Sunday, March 26, 2023

Bond and Lilliard, Kentucky Distillers — Revisited



Foreword:  On May 9, 2022, this website featured a post that celebrated the successful whiskey making partnership of brothers-in-law William F. Bond and Christopher C. Lillard in Anderson County, Kentucky.  At that time, it was evident that some Internet sources about the Bond family as distillers contained misinformation.  Subsequently a descendant, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been in touch with me about those errors.  The informant, whom I shall call “BD” for Bond Descendant, also has added interesting new information about this prominent distilling clan.  As a result I am devoting this post to BD’s commentary and suggest it be read along with the original article.


BD at the outset straightens out Bond family early relationships, beginning with William, who may or may not have operated a still, through the life of  his son, John, a known distiller:

Original pioneer William Bond was the Revolutionary War veteran so often referred to who travelled to Kentucky (circa 1785) from Hanover County, Virginia to claim his land grant awarded for his war service on Bailey’s Run in what is now Anderson County (Lawrenceburg), Kentucky.  After his first wife, Sarah Ballou, died in Virginia, he later married Sarah Cranson Bond of neighboring Woodford County, KY in December of 1790. 

William and Sarah Bond’s son, John, was operating his first distillery near Bailey’s Run by 1810.  This distillery was sold by John’s sons around 1850 to Jeff Mountjoy. (John had died in 1842. He was only 51 years old). This distillery was sold again and became the Waterfill and Frazier Distillery, which was eventually sold to the Dowlings, who moved it to Juarez, Mexico during Prohibition. 

John Bond’s first wife was Mary “Polly” Johnson.  John married his second wife Sarah (Sallie) Utterback after Mary died at only 29-30 years of age in 1825.  There were four children born to that first marriage of John and Polly Bond:  David, who was born in 1814; Melinda in 1816; John Wilkerson “Wix” in 1820 (my great-great grandfather); and Medley Shelton in 1822.  

After John’s second marriage to Sarah (Sallie) Utterback that took place in September of 1825, William Franklin Bond (namesake of his pioneer grandfather) was born in 1826.  Ben Jordan followed in 1829; then Lewis in 1833. Four more daughters completed the Bond family:  Eliza Jane in 1835; Frances in 1837;  Susan Margaret in 1840, and Sarah Elizabeth in 1842. 

John Bond's second distillery was operating in the vicinity of Bailey’s Run by 1820.  In 1836 John moved it close to his home (called Forest Hill) on the banks of Cedar Brook. 

BD now takes the story to a third generation of Bonds as they continued the family distilling tradition:

John Bond died intestate in October of 1842. Court appointed overseers divided the estate among John’s 11 children, with the two eldest males, David and John Wilkerson, inheriting the house, surrounding acreage and the still.  The remaining 9 children received parcels of land. David and John W. made improvements to both the still and the house and eventually clad the existing log structure in white clapboard and added the two story Greek Revival portico that still to this day adorns the front of the home.  They also added at least one cabin to the grounds; most likely to house the enslaved. 

John W. Bond sold his interest in Forest Hill (house, land and still) to brother David on May 30th, 1845 for $335.  John “Wix” and his wife, Margaret Penney Bond, then headed to what is  now known as the Bond’s Mill/Fox Creek Road area and built a two story clapboard home on their newly purchased farm. 

BD records the ascendancy of William F. Bond as the ultimate successor of his father to the Bond distillery:

David continued making improvements to the Bond Forest Hill property and then in February of 1852, David sold the still, house and grounds to his young half brother, William F. Bond, for $1,650.  William F. would have been 25 years old at that time and had married Susan (not Sarah) Mary Hanks, daughter of Turner and Nancy Holman Hanks.  (Incidentally, William F.’s older half brother, Medley Shelton Bond, married Mary Jane Hanks, the sister of William F’s wife, Susan). So sisters married brothers.

