Sunday, February 25, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt and the Whiskey Men

Foreword:   Having profiled the relationship of President Grover Cleveland with several  whiskey men, it seemed natural to follow up with another president, Theodore Roosevelt.  The photo above is a clear spoof.  Although “Teddy” as he was known, had formed the Bull Moose party in his second, unsuccessful, run for President, he never rode one, nor did he drink martinis.   Referenced here are three “whiskey men” whose lives, in varying ways, touched Roosevelt’s.

George Curry owed much of his career to his relationship with Roosevelt.  No figure looms larger in the early history of New Mexico than Curry, a transplant from Louisiana who was running a saloon in Lincoln Station NM, shown below,  when the Spanish American War broke out in 1898. The governor of New Mexico was authorized to raise four companies of cavalry.  Curry recruited one company and was appointed its captain.  

His troops, along with other Western recruits, composed the regiment commanded by Colonel Theodore Roosevelt that became known as the “Rough Riders.” shown here with their commander in the center  During the training Curry became a friend and confidant of Roosevelt but eventually was denied by the flip of a coin the chance to see action in Cuba and participate in the famous charge up San Juan Hill.  Instead he remained in the U.S. to provide logistical support to the Riders. 

Almost immediately after the war, with Teddy’s backing, Curry volunteered to go to the Philippines to help put down a revolt by local rebels against American occupation following departure of the defeated Spanish.  His success during two years of combat led to his appointment as governor of several Philippine provinces and eventually as chief of police of Manila.  When now President Roosevelt was looking to appoint a governor for New Mexico, he chose Curry who is said to have accepted only upon Roosevelt’s promise to push for full statehood for the territory. 

 Although he had been a Democrat, Curry moved to Roosevelt’s Republican Party.  He proved to be an effective territorial governor of New Mexico and was able to see statehood achieved in1910, after years of struggle in which he played a major role.  Perhaps out of gratitude for his years of service the people of New Mexico elected Curry to the U.S. Congress where he served one term.

No sooner had the man known as “Devil Dan” Roberts opened his Stand Up Bar in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, shown above, than he was embarked on the trip of his life at the behest of President Roosevelt.  A colleague, Seth Bullock, had been a Rough Rider and had been befriended by Roosevelt. When Teddy was inaugurated as President in 1905 Bullock conceived the idea of having a cowboy section in the inaugural parade.  With Roosevelt’s enthusiastic approval, Bullock recruited 62 cowboys from around the West for the ride. Among them were five from Belle Fourche, including Dan Roberts and his son Henry, the youngest rider in the group.  

Shipping their horses by rail ahead of them, the cowboys, including future movie star Tom Mix, followed in their own railroad coaches, having a raucous time. In Washington, as shown here, Roberts and the others were reunited with their ponies and rode around streets of the Nation’s Capitol to exercise their mounts. For the parade, security agents allowed the riders to carry pistols in their holsters as part as their costume, but the guns were unloaded. Riding eight abreast in the parade, they were cheered lustily by the waiting crowds. As they passed the reviewing stand President Roosevelt is said to have jumped up, clapped his hands and shouted: "That's bully! That's excellent, Captain Bullock!”

Excitement was running high in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on January 10, 1910, with the anticipated visit of former president, Theodore Roosevelt, for a ceremony and speech.  John Wesley Freeman, as a leading citizen, was among those planning the visit.  At Freeman’s Barrelhouse & Saloon a trio of soldiers from Fort Roots near Little Rock gathered, anticipating their role as honor guard in a reception committee.  Among them was Edward L. Haley, a Mississippian, described as “the most peaceable man in the company.”

When the soldiers got up to leave, Haley got into a dispute about the bill with bartender George Kilgore, a man with a violent temper.  When the soldier refused to pay the designated amount, Kilgore took a hand gun from behind the bar. In the argument that ensued, he shot and killed Haley.  Violence of this nature was not uncommon in Hot Springs. Ten years earlier Kilgore had shot and killed another man in Freeman’s saloon.

How Haley’s murder affected Freeman, a deputy sheriff, former postmaster, and leading town citizen, has gone unrecorded.  He had been a leader among those who had helped put Hot Springs on the map as highly desirable resort community where 47 "hot springs" gushed forth nearly a million gallons of 143 degree water every day.   By 1903 three Freeman saloons were operating simultaneously in Hot Springs to quench thirsts for something stronger than water.  

