Sunday, August 18, 2019

Frank Zaitz: The Midas Touch in Leadville

Between 1860 and World War I as many as 300,000 individuals are estimated to have left areas than now are part of Slovenia for the United States.  Early waves of migrants from that Balkan country were predominantly single men, many of them miners by occupation.  Among them was a six foot, two inch, 250 pound future saloonkeeper and liquor dealer destined to impact a Colorado mining town in multiple ways.  His name was Frank Zaitz. 

Zaitz was born in 1868 in a small village in the Gorica District of Central Slovenia, shown above.  His family appears to have been fairly prosperous, one brother becoming a doctor, another a priest.  At the age of 17, whether to avoid compulsory military service or a sheer sense of adventure, he left home for America, stopping first in Cleveland where some 30,000 to 40,000 Slovenians lived and worked.  Within a few months, hearing of a booming mining business in Colorado, in 1886 Zaitz headed west.

In 1875 two miners had discovered that black lead carbonate sand common in that area of Colorado was full of silver, triggering a human stampede that created a new town, eventually called Leadville.  By spring 1879 people were arriving by the hundreds every day and within months Leadville had a population of more than 10,000.  By the late 1880s the town held twenty-one smelters, separating silver from sand.  Zaitz found employment in one, working for ten years at a paltry $2.50 a day as mine owners became millionaires.

In 1894 Zaitz had saved enough money to marry.  His wife was Mary Bradach, also an immigrant from Slovenia.  By that time more than 1,500 Slovenian immigrants were living in Leadville and had their own Catholic parish church called St. Joseph’s, shown here.  There Frank and Mary wed.  The couple would have three children, Frank Jr., Mary and Angelina.  

Perhaps it was the impetus of his marriage and growing family that impelled Zaitz to quit the smelters and look for other opportunities.  Reckoning that the burgeoning population in town would need supplies, with a partner, H.W. Hart, in 1896 he founded the Hart-Zeitz Mercantile Company.  Zaitz was president. The “cash cow” of this enterprise was liquor.  The jug shown here would have been filled from whiskey barrels for sales to Leadville’s estimated 120 saloons, 31 restaurants, and its thirsty population.

Hart-Zelitz Mercantile seems to have been successful from the outset.  It opened outlets in nearby Colorado hamlets, Stringtown and Red Cliff.  It advertised widely and provided customers with colorful pictures, some on glass, to be hung on the walls of their homes.  As shown above, among subjects were herds of elks and a tender family portrait,

A second demand in Leadville was housing for single Slovenian men working in the smelters, as Zeitz had earlier. With his wife Mary listed as the housekeeper, Frank opened a boarding house similar to the one shown here.  He would sponsor his countrymen to come to the U.S. and give them jobs, most generated by contracts he secured for unloading coal, coke and other materials at the smelters and the Colorado Midland Railroad.  The Slovenians lived in his boarding house.  

Located on West Chestnut Street. the quarters contained a kitchen with a long table and a second story dormitory room over the saloon.  According to a descendant, new arrivals would be charged $20.00 a month for room and board, which was much of their earnings.  If they learned to speak English, he gave them an additional $5 a month.  If they learned to read and write, another $5. He has been described as a “generous and kind man, always creating goals for his fellow [Slovenian] immigrants.” Zaitz himself could speak English but never learned to read or write it.

Regardless of his lack of literacy Ziatz quickly proved to his fellow townsman, that he had “the Midas touch.”  In a town devoted to silver,  his endeavors seemed inevitably to turn to gold.  He acquired an entire block of Chestnut Street for his enterprises that included, in addition to his grocery and liquor outlet,  a drug store, butcher shop, bakery, sausage maker, ladies’ and mens’ wear, shoe emporium, hardware and furniture stores.  Shown here is one of Zaitz’s original buildings as it looks today in Leadville.