William F. later added the east wing to the existing structure of the house.  This addition completed the home to the structure that exists today (a picture of this home is posted in your blog).  After David and his wife, Lucy, sold Forest Hill to William F, they also headed to the area that is now known as Bonds Mill Road. David purchased and operated the mill located at Salt River, and also built a large brick home up on the hill just past the west bank of the river.  David and his family ran the mill for several generations—thus the area became known as Bond’s Mill Road. 

There are numerous indications that David and John Wilkerson were still involved in the operation of the Bond distillery even after David sold to his younger brother. Family documents exist that show contracts for future delivery of Bond brand bourbon written by John Wilkerson Bond (“Wix”) in 1856, and grain for the local distilleries was also ground at David’s mill. 

BD introduces William’s brother-in-law, Christopher C. Lillard, who has joined the Bond distilling operation as a full partner:

William F. Bond brought his brother in law, C. C. Lillard, into the distillery as partner in 1869.  This was the birth of the Bond & Lillard brand.  Incidentally (or not), 1869 is also the year that David Bond died.  1869 was a horrific year for the extended Bond family. Mother/step mother Sallie Utterback Bond, brothers Ben Jordan and David Bond, John Wix’s daughter, Malinda Bond Hackley, and her infant daughter, all died within just months of each other.  

Contrary to popular but misguided assumptions, the Bond and Lillard Distillery has NEVER been located on Bonds Mill Road.  There have been other Bond family distilleries located there, such as the M.S. Bond Distillery that is now Four Roses, as well as the post Prohibition Bonds Mill Distillery, later known as the Bond & Johnson Distillery (owned by Robert E. Johnson—great grandson of John Bond) and his father Jesse M. Johnson, but the Bond and Lillard Distillery was never located there.  From the time it was moved from Baileys Run in 1836 until local operations ceased, the Bond and Lillard Distillery was always located at the end of Bond Lillard Road, just past the Forest Hill estate (now privately owned property). 

BD concludes by clarifying the background of an ad for the Nancy Hanks whiskey brand that appeared in my original article, the image repeated below: 

Now, in reference to the John Bond & Co. Distillery advertisement you posted in reference to the Nancy Hanks brand—yes, this is the same extended Hanks family that produced the mother of Abraham Lincoln. Lots of families in Lawrenceburg have blood connections to Abraham Lincoln, including Yours Truly through Lincoln’s Abbott/White great grandparents.  The Hanks and Sparrow surnames are numerous and common in Lawrenceburg, both dating back to pioneer days.  In this case, however, I believe (if I’m not mistaken and I just cannot find my records where I came across this), I do believe that this particular distillery with the Bond name but based in Lexington was born from a descendant of William F.’s half brother, Medley Shelton Bond.  I just can’t remember which one it was.  

This bourbon was most likely a triple play on the Nancy Hanks name. Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln, had a champion harness trotter horse named after her as pictured on the label.  Nancy Hanks was also the name of a Bond maternal grandmother (Nancy Holman Hanks, to be specific). 

Note:  My gratitude goes to the Bond Descendant who has added so much rich detail to the Bond and Lilliard story and helped straighten out details of the Bond family that have too often been garbled on the Internet.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Preachers As Whiskey Men

Foreword:  Given the leadership of Protestant clergy in the movement to halt the making and sales of alcoholic beverages in the United State, it may come as a surprise that a few preachers were themselves distillers of whiskey.  Following are vignettes of three such men, including one whose name today appears on a national selling brand.

Corn liquor distilled in central Virginia about 1620 has been cited as the first whiskey ever made in North America, sometimes hailed as “a predecessor to modern-day bourbon.”  The distiller was George Thorpe (1576-1622), who came to the New World from England with the objective of converting the indigenous population to Christianity.  It cost him his life.

