

In 1934, after serving at two terms as an elected “assistant alderman” in New York’s 14th Ward, Engs was named one of five Commissioners of the Alms House.  The commissioners supervised those sanctuaries and brought general relief services to poor people living outside them.  The commissioners also had responsibilities for indigent medical care and those duties may have propelled Engs into still another civic effort.

The Northern Dispensary, shown here still standing, was erected in Greenwich Village just off Christopher Street in 1831 for the purpose of providing medical and hospital care for the poor.  The dispensary was designed to serve the 40,000 people living between Spring and 21st Streets and from Broadway to the Hudson River.  A dispensary annual report of 1832 listed 3,296 patients, many treated right in their own homes.  In 1834, Engs was named Commissioner of Supplies for the dispensary, responsible for providing it with necessary medicines and other materiel. 

That same year Engs was named one of the Commissioners for Common Schools.  Those were neighborhood schools for the children of families not able to pay for a private eduction. Engs also recognized the need for professionalized fire services in New York.  Accordingly he became a driving force behind a paid fire department, as one observer ironically put it, “sweeping away the romantic past.”  It was established by the New York Legislature in 1865.  As New York grew to the metropolis of today, Philip Engs, while continuing to operate his liquor house, had played a pivotal role at a critical point in the city’s history.

Born in County Sligo, Ireland, the five Casey brothers — Lawrence, Timothy, Andrew, Patrick and James — had arrived sequentially from Ireland, but with the financial push given to them by their liquor business, together they played an important role in the commercial development of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The first to arrive about 1870 were Lawrence and Timothy who after a brief period working for others in the liquor trade struck out on their own and found almost immediate success, eventually occupying a four story building in downtown Scranton.  They soon were joined by their three younger siblings from Ireland, all of them in various ways involved with Casey Brothers Wholesale and Retail Liquors.  Still very young, Lawrence and Timothy died in the mid-1880s, leaving their brothers Andrew and Patrick Casey to pilot the firm.  

Bank Building
Their interests expanded considerably beyond the liquor trade.  In addition to being involved in the management of Casey Brothers,  Andrew was treasurer and Patrick secretary of the Casey & Kelly Brewing Company,  a brewery that they founded.   Andrew  was a member of the Scranton Board of Trade and a director of the Merchants and Mechanics Bank.  Patrick helped finance start-up of the Scranton Traction Company,  Consumers’ Ice Company and  Scranton Illuminating, Heat, and Power Company.   The brothers also had substantial real estate holdings in Scranton and on one prime site downtown determined to erect a hotel.

Opening in  January 1911, the eleven story Casey Grand boasted 250 rooms and was the largest hotel in northwestern Pennsylvania.  Citing its modernity and luxurious decor, one Scranton newspaper noted:  “The Hotel Casey stands today completed, an imposing monument to the courage of two men, Andrew J. and Patrick J. Casey, who, with their own resources reared at the corner of Lackawanna and Adams avenue, one of the most magnificent hotels in the country.”  

Thomas B. Hall, was a highly successful Sacramento grocer and whiskey dealer, whose civic accomplishments included helping frame the city charter,  playing a pivotal role in settling large tracts of California land with colonist farmers, and serving as a commander of a unit of state militia.  Hall’s accomplished life, however, came close to ending before it began when a ship carrying him, a newborn, and his parents wrecked off Santa Barbara in 1854, with considerable loss of life. Fortunately for Sacramento, Hall’s family was among those saved. 
While still in his teens, Thomas chose the grocery business and by the age of 23 owned his own store.   Although Hall sold whiskey in his grocery, in 1882 he and a partner bought out an existing liquor dealership and made whiskey a major element in the business.   Hall used the brand names, “Derby Brand,”  Double Stamp,” “Old Log Cabin,” “Pride of the West.”  His flagship was “Snow Flake Whiskey.”   Profits allowed Hall to move the company into a more spacious and elegant building, built to his own design.

Now owning the largest wholesale grocery and liquor house in Sacramento, Hall turned his attention to other interests.  He was one of the organizers of the Mount Shasta Mineral Springs Company of Siskiyou County and a founder of the Orangevale Colonization Project, a venture that settled large tracts of California agricultural land with farm families.  Hall frequently was tapped for public service, serving as a framer of the city charter and on Sacramento committees dealing with public works and business development.  

Hall also promoted local sports.  In 1889 the entrepreneur sponsored Snowflake Park in Sacramento, named after the firm’s flagship whiskey brand.  The park was the city’s primary baseball venue for at least a decade.  Hall also served as the captain of a California militia unit that he helped organize.