Other properties included a ranch outside of town where Zaitz produced dairy products and other items for his grocery, the Emmett Mine in Leadville, the St. Louis Gold Mining Company, and the Small Hope Mine in LaPlata County.  Additionally he was a major stockholder in the First National Bank of Glenwood Springs, the Coors beer distributor from Leadville to the Utah line, and co-owned the Colorado Hotel in Glenwood Springs, shown below.   When the state went “dry,” in 1916, the loss of the liquor profits that had fueled his enterprises no longer was critical to Zaitz’s economic success.  He branched out into the automotive field owning a Nash car dealership and a service garage.

After his son, Frank Jr., was killed in a mountain auto accident while on family business in 1934, Zaitz was reported to have lost interest in his businesses.  His health declined and after a two week illness in May 1936 he died at the age of 68.  He was given a Requiem Mass from St. Joseph Church and buried in Leadville’s Holy Cross Cemetery.  The Zeitz family plot is shown here.  

Accounted a multi-millionaire at his passing, the Colorado commercial and mining empire Zaitz had created was inherited by his daughter, Angelina, and her husband.  They proved to be inadequate managers and within a few years Zaitz’s holdings largely had been dissipated.

Nonetheless, during the fifty years Zaitz had lived in Leadville, he had touched and often transformed the lives of thousands.  A tribute to his memory that appeared in the Leadville Herald Democrat on June 1, 1936, encapsulated his story:  “The career of Frank Zaitz shows America was a land of opportunity in a fight against the odds.  He progressed from the hardest manual labor and unfavorable environment to material success with a position of importance in the community.”

Note:  The appearance of the Zaitz jug shown here on an online auction site led me to try to discover more about the whiskey dealer behind it.  That resulted in my finding online a four page essay by Ms. Nancy Carter entitled “Frank Zaitz & Zaitz Merchantile.”  The article appears without any reference to its original publication.   It was the principal source of the information provided here. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Whiskey Men and the Automotive Age

Foreword:  By dating the dawning of the automotive age as 1908 when Ford made its first Model T, the next 12 years before the imposition of National Prohibition allowed those involved in the liquor business to engage themselves in varying degees with the on-rush of the “horseless carriage.”  Each of the four "whiskey men" profiled here had his own special experience with the motor car. 

Dodge City, Kansas, above, was known as the roughest, toughest, most lawless town in the West.  It was, that is, until Chalkley “Chalk” Beeson, shown here, came to run the famous Long Branch Saloon, stayed to help bring law and order, and in the process organize a highly celebrated cowboy band that played at a Presidential inaugural. 

Beeson has been seen as a transitional figure, living long enough to see the wild West tamed or, as the Kansas City Star put it:  “One may now walk the streets of Dodge City and Abilene, and by exercising reasonable control of his mouth, may get back to the hotel without being carried on a screen door.”  The photo below, showing Beeson, center, standing as repairs are made to an early automobile, epitomizes the changing times. The age of horse transportation was ending. 

For Beeson, however, perhaps not soon enough.  In August 1912, he was sitting on a horse at his ranch watching a nearby construction crew.  A sudden noise spooked the animal.  It bucked and Chalk was thrown hard against the saddle horn causing internal rupturing. The man who had survived for years amidst the constant dangers of Dodge City could not be saved.  Three days later, Beeson died at the age 64.  

Deemed by some a “historic figure” of the American West, Warren Richardson Jr. , shown here arrived in  newly founded Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a toddler and stayed there for the rest of his life, devoting himself to the advancement of that frontier town. Richardson’s efforts included meeting the needs of the populace for alcohol and other pleasures he called the Tivoli Saloon.  

During the early 1900s Richardson developed a new passion:  Fast cars.  Described as “an enthusiastic member of the Cheyenne Motor Club, he threw several thousand dollars and his abundant energies into creating a four mile race track outside of town.  A 1917 issue of Automobile Dealer and Repairer magazine reported:  “Mr. Richardson worked unceasingly, and it was not long before what had been a stretch of prairie was transformed into a hard packed level race track.”   

Barney Oldfield, the celebrated early race driver, was enticed by Richardson to Cheyenne in his 200 H.P. Benz and created two new world records.  A photo exists of Oldfield sitting behind the wheel of his machine.  Richardson is standing coatless at the left of Oldfield.  