Trained in British law and, by some accounts, an ordained priest of the Anglican Church, Thorpe arrived in The New World in March 1620. His contacts and reputation earned him immediate recognition as a leader at the Berkeley Hundred, a Virginia settlement on the James River.  The newly arrived Englishman put his efforts toward making Berkeley function agriculturally.  The colonists having been introduced to corn by the Indians, he looked to make the crop potable.  Earlier settlers providently had brought a copper still.  Thorpe set about to turn corn into alcohol.  In December 1620 he wrote a friend:  “Wee have found a waie to make soe good drink of Indian corn I have divers times refused to drink good stronge English beare and chose to drinke that.”   Those spirits would have been clear in color and more akin to “moonshine” or “white lightening”  than contemporary whiskey. 

Thorpe also was charged with converting the Indians to Christianity. He seemed to score an early success when a chief of the Powhatan tribe named Opechancanough (meaning “Soul of White”) agreed to meet with him.  The Indian seemed welcoming and open to converting to Christianity. Far from conversion, however, Opechancanough was the leading tribal voice for expelling white men from Native American territory. On the night of March 22, 1622, the Indians struck in a coordinated attack against English settlements along the James.  An estimated 347 men, women and children were slaughtered.   Among them was George Thorpe, apparently the object of particular fury, his mutilated body parts found strewn widely over the bloody ground.


Anointing Thorpe as America’s first distiller seems reasonable, since he apparently was the first to write about it.  Whether his product is to be considered the forerunner of modern day whiskey requires examination.  Author Patrick Evans-Hylton makes the case that Thorpe’s “corn beer” was a predecessor of bourbon.  He cites an 1634 inventory of Thorpe’s estate in which a copper still with three small barrels of liquor were found, opened and drunk.  At that point the contents had aged at least 12 years and likely had achieved some color from the wood.  No longer just “moonshine,” the color of Thorpe’s spirits might have resembled bourbon even if the taste almost certainly did not.


Elijah Craig (1738-1808) was born in Orange County, Virginia.  From his boyhood he displayed unusual intellectual gifts, with a strong streak of religiosity.  Virginia was state where all residents were required by law to tithe to the Anglican Church and attend Anglican worship at least once a month.  The official faith was deemed by elite Virginians as essential element of the Commonwealth’s social structure.  Other theological ideas were in the air, however, with Baptists considered by many to be particularly dangerous.

Nevertheless,  Craig was drawn to Baptist beliefs and in the mid-1860s began to hold meetings in his tobacco barn.  In 1866, along with other family members, he was formally baptized.  Full of fervor, he began to preach even though still a layman, resulting in his being jailed in Fredericksburg for several weeks for preaching without a license.  Ordained in 1771 Craig became the pastor of a small Virginia church.  Unwilling to submit to obtaining a license, he was jailed several more times.  Following the American Revolution,  Craig pulled up stakes in Orange County and led his congregation west to the newly formed “Kentucky County” in western Virginia.   There he purchased 1,000 acres of land where he planned and laid out a town.

About 1789, Craig took his place in whiskey history by building a distillery, making use of the cold stream of pure water coming from a local spring, giving rise to a legend that the preacher “invented” bourbon.  At the time, however, dozens of small farmer-distillers west of the Alleghenies were making whiskey from corn that some called “bourbon” to distinguish it from the rye whiskies coming from Pennsylvania and Maryland.  

Nonetheless, the legend prevailed, repeated over and over.  Whiskey guru Michael Veach has a plausible suggestion of how the Elijah Craig story got started: “He was an early Kentucky preacher and he was a distiller, and that is why in the 1870s when the distilling industry was fighting the temperance movement, they decided to proclaim him the father of bourbon. They thought, well, let’s make a Baptist preacher the father of bourbon, and let the temperance people deal with that.”  

Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, Kentucky, is happy to perpetuate the bourbon legend.  Elijah Craig bourbon whiskey is made in both 12-year-old "Small Batch" and 18-year-old "Single Barrel" formats. The latter is touted by the distillery as "The oldest Single Barrel Bourbon in the world at 18 years ….” It is  said to be aged in hand selected oak barrels that lose nearly 2⁄3 of their contents through evaporation, known as the “Angel’s share.”  Needless to say, Preacher Craig’s whiskey is pricey.


