Sunday, September 30, 2018

Whiskey Men Who Started as Peddlers

Foreword:  In the process of profiling more than 600 whiskey men — distillers, distributors, saloonkeepers — I have found several who began their careers in what many might consider the lowly occupation of peddler, an individual going from place to place to sell food or other small items.  One writer says:  “A distinctive way of making a living, peddling required that the man–since in the United States women nearly never engaged in it—knock on doors, go up to the homes of each one of his customers, cross their thresholds, communicate with them in their own language and develop a pleasant enough manner to convince them to buy something.” The occupation required long, hard hours of dedicated effort, but the individuals profiled here found success and hewed a better life for themselves and their families.

No one knew the hardships of peddling better than Isaac Merkel, a German-born immigrant who after marrying in his native Germany, emigrated in 1870 with his new wife to the United States.  Settling in Plattsburgh, New York, not far from the Canadian border, Isaac found himself in immediate need of employment. His wife was pregnant. When he arrived in the Adirondack wilderness he found few compatible occupations. Peddling was the best option. 

Sjnce Isaac could no money to open a store, he carried it to others. We can imagine him on Sunday mornings, waking up at dawn, joining dozens of other peddlers, shouldering a heavy knapsack and setting off on foot for a weeklong journey among the mountains and valleys. Merkel’s route took him over poor country roads that were little more than cart paths to isolated New York villages. As a peddler he would travel all day and at night sleep where he could find a warm place, in summer camping out under the sky.  He walked home on Fridays for the Jewish Sabbath.

Years of toil and a keen business sense eventually paid off for Merkel.  In time he established  a liquor blending operation and distributorship.  A 1913 Plattsburgh city directory lists his firm as “rectifiers and wholesale liquor dealers, bottlers and jobbers in cigars.”  His trademarked flagship whiskey was “Bachelor Rye.”  Merkel’s plant and office was at 56-50 Bridge St. and his retail store at 22-24 Bridge. He also founded a brewery and later a department store.  As his sons grew to manhood, Isaac introduced them into his businesses.

Merkel increasingly was recognized as a business leader in northern New York State, specifically cited in a 1891 history of Plattsburgh for his success as a merchant. In addition to his beverage interests, he served as treasurer of the Clinton Telephone Company and in 1915 as a director of the Mountain Home Telephone Company. In 1900 he was active as a court juror and in 1905 served as a member of the Plattsburgh Board of Education.  All this was a far cry from Isaac’s beginnings.

In 1859, Dominico Canale, an immigrant Italian boy of 16 stepped off the steamer “John Simon” onto the dock at Memphis, Tennessee.  Memphis would be his home for the rest of his life and upon his death he had created a liquor and mercantile family dynasty that survived until 2010. 

After working for relatives at their Memphis liquor store, Canale began peddling fruits and vegetables from his own push cart while continuing an interest in the whiskey trade. Before long he graduated from his produce wagon to selling from a warehouse at 8 Madison St., near Front, and called his establishment D. Canale & Co.  In addition to wholesaling fruits and vegetables he featured a quality bourbon whiskey that he labeled “Old Dominick.” The brand rapidly gained a local and regional customer base, advertised lavishly by Canale in large signs in downtown Memphis.

The Canale liquor and produce interests found significant success.  They allowed him to bring his sons into the business and thrust him into the forefront of Memphis commerce.  In 1905 a book entitled “Notable Men of Tennessee” featured him with the photo shown here.  Canale’s biography stated that:  “…Today [he] stands at the head of the fruit business of Memphis and, perhaps, of the South….Mr. Canale is what is rightly termed a self-made man, and has won his position in the social and commercial life of Memphis by his industry, his native ability, and the exercise of correct business principles.”  

In 1889 Moses (Mose) Weinberger, a Wichita grocer, headed for the newly opened Oklahoma Territory to seek his fortune.   Upon arrival in the town of Guthrie he initially made a living through the sale of bananas to homesteaders and later started the first legal saloon in the Territory. Today Moses is counted among “Oklahoma State Greats.” He is the central figure in the photo above, standing in front of his saloon.

An immigrant from Hungary, Weinberger came to America in 1877.  After settling in Kansas for a few years, he joined the Oklahoma Land Rush, taking a train from Wichita to Guthrie Station.  Between noon and 6 p.m. on that date about 10,000 people descended on that once sleepy railroad stop.  By day’s end Guthrie, shown below, was the largest town in the Oklahoma Territory.  Food, however, was at a premium and prices skyrocketed.  