When John Withers, shown here in maturity, was growing up in a distilling family,  he may have  thought there were better ways to make a living and so he became a jeweler.   After working about 23 years at that trade he apparently decided that the real “gold ring” was captured by making whiskey.  And so created the Withers Distillery in Allenville, Missouri.  

With the coming of the motor car,  Withers became obsessed.  With the profits from his distillery, he bought an expensive convertible machine, one in which he could seat his entire family of eight.  According to one account, the family “takes delight in taking a spin in the high-powered car that Mr. Withers owns and operates.”  There is a marvelous 1913 photograph of the Withers clan in their automobile. 

Sitting proudly in the front seat is Distiller John, his wife and baby Opal.  In the back seat, seemingly somewhat crowded are Roy, Adam, Eddie, Myrtle and Waldo.  Note that the steering wheel is on the right side. 

“It will pay you to meet me,” claimed Abraham Freemanpictured here, the flamboyant proprietor of a “cut price” liquor business in Atlantic City, New Jersey.   Men named Brown, Fleming and Sooy would have taken issue with that assertion.  They probably would have been much happier had they never met Freeman.  

The three men figured in a bizarre episode in Freeman’s life:  While automobiles were not an entirely new conveyance, they were expensive and many people, including Abe, did not own one but he liked “joy riding” with friends around town and the countryside.   In 1913 Freeman engaged a vehicle from one William Brown who rented out his open touring car for $4 an hour (almost $100 in present currency) and provided a chauffeur, in this case Mr. Fleming.   

Loading the automobile with friends,  Freeman jumped into the front seat beside driver and they took off.  Enroute, a gust of wind blew Fleming’s hat in the air and in an effort to catch it he let go of the steering wheel momentarily.  Seizing the opportunity to drive, Freeman grabbed the wheel.  The car swerved to the side of the road and crashed into a ditch.  According to an account given in court:  “All the occupants of the car were more or less injured and Fleming sustained a dislocated shoulder.”  

Freeman’s troubles had just begun. The car was left where it had been ditched and Abe hied off to the nearest inhabited place where he met, likely for the first time, Mr. Sooy.  He hired Sooy and some bystanders on the spot to remove Brown’s damaged car from the ditch.  By the time the party returned to the scene of the accident, it had turned dark. 

They carried a gas lantern to assist their work, sitting it on the ground to light the scene.  As they began to remove the vehicle an odor of gasoline was detected where it apparently had leaked from the gas tank and soaked into the earth.  In an instant the flame from the lantern touched off the fumes and the ground caught fire, spreading quickly to Brown’s expensive automobile.  The vehicle swiftly was consumed by flames and rendered a total loss.   

When Brown sued Freeman for damages, the liquor dealer contended that it was Sooy’s fault and he himself bore no responsibility.  The court of first jurisdiction disagreed and told him to pay up.  Continuing to object, Freeman appealed the verdict to the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals. There the result was the same.  Sooy was found to be in the employ of Freeman and as the employer Freeman was liable.  He paid.  It is doubtful that Abe ever went “joy riding” again.

Note:  Each of these whiskey men has been treated in a longer biography elsewhere on this blog. Chalk Beeson, August 17, 2014;  Warren Richardson, March 12, 1914; John Withers, April 3, 2013; and Abe Freeman, July 10, 2014.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Gottsteins Challenged “Dry” Washington

“Dry” forces had been gaining strength in the State of Washington for years.  In 1909 under pressure from the Anti-Saloon League, voters passed a “local option” law and followed it in 1914 with a referendum that banned the manufacture and sale of liquor statewide.  While most Washington whiskey men simply shut down, the Gottsteins, Meyer and Kassel, owners of a large Seattle liquor house, refused to give up without a fight. 

