Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Family Squibb and Their Indiana Whiskey

Although not famed for its whiskey as its neighbor Kentucky has been,  Indiana in the mid 1800s and early 1900s boasted a number of distilleries that achieved respectable regional and even national reputations for quality.  Among the earliest in the Hoosier State was a facility founded  by William P. Squibb and his brother.  Their work was carried on by Squibb’s sons and a nephew for a total of more than 50 years, until ended by National Prohibition.

William Squibb was born in 1931 near Aurora, Indiana, in Dearborn County  There he grew up, was educated, and registered for the Union Army in the Civil War, although no evidence exists that he served.  In Aurora he met his wife, Mary Frances Plummer.  Together they reared a family of ten children, four girls and six boys.  As a young man William worked in the grocery trade and the liquor business in Aurora, with brother George, opening a small distillery there about 1846.  Subsequently, the Squibbs moved down the road five miles to Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  There about 1869 they built a new distillery at Second Street near Main, the avenue shown below.  Calling it the W.B. Squibb Company, their plant could mash 300 bushels of grain a day. 

The Squibbs were advantaged by the “new age of industry” that followed the Civil War.  As one author put it:  “Hoosiers were at the center of this unprecedented growth.  By the end of the nineteenth century Indiana was among the top ten manufacturing states in the nation.”   At the center of this growth were the rail lines that crisscrossed the state.  Railroads brought the grain and other supplies needed for the Squibb’s distilling and then provided wide distribution for the finished products.

The brothers’ business grew constantly from year to year as word about the quality of their whisky spread.  In 1885 the Squibbs built a continuous still and, as the need arose, additional warehouses, including several bonded structures under U.S. supervision.  

The ample supply of manufactured whiskey made it possible for the Squibbs' to feature multiple brands.  Among them were “Dearborn Mills Whiskey,”  “Rock Castle Rye,”  "Old Dearborn," “Chimney Corner,” and “Greendale Whiskey,”  all trademarked in 1906.  Subsequently the Squibb’s added “Gold Leaf Rye,” trademarked in 1910.  The firm retailed its whiskey in glass quarts and flasks, with attractive paper labels.
As Squibb’s family increased in size, William like many successful whiskey men, built them a large mansion, shown above.  Located on Manchester Pike in Lawrenceburg, the house was completed in 1876.  While not as elaborate as the castle shown on the Rock Castle Rye label, it bares some resemblance in its central tower, rounded windows, and peaked roof.
Together William and George piloted their distillery successfully for a period of some 50 years.  During that period, William’s sons had been taken into the business, working in various roles in management and sales.  Both the founders died in 1913.  William, age 82 at his death, was buried in Greendale Cemetery near Lawrenceburg.  His gravestone is shown here.  Wife Mary Francis, 45, had preceded him in death 25 years earlier.  With the deaths of the founding brothers a new generation of Squibbs, four sons and a cousin, took over the distillery.  They were Robert Lincoln, George L. P., Nathaniel Edmund, and Horace Greeley Squibb, and cousin Louis Foulk.

A 1915 publication entitled “A History of Lawrenceburg Township, Dearborn County, Indiana,did short biographies of three Squibbs involved in the distillery.  The elder, George, born in 1869, attended public schools in Aurora and Lawrenceburg before leaving school at age fifteen to work at the distillery.  He literally grew up in the business and remained there, serving as secretary of the corporation.  Nathaniel followed the same path as his brother.  “He began at the bottom of the business and learned it from the bottom up.”   Nathaniel eventually became a sales agent for W. S. Squibb and ultimately its vice president.  The youngest, Horace, also went to work for his father at 15, later becoming a partner. Accounted an expert on cattle, Horace was in charge of the herd on the premises that were being fed spent mash from the distillery.  