A Civil War soldier, farmer, store keeper, and lay preacher of the conservative Union Lutheran Church in Lois, Tennessee, Daniel Houston Call (1836-1904)  might have fallen into the obscurity that history accords most of us, except for one decision.  Faced with the question of hiring and harboring a 16-year-old orphan boy of uncommonly small stature, Dan Call said yes and the rest is history.  The boy was Jack Daniels.

To feed and clothe his large family Call could rely in part on profits from a distillery he had built behind his general store before riding off to fight for the Confederacy.  The still apparently had been left idle during the Civil War but the machinery was still intact.  The facility was conveniently located on Louse (aka “Stillwater”) Creek, an odd name for a pristine stream that gushed from springs in a nearby glade.  The water maintained an ideal temperature and flowed in a stream a few yards from the Call homestead. With the abundance of corn grown on the family farm and some expertise at distilling, the prospects for a “cash cow” were evident.

A problem stemmed from diffidence on the part of Call.  He had become a lay preacher in a rural Lutheran Church not far from his home, a rustic house of worship. Lutherans were known to be ambivalent about alcohol. This same uncertainty seems to have infected Call.  Although his distillery was making whiskey and he was selling it, he forbade drinking on his farm or in his general store.  As Lutheran churches increasingly went “dry,” Call decided that soon he would have to give up making whiskey or lose his ministry.

While Call had been away at war, his wife had hired an orphan boy named Jack Daniels to help her with the farm and general store.  Call let Jack stay on.  Although raised a Baptist, Daniels had no compunctions about alcohol.  He was drawn to the distillery.  In his biography of Daniels, Author Peter Krass observes:  “As young Jack mulled over the contraption, he quickly grasped that whiskey was a means to escaping poverty.  He determined to learn the noble art of distilling.”   Faced with vigorous importuning from young Daniels, Call instructed his African-American former slave and master distiller, “Uncle” Nearis Green, to teach the boy all he knew about making whiskey.  And the rest is history.

Notes:  Longer pieces on each of the preacher “whiskey men” may be found elsewhere on this website:  George Thorpe, October 28, 2021;  Elijah Craig, November 30, 2021; and Dan Call, Novmber 14, 2021.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Rhombergs: Dubuque’s Dynasty of Drink

When Franz “Frank” Rhomberg arrived in the United States in 1889, he headed directly to Dubuque, Iowa, where other members of the Rhomberg clan of Dornbirn, Austria, had settled years earlier.   Among them was a Rhomberg whose reputation had been tarnished 13 years earlier in a headline-making scandal over the distiller’s cheating on taxes from making whiskey.  Undeterred by this family disgrace, Frank, shown here, and other Rhombergs earned straight reputations in the liquor trade and were recognized as eminent citizens of Dubuque.

What initially drew the Rhombergs to Dubuque goes unexplained.  It may have been the city’s heavily German Catholic character.   An internet site on the diaspora of Dornbirn residents lists three towns,  two in Germany and “Dubuque” with an asterisk and “U.S.”  Among the first Rhombergs to settle in Dubuque was Joseph, who arrived in 1854.   Shown here, this immigrant prospered right from the beginning.  Within a decade he had built and operated a distillery that boasted sixteen fermenting tubs, each with a capacity of 300 barrels.  When working at full capacity, Joseph’s distillery could mash 1,000 bushels of grain a day.

Unfortunately, Joseph apparently had a propensity to cheat.  In 1876 the U.S. Government sued the J.A. Rhomberg Company for $755,000, claiming that Joseph’s enterprise had distilled 9,000 to 10,000 barrels of whiskey upon which it had paid no revenue.  The Rhomberg distillery was seized.  The story made headline news all over Iowa and well beyond.  Claiming innocence Joseph fought the charges vigorously in the courts.  The United State Circuit Court in Des Moines, however, ultimately found him guilty and fined him $103,000 (equivalent to $2.8 million today). The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Green B. Raum, told reporters:  “There is no doubt as to the justice of the government’s contentions.”  Joseph subsequently turned the distillery into a flour mill.