Weinberger sized up the situation and immediately wired the Bryan Brothers Fruit Company of Wichita for boxes of bananas.  They came the next day by train and Moses went up and down the street selling bananas at two for five cents — the equivalent today of $1.25.  With the proceeds he hired a team of mules and a wagon, and during the following months peddled fruit all over town.  Mose staked a claim on two lots, built a house on them and moved his family down from Wichita.  

Tiring of peddling fruit, in June 1891 Mose heard a rumor that it might be possible to obtain a license from the Federal Government to sell liquor in Oklahoma.  Although he never before had run a saloon he made application and obtained a federal license from Leavenworth, Kansas.  Weinberger quickly opened the first legal drinking establishment in the Oklahoma Territory.  Later he added a liquor store.

Operated for 36 years, Weinberger’s “Same Old Moses” saloon was a huge success, even to having Carry Nation take her hatchet to his bar. Today the site in Guthrie bears a historical marker.   Moses also has been acknowledged in a history book used in Oklahoma schools.  On a list of  “State Greats,” the name Moses Weinberger can be found in the company of Humorist Will Rogers and Athlete Jim Thorpe.  His claim to fame:  “Opened first legal saloon in Oklahoma.”  Truly, Moses did -- and he started by peddling bananas.  

The nattily dressed young man shown right is David Feltenstein, a well-known prosperous whiskey man in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Feltenstein had not always known the affluence he attained as a successful wholesale, retail, and mail order liquor dealer.  He was born about 1873 in New York City of Russian Jewish immigrant parents who lived in a tenement on Manhattan’s lower East Side,  David’s father was a peddler, selling merchandise on the street and going door to door to support his family.

About 1893 David Feltenstein left New York City for Missouri where early on he was engaged in the whiskey trade. Exactly when Feltenstein founded his liquor dealership cannot be determined, but his business first showed up in St. Joseph directories in 1902, located at 315-319 Edmond Street.  That would be his location for the life of the company, an enterprise that proved very profitable.

In his success Feltenstein never forgot his roots, demonstrated several ways of saluting his heritage.  Outside his establishment he kept a cart similar to those that peddlers would push though the streets of New York, crying out their wares.  The sides of the cart advertised “Old Joel Whiskey.”  

Note too that in front of his store Feltenstein kept a line of barrels on the sidewalk, reminiscent of peddlers spreading out their products for passersby.  Most important, he named his flagship whiskey “Old Joel” after his father, Joel Feltenstein, the peddler, and put his picture on company bottles.

Briefly profiled here are three peddlers and the scion of a peddler — all of them successful whiskey men.  Clearly the skills and know-how that is required of the itinerant can carry over into more formal businesses, including those doing business in the liquor trade.

Note:  More lengthy profiles of each of the four men featured here can be found elsewhere on this blog:   Isaac Merkel, January 26, 2012;  Dominic Canale, November 26, 2011;  Moses Weinberger, February 15, 2014, and David (and Joel) Feltenstein, February 20, 2016.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Paducah’s Reuben Loeb — A Man of Many Minis

In order to distinguish a liquor house in a Kentucky town like Paducah, it often was necessary for the proprietor to forge a marketing strategy that would set his establishment apart from the crowd.  Reuben Loeb chose to issue a series of miniature jugs that advertised his house brands.  The result are displayed throughout this post, including the mini shown right that recently fetched $811 at auction.

Loeb was born in Hechingen, Hohensollern, Germany in December 1829 and like many Jewish youths of his time left for the United States when he was still a teenager.  The first eight years of his life in America, according to a biographer, saw him moving to various parts of the country.  His employment was at least in part in the whiskey trade where he must have been an apt learner.

In 1854 Loeb settled in Kentucky, locating in Paducah, a town formally established in 1830 and incorporated as a city by the state legislature in 1838. Based at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee River,  Paducah was a wise selection for Loeb.  By the time he arrived steam boats traversed the river system, and its port facilities were important to trade and transportation. In addition, railroads had entered the region. A factory for making red bricks, and a foundry for making rail and locomotive components became the nucleus of a thriving "river and rail" economy.