Each of these three Squibbs had families of their own.  George married Mina Louise Brand in 1900, a woman born in Lawrenceburg but educated in Louisville.  They raised a family of five children.  George served three terms as a school trustee in his community.  Nathaniel was married in 1901 to Elizabeth Hunter Carter, herself the daughter of a Kentucky distiller.  They had two children.  Nathaniel was said to have a charming personality which led to his business success:  “…For many years he has been regarded as one of the worthy, industrious and well-equipped young men of this section of Indiana.”  The biography for Horace emphasized his love of domesticity, home and family. He was married in 1908 to Edna Mae Weist, an Ohio native.  They had one son.  Of Horace, the biographer said:  “…There is accorded to him the fullest measure of popular confidence and esteem throughout the community.”

The new generation of Squibbs had moved quickly after taking control to build a new distillery on the site of the old one.  They continued in business until the coming of National Prohibition when their distillery production was forced to terminate.  Just before Prohibition ended in 1934,  Schenley bought the Lawrenceburg plant and folded it into a conglomerate with other facilities in Frankfort, Kentucky, and Fresno, California.   They called it Old Quaker Distilling, as shown here on a bottle. The motto of the whiskey was  "Old Quaker is in tune with today's growing preference for mildness and mellowness. You don't have to be rich to enjoy rich whiskey.”  Shown below in 1941, the Lawrenceburg plant later was used to make penicillin during World War II.

During Prohibition and after the sale of the distillery to Schenley, the Squibbs went on to other business pursuits.   George passed away in 1944 and was buried in Greendale Cemetery near his father and mother.   Nathaniel died a year later and also was interred there.  A tall monument, shown below, marks the Squibb family graves in Lawrenceburg.  Horace lived until 1953, by which time he had moved to Sonoma, California, where he is buried.
The Squibbs were a part of the wave of Midwest industrial growth that began after the Civil War and extended into the Twentieth Century.  For more than half a century, father, brother, and sons prospered in their enterprise, earned reputations in Indiana for business acumen, and were respected citizens of their Lawrenceburg community  — their standing based on the Squibb family making really good whiskey. 

Note:  Today much of the whiskey sold by "boutique" distilleries in the U.S. at least initially is produced in Lawrenceville, a tribute to the tradition pioneered by the Squibb family of Indiana. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Five Sullivan Whiskey Men -- And More

One directory of pre-Prohibition liquor dealers lists forty-five in the U.S. that involved a Sullivan.  Yet despite it being my name and we all presumably share a common ancestry, I have been unable for years to locate a single Sullivan “whiskey man” on whom to do a profile for this blog.  That ended with the discovery of not just one but at least eight Sullivans, brothers and sons, who in various combinations for decades ran highly successful liquor, wine, beer, soda, mineral water and related enterprises in Providence, Rhode Island.

Keeping track of the Rhode Island Sullivans is not an easy task.  Although they frequently billed themselves as The Five Sullivan Bros., there were at least eight Sullivans coming in and out of the family’s multiple businesses.  Its members also seem to have avoided the U.S. census over the years.  Moreover, because the Sullivan name is so common in Providence it is virtually impossible to pinpoint individuals and learn something of their personal lives.  Finally,  their business history has enough permutations in it to pose factual challenges.

Even the date that the family enterprises began is uncertain.  One account puts it as early as 1878.  Certainly by 1881 Daniel J. Sullivan and John F. Sullivan, brothers, were bottlers and dealers in liquor, wines and mineral waters.  Their business was located at 376 Wickenden Street in Providence.  Wickenden Street would be one constant in their history, as the Sullivans appear to have moved from site to site on that avenue, one that originated out of an original settlement  plot on the east side of the city.  

Although they apparently continued to operate at 376 Wickenden under the name, “The Sullivan Bros. Steam Bottling Works,”  by 1890 they were listing an address at 393 Wickenden as their headquarters.  Shown here, it was a complex with the main structure a three story building with loading docks off the first and second floors and a hoist used to lower barrels into wagons.

By 1889,  Daniel J. and John F. had been joined by brothers James P., Dennis R., and John F. Jr.  Although only four actually were brothers and one was a son, they became the Sullivan Bros. Company.  At this point the firm was specializing in bottling  sarasaparilla, birch beer, lemon soda, ginger ale, and a line of mineral waters.  They used glass containers for retail sale, involving both blob top and crown top bottles and, upon occasion, the Hutchinson style closures.  Examples are shown here.