Still rich from investments in the railway industry and real estate in Iowa and Texas, Joseph sought to redeem his reputation and the Rhomberg name by gifts to the community.  He designated a 95 acre parcel of land for a public park that eventually would bear his name.  On a street leading to the park, Joseph planted and cared for a line of towering elm trees.  When drought threatened, he is said to personally have watered the trees from a specially constructed cart pulled by his horse and buggy.  Joseph also announced plans to use several hundred acres he owned four miles north of Dubuque as a vacation resort for the working classes to be called “Lakeview."  Many in the city were willing to believe Joseph innocent.

Meanwhile a second family member, was forging his own way in Dubuque’s liquor 

trade.  He was Libertat A. Rhomberg who had established the wholesale wine and liquor firm of L.A. Rhomberg & Bro. in 1864.  This company about 1880 became Jaeger and Rhomberg when Libertat joined with his brother-in-law Adam Jaeger in a wholesale house, shown here, located at 453-465 Main Street.  [See post on Jaeger July 6, 2019.]

In 1889 Liberat left this partnership and opened his own wholesale liquor business at 531 Main.  Two years later his son, L.A. Rhomberg Jr., known as “Ollie,” joined the company.  It subsequently was renamed L.A. Rhomberg and Son.  These Rhombergs featured a variety of whiskey brands, including  “Rhomberg's Private Stock,”  “Beaver Run,”  ”L.A. Rhomberg's Sour Mash,” “Silver Spring,” “Rhomberg Club,” and “The Celebrated Pride,” The senior Rhomberg retired about 1900 and Ollie, shown here, kept the liquor house operating until 1906.

Meanwhile Frank Rhomberg had moved temporarily to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he worked two years in a furniture store owned by a relative.  About 1891, he moved back to Dubuque and like other Rhombergs was drawn to the liquor trade, working for his uncle, Libertat, as a traveling salesman.  After nine years at that occupation, when apparently it became clear to Frank that Ollie, not he, would be the inheritor of L.A. Rhomberg Company, he determined to strike out on his own.

About 1900 Frank formed a partnership with his younger sibling Alphonse J. called the Rhomberg Brothers Company, a wholesale liquor house.  They were not distillers but “rectifiers” who blended whiskey from manufacturers in the Midwest and beyond.  Dubuque’s position as a railroad center made it possible for the brothers to access stocks even from a distance.  They featured a number of proprietary brands, including “Key City Club” a reference to Dubuque as a key gateway to the pioneer West.  As shown here, the brand was sold as both sour mash bourbon and straight whiskey.

Other Rhomberg Brothers brands were “Thornwick Rye,” “Thornwick High Grade Rye,”  “Thornwick Blend,” “Ben Hur Whiskey,” “Rhomberg Pride,” and “Ben Hur Whiskey Blend.” Documents indicate the brothers registered the trademarks for both Thornwick and Ben Hur in 1905.  They also issued advertising shot glasses for those labels. 
The shots would have been given to the saloons, restaurants and hotels carrying their liquor.


Although at the repeal of National Prohibition the U.S. Congress mandated that fancy “back of the bar” bottles were no longer legal alcohol containers, the result of their pre-Prohibition rampant misuse, whiskey wholesalers of the Rhomberg’s era were almost obliged to offer them as give-away items to customers.   Frank and Alphonse were no exceptions.  Shown here are two of their offerings advertising Key City Club Whiskey.  Perhaps the most unusual item gifted by the 

Rhombergs was a cigar case advertising “Rhomberg Pride” whiskey.