Recognizing that a booming town would mean many thirsty workers and foster dozens of saloons, after a brief foray into dry goods,  Loeb embarked on a wholesale liquor business in Paducah.  Only a short time after engaging in that trade, he might have had second thoughts about his choice when the Civil War broke out.  Paducah became a massive supply depot for Federal forces along the Ohio, Mississippi, and Tennessee river systems — and a favorite target for Confederate raids throughout the war.

Moreover, in December 1862, under the terms of a military order, thirty Jewish families in Paducah were required to leave their long-established homes. It was the result of General Grant trying to break up a black market in cotton, in which he suspected Jewish traders were involved.  It must have been an uncomfortable time for Loeb, familiar as he was with the anti-Semitism of his native Germany.  Jewish businessmen across the Union, along with members of Congress, complained to President Lincoln about Grant’s order and within a few weeks Lincoln revoked it. 
Loeb’s entry into the liquor trade initially was with a partner named Joseph Wile. At the outbreak of the Civil War, however, Wile, possibly to avoid choosing sides in military service, returned to his native Germany.  

As the conflict progressed,  Loeb linked with Moses Bloom, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, who carried the title “major” — possibly as a result of Union service.  The partners in turn hired Isaac Bernheim, later of “Old Harper” fame, as the bookkeeper in their Paducah wholesale liquor house.  Isaac soon was joined by his brother, Bernhard, at the firm.  The ambitious brothers eventually “outgrew their connection” with Loeb, Bloom & Company and began their own Paducah distillery. [See my post of December 10, 2014 on the Bernheims.]

Departure of the Bernheims had no appreciable effect on Loeb and Bloom.  In March 1902 the Paducah Sun recorded that “…Today the firm is the oldest in Paducah and one of the best known in the country.  It is remarkable how devoted the two gentlemen were during the forty years they were in business. They have never had a serious disagreement, and were the staunchest most loyal friends imaginable from that day to this.”  Throughout, their business address was 127-129 North Second Street.

One thing the partners must have agreed on was featuring a blizzard of brands.  Not distillers of whiskey but “recifiers,” that is, blenders, Loeb and Bloom were buying “raw” whiskey from multiple Kentucky distilleries and issuing it under their own proprietary labels.  Those included "A. L. Memorial,” Belle of Monroe.” "Bob Diggs,” "Caney Fork,” “Inkenois,” "Jack Tar,” "L., B. & Co.,” “Mountain Spring,” Old Superior,” Westmoreland,” ”McCracken Belle,” “Mermaid,” "Mountain Spring,” "Paducah Club,” "Red Snapper,” and "Spring Lick.”  Unlikely many of their competitors, the company trademarked virtually all these brands as protection against infringement, the bulk of them in 1905 and 1906 after Congress had strengthened the laws.

Meanwhile Louis was having a personal life.  Although an earlier marriage was recorded, it apparently without children.  In 1877, at the age of 48, Loeb married a second time.  His bride was Rosa (sometimes given as “Rosalia”) Lichtenstein, had been born in the same town in Germany, suggesting family ties.  Rosa was said to be a “recognized musician” with an excellent singing voice.  Louis was 48 at the time of their nuptials in Galveston, Texas;  Rosa was 24.  Despite the age disparity the couple had three children, Sidney born in 1880; Jesse, 1883, and Florence, 1890.

When and how Loeb determined that issuing mini-jugs for several of the company brands was an effective advertising ploy is not clear.  While other liquor dealers often issued such items for a single flagship brand, Loeb, Bloom & Company had a plethora of labels to market.  

As will be noted here, the partners issued at least four different minis for Paducah Club Kentucky whiskey, as well as  jugs for Caney Fork, Mountain Spring, and Westmoreland Rye.  These would have been given to both saloons and restaurants carrying their brands, as well as presented to retail customers.  Each jug held a swallow or two of liquor.  Shot glasses were another company giveaway.

Loeb expanded his business interests into other spheres, including having a financial stake in the Western District Tobacco warehouse.  He owned valuable parcels of land throughout the Paducah metropolitan area and was an major investor with local banks.  He also participated in Masonic activities and civic affairs, accounted as an individual who “bore his part in all public improvements and all movements calculated to prove of benefit to the community at large.”

As they gained maturity, Loeb brought his sons into the business.  Sydney at 18 was out of school, according to the 1900 census, and working as a bookkeeper at Loeb, Bloom & Company.   He would be joined by Jesse in several years and moved to traveling salesman while the younger brother took over the books.  As both Loeb and Bloom aged, the sons were given more and more management responsibility for the liquor house.