Freeman undoubtedly was “front and center” to shake the former President’s hand when Roosevelt visited and was the the town’s honored guest.  The photo below shows Teddy during ceremonies at the fairgrounds, looking toward the military honor guard at left, standing at attention.  He may have known that it was missing one young soldier that day. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

E. R. Lilienthal: Noble (Cyrus) of Western Whiskey


Shown right, Ernest Reuben Lilienthal was the scion of a family that had no businessmen in it.  His father Sam was a famous homeopathic doctor and his uncle Max a well known rabbi.  Nevertheless, Ernest forged a highly successful business career in the Western liquor trade selling a brand of whiskey called “Cyrus Noble.”

The Lilienthal family had originated in a valley in Schnaittach-Huttenbach, Germany, a Jewish enclave, and until 1814 had been named Seligmann until an ancestor changed it to Lilienthal, meaning “lily of the valley.”  Sometime during the 1840s, Dr. Sam and Rabbi Max and their wives had emigrated from Germany, settling in Lockport, New York, near Buffalo.  There Ernest was born in 1840.  He had a good education culminating in a law degree from the Cincinnati Law School.

Lillienthal never practiced.  Cincinnati also was the home of Rabbi Max’s good friend, Julius Freiberg of the firm of Freiberg & Workum, wholesale liquor dealers, rectifiers and distillers of whiskey.   Max convinced Freiberg to give his nephew a job.  The newly-minted attorney began in the blending department and, impressing the partners, subsequently was sent as a salesman to New York City.  

At the time Freiberg and Workum’s principal brand was Cyrus Noble Bourbon, named after an Ohio man whose talent for tasting and blending whiskey earlier had earned him the superintendent’s job in their distillery.  Noble, however, was a heavy drinker and, so the story goes, one day while inebriated and checking a premium vat of whiskey, fell in and drowned.  Nothing would do but to name the company’s flagship whiskey as a memorial to Cyrus. 

Lilienthal strongly embraced the brand and convinced Freiberg & Workum to give him the financial backing to establish a wholesale liquor agency in San Francisco.  Arriving in town in 1871, he lost no time in renting store space at 223 California Street and putting out his sign:  “Lilienthal & Company.” At the outset he bought his liquor only from Freiberg & Workum.  They made sure he was well stocked with Cyrus Noble and their other straight and blended brands.

The whiskey was shipped in barrels, most often on sailingships that took it around Cape Horn.  The rock and roll ride at sea widely was believed to speed aging and add flavor.  Once landed in San Francisco, Lilienthal sold the liquor by the barrel or bottled and sold it by the case to saloons and restaurants. 

Through the 1880s, Lilienthal’s traveling salesmen, marketing an expanding list of alcoholic products, fanned out through the West, not only in Pacific Coast states but throughout Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Montana.  The sales force even made forays into Mexico and Central America in search of customers.

With the aid of these efforts and vigorous outdoor advertising, such as the huge painted sign on a San Bernardino building, Lilienthal & Company grew rapidly and by 1895, it had become the largest wholesale liquor company on the West Coast.   As Lilienthal diversified his business, the distilling and rectifying operations were hived off and became “Crown Distilleries,”  a name that occurred on the labels of his whiskey and embossed on bottles of Cyrus Noble. 

In the meantime, Ernest was having a personal life.  In May 1876 he married Hannah Isabelle (called “Bella”) Sloss in San Francisco.  He was 34, his bride was 20 and the daughter of Sarah and Louis Sloss, a prominent member of the Alaska Fur Company.  The Lilienthal’s first child was born a year later.  They would go on to have a family of seven, including four sons, all of whom later would be employed in their father’s liquor interests.

In their 1968 book on “Spirits Bottles of the Old West,” Bill and Betty Wilson provided some observations into Lilienthal’s personality:  “A good salesman, Ernest talked freely in a deep baritone voice.  His reputation for fair dealing, his judgment of markets, his ability to make quick sound decisions, and the assurance he had for his product won him a respect not always accorded to those in the industry…He could talk well…and could argue in legal terms on almost any subject.  He rarely showed anger and never grew personal — a quality his customers enjoyed.”

Within two decades of Lilienthal’s arrival in San Francisco, Cyrus Noble had become a favorite among Western whiskey drinkers.  The story is told that in May of 1899 when George Dewey, “the hero of Manila Bay,” was informed of his promotion to Admiral of the United States Navy he celebrated with a friend: “He reached for a bottle of Cyrus Noble, a sour mash bourbon, and filled two glasses.”  They drank a toast.  