Although James P. left the firm in 1891, reportedly to take up the confectioner’s trade, the Sullivans’ beverage enterprises continued to expand.  By the following year they were recorded with outlets at 1 Schofield and 62 Ives Street.  By now the family also was wholesaling and bottling porter, ale, and lager beers, including the well-known Narragansett brews.  

They also had opened The Sullivan Bros. Family Wine and Liquor Store at 577 Wickenden.  There they sold whiskey to retail customers in half pint, pint and quart glass containers.  As shown here, these bottles were embossed with the firm name and address and, upon occasion, the word “warranted.”

As Sullivan enterprises progressed, family members came and went.  Dennis H. climbed aboard in 1893 but left again in 1897. John F. died in 1895.  John F. Jr. departed in 1898 and was listed initially as a driver, but by 1899 was working with James P. at Sullivan Bros. Grocery located at 93 Carpenter in Providence.  Circa 1902 the parent company incorporated under the name, “The Five Sullivan Bros.”  Daniel J., Timothy J.,  Eugene D.,  Dennis R. and John J. (Sr.) presumably made up the five incorporating brothers.  Daniel J. was the president, Eugene, a vice president, and Timothy the secretary-treasurer. 

The stated purpose of the corporation was to do business dealing in “spirits, wines, liquors, beers, ales, and all kinds of merchandise of every name, nature, and description….”  The Sullivans had cast a wide net, capitalizing the company at $60,000, equivalent to $1.5 million today.  

At some point, Dennis R. Sullivan, likely with family approval, struck out on his own with a liquor store at the corner of Ives and Wickenden.  He called it “The Old Stand,” suggesting that he had taken over the earlier Ives Street address.  A flask, shown here, was issued with his embossing.

In 1910, the Sullivans found themselves victims of theft.  Earlier, five hundred of their fourteen ounce embossed bottles, each worth five cents, had turned up missing.  The brothers advertised in the local paper describing the loss and apparently were tipped off that the Hand Brewing Company in nearby Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was in possession of them.  Constable Dowd was authorized to search, found 373 purloined Sullivan bottles, and summoned Michael J. Hand, president of the brewery, into court for theft.  Hand objected that the warrant was flawed, the search illegal, and challenged the complaint lodged against him.  The judge thought otherwise and fined him.  The purloined bottles were returned to the Sullivans. 

After 1910, with Prohibitionary forces at work, the Sullivans’ alcohol-related enterprises apparently faltered.  Employee numbers at the main office declined from twelve that year to eleven in 1912 and were down to seven by 1915.  During that period the Sullivan’s headquarters were at the 565-577 Wickenden complex, with a branch office at 9 Warren Avenue.  With the pressures from the “drys,” by  1918 they were no longer in the liquor trade, but continued to produce soft drinks and mineral waters.  The brothers also were aging.  Eugene D. left the firm in 1920 and moved to East Providence, leaving Daniel J. as president and Timothy J. as secretary.  After 1921 the Sullivans’ company ceased to be listed in local directories.

Dennis died in 1925, followed by Daniel in 1929.  Eugene lived until 1943 and Timothy until 1945.  The brothers are buried in St. Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket. Their cemetery monument earned a review in a trade publication as "one of the best jobs of stone carving ever sent..." by the company that produced the statuary.  The resulting cross stands six feet hight, with flowers in bas relief strewn over the surface. Not really visible in the picture here, the flora represented roses, pansies, morning glories, forget-me-nots and lilies.

For about sixty years the Sullivans of Providence had prospered, beginning with Sullivan Steam Bottling Works, expanding to the the Family Liquor Store, Sullivan Bros. Grocery, Dennis Sullivan’s “The Old Stand,” and the “umbrella” company, The Five Sullivan Bros. Company.  Sullivan enterprises included bottling soft drinks and mineral waters, operating a beer distributorship, importing and exporting wines and spirits, selling liquor at wholesale and retail, running a grocery store, and dealing in merchandise ancillary to all those activities.  Big business, indeed, in little Rhode Island.