In later years, Loeb was plagued with an inflammation of the kidneys, then called Bright’s disease.  The condition although chronic can result in other health problems, including heart attacks.  In an apparent effort to offset his condition Louis was an annual visitor to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, founded by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.  People of means went there to take specialized treatments aimed at restoring their health.  Nevertheless, the Paducah whiskey man suddenly died about a year after his last visit to Battle Creek.

His obituary in the Paducah Sun of March 6, 1902 provided details on his last moments:  “Mr. Loeb was sitting in his arm chair when suddenly his nurse noticed that his hands had fallen to his sides. Running out to secure assistance and remove the patient to the bed, she found Mr. Stewart Dick, who assisted him. Mr. Loeb died without a struggle after he had been placed on the bed.”  Age 72 at his death, Loeb was buried in a Paducah cemetery in a mausoleum bearing his name.

With the participation of Loeb’s sons the liquor house continued in business for several more years.  When Moses Bloom subsequently died, however, Loeb, Bloom & Co. disappeared from Paducah directories.  Considered one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, Loeb left a fortune to his family.  His widow continued to live in Paducah until 1913 when she went to New York City to live with her daughter.  Sydney and Jesse remained in Kentucky.  When Rosa died in 1924 of a stroke, her body was returned to Paducah to lie with Louis.

In death, Loeb received glowing tributes.  The Sun said:  “He was generous, charitable, and kind and was a most…progressive man. He is one who will be greatly missed.”  Another account said:  “Mr. Loeb was a man who made and retained friends, and at the time of his death was sincerely mourned by many outside his own family, who knew and appreciated his many excellent qualities of mind and heart.”  Today we have the mini-jugs and other whiskey artifacts by which to remember this extraordinary whiskey man.

Note:  While the information for this post is from numerous sources, a principal resource was an article on Reuben and Rosa Loeb that appeared in the 1914 publication “Memorial Record of Western Kentucky, Illustrated, Volume II, the Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Beverage Legacy of Will and Glenna Joyce

Beginning with a Columbus, Ohio, liquor house and evolving into a major bottler of soft drinks, William and Glenna Joyce, a couple themselves with limited educational opportunities, over the past 57 years through the Joyce Trust have distributed tens of millions of dollars toward the college education of more than 800 students at Ohio State and Notre Dame Universities.

The story began in June 1873 when William Henry “Will” Joyce was born in Shawnee, Ohio, the first child of John, 25, and Anna, 19, Joyce, both the progeny of Irish immigrants.  Shown above, Shawnee is village about 66 miles southeast of Columbus.  By the 1900 census the family had moved to the Ohio capital city.  John Joyce was recorded as a “day laborer” and William, now 25 and living at home, as a salesman.

Within a few years, Joyce had established himself as a up-and-coming Columbus businessman.  About 1909, with a partner, he founded the Millbrook Distilling Company, described as “Importer Distillers and Jobbers of Wines, Liquors and Fine Old Whiskey.”  It was located at   548-550 High Street, the three story building shown here.  Milbrook Distilling also had a presence across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky, at the corner of Front and Scott Streets.

Joyce was not a distiller but a “rectifier,” blending whiskey purchased from distilleries in Ohio and the adjacent states of Kentucky and Pennsylvania to achieve a desired smoothness, color and taste.  His flagship brand was “Millbrook Whiskey,” openly advertised as a blend.  He sold it in both quart and flask-sized labeled glass bottles.

The young entrepreneur’s efforts did not end with his liquor interests.  In 1905 he join with a fellow Irishman, George Francis Mooney, in founding a new Columbus brewery, called the Washington Brewing Company.  Mooney oversaw the construction of the brewery at West Second Avenue and Perry Street, shown below, and upon its opening became general manager.  Joyce was vice president. 

Joyce’s ventures into liquor and beer were coming at a time when markets for alcoholic beverages was shrinking in Ohio and surrounding states as a result of “local option” laws that allowed counties and towns to vote themselves “dry.”  Moreover, clamor for complete prohibition in Ohio was rising.  The canny Joyce may have sensed the trend and early in the new century created the Wyandotte Pop Company to make and sell soft drinks.

In the meantime, Will had married.  His wife was Estelle Clair (Smith?), a native Ohioan who was eight years younger than her husband.  They had no children.  The 1910 census found the couple living in Columbus with Estelle’s sister in residence.  In bad health as the century progressed, Estelle died in September 1914 at the age of 33 and was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Lockbourne, Ohio.