In 1901, another story goes, a thirsty prospector named John Coleman stumbled into Searchlight, Nevada, willing to trade his claim for a bottle of the best bourbon in town.  It turned out to be a bottle of Cyrus Noble.  When the claim later yielded more than $250,000 in gold (more than $7 million today) it was christen the Cyrus Noble Mine.

Lilienthal was lavish with his giveaways to saloons, restaurants and other establishment carrying his liquor.  Shown throughout this post are bar signs he provided, all of them with a “Old West” motif.  He also handed out multiple varieties of back-of-the-bar bottles and shot glasses, many advertising Cyrus Noble whiskey.

Other Lilienthal family members were enlisted in the business.  Albert, a son of Rabbi Max, and Ernest’s first cousin joined the Lilienthals in San Francisco with the idea of developing the hops and grain business of the company.  He did not like California, according to the Wilsons, and returned to New York.  There, with his sibling Theodore, he founded Lilienthal Brothers, the East Coast representative of the family’s liquor interests.

Ernest Lilienthal as he aged turned over responsibilities for running his multifaceted liquor-based empire to family members, chief among them his eldest son, Benjamin.  Anticipating the coming of National Prohibition, they shut down Crown Distillers Company in 1917.  The 1920 census found father and son both claiming their occupation as “sugar” merchants, likely one of the subsidiary businesses they had spun off from Lilienthal & Co.   Ernest lived long enough to see America go dry, dying in December 1922 in San Francisco.  He was 76 years old.

Throughout National Prohibition Benjamin kept the trademark for Cyrus Noble whiskey but sold it in 1934 to his brother Samuel as Repeal approached.  Samuel in turn sold the rights to the name to the Haas Brothers, related to the Lilienthals by marriage.  Originally San Francisco grocers, the Haases switched to whiskey wholesaling and continued to market Cyrus Noble for a number of years.

A final appreciation of Ernest R. Lilienthal, a man who built the largest liquor wholesaling house on the West Coast and made a household name of Cyrus Noble whiskey, can be gleaned from the Wilsons’ biography.  His customers, they said, “got good liquor…and plenty of good conversation” from an urbane entrepreneur with an aristocratic bearing.  Lilienthal truly had become a recognized nobleman of American whiskey.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cleveland’s Loews: From Bitters to Beer to Bevo

Although many whiskey men right up to the end dismissed the threat posed by prohibitionists, the Loew family of Cleveland, in the liquor trade for at least 38 years, closed out that business in 1912, four years before Ohio went “dry.” But the new enterprise they chose would prove almost as vulnerable to prohibition — manufacturing equipment for breweries.

The liquor house president and founder was John A. Loew.  He is credited with creating the firm in 1873, apparently as an adjunct to his saloon at 63 Willey Street.  As his sons Daniel and Charles matured he took them into the business and about 1883 called it J. A. Loew & Sons.  Daniel was vice president;  Charles was secretary.  At that time the company was located at 677 Lorain Road.

The company featured two proprietary brands, “American Club Rye” and its best seller, “Dr. Loew’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters,” the latter so named despite there being no evidence that any of the Loews had a medical degree.   Advertised as a “nerve tonic,” and sometimes as an “aromatic tonic,”  these stomach bitters were thirty percent alcohol, 60 proof, considerably stronger than a fortified wine.

Dr. Loew’s bitters featured an elaborate label of a individual riding a winged horse stabbing a lion with a long lance.   Beneath the label was a square bottle embossed with the the Loew name and other advertising.  Found in four different sizes, the bottles came in clear glass and several shades of olive. Dr. Loew’s  bottles are a favorite with bitters collectors.

The Loew company grew rapidly, moving to Woodland Avenue before settling at 392-398 Erie Street in a large three-story building, shown below in an artist’s rendering.   About the same time the Loews took a new partner named Fred Bomonti who became a vice president.

After at least 22 years at the helm of his liquor business, John Loew retired and died in January of 1897 at the age of 63. His mausoleum plaque is shown here. His sons continued the business, Charles became president and Daniel the secretary-treasurer.  They changed the name to The Loew & Sons Company, as shown above on a letterhead.  After 1903 they also moved their operations to several addresses on Cleveland’s Prospect Avenue. 