The Gottsteins likely were cousins, not brothers.  Meyer was the eldest, born in April 1848, in what was a part of Poland then ruled by Russia, son of Joseph and Augusta (Maroussen) Gottstein.  Kassel was born in 1854, the son of Aaron and Esther Gottstein.  His birthplace is variously given as Germany or Russia.  Meyer at age 17 was the first to emigrate, sailing from Hamberg, Germany in July 1865, accord to a passport application.  He settled initially in Burlington, Iowa, where he became a citizen in 1871, and then moved to Seattle.  Kassel followed in 1879, attaining citizenship in Seattle in 1892.

While Washington was still a territory in 1884, accounted as pioneers, the Gottsteins opened their first liquor house in Seattle.  As Kassel later told a reporter:  “We came across the plains in 1883, before the Northern Pacific was completed, and opened the first wholesale liquor store in Seattle.  We came to Seattle when the town was small and grew up with the people.”  Dealing in liquor, wine and cigars, the company, called “M. & K. Gottstein,” first located at 720 Front Street.  Within ensuing years during which Washington became a state, the partners moved to 205 Commercial Street.

Although Kassel commented to the press that the Gottsteins had gone through some “hard times.” the frequent moves of the firm seem to indicate continuous growth and the need for additional space.  In the 1890s they moved to 610 First Avenue.  Shown above is one of those early Gottstein stores.  My hunch is that among the six men standing in the entrance are Meyer and Kassel.

Meanwhile each man was having a personal life.  In 1889 in Multnomah, Oregon, Meyer at 41 married Rosa Wolf, a woman seventeen years younger than he.  She had been born in California, the child of German immigrants.  In quick succession they would have two children, Gertrude and Joseph. Earlier, in 1873, Kassel had married Rose Morgenstern in Seattle, of a similar age, who had been born in Germany.  They would have five children.

By 1900, apparently needing still more space, M. & K. Gottstein Co., now considered “one of the very considerable wholesale houses in the Northwest,” moved to 108 Yesher Way.  This building, shown above, allowed for considerable advertising, including a large sign depicting a man on horseback, presumably Theodore Roosevelt, advertising “Rough Rider Roosevelt Rye,” a clear effort to profit by the President’s popularity.  The sign was visible for blocks.

The partners reported growing by 25 percent annually and now were accounted the largest liquor dealers in the state. Their sales area included all of Washington and Alaska, and they were beginning to develop customers in Japan.  “They believe thoroughly in expansion,” said a promotional brochure, “and think that with a few years Seattle will be doing a very large trade with all of the principal points in the Orient.”

Continuous expansion caused the partners in 1903 to decide to erect their own building in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square, that once had been the center of the city.  They constructed a five story brick structure known as the Gottstein Building at the corner of Jackson Street and First Avenue South.  It boasted brick walls with a sandstone veneer. They would remain in that building until shut down by prohibition. The Gottstein Building currently is a candidate for the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Gottsteins had more than a dozen employees at headquarters and at least three salesmen on the road.  Among them were several of their sons.  Directories list Harry and Louis Gottstein as clerks and Jacob and Moses Gottstein, a cousin, as managers.  All were involved in selling the company flagship brand “Pacific Club, trademarked in 1905, as well as other labels, including “Gold Bar Whiskey” and “Monogram Maryland Rye.  

The company was “rectifying,” i.e. blending, many of these whiskeys on premises and packaging them in cylinder bottles holding 4/5ths of a quart and in flasks.  The bottles are shown here in a photograph and in illustrations from “Whisky Bottles and Liquor Containers from the State of Washington” by John L. Thomas (1998). Thomas identifies many variations of M. & K. Gottstein bottles, now avidly sought by collectors of Western whiskeys.  From examples found from time to time, it is evident that most if not all originally bore paper labels.  The embossed Native American in a canoe, shown here, likely was replicated in a colorful drawing.

As their business expanded, Meyer, Kassel, and other Gottsteins in their employ  must have been aware of the growing prohibitionary pressures building in Washington State.  Passage of the “local option” law in 1909 meant that wholesale and mail order sales to those areas were all but foreclosed.  They must have watched with acute interest as the state’s women after obtaining the right to vote in 1910 swelled the ranks of “dry” supporters.  Female voters in 1914 contributed to the 189,840 (against 171,208) majority for banning statewide all sales of liquor.  The initiative failed in Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma, rejected by city folks, but it made no difference.