Although the advent of National Prohibition caused Hall to shut down his liquor sales,  profits from the grocery business continued to fuel his enterprises and earned Thomas Hall numerous accolades for his life of community service — a life that almost ended before it began.

Note:  More complete biographies of these three men can be found in prior posts on this blog.  They are:  Philip Engs,  January 7, 2017;  The Caseys, November 1, 2013; and Thomas Hall, May 1, 2015.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cleveland’s Isaac Ettinger: A Magnet for Trouble

Every bottle has a story, so it is said.  When the whiskey jug shown here came up for sale at a recent bottle show, it was bought by a friend and I decided to do some research, never guessing at the tempestuous career of Isaac Ettinger, the Cleveland liquor dealer whose name appears on the stoneware.  

Ettinger ran a liquor business and saloon in Cleveland for about twenty years, located at several addresses along Ontario Street, a major commercial avenue.   In the process, through his own stubbornness or just bad luck, Isaac seemed to have attracted trouble.

Isaac was born in Poland, then part of the Russian empire, the son of Joseph and Dora (Bedin) Ettinger.  He emigrated to the United States as a youth and initially settled in New York City where he achieved citizenship in October 1867. 

He arrived in Cleveland sometime before 1870 when he was listed in business directories as a “tobacconist,” making cigars and selling them out of his house at 109 Water Street.  By 1879, however, he had left the smoking business and joined the drinking trade, opening his bar and liquor store at 358 Ontario St., as shown on the jug.  Who would suspect that the benign looking Ettinger, would proved to be anything but. 

Ettinger made headlines in the Cleveland Plain Dealer when he, his wife Yetta, and two of her lady friends, were forcibly ejected from a horse-drawn street car operated by the Woodland Avenue & West Side Street Railroad, the line shown here.  

The incident occurred about  3 o’clock in the morning of February 6, 1893.   After a verbal battle with Ettinger the conductor threw them all off trolley and called the cops. Isaac was arrested.  Taken to the police station at that hour, he made bail and the group was not detained but forced to tramp home through the snow. The newspaper article commented:  “The condition of the weather was scarcely propitious for a long walk at so early an hour, but walk they did.”  

The dispute had arisen over Ettinger’s staunch refusal to pay the conductor fifty cents for the party to ride until he could buy actual tickets for them all.  Claiming that he was sold out of tickets, the conductor asked for cash.  Ettinger had argued long and vociferously he would not pay anything until tickets could be purchased. The result was his arrest, later dismissed.  Ettinger quickly filed a damage suit against the company for $2,000 ($50,000 equivalent today.)  The case hopped in and out of court for two years before being heard.  I have been unable to find the result.

Over the years Ettinger frequently was in and out of court, suing and being sued.  In 1881 he hauled a woman named Rosa L. Block into court for default of a loan, asking for compensation in money and land.  Isaac himself had faced a  bankruptcy suit in 1878 but emerged relatively unscathed.  Additionally, Clevelander Mathias Nickels claimed that as he was passing by Ettinger’s place a heavy sign had fallen from atop the saloon, breaking an large arc light and a piece of glass had flown into his eye.  He asked $10,000 (equiv. $250,000) in damages.  

In 1899 Henry Russon, Ettinger’s business partner in a company called Buckeye Hair & Fiber, charged in Cleveland’s Common Pleas Court that Ettinger had converted to his personal use the company’s entire stock and accounts worth $2,400.  Ettinger, he claimed further, had locked up the store and factory, thereby denying Russon entry to the buildings. He asked the court to dissolved the firm and put it into the hands of a receiver.  It is unclear how either Nickels or Russon’s suits turned out.

Meanwhile Ettinger apparently was a devoted family man.  He and his wife, Henrietta  (called “Yetta”), had two children, Charles, who later assisted Isaac in the liquor trade, and a daughter, Debra.  She married a man named Sands and gave the Ettingers a grandchild, Doris on whom Isaac doted.  He was photographed with Doris on several occasions.  It is hard to believe that the benign grandfather shown here is the same fire-breathing Issac Ettinger described above.

At the age of 83, Ettinger died in March 1925 and interred Section 4, Lot 23, Grave 5 of Mayfield Cemetery in Cleveland.  He is buried next to Yetta who died 15 years earlier.  Ettinger’s headstone is shown here.  