The liquor company remained in business until 1912 when it disappeared from city directories to be followed by the Loews’ brewery equipment company.  My guess is that pressures from prohibitionary forces in Ohio as well as heat from Food and Drug Act enforcement agents caused the Loews to shut their liquor house doors.  The family appear to have sold the rights to their stomach bitters to Henry Christy, a Cleveland wholesale grocer who specialized in alcoholic products. [See my post on Christy, Jan. 2013.]  As shown here, Christy’s name appears on a Dr. Loew’s bottle shaped and colored identically to the original.

Almost immediately the family created the Loew Manufacturing Company, a supplier to the brewing industry. Two of its inventions for assisting the brewmaster were the Loew “Blitz-Blank” beer filter and the Loew “Magic” filtermass washer.  The firm also made larger machinery, including a beer pasteurizer looming five stories high and a bottle filler and capper, both shown here.

With the 1916 imposition of prohibition in Ohio, the state’s breweries shut down, depriving the Loews of its most robust business, but beer-makers in other states were still going strong and in need of equipment.  With the imposition of National Prohibition in 1920, the Loews simply shifted their attention to bottling equipment for non-alcoholic beverages, like “Bevo,” a soft drink offering from Anheuser-Busch.

Note:  In the process of researching this vignette, I came across Ferd Meyer’s post on his Peachridge blog about the Loews’ bitters.  He features a number of excellent photos of the Dr. Loew's bitters bottles.  I have borrowed several for this article and thank him for them.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Root & Midler’s Liquor Floated Their Boats

When Albert M. Root and Andrew J. Midler, buddies from Syracuse, New York, came to a booming Saginaw,  Michigan, about 1863, they started a liquor business aimed at slaking the thirst of the lumbermen thronging the city.  Their success provided them with the wealth to own and operate the largest fleet of steamboats plying the busy Saginaw River.

While the map of Saginaw in 1867 above may have exaggerated the amount of river traffic,  from the early days of steamboat navigation a regular river traffic of steamers ran between Saginaw and Bay City on Lake Michigan. It was lucrative business.   Root and Midler would find that maintaining their fleet, however, raised problems beyond those of running a whiskey business 

Albert Root was born in Madison County in upstate New York about 1838.  At some point in his youth he gravitated to the nearby city of Syracuse where he met Andrew Midler, who was five years older.  The son of a local coal dealer, Midler had been born in Syracuse.  The 1860 census found him working as a contractor.  How the partners came together is unknown but Root likely had some experience working in a liquor house.

Seeking better opportunities than Syracuse provided, the partners looked westward and decided that the nationwide strong demand for lumber during the Civil War and the virgin pine forests of northern Michigan would create a boom town.  As trees were felled, the logs were float down tributaries to the Saginaw River, then to the multiple sawmills located in Saginaw.   The industry brought crowds of hard drinking men to the Michigan town.

In 1863, the pair pulled up stakes in Syracuse and headed for the Michigan wilderness.  Midler apparently was a lifelong bachelor but Root had married a New Yorker named Lucia about 1857 and they had a six-year-old girl at the time of the move.  Upon arrival, the partners wasted little time in establishing their wholesale and retail liquor and tobacco trade in a building at 121 Water Street, located at the foot of a bridge connecting Saginaw with East Saginaw.  From their storefront Root and Midler could see the constant movement of ships up and down the river, many of them built in Saginaw shipyards.

Over the next nine years as the firm of Root & Midler prospered, their wealth propelled them into shipping.  In 1872 the firm purchased the steamer L.G. Mason and the following year the Daniel Ball. The latter was a well-known vessel for having occasioned a 1871 U.S. Supreme Court decision.  A passenger ship, the Daniel Ball was specifically designed for the forty-mile river route it earlier had traveled on the Grand River between Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Grand Haven at the mouth of Lake Michigan.  Designed with a draft of only two feet, the steamboat was not considered capable of plying the Great Lakes.  Because the ship was never licensed or inspected for safety as required by U.S. law, the federal government took the owners to court.  The district court dismissed the suit, the feds appealed and a circuit court reversed the decision, a judgment upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Daniel Ball became licensed.

The partners’ final purchase was the Cora Locke, a side-wheeler used as an auxiliary ship on weekends when traveler demand was heavy.   As a result of their fleet, Root and Midler largely controlled the passenger business between Saginaw and Bay City, a monopoly the firm succeeded in maintaining for fifteen years.  Over time the they rebuilt entirely the L.G. Mason.  It was said to emerge “as fresh as a daisy” and remained a favorite river craft for many years, setting a record for Saginaw River trips.