Meanwhile Glenna Stengel, the daughter of Martin and Nellie McCourt Stengel, was learning the craft of seamstress.  Born in 1890 in Columbus into a family of modest means, at 18 she married a man named Clarence Burger but divorced him after eight years.  How she then met Joyce is unknown but three years after his first wife’s death, Will married Glenna in 1917 in a Catholic church, officiated by Rev. Father McDermott.  Although the wedding license states that Burger was dead, another record has him living until 1976.  If he was known to be living, the couple could not have been married in the church.

Despite Glenna’s lack of formal education, Joyce had made a good decision.  His new wife proved to have a penchant for business.  When the coming of statewide prohibition forced the shutdown of the Millbrook Distillery and the Washington Brewery, Joyce started two new enterprises devoted to soft drinks, the Joyce Products Co. and Beverage Management Inc.  Joyce brought Glenna into company management.

Now the emphasis became 7-Up, the lemon-lime-flavored soft drink with which the Joyce family name had long been associated.  While the exact relationships are fuzzy, Will Joyce early on was involved in producing this carbonated drink, owning bottling plants in both Columbus and Norwalk, Ohio.  Shown here are green 7-Up bottles that carry “Joyce”  embossing.  Like Joyce’s liquor business, his venture into soft drinks proved very profitable.

Will Joyce died at the age of 60 in November 1933 and was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in a plot adjacent to his first wife.  Having no children, his estate counted in the multi-millions went to Glenna.  She also became the major stockholder and first vice president of Joyce Products Company, a position she would hold for several decades.  

Whether the idea for the Joyce Trust and the Glenna R. Joyce Scholarships originated with her or had been agreed earlier with her husband is unknown. Nor is it entirely clear why she selected to assist Ohio State and Notre Dame since the Joyces had no direct ties to either university.  For a number of years, however, they had lived in the building shown here, directly across from the OSU campus.  As a Catholic, the idea of assisting a leading church university like Notre Dame may have appealed to Glenna.

Candidates for the Joyce scholarships are limited to residents of Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union Counties, Ohio.  In addition candidates “must exemplify superior academic potential, potential contribution to the university, and high character; must demonstrate financial need.”  The scholarships pay for the full cost of attendance for four years and are split evenly between Ohio State and Notre Dame.  Because the latter as a private school is considerably more expensive, there is a monetary imbalance.

After Will’s death Glenna moved out of Columbus to Upper Arlington, a middle-class suburb.  She died at home there on the day before Christmas in 1960.  She was buried next to her husband in graves graced by a large monument in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.  Following the dictates of her will, the Joyce Trust and Glenna R. Joyce Scholarships were established the following year.  As of 2017 its assets were in excess of $28 million and the number of recipients annually has been increasing.  The Joyce Trust is administered by the National City Bank of Columbus.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Raising the Flaggs Over Massachusetts

No American pedigree could be higher than to have an ancestor who was a “Minuteman” involved at Lexington, Massachusetts, the first battle of the American Revolution.  That was the banner carried by the Flagg family whose credentials included their name on a Boston liquor house for some seventy years — and beyond.

The story began with Josiah Flagg, a Worcester, Massachusetts, jeweler, engraver, and singing master, a man credited with forming the first Colonial band and providing audiences with classical music.  Josiah also was a patriot, a member of the secretive “Sons of Liberty” whose goal was to win independence from England.  That pursuit found him firing at redcoats on April 19, 1775.  During the ensuing war Josiah was raised to sergeant in George Washington’s army.

Josiah’s son was a Worcester minister whose son, Barnabas “Barney” Flagg seemed to have strayed from the path of righteousness and in 1813, at the age of 21, landed in the Worcester jail, shown here.  Barney was accused of stealing $200.  Likely as a result of family influence he was released in May of that year.  Later Barney would marry and raise a family of whom the second-born in 1816 was Dennis F. Flagg, the whiskey man of this post.

This Flagg, born Francis Dennis, chose early in life to reverse his given names, and to honor his family’s military heritage by joining The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.  Founded in 1638 and the oldest chartered military organization in North America, the unit would become an important part of his life.  The Artillery Company insignia is shown here. 

According to Flagg records, Dennis founded his liquor business in 1836 in Boston.  During approximately the same period he married his first cousin, Nancy Flagg, also a descendant of the famed Josiah.  They would raise a family of seven children, including three sons — Frederick D., Charles P., and Henry D. — all of whom would be involved in the Flagg liquor and wine business.