While most liquor dealers and saloons meekly surrendered to the results, M. & K. Gottstein Co. would not.  Instead, the owners on January 12, 1914, filed suit in Superior Court in Olympia, the state capital.  There a judge, obviously no friend to the temperance movement, granted the company a request for a restraining order prohibiting the governor from issuing a proclamation declaring the alcohol ban to be enforceable state law.  The company also obtained restraining orders against other state officials responsible for certifying the vote result.

Kassel had died in 1912, age 57, leaving Meyer to carry on the liquor business with Kassel’s son, Jacob Gottstein, born in 1879.  The two men were the driving force behind the suit. They contended that having been lawfully engaged in the wholesale liquor business for many years, they had a large stock of liquor on hand and significant capital invested in their business.  If the state ban were put into place they claimed their financial losses would be the equivalent of $4.4 million in today’s dollars.  In effect, the Gottsteins had sufficient “standing” to sue.

Their legal argument was based on two technicalities.  First, the Gottstein’s contended that the wording of the initiative did not comply with the requirements of state law and thereby was not legally submitted to and adopted by voters, and second, that the bill in the state legislature authorizing the vote had been improperly entered into the journals of both houses and thus invalidated. In July 2015, a less sympathetic Superior Court judge dismissed the case against enforcing the referendum and Governor Earl Lister , shown here, announced it would be enforced.  Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Gottsteins took the case to the Washington State Supreme Court.  In a multi-page decision the nine jurists voted unanimously to uphold the earlier verdict.  M. & K. Gottstein after 31 years in business shut its doors forever.

Two years later in June 1917 Meyer Gottstein died.  Jacob and other family members who had worked for the wholesale liquor house moved on to other occupations.  At Gottstein family gatherings, however, I speculate that they recalled the determined, yea stubborn, efforts of Meyer and Kassel to succeed, including the latter’s explanation for the partners’ success:  “…We have built up our business by treating our customers honestly and fairly — giving them value received.”

Note:  In addition to the Thomas book already cited, a prime source of information for this vignette was a 1900 pamphlet entitled “Seattle and the Orient,” a souvenir edition edited and compiled by Alfred D. Bowen and published by the Seattle Daily Times.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Peebles’ Choice: Liquor and Groceries in Cincinnati

The Peebles family fashioned a Cincinnati business that not only advertised itself as the “largest distributor of pure food products in the Ohio Valley”  but boasted of being “largest handlers of pure, ripe, old, mellow whiskies in the United States.”  True claims or not, the Joseph R. Peebles Sons Company epitomized how liquor sales meant profits and success for a pre-Prohibition “fancy” grocery.

The Peebles claimed 1840 as the origins of their grocery.  Actually the store had been founded, as one author put it:  “Way back in the early days of Cincinnati, when forest trees and open country abounded.”  A trio of enterprising youths opened a grocery store downtown selling tea, coffee and sugar.  Within a year they sold out to William Sharp Peebles, who had migrated to southern Ohio from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  In 1840 William hired a younger brother to help him — Joseph Rusk Peebles who had been laboring for little money in a Cincinnati furniture factory.

Shown here, Joseph R. proved to have a genius for the mercantile trade.  After twelve years working with his brother, he purchased an entire interest in the firm.   Joseph R. had an eye for “fancy” groceries, buying pricey English and French goods, fine foreign wines, and stocking an array of whiskey and other liquor.  One of his mottos was:  “The remembrance of quality lingers long after price has been forgotten.”  

Joseph R. also originated the idea of delivering orders free of charge to customer homes with a horse and wagon, a first such service in Cincinnati.  The business flourished under the management of this Peebles.  The company marked its founding at 1840 when he went to work there.

In 1864, at only age 46, the health of Joseph R. began to falter and two sons, Joseph S. and Edwin C. Peebles, increasingly assumed management responsibilities.  When their father died two years later, the brothers carried on for three years while the estate was being adjudicated and then purchased the goodwill and stock, renaming the business the Joseph R. Peebles Sons Company.  In 1872, Joseph S. bought out his brother and became the sole proprietor.