Not everything on the waters went well.  In October 1876 the Daniel Ball caught fire while on the way down river and was run ashore.  The passengers escaped unhurt but the aging craft burned to the water’s edge and sank, a total lost.  Undaunted, Root and Midler commissioned a new steamer from a regional shipyard.  Launched in 1877, the ship was christened the Wellington R. Burt, named for a wealthy local lumberman.  A side-wheeler weighing in a 252 tons, the Burt, shown here, was licensed to carry 500 people.  A popular stop was Lookout Point Harbor near Bay City, below.

Although the Wellington R. Burt was said to be “a well patronized and popular boat” on the Saginaw River, it was the occasion of Root & Midler Co. being sued in 1885.  Apparently the custom of passengers was to jump on the boat as it approached the dock.  When a 48-year old Ms. Clinton made her jump to the gangway, she fell, broke her leg and sued the steamboat owners for negligence, asking damages.  After a lower court dismissed the suit, she appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.  That body ruled in her favor, indicating that officers had not taken reasonable precautions against “an obvious frequent danger.”

Meanwhile Midler had died, leaving Root to carry on the business, subsequently purchasing his partner’s share from the estate.  He moved the liquor house from the river bank to Genesee Avenue, the main commercial street of Saginaw, purchasing a building in the Everett Block, above, so called because it included the Everett House hotel.  

Under Root’s proprietorship the liquor business continued to prosper.  In 1880 one journal opined:  “In the house of Root & Midler we find the ‘spirit’ of enterprise still competing for a foremost position among our liquor houses.  We highly commend this house and and feel confident that their business operations will be fully as successful in the future as they have been in the past.” Said another observer about 1885:  “The business of the firm considerably exceeded $100,000, having an extent covering the entire north portion of the State.”  

A master Mason, Root also engaged in politics and was elected for one term as a representative of the Second Ward to the Saginaw Common Council, but declined to run a second time.   Like Midler, Root died relatively young, passing in June 1886 at only 48 years old.   The cause was given as “congestion of the lungs.”  Of Root, his newspaper obituary said:  “In the varied relations of life he was a useful and respected business man and citizen and his private life was as quiet and unostentatious as it was spotless.  Few citizens in this city had so wide a circle of warm personal friends and his death was a source of profound regret.”  

Root’s death appears to have spelled the end of both the liquor and steamship businesses.  Saginaw itself was declining. Having peaked about 1870 in timber production, the region faced both diminishing supply and demand.  Lumbering in the region virtually disappeared by 1900. The boom that brought Root and Midler to Saginaw was over.  Nevertheless, the two whiskey men from Syracuse had played an important role in the city’s heyday and its history.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Whiskey Men and Grover Cleveland

Foreword: Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, the only man ever to be elected to two non-contiguous terms.  While in American history he stands high in the mid-ranks of Chief Executives, it also should be noted that, while seldom taking an alcoholic drink, Cleveland was a favorite with whiskey men and a close friend of several.   This post examines some of those relationships. 

When Alexander, (“Sandy”) Wood died, his funeral was attended by former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, just one of the well known figures who were Wood’s buddies and fishing companions during his lifetime and who at his death came to pay tribute in Boston to the memory of this immigrant Scots whiskey man.  He is shown left.

Born in Kelso, Scotland, Wood emigrated first to Canada and then to the United States, settling in Boston.  About 1872, with a partner he established a liquor house at 100-102 Broadway, shown here, and began rectifying, that is, blending his own proprietary brands of whiskey, and met with considerable success at the trade and considerable wealth. 

Throughout this time Wood was returning regularly to Canada during summers to fish.   In 1873 he and friends purchased salmon fishing waters on the Southwest Miramichi River in New Brunswick.   A man with an engaging and outgoing personality,  Wood became acquainted with people of influence and would bring them fishing on his salmon-teeming river.   Among them was the governor of Massachusetts and through him Wood got to know President Grover Cleveland, an avid fisherman.  Cleveland often was in Wood’s distinguished group of anglers who would take meet in Boston and entrain together into Canada to fish.  

The liquor dealer continued his fishing parties to New Brunswick virtually the rest of his life, dying in June 1899.  Among those attending his memorial services was  Grover Cleveland.  In 1906 the former President wrote an essay “In Defense of Fishermen” in which he extolled “full-blooded fishermen whose title is clear and whose natural qualifications are undisputed.”   My guess is he had Sandy Wood in mind when he penned those lines.