Notes:  Thanks for some of the information and two images in this post go to RIBottleguy.  He has a blog called “Rhode Island Soda Histories” in which he has featured the Sullivan brothers.   He epitomizes those in the bottle hobby who are interested in the history of what they are collecting. Moreover, when this post first went up I asked for help from Sullivan descendants with details, including dates of death and place of interment.  Sheila Maynard, a granddaughter of Timothy J. Sullivan, subsequently was in touch with me with additional information that has been included and for that I am very grateful.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sanford Shore Served Sweet Wheat in Elk City

Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
Where the wav-in wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain
— Lines from the song, “Oklahoma”

The iconic Oscar Hammerstein lyric referenced above seems an appropriate way to introduce the story of a whiskey man named Sanford L. Shore, a pioneer settler who swept into Elk City, Oklahoma, accompanied by the sweet smell — and taste — of wheat become whiskey.

Shore’s roots were deep in the state of North Carolina.  The family founder was a Swiss immigrant named Frederich Shor who immigrated to the United States before the Revolutionary War and settled in North Carolina.  By the third generation family members had changed the name to Shore or Shores and were prominent in western areas of the state.  Sanford, born about 1875, was the son of Jacob and Nancy Kirk Shore, both native-born North Carolinians.

The 1900 census found the 25-year-old Sanford living with his parents on a farm near the village of East Bend in Yadkin County, his occupation listed as farmer.  The county was known for its agricultural products, including grapes for wine and wheat and rye for whiskey.  Several of the Shore family were distillers. [See my post on I.C. Shore, April 2012.]   Although Sanford later claimed to have several years college training, as a younger son, he may have decided that he would have little inheritance and needed to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Half a continent away, in Oklahoma, the opening to white settlement of choice regions of former Indian Territory had set off a chaotic land rush in 1889.  In buggies, wagons and trains prospective settlers had raced across the Oklahoma territory, jumping off at likely looking spots, making claims and erecting tent cities. During the rush a Harper’s magazine artist illustrated what it looked like as individuals staked out their parcels.
 Although he was late to that land grab, Shore set his sights on the far western part of Oklahoma, near the Texas line, that remained relatively untouched.  When a group of land promoters learned that that the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad was coming through the area they decided that the source of Elk Creek would be ideal to locate a town and bought up parcels abutting the proposed railroad route, eventually naming the place Elk City.

March 20,1901 was an important day in the town’s history, the date that the first lots were sold.  Waiting their chance, hundreds of men already were at the site in a tent city.  Almost $1,000,000 in today’s dollars changed hands that day as plots were sold.  Shore, I believe, was among the buyers.  It is not clear how he had traveled the more than 1,200 miles from North Carolina across Tennessee, Arkansas, and most of Oklahoma to Elk City. My guess is that he came by train to the western end of the railroad, then by buckboard the rest of the way.  If he was provident, as many were, he brought trade goods with him to sell or barter for food.

Shore had picked a good spot to settle.  In August the Choctaw railroad line had reached Elk City and almost overnight it became a boom town.  By January 1902, Elk City had more than sixty businesses and a population exceeding 1,000.  Paving the streets with bricks also had begun.  Though not yet a year old, the town, shown above, rapidly became one of the largest in Western Oklahoma.

Shore may have made at least one trip back to North Carolina to get married.  His wife, Sallie B. Steelman, some nine years younger than he, also was born in the Tarheel State.  Her parents, George and Sallie B. Steelman, also were native Carolinians.  Stanford likely brought her back to Oklahoma by train, this time almost certainly with supplies to open a dry goods store on his claim in Elk City.  Having grown up in a family of whiskey-makers and living in a boom town, Shore soon saw opportunities in the liquor trade.  An Oklahoma City publication in 1906 noted that he had contracted with a local builder to construct a one-story brick store, 25 by 50 feet, to house the Shore Distilling Company.