By the time Cleveland liquor dealer died he had been out of business for a decade, Ohio having voted “dry” in 1916.  By looking into the origins of a bottle or jug as with the one shown here, it is possible to find many kinds of human beings.  In the case of Isaac Ettinger, it was a man who seemingly collected lawsuits like some people collect whiskey jugs.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Jokichi Takamine: Scientist to the Whiskey Trust

It may seem like a stretch to call a Japanese pioneer of biotechology, credited with the first isolation of adrenalin, a “whiskey man.”  Nonetheless, for several pivotal years in his life, Jokichi Takamine was being financed for his research into a cheaper method of whiskey production by the Peoria-based Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company, also known as “The Whiskey Trust.”

Takamine was born on November 3, 1854, in the small town of Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture on the west coast of Japan.  As shown here, it was a picturesque spot with views of both mountains and ocean.  His birth came shortly after Commodore Matthew Peary’s expedition had opened Japan to the West.  Eager to know “foreign science” better the government sent him to the University of Glasgow where he learned English and studied agriculture. He then returned to work in Japan.

When the New Orleans Cotton Exposition occurred in 1884, Takamine seemed the logical person to represent Japan as its commissioner.  While there he rented an apartment in the French Quarter and met his landlord’s daughter, Caroline Field Hitch, shown here.  They fell in love and, with her father’s blessing, were married.  Returning to Japan with his bride, Takamine was put in charge of a fertilizer works near Tokyo.

The couple produced two sons during that period but all was not well.  In Japan the blonde, blue-eyed Caroline drew stares wherever she went and was plagued by a mother-in-law who disapproved of her independent American ways.  She begged to return to the U.S.  To save his marriage, Takamine sought employment in America and decided to pursue an interest in distilling.  The key was adapting the methods of brewing Japanese sake (rice wine) to making whiskey.

Central to distilling (and brewing beer) is an enzyme called diastase that breaks down starches into sugars that then can be transformed by yeast into alcohol.  In the West the enzyme is obtained from malt made by germinating barley.  In Japan, Takamine knew, the enzyme,called koji, is derived from a fungus grown on rice and is far more active and less expensive to prepare than malt.  He saw commercial opportunities for the process in the American liquor business and wrote letters of solicitation to major distilling outfits.

In Peoria, Illinois, Takamine sparked interest in one of the most important liquor executives in the Nation.  Shown here is Joseph Greenhut, the head of the Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company, the monopoly controlling dozens of distilleries in the Midwest and known popularly as “The Whiskey Trust.”   “Come to America,” Greenhut is said to have written to the Japanese scientist, “and we will see what can be done.”  With financial help from Caroline’s father, the family departed Japan for Illinois.  Here the story can be continued as illustrated with pictures from a Japanese (comic book) that covered this chapter of Takamine’s life.

After meeting Joichi in person Greenhut was sufficiently impressed to give the Japanese scientist a contract to allow him to set up a research laboratory.  This facility, given heavy security by the Trust, was located inside the malt house of the Woolner Grove Distillery, along the river on the south side of Peoria.  Takamine called his lab “The White House.”

The Woolner brothers, Adolph, Sam and Ignatius, were emigres from Hungary, who had arrived in the U.S. about 1871 and purchased a distillery, one of several they came to own over time.  The Woolners were enthusiastic founding members of the Whiskey Trust.  Adolph served as a vice president of the monopoly until his death in 1891.  It was natural that Greenhut would trust the Woolners, his faithful acolytes, with Takamine’s secret research.

In the end the effort was not revealed by competition espionage but by a news release from the Trust itself in February 1891.  The Chicago Tribune featured a story that predicted that through the use of Takamine’s koji diastase the distilling  process would be made simpler and faster, resulting in a lower cost for whiskey. Skeptics of the Trust believed that Greenhut had used the Japanese scientist’s work and announcements about his success as a way of manipulating the stock price of the Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company.  It also would have heartened those distillers who had signed onto the combine in the hope of quick and easy profits.

Meanwhile back at his White House laboratory, Takamine was pressing ahead and eventually found a way to make his process operational.  The Manhattan Distillery, a Woolner Peoria property was converted to his use.  Shortly after the Japanese scientist’s equipment was installed the building caught fire, one of suspicious origin.  The manga places the blame on malt manufacturers and their workers who prepared the traditional distillery enzymes from barley malt.  They had expressed strong objections to Takamine’s koji method, fearing for their jobs. The Peoria newspaper noted that the blaze was confined to “a small frame tower and under favorable circumstances could easily have been extinguished.”  The first hose to arrive with firefighters was not long enough to reach from the nearest hydrant.  When a longer one arrived, no water flowed from the hydrant and firemen watch the building burn to the ground.