Although Edward Smith and Christian Hanlen could not boast so close a relationship with Cleveland, they were part of his political advancement.  After leaving his native Ireland in his teens, Edward Smith, shown right, spent the rest of his life in Rhode Island.  He would find significant success there both in business and in politics.  Operating under the name “Edward Smith, Importer and Wholesale Dealer in Wines and Liquors,”  his most important spirits offerings were whiskeys. Some he sold under distiller labels;  others he blended in his own facilities and put his label on them.  Meanwhile Smith also was pursuing a career in politics.  When Pawtucket was chartered as a Rhode Island city, Smith was elected as an alderman on the Democratic ticket.  He held the office for six consecutive years,1886 to 1892, and was elected president of the aldermanic board in 1890.  A delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1884,  Smith helped secure the presidential nomination for Grover  Cleveland.

Christian Hanlen was the owner/ manager of a wholesale liquor business called Hanlen Bros., located at 330 Market St. in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hanlen advertised widely his rye whiskeys, brandies, gins, imported and domestic wine, ales and stouts.  His involvement in Democratic Party politics came at a particularly crucial period.  When Cleveland ran again in 1892, serious opposition to him erupted within the Democratic Party.  Hanlen, however, was cited by the New York Times as a particularly ardent Cleveland supporter and elected to the nominating convention in Chicago, shown here, where Grover was elected on the first ballot.  

Perhaps no distiller either before or since has surpassed the career that Charles Tracey, shown left, crafted as president and treasurer of the Columbia Distillery Co., in Albany, New York.  He was a four-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, aide to five governors of New York, and a key advisor to President Grover Cleveland.

Close to Cleveland when he was governor of New York, Tracey was a staunch defender of Eastern business interests during his eight years on the Hill, particularly of the whiskey industry.  He became known as the chief spokesman for the “Gold Democrats,” a conservative faction of the party who, with President Cleveland, upheld the gold standard for currency against “free silver” advocates.A cartoon of the time characterized them as “Gold Bugs” and accused Cleveland of selling out the country.  The bearded figure to the right of the President may well be Tracey.  

Joseph “Joe” Seelinger was well known in Norfolk, Virginia, as a saloonkeeper and restauranteur. But his real claim to fame around town was as a favorite duck hunting companion of Grover Cleveland.  Linked in life, the two almost were united in death as they narrowly escaped drowning in March, 1901, attempting to return from a day of shooting.

Joe was the proprietor of the Onyx Saloon, located in the heart of the city’s bustling commercial district.  The Onyx featured an equally elaborately decorated restaurant on the second floor that became a favorite dining spot for the rich and socially prominent of Norfolk and the Tidewater.  One writer said of the Onyx that it “became widely known throughout the city by fastidious diners with whom cost was not a factor.  In the gay days of Norfolk his [Seelinger’s] place was the center of fashionable gatherings, especially around the holiday season.”

Meanwhile, the Onyx Saloon was making Joe, the genial saloonkeeper, very rich indeed.  He was able to indulge his passion as a sportsman and duck hunter.  The marshlands east of Norfolk were a favorite wintering grounds of millions of ducks of a wide range of species and hunting clubs proliferated.  A prime location was held by the Back Bay Gunning Club of which Seelinger was president and treasurer.  Enter Cleveland, a hunter with a passion for shooting ducks.  Shown together in an illustration, he and Joe connected as frequent hunting partners in the waters off Norfolk.  

It was on one of those outings that the two almost lost their lives.  Papers across America like the San Francisco Chronicle of March 1, 1901 headlined:  “Grover Cleveland is Caught in Storm;  Former President Narrowly Escapes Drowning While Duck Shooting.”   Cleveland and Seelinger were far out on the water having shot 75 ducks and many geese and pigeons.  The weather threatened.  The former President refused to leave before nightfall and by then a full fledged storm had arisen. The boat was nearly swamped by high wind and waves.  Apparently through Seelinger’s skill at the helm, after considerable time and in full darkness, the two were able to make shore. 

The idea that these whiskey men all played greater or lesser roles in the life of Grover Cleveland should be no surprise.  Through their liquor enterprises all of them had become wealthy and able to afford such luxuries as owning salmon waters and hunting lodges, heading political factions, and attending National Conventions.