Flagg selected his location well at 165 Blackstone Street.  The avenue had been opened only shortly before on a landfill completed in 1833.  The name was an official tribute to the Reverend William Blaxton, a missionary to the Shamut Indians and considered the first non-native inhabitant of the area.  Followed by other landfills and development of the Town Dock for the nearby Quincy Markets, this section of Central Boston became increasingly retail oriented.  As new four and six story brick buildings were built, Flagg occupied one of them at ground level, taking advantage of the growing crowds jostling each other on market day, as shown here.

Flagg’s front window was a showpiece of the neighborhood, changed regularly to reflect the season of the year and holidays.  A trade publication, Liquor Store & Dispenser, noted and photographed the singularity of one of Flagg’s Spring display, shown above, featuring bottles of rum.

  Flagg’s Blackstone window also frequently featured hisflagship brand “Kentucky Bourbon,” sold in amber glass bottles with an elegant label from D. F. Flagg & Co.  The label featured an elaborate monogram and indicated that the proprietor also dealt in wines and teas.  

By the 1860s Flagg was financially able to move his family into a newly constructed home, shown here, in fashionable Union Park on Boston’s south side.  Considered today to be the largest urban Victorian neighborhood in the country, Union Park houses were built circa 1860 and gave the area a distinctly English look.  As soon his sons reached their mid-teens Dennis Flagg brought them into his firm and taught them the business.  The 1870 census found Fred, 25, in management and Henry, 16, and Charles, 15, working as clerks.

By this time Flagg had expanded to a second enterprise, a grocery store located at 150 Cambridge St. operated as “Flagg & Favor” with a partner, E. W. Favor.  In time Dennis Flagg’s health seemingly declined.  By 1880 he was no longer involved in the grocery or the liquor house that bore his name.   His three sons, with an older partner, George Hart, were operating Dennis F. Flagg & Company.  In October 1884 Flagg died at the age of 68 and was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plains, Suffolk County.  

With her husband’s death, his widow, Nancy, sought a change of scene.  Two months after his interment, she purchased land from the State of Massachusetts and commissioned a new house at 206 Commonwealth Avenue.  Designed by Allen and Kenway, noted Boston architects, the Flagg home was completed in July 1886.  Two of Nancy’s children lived with her: Henry Flagg and Elizabeth (Flagg) Simmons, a widow.  They all previously had resided at  the Flagg home in Union Park.  Nancy had only a few months to enjoy the new home, however,  dying in November 1887.

After Frederick Flagg died in 1891 at the age of 47, management changes occurred at the liquor house.  Now Charles was listed as proprietor, along with Hart.  Charles and Henry also owned a real estate firm that operated from the 185 Blackstone address with Henry taking the lead in that enterprise.  Charles sponsored a large ad in a local business directory citing 1836 as the year his father founded D. F. Flagg & Company at 165 Blackstone Street and noting 69 years of continuous operation.  Although his date of death is unknown, Charles Flagg disappeared from Boston directories after 1909.  About that time, the company name and liquor stock appear to have been sold.  By 1913 D. F. Flagg & Company was recorded as operated by Harry B. Golden.

Although shut down by National Prohibition, the company name was revived after  Repeal.  A 1948 directory listing indicates that with T. H. Hagan as manager, the Flagg firm was featuring the “finest in imported and domestic liquors” and located at 206 Dartmouth Street, Boston.  A 1954 listing shows Harry Nathanson as manager.  A 1960 directory recorded D. F. Flagg & Co. still in the liquor and wines  business at the Dartmouth address.  

Accepting 1836 as the year Dennis Flagg founded his establishment on Blackstone Street, the run of some seventy years under family ownership is certainly a record for Boston liquor houses.  Moreover, the fact that despite National Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War Il, the name D. F. Flagg survived in Boston’s liquor trade for at least 125 years is reason enough to celebrate the Flaggs, a family born with the Revolution and a multi-generational American success story.

Note:  The story of the Flagg family was brought to my attention by Peter Samuelson, a New England collector of labeled whiskeys who frequently asks my thoughts on pre-Prohibition brands.  After he sent me the two photos of Flagg bourbon shown here, I was spurred to undertake the research that resulted in this post.  Thanks, Peter, for providing the photos — and my incentive.