Unlike his North Carolina relatives, Shore was not a distiller but buying whiskey from Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere by the barrel.  It was shipped to him in barrels by train — the Choctaw line now absorbed into the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR.  Shore was decanting the liquid from barrels into ceramic jugs of varying sizes and supplying the many saloons that had opened in Elk City to serve the overwhelmingly male population.  At left is one recreated in modern Elk City.

Shore’s containers can be seen throughout this post, varying in size from half gallons, to one gallon, and up to three gallons.  All carried the same label:  “Shore Distilling Co., Purest Liquors, Lowest Prices, Elk City, Okla.”  He also was also selling whiskey by the bottle to retail customers in Elk City.  A rare “coffin” flask, shown below, exists with his embossing on it. 

Meanwhile, Sanford and Sallie were having a family life.  Three Shore children were recorded in the 1910 census, all of them born in Oklahoma.  The Katie was the first in 1904, followed by Sanford Jr. in 1906 and Bessie in 1909.  By the time they reached school age there was public education in Elk City and many of the original hardships of frontier life had receded.

Almost from the outset, however, forces were conspiring to end Shore’s liquor business.  Prior to Oklahoma achieving statehood, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.) laws permitted sales of alcohol, but in Indian Territory (I.T.)  “fire water” was forbidden. For more than a decade before statehood prohibitionists had been fighting to ban strong drink in all of Oklahoma and they packed the State Constitutional Convention with their proponents.  Although pro-liquor groups ("wets") tried to convince delegates of the revenue value of liquor sales, they could not overcome the organized prohibitionist campaign and the strong anti-saloon sentiment spreading across America.

As a result, in September 1907 the new state constitution declared Oklahoma henceforth would be “dry.”  Shore’s Elk City liquor business was forced to shut down as were the town’s taverns and bars.  One Oklahoma saloonkeeper reacted to the situation by posting a verse above his business:  “Hush little saloon, don’t you cry; you’ll be a drug store by and by. My assumption is that Shore still had his dry goods business to fall back on.

In 1922, after imposition of National Prohibition, a bizarre incident occurred in Brown County, Texas, involving Shore.  Two men were arrested and charged with illicit manufacture of corn whiskey after a raid by federal agents and the local sheriff. They found no still but three barrels of sour mash.  A cryptic sign over the barrels read:  “Shore Distilling Company.  Please do not raid.”  The culprits refused to cooperate with law enforcement. Thus, this reference to the long defunct Elk City liquor company was never explained.

Whatever Sanford’s occupation might have been after 1907, the work kept the Shores in Elk City for the rest of their lives.  The 1940 census found them living at 415 West Third Street.  Shore, now 63, listed no occupation, indicating he had retired.  Living with him and wife Sallie was another daughter, Lorene, and her infant child.  Sanford would live another 29 years, dying in 1969 at the advanced age of 94  He was buried in Elk City’s Fairlawn Cemetery.  Sallie followed him there in 1975.

Transplanted from North Carolina and the roots of his family heritage, Sanford Shore had pioneered in helping establish a vibrant town in the Oklahoma Territory that, when it became a state, repaid him by shutting down his liquor business after only six years.  We are fortunate to have Sanford Shore’s whiskey jugs and a single flask by which to remember him and his contribution to the settling of Oklahoma and the West.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Marion E. was Kentucky’s OTHER Colonel Taylor

When two unrelated Kentucky colonels, both named Taylor, were engaged in the distilling trade, conflict might have been inevitable.  That was the case when Marion Elliott Taylor named his whiskey, “Old Kentucky Taylor,” thereby approximating the name under which Edmund Haynes Taylor, a major figure in Kentucky distilling, successfully been had marketing his bourbon. Col. Marion lost that fight but, in the end, losing might not have mattered much.

Col. Marion was born in Louisiana, of native Louisianan parents.  His birth date variously was given on U.S. census forms as 1850 and 1852, and on his gravestone as 1855.  An 1893 passport application described this Taylor as standing five feet, eleven inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes.  From his photo at right he looks like a genial enough chap.  Sometime after the Civil War, Col. Marion found his way to Kentucky.  Col. Edmund sneered that his rival had “immigrated” to the state “and began to simulate our product” twenty-five years after he (Col. Edmund) had been making good Kentucky bourbon.