As Frank was maintaining the Rhomberg liquor dynasty in Dubuque, he was also having a personal life.  At age 25, he married a local woman, Mary H, Altman, 23.  They would have two children before Mary’s untimely death at 38 in 1907.  Three years later Frank remarried.  His bride was Minnie Bertha Kruse.  The couple would have an additional three children. Frank housed his family in a prominent Queen Anne architectural home at 2500 Broadway.

When Iowa in 1916 passed laws banning all alcohol sales, Frank was quick to pivot to other enterprises.  He founded and became president and CEO of the Dubuque Tanning and Robe Company, an organization that later became the Rhomberg Fur Company, an enterprise that recently celebrated 100 years in business.  Frank died in 1919 and was buried in Dubuque’s Catholic Mt. Calvary Cemetery where many of the Rhomberg clan are interred.

Beginning with Joseph in 1864 and ending with statewide prohibition, the Rhombergs from Dornbirn had been involved in making and selling whiskey in Dubuque for more than half a century.  In their efforts they successfully unlocked the doors to wealth and recognition in the “Key City.”  Today Rhomberg Street in Dubuque keeps alive the memory of this distilling dynasty.

Notes:  Although this post relied on a number of sources, an essential resource was the Encyclopedia Dubuque that contained biographical material on each of the Rhomberg whiskey men.  This excellent online research tool is affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.   To quote a CNN authority:  "Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.” 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

George C. Bloss: Pitchman for Land and Liquor

The May 1900 issue of Printers Ink, the “bible” of American advertising, published a lengthy article on the unorthodox but highly effective methods used byGeorge C. Bloss to sell housing lots in what hitherto had been farmland in northern Kentucky.  The publication hailed the pitchman’s “scheming and business ability.” An acknowledged driving force behind the founding of two new communities, Bloss subsequently applied his talent to selling “Eastern Ryes and Kentucky Bourbons.”  The results turned out significantly different.  

Born in Cincinnati in May 1855, George was the only child of Elizabeth and George Bloss, his father a newspaper editor transplanted from Vermont to Ohio.  Of George’s early life, education and occupations, the records are scant.  We can assume that eventually he was involved in real estate.  Bloss hove into public attention in a major way in 1888 when at age 33 he was named general manager of a syndicate controlling a large swath of farmland in Kentucky about six miles south of the Ohio River.  A housing development had been made possible by the construction of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad near the site, allowing easy transit to and from the Queen City.

Credited for “new ideas” of how to sell housing lots, Bloss capitalized on the laws that shut saloons on Sunday in Ohio but not in Kentucky.  He ran Sunday excursions to the site on trains hired for $120.  A round trip cost passengers only a dime.   At the pitchman’s behest hawkers roamed the cars selling beer.  Sales were brisk and helped defray the cost of the trains. Once landed at the tract other alcohol vendors greeted visitors. 

The excursions became highly popular among citizens of Northern Ohio as hundreds each weekend trekked to the land syndicate’s holdings.  Frequently as many as 20 carloads of people would arrive of a Sunday at the projected new suburbs.  Bloss saturated the Cincinnati Post with quarter and half page ads, including one shown here.  He emphasized the scenic and heath benefits of the location and the low cost of lots:  “50 cents down and 50 cents a week.”  

The development proved a huge success.  Shown below, a small business section sprang up as lots sold quickly.  In the end two adjacent towns were created, called Erlanger and Elsmere.  Both have been designated home rule cities and are continuing to grow.  Erlanger now has a population of just under 20,000 and Elsmere, 8,500.  Both are suburban municipalities of well-kept bungalows.  

Bloss was credited with making the syndicate the equivalent of more than $2 million above the purchase price of the farmland.  He subsequently was elected one of the first town trustees of Erlanger.   With Bloss’s star having risen high over the Cincinnati landscape, little wonder that when a syndicate formed to create a new liquor house in a city already chock full of distillers, wholesale liquor dealers, and whiskey brokers, the money men sought out Bloss as their chief operating officer.  With Erlinger-Elsmere developing briskly, the pitchman agreed.