As the business continued to grow under direction of Joseph S. a need was felt for more space and the company moved to the ground floor of the prestigious Pike’s Opera House building on Fourth Street, shown here.  The store was seen by the local press as “one of the handsomest establishments of its kind in the United States.  The space created by this move allowed Peebles to market his own brands of whiskey, likely bought from Kentucky distillers by the barrel and decanted into bottles and sold at wholesale and retail.  House brands included “Peebles Sweet Hickory” and “Peebles Old Cabinet.”  A company liquor department is illustrated below.

The company also claimed to be authorized bottlers for “Mellwood" and “Normandy” whiskeys.  These were two premium brands from the Louisville-based Mellwood Distilling Company, owned by George Swearingen. [See my post on this organization posted October 8, 2015.]  The illustration of Peebles’ wholesale operation below prominently features Mellwood Bourbon.  The organization also was distributing Hiram Walker & Sons well-regarded “Canadian Club.” 


The company also was selling a line of fine wines, many imported from Europe as well as native vintages. It trademarked its own brands of beer, ale, and cheese.  Imported and domestic cigars were refreshed weekly.  A special stogie, “Bouquet de Joseph R. Peebles Sons” was made for the store by a noted Key West manufacturer.  Additionally, according to an observer:  “Bissingers fine French confections and all the finer staples of the grocery trade are handled.”   Those included champagne, Russian caviar and pate de fois gras.

In Joseph S. also established branches of the main establishment on Cutter Street and in 1883 on the northeast corner of East McMillian Street and Gilbert Avenue in the Walnut Hills section of Cincinnati.  The location was a gateway to western Cincinnati neighborhoods and a crossroads for trolley routes.  Shown here, the site soon widely became known as “Peeble’s Corners.”  Word was that Joseph S. had bribed streetcar motormen with cigars and groceries to call out that name at his stop.

When the rents spiked at Pike’s Opera House, Joseph S. decided to move to Cincinnati’s Government Square.  He bought a lot on the south side, tore down a former grocery store and an adjacent building to constructed a six story building shown above at right. It included a basement wine cellar twenty feet deep.  This facility gave Peebles even more room to store liquor barrels and cases to supply a growing wholesale and mail order trade. The purchase of a full case of Peebles Old Cabinet whiskey would bring the buyer a dozen medal cork screws. For customers like saloons and restaurants the company provided advertising shot glasses.

Under the leadership of Joseph S., the business continued to grow.  It was the first mercantile house in Cincinnati to have a Bell telephone and among the first to introduce typewriters and other machines into the front office.  Joseph himself moved among the elite of the city, even befriending Grover Cleveland on the former President’s visits to Lake Erie on fishing trips.   As Joseph S. aged, however, his health declined and he died at the age of 71 in March 1916.  He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, in a plot not far from his father.  Their headstones are shown below.

The business carried on under the Peebles name until 1931 when the economic pressures of the National Depression are said to have forced the closing of the Government Square headquarters and two branches, including Peebles’ Corners.  Said one observer:  “The ‘fancy groceries’ that Peebles was noted for became luxuries that few could afford….”  

Just as important, I would contend, was the advent of National Prohibition that cut off all of Peebles’ highly profitable trade in alcohol.  Whiskey and wine had been the company’s life blood; termination after 91 years in business may have been inevitable after their sale was banned in 1921. 

Notes:  The information for this post was gathered from a number of sources, of which two were primary:  1) The publication “The Industries of Cincinnati:  Manufacturing, Establishments and Business Houses,”  The Metropolitan Publishing Co., 1886.  No author(s) given.  2) An informative website called Cincinnati Views authored by Don Prout from which I have used illustrations of the Peebles stores, inside and out.  My attempts to reach Mr. Prout by email on this use so far have been unavailing.