Col. Marion first surfaced in the liquor trade in 1886 as a partner with John J. Wright in a Louisville wholesale house called Wright & Taylor, located initially at 220 Second Street.  The company quickly became well established with whiskey brands that included “Pride of Louisville,” “Cane Spring,” and “Old Logan.”  Likely needing more space because of their rapidly expanding business, the owners in 1891 moved to 137 Third Street.  

Like many wholesalers who were featuring their own whiskey brands, Wright and Taylor seemingly often found themselves stymied in obtaining adequate supplies of raw product.  As a result in 1892 they purchased the Old Charter Distillery (RD#266, 5th Revenue District of Kentucky).  This whiskey-making plant had been established in 1874 by A.B. Chapeze on the Bardstown-Springfield Branch of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. [See my post on the Chapezes, June 2015].

The partners bought a facility from the Chapezes that although largely of frame construction was a going operation, capable of mashing some 260 bushels of grain daily.  In addition to the distillery itself, it had three frame warehouses with shingle roofs, one of which was vacant and another used to store spent mash for cattle feed.  Only one bonded warehouse was on premises, of iron-clad construction and located 100 feet east of the still. 

Col. Marion and his partner quickly set about upgrading the property, tearing down old structures and constructing new ones, shown above.  At some point prior to 1895, Col. Marion purchased John Wright’s interest in the distillery, but continued operating under the Wright & Taylor name.  In time the plant daily mashing capacity was increased to 600 bushels.  This allowed Col. Marion to produce “Old Charter,” a brand name purchased from the Chapezes, and to add other proprietary labels, including “Dunmore,” “Elliott Reserve,” “Kentwood,” “Redwood,” and “Taylor’s Golden Rye.”  He bottled these brands in amber glass containers, both quarts and smaller flasks, embossed with the company name and “Louisville.”

Meanwhile, 55 miles down the road in Frankfort, Col. Edmund was training a gimlet eye on what this other Taylor was selling.  When Col. Marion began marketing a brand he called “Fine Old Kentucky Taylor,” Col. Edmund exploded, claiming that it infringed on his similarly named “Old Taylor.”  In 1903 he took his Louisville rival into Jefferson County Circuit Court seeking $100,000 in damages (more than $2.5 million today) and an injunction on further marketing of Old Kentucky Taylor.  He claimed that Col. Marion’s whiskey, a blended and to his mind “inferior” product, was creating confusion among consumers with his quality straight bourbon.

Col. Edmund may have made a mistake by suing in a Louisville court.  Local judges almost everywhere were reluctant to find against a resident businessman on trademark issues and Col. Marion, despite his Louisiana origins, had become highly regarded in Louisville commercial circles.  The decision gleefully was quoted in an ad, shown above, that Col. Marion placed in the Wines & Spirits Journal, a leading trade publication.  He quoted from the court decision: “The defendant, Marion E. Taylor (Wright & Taylor) in branding his bottles, cases, packages and barrels with the trade mark “Taylor,” or “Old Taylor,” or “Kentucky Taylor,” or “Fine Old Kentucky Taylor,” had a perfect right to brand them.”  The judge went on to deride Col. Edmund’s claim of priority of adoption, dismissed the case and charged him court costs.

Gloating on the part of Col. Marion was short lived.  Subsequently Col. Edmund took his case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in a case known as “E.H. Taylor, Jr. & Sons Co. v. Marion E. Taylor.”  This time Col. Edmund got some satisfaction.  Although the court denied damages and allowed Col. Marion to continue to use the Old Kentucky Taylor brand name, it granted an injunction that required that he advertise it as a blended product, thereby presumably reducing likelihood of confusion with Old Taylor.  The court also found that Col. Marion “intentionally” had tried to mislead  the public through his advertising practices.  As shown below, some Col. Marion ads subsequently hewed the court line: Old Kentucky Taylor was described as a blend.