In April 1903, according to State of Ohio records, the Consolidated Hopewell Company filed its incorporation papers in Columbus.  George G. Bloss was listed as “manager.”  Located at 30 Main Street in Cincinnati, the company billed itself as a distiller.  No evidence exists, however, that Consolidated Hopewell actually was producing liquor.  More likely it was acting as a “rectifier,” blending whiskeys obtained elsewhere, bottling it and selling it by mail order.  Company ads emphasized its proximity to Cincinnati’s recently opened East Side railroad depot, shown below.

In his efforts to replicate his success with the Erlinger-Elsmere Land Syndicate, Bloss found himself in a very different environment.  Instead of a large vacant “playing field” he found himself in a landscape filled with high-flying, nationally known competitors.  Only one whiskey is known under the Hopewell label, “Old Hunter Belle Rye.”  Bloss advertised his products, including wines, in newspapers and through trade cards.  Dogs and children seemed to be his favorite subject matter.

Since virtually all his competition was issuing advertising shot glasses to the saloons, restaurants and hotels carrying their alcohol, Bloss obliged with a fancy molded glass shot with no advertising on the surface.  A glance from the top, however reveals ”Consolidated Hopewell Co.” in the base.

The problems faced by Bloss’s liquor enterprise came to light in a New York circuit court case fled by the Lanahan Company of Baltimore [see post of Oct. 14, 2011].  This distiller of “Hunter Rye” sued a liquor dealer named Kissel from Brooklyn for trademark infringement for selling a brand called “White Label Hunter Whiskey.”  In the course of making his decision, District Judge Thomas researched other whiskeys then on the market that had “Hunter” in their name and found four others, including Bloss’s “Old Hunter Belle Rye.”  In making his decision, the judge noted:  “If a person inquired for “Hunter Whiskey,” he would not have received “Louis Hunter 1870 Pure Rye,” “Hunter’s Own,” “Hunter’s Game,” or “Old Hunter Belle Rye.”  He then ruled for the defendant, Kissel.  

In his opinion the judge highlighted Bloss’s problem in marketing his whiskey:  “There is evidence…that this whiskey has some sale in bottles wearing a dark label with a white medallion therein, showing a huntress on horseback, the label bearing the words ‘Old Hunter Belle Rye, 17 Years, etc.’  It is alleged  that it is bottled and sold by the  ‘Consolidated Hopewell Co.’ of Cincinnati; such company is of very recent formation and apparently is unknown to the trade.  There is no evidence that the complainants had knowledge of this brand until the evidence herein was taken.”

Judge Thomas was asserting what Bloss already must have known.  Fully two years after incorporating Consolidated Hopewell, his “Old Hunter Belle Rye” was still “apparently…unknown to the trade.”  His ads, the attractive trade cards, the fancy shot glasses, and the elaborate labels all apparently had missed their mark.  Consolidated Hopewell Co. was sliding into insolvency.  The end came about 1908 when the firm was declared bankrupt.  Although Bloss went to court to ask that the receiver in bankruptcy be directed to continue in business, by the following year according to Ohio records, Consolidated Hopewell was history.

Likely feeling the pain of the liquor house failure, Bloss retreated to his residence on Graves Street in Erlanger, above, to enjoy home life with his wife, Dorothea, and teenaged daughter, Bertha, and to look after his real estate interests.  He continued in high repute in the two towns he had fostered.  In 1915 the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune  reported Bloss successfully had negotiated the gift of an attractive woodland tract near Erlanger as public parkland and a “gathering place for all worthy organizations and nature lovers.”  He then was chosen by authorities to act as the initial park manager.  After many years continuing to be active in the towns he had been instrumental in creating,  Bloss died in 1950 while vacationing in Palm Beach, Florida.  He was 95 years old.

Note:  This article was the product of numerous internet sources, particularly the May 1900 Printer’s Ink article.