Friday, August 2, 2019

L. J. Logan: Boston Whiskey in War and Peace

Throughout most of is career heading a major Boston liquor house, Lawrence J. Logan was known as “Colonel” in recognition of his leading the famed Ninth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, better known as the “Irish Regiment,” into battle during the Spanish-American War.  Although the unit had gained national fame for courage during continuous pitched battles in the Civil War, it also suffered significant casualties in the brief war with Spain.  The banner above memorializes the Irish regiment.

Born in Balllygar, County Galway, Ireland, in 1841, Logan, shown right, received his early education there and emigrated to the United States at the age of 16, settling initially in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He spent the next few years in a Worcester foundry apprenticing in the iron moulding industry.  By that time his brother, Peter Logan, who had preceded him to America was running a saloon and liquor store in Boston.  In 1862, Lawrence joined him there.

The young Irishman did not immediately volunteer for Civil War service, joining the “Ninth Mass”  in 1865 as the conflict was winding down.  In April, 1866, he was elected first lieutenant of Company D, serving in a reserve capacity, and promoted to captain in 1869.  According to a biographer, Logan developed “a love for military life” and after a brief period away from the regiment, he re-enlisted in 1879 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.  

With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Logan, now 57 years old, determined to participate and with the Ninth Mass. was mustered into regular service.  With his fellow Irishmen, he entrained in late May from Massachusetts to Camp Alger, Virginia.   There the regiment received additional training before embarking on June 26 from Newport News, Virginia, on the U.S.S. Harvard. Shown here, the Navy cruiser landed in Cuba on July 1, 1898.

Almost immediately the commanding officer, Colonel Bogan, became violently ill and had to be returned to the U.S.  Lt. Col. Logan took command.  Almost immediately there was trouble.  On 4 July 1898, a remnant of the 9th Mass. was guarding Spanish prisoners of war held inside the Harvard.  A guard ordered a prisoner who was attempting to enter a forbidden area to sit down. The prisoner did not understand English and the guard fired a warning shot causing other prisoners to stand up. Fearing the prisoners were about to attack, guards opened fire, killing six prisoners and wounding thirteen more.  A subsequent Army investigation concluded, however, that the shootings had been a tragic mistake and no blame was attached. The event became known as The Harvard Incident.

At the time Col. Logan was leading the main body of the regiment to the fighting front.  It required an all-night march through forested and swampy ground that one writer termed “tedious and memorable.”  After a brief halt in the morning, the advance continued and by noon of the same day the regiment arrived at field headquarters. With Logan leading, the Massachusetts volunteers were assigned key positions in trenches on the extreme left of the siege of Santiago, shown here.  There the regiment experienced fierce combat and significant casualties from hostile fire and disease, recording 129 fatalities, including four commission officers.

Two days after the surrender of the Spanish-held Cuban city, the 9th Mass. was ordered to secure a swampy area nearby that was a breeding ground for disease.  Soon after, Col. Logan was stricken with yellow fever that prevented him from undertaking further command duties.  He was ordered home and after weeks of care and treatment he regain much of his heath. 

One month later Logan was commissioned as a full colonel to replace Col. Bogan who had died in the interim.  Then he and the regiment were mustered out of federal service and returned to reserve status.  Logan remained with the regiment until 1902.  Meanwhile, the Irish immigrant was conducting both a personal and professional life. 

When Logan marched off to Cuba, he left behind his wife of twenty-five years, the former Catherine Mary O’Connor, and eight children, six sons and two daughters.  They ranged in age from 24 to 5 years old.  By this time he had sufficient wealth to domicile them in an impressive four-story home at 560 East Broadway in Boston.  Also in the household were two Irish women, mother and daughter, as servants.

Logan’s rise in Boston’s business circles had been rapid.  After joining his sibling in the whiskey trade in 1866 the name of the wholesale and retail liquor establishment was changed to P. J. Logan and Brother.  Within seven years Lawrence took over the business completely.  As it continued to grow, he was selling his whiskey wholesale in large ceramic jugs with his name incised in the clay. 