None of this completely mollified Col. Edmund.  He continued to pursue action against Wright & Taylor.  In 1907 he got a ruling from a more understanding Jefferson County court granting a “perpetual injunction” against any advertising of Old Kentucky Taylor that failed to mention that the whiskey was blended or “rectified.” In 1909 Col. Edmund achieved a supportive ruling from the Commissioner of Patents in Washington, D.C., that Col. Marion’s product “from its inception has been deceptively labeled.”  Six months later The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. agreed, adding:  “And it is unfortunate that one honestly complying with the law [i.e.,Col. Edmund] is compelled to suffer at the hands of ‘commercial sharks.”  Piling on, the U.S. Attorney General in a report to President Theodore Roosevelt alluded to “fraud” on the part of Wright & Taylor.

None of this support, however, assuaged the ire of Col. Edmund against Col. Marion.  In 1913, responding to an Old Kentucky Taylor ad in Mida’s Criterion, a liquor industry journal, he paid to publish a full page open letter in a competing journal to flay what he called “a fraudulent reading notice.”  Col. Edmund contended: “The courts of Kentucky, the District Court of Appeals at Washington and two departments of the Federal Government have pilloried these compounders for this very type of fraud upon our pure Kentucky-distilled Old Taylor.”  He added that he was initiating new proceedings against Wright & Taylor for “contempt of court.”

Although Col. Marion could not have been happy about repeatedly defending himself before the bar of justice with its costs in money and time, his rival’s vendetta seems never seriously to have impeded his progress in the whiskey trade and elsewhere.  During this period he continued to expand the Old Charter Distillery, increasing its mashing capacity to 1,000 bushels daily and its warehouse storage space to 36,000 barrels.  

In another sign of success, by 1894 he had moved his headquarters to Louisville’s “Whiskey Row” on West Main Street where top Kentucky whiskey men kept their offices.  Like his successful colleagues, Col. Marion also was generous in giving advertising items to favored customers, including back-of-the-bar bottles, shot glasses, and serving and tip trays.  Examples are shown throughout this post.

Nor did the wrath of Col. Edmund have any apparent effect on Col. Marion’s standing in his own community.  When citizens decided to build a statue to honor a beloved former Confederate general who was active in Louisville civic affairs, Col. Marion was chosen to head the committee raising the funds and supervising the project.   Along with other Kentucky worthies, he was a delegate to a statewide group formed to plan and build the Kentucky pavilion at the 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis.  Moreover, the author of the pamphlet History of Kentucky Distilling fantasized that “our gracious friend” Col. Marion would be appointed U.S. ambassador to England by President Theodore Roosevelt and there able to promote Kentucky whiskey.

The coming of National Prohibition laid blows indiscriminately  on both colonels, as both men were forced to shut down their distilleries and wholesale liquor enterprises.  In the 1920 census, Col. Marion gave his occupation as “merchant - real estate,”  evidence that he had been buying local properties with his ample wealth.  He died a year later, just a few days short of his sixty-sixth birthday, given the dates on his tombstone, and was buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery where many notable whiskey men are interred.  

Although he is gone, Col. Marion is far from forgotten in Louisville.  Built in 1906 the Marion E. Taylor Office Building at 312 South Fourth Street is a downtown landmark of eight stories.  Over the years it has held several financial institutions and offices for dozens of attorneys and other professionals.  Over in Frankfort I have been unable to find any memorial to Col. Edmund to compare to the man he pilloried as “discredited” and repeatedly accused of fraud.  Seemingly, in the final analysis, Col. Edmund’s attacks meant little in the life of Marion Elliott Taylor.

Note:  I have chronicled the career of Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr., including other legal battles he fought, in a post of January 2015.  Additionally, while researching Col. Marion, I came upon the “Sipp’n Corn blog, a website devoted to the Kentucky whiskey industry as viewed through the many lawsuits it engendered.   In December 2013 the author also recounted the legal battles of the two colonels and did it well.  Take a look.