Undeterred, Takamine rebuilt and after three years of effort finally got a distillery using his koji method up and running.  Eventually he was mashing 3,000 bushels of corn per day.  He manufactured a lower cost whiskey which Jokichi called “Bonzai,” a greeting given to the Emperor of Japan meaning, “May you live ten thousand years!”   Later, as shown here, a massive explosion and fire destroyed much of the Woolner’s Peoria distillery.  

In 1894 the Whiskey Trust, now under pressure from dissident distillers and  experiencing financial problems, broke off its relationship with Takamine.  It took Bonzai brand whiskey off the market and reverted entirely to creating the essential enzymes from malt.  While continuing to advocate koji over malt, Takamine himself suffered financially in legal battles with the Trust and his money ran out.  Wife Caroline was forced to sell her art collection and the couple had to ask their families for money to survive.

In his best-selling book, “Proof:  The Science of Booze,”  science writer Adam Rogers speculates that the whiskey-making world would look considerably different if Takamine’s ideas had prevailed.  The cumbersome malting process would be unnecessary, he contends, and different grains might have been brought into the mix.  “The Asian markets for whiskey that are so lucrative today might have cropped up 150 years sooner….” Rogers contends.

Takamine’s failure in the whiskey trade turned him to the pharmaceutical business.  He named his diastase extract “Taka-Diastase” and advertised it as a remedy for indigestion.  The product was so successful that the large Detroit drug firm Parke-Davis took over its manufacture and marketing.  In time Jokichi became several times a millionaire.  He and Caroline built a mansion in New York City as he continued to be active as a scientist, including isolating adrenalin.  He also started new biotechnical enterprises in Japan and the United States.  Takamine is remembered in the Nation’s Capitol for donating 3,020 Japanese cherry trees in 1912 to decorate the Tidal Basin.  Their blooming annually brings thousands to Washington.

Troubled by liver problems for much his life, Takamine found his symptoms growing worse as he entered his 68th year.  After fighting the disease for more than six months, he died in July 1922.  The Japanese scientist was buried in New York’s Woodlawn Cemetery in the mausoleum shown here. 

Caroline, who re-married four years after Takamine’s death, died at the age of 88 in 1954 and is buried with him.   Appropriately for a man who himself was a bridge between America and Japan, the mausoleum features a stained glass window depicting Mount Fuji and the flags of both countries.   

Note:  More details about the malting process can be found in my post of November 22, 2017 that features Frederick Lutz, “Master Maltster of Louisville.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Riddle of Patrick Sullivan — Knoxville Saloonkeeper

By reading the the plaque that the City of Knoxville has affixed to Patrick Sullivan’s pre-Prohibition saloon, the impression is left of a progressive Irish gentleman who built the first brick structure in a shanty town, served blacks during the Jim Crow era, and gave women the equal right to enter his establishment.  Yet there also are stories of Sullivan’s saloon as a place where a fight broke out over Buffalo Bill’s Indians, a notorious bandit shot and killed two deputies, and a bordello operated on an upper floor.  Separating fact from fiction about this whiskey man is not easy.

Patrick Sullivan was born in August 1841 in County Kerry, Ireland, the son of Daniel and Mary Martin Sullivan.  A child during the Great Famine in his homeland, Patrick as a youngster immigrated with his family to the United States in the early 1850s.  The advent of the railroad brought Irish immigrants to Knoxville in droves, many of whom worked on the railroad and settled down in a shanty town, known as the “Bowery,” northeast of Knoxville’s main commercial area.  Patrick’s family were among them.

The Sullivans are remember in Knoxville for being one of the founding families of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, shown here.  While still in his teens, Patrick was a volunteers who helped build the church structure in 1855.  When the Civil War broke out the immigrant boy left Tennessee for Kentucky where he volunteered for the Union Army.  He is said to have seen combat and risen to the rank of captain during the war, although I can find no information about his combat service.

Sullivan returned to Knoxville immediately after the war and the same year was married.  His bride was Eileen F. Kavanaugh, born in Massachusetts of Irish immigrant parents.  She was only 15 or 16 when they wed, nine years younger than Patrick.  The couple would go on to have four children, two boys and two girls. 