The contents likely were drawn from regional distilleries in barrels that his staff would decant into jugs for sale to Boston saloons, restaurants and hotels.  The customers in turn would pour them into smaller containers for selling over the bar. Eventually the scope of Logan’s sales would cause social historian Dennis Ryan to declare him the “baron of Boston’s liquor business.”

For his retail customers, Logan marketed a single brand that he called “Pride of Boston.”  Shown below is a clear glass quart flask that held his whiskey.  This originally bore a paper label identifying the brand.  Since Pride of Boston was his flagship, the assumption might be that Logan registered the name with federal authorities.  A shot glass indicates that he claimed a trademark on the name.  No evidence exists, however, that he ever actually registered the brand with the government.

The Irishman also took an interest in making beer.  In 1828 a group of Boston merchants had founded a brewery in South Boston to “slake the thirst of Irish laborers working the docks and construction sites of the city,”  As the brewery, shown here, passed from generation to generation it experienced both good and bad years.  During his ascendancy Logan, using profits from liquor sales, began investing in the property until he eventually owned the Boston Beer Company outright.  The brewery is shown here in a promotional trade card he issued. 

By the turn of the 20th Century, by one account:  “Lawrence Logan was raking it in as head of the company.  There were at least eighteen large breweries operating in and around Boston, but the Galway-man’s outfit dominated the “Irish market,” the pubs in the Irish wards serving up barrel after barrel of ‘suds’ brewed at the corner of D and Second Streets.  In the neighborhood stores, Logan’s wares were well represented.”

The colonel’s business and military prowess carried him into South Boston political prominence.  For many years he was a member of the Democratic City Committee and for four years served as treasurer.  In 1886 and 1887 he was elected to the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, a governmental body that provides legislative and advisory functions to the governor in matters such as judicial nominations, pardons and commutation.  

According to a contemporary account: “Shortly afterward, owing to the necessity of devoting all his time to  his rapidly increasing business, he retired from active participation in politics….”  Those business interests also included banking.  Logan became a director of the Mattapan Deposit and Trust Company, the Federal Trust Company, and the South Boston Building Association, and a trustee of the Dorchester Savings Bank, shown here. 

One advantage of having many sons for a whiskey man was the possibility of having them upon maturity take part in the father’s business.  In Logan’s case, two younger sons, Theo and Francis, were recorded in the federal census as working with him in his liquor house and later in the brewery.
Lawrence’s eldest son, Edward Logan, was sent to Harvard where he obtained a law degree.  When the Spanish-American War broke out, Edward joined the 9th Mass. but, unlike his father, was kept stateside in an administrative post.  

As Lawrence before him, Edward found military life quite compatible with his interest in law and politics.   Continuing to rise in rank with the regiment, in 1912 he became its colonel.  With the outbreak of World War I, the 9th Massachusetts once more was mobilized.  Edward, second from left in the helmet, is shown in France with his staff, commanded the regiment in battle.  His ability recognized by the Army, he ultimately was raised to major general and later headed the National Guard Association of the United States.  Boston’s Logan Airport is named in his honor.

As he saw his son rise through the ranks of the military, Lawrence Logan must have been very proud.   During the same period, however, he was witnessing the onset of National Prohibition and the end of his liquor business and curtailment of his brewery, which stayed open after 1920 making only “near beer” and soft beverages.  Logan died in June 1921, age 80.  His funeral service was conducted by another son, Leo, who had become a Catholic priest.  Lawrence was buried in Boston’s Mt. Calvary Cemetery where Catherine Mary, his wife of 47 years, later would join him. 

Coming to America as an impoverished sixteen year old immigrant from Galway, Lawrence Logan had risen through his success in the sale of alcohol and his distinguished military service into the ranks of Boston elite, a heritage carried on by members of his family.  The Logans clearly made their mark in Beantown.

Note:  Although the information for this vignette was obtained from multiple sources, the most important was a 1901 biography of Col. Logan that was a part of the publication, “History of South Boston  (Its Past and Present) and Prospects for the Future” by John J. Toomey and Edward P. B. Rankin, published in Boston by the authors.   Quotes unless otherwise unattributed are from that source.