The marriage may have spurred Sullivan into opening his first saloon and store, located in the Bowery.  The area was considered “seedy” by many Knoxvillians, known for its proliferation of saloons, brothels and wild nightlife.  The local Journal and Times newspaper commented that:  “In this district is congregated probably nine-tenths of the criminal element of the city (where) from 10 o’clock to midnight, of the entire section swarm with humanity.”  Yet many hardworking Irish also lived there and Sullivan accommodated them in his shanty-like frame drinking establishment adjacent to the Southern Railway depot.  He and his growing family lived upstairs. 

In addition to pouring liquor at the bar, Sullivan was decanting barrels, likely received by railroad, into smaller ceramic jugs.  He would have provided those to the public and to other saloons in the vicinity.   The labels of these containers identified those them as from “Dan and Pat’s Saloon.”  Dan Dewine was a fellow Irishman, born in Tennessee of immigrant parents and Pat’s close friend.

By 1888, Sullivan had accrued sufficient wealth to commission a three-story red brick Victorian building on the corner of Jackson and Central as his saloon.  Situated to face the corner, said one observer, the saloon was “attention grabbing.”  

Today the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, considered one of the best examples of a Nineteenth Century Southern drinking establishment.  Except for the chairs, the interior today is said to look much as it did in Sullivan’s day.  The saloon also acted as a magnet for erecting other permanent buildings in the Bowery — now known as the “Old City.”  

At his new corner saloon, Sullivan continued selling whiskey by the jugful.  Shown here is a half-gallon ceramic that features the new address — 100 North Central Street — and names his manager, R. H. Jones.  This jug recently sold at auction.  Although expected to fetch $600, it actually sold for $1,700, a whopping  price for a ceramic whiskey.

Despite the statement on the plaque above, I can find no other evidence that Sullivan served blacks in his saloon in defiance of Tennessee’s Jim Crow restrictions on racial mixing.  After 1872 the State had enacted 20 such laws including two that required segregation of public accommodations.   Adjacent to the Bowery, however, was a black area of Knoxville whose residents, according to historians, were welcomed in Bowery stores and reputedly in Sullivan’s saloon.   As for women, although saloons generally were “men only” some of the more elegant establishments like Patrick’s offered hospitality to “respectable” women.  No evidence exists of a bordello operating on an upper floor during Sullivan’s ownership of the building.

Sullivan’s tenure, however, apparently was not without incident.  The story is told that in October 1897, Buffalo Bill Cody and members of his troupe who had been performing in Knoxville, dropped in for a drink.  The group included several Sioux Indian performers who felt insulted by a “paleface” customer. A brawl ensued that ended only when Cody fired his six guns into the ceiling. Some believe although the showman is known to have visited the saloon, the incident may apocryphal. 

In 1902, under suspicion for a recent train robbery in which $40,000 was taken, the notorious outlaw Harvey Logan, aka “Kid Curry” from Butch Cassidy’s gang, was hiding out in Knoxville under the name “William Wilson.”  The story is told that Curry had stopped for a drink one night at Sullivan’s when a fight broke out.  Summon to the saloon were two deputy sheriffs — William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor.   Hating lawmen and quick to the trigger, Kid Curry, shown above, shot and killed them both.  He soon was captured and taken off to jail.  According to press accounts the charming and handsome Curry, shown here, had a steady stream of visitors in jail to hear his stories and get autographs.  A few months later the outlaw escaped, allegedly riding away on the sheriff’s horse.  While the incident has been verified, some sources identify the shootings happening elsewhere than Sullivan’s saloon.

In 1907, after a visit to the city from the famous hatchet-swinging prohibitionist, Carry Nation, Knoxville outlawed saloons.  Along with other publicans, Sullivan was forced to close his establishment by November 1.  His saloon hosted a massive party the night before, drinking up his stocks until the clock struck midnight.  The premises later became an ice cream shop.  In the 1910 census, Sullivan, giving his occupation as “farmer,” was found living in Knoxville with two adult sons and a sister.  Wife Eileen had died more than a decade earlier.  By the 1920 census, Patrick, now retired, had married again.  Her name was Margaret, a woman Tennessee born and 18 years younger than he. 

At the age of 84, Sullivan suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on September 5, 1925.  After a large Catholic funeral in the church he had helped  build years earlier, Patrick was interred in Knoxville’s Calvary Cemetery next to Eileen.  After a time the beautiful Queen Anne building Sullivan had fostered became vacant and lapsed into disrepair.  In 1986, however, a local businessman refurbished and reopened the structure as Patrick Sullivan’s Steakhouse and Saloon.  Thus has the Irish saloonkeeper continued to be remembered in Knoxville.

Note:  Although we bear the same surname, Patrick Sullivan is not a known relative.