Friday, September 30, 2022

Abe Lincoln and Whiskey Drinkin’

The cartoon below purporting to show Abraham Lincoln mixing up a bourbon cocktail is a modern take on an old story about the 16th President of the United States as a young man — accused of having running a saloon in New Salem, Illinois.  It was a charge Lincoln denied, but one that has been repeated down through the years, buttressed by alleged “documents.”  The story is complicated and, to my mind at least, inconclusive.
During the first of the seven famous debates between Lincoln and Steven O. Douglas, the Illinois senator, himself a heavy drinker, seemingly set the saloon story in motion.  Douglas told the assembled crowd that when the future President first arrived in the village:  “He could ruin more liquor than all the boys in town together.”  He also charged that Lincoln had run a “grocery,” in those days a term indicating a store in which whiskey, brandy, rum and wine were sold by the jug, and often by the drink. 

Whiskey historian Michael Veach recounts a story reported first in the Wine & Spirits Bulletin of August 1, 1901, that described an alleged incident from a Lincoln-Douglas debate:  “Douglas said that he had met Mr. Lincoln before at his tavern. Lincoln replies that he does indeed remember the incident and that “It is true that the first time I saw Judge Douglas I was selling whiskey by the drink. I was on the inside of the bar and the Judge was on the outside. I was busy selling, he was busy buying.”   

Although I am skeptical about the authenticity of the exchange, certain facts seem clear.  Lincoln with a friend named William Berry opened a store in the New Salem village, a community long abandoned that has been recreated as a historical site commemorating Lincoln.  Among the recreated buildings is the Lincoln-Berry store, described as selling “dry goods.”

An account reporting that the store also was selling liquor surfaced in an 1899 biography, “Abraham Lincoln:  The Man of the People” by Norman Hapgood.  An unfounded claim by an alleged former employer, it reads:  "I [Daniel Green Burner] clerked in the [Barry-Lincoln] store through the winter of 1833-34 up to the 1st of March. While I was there they had nothing for sale but liquors. They may have had some groceries before that, but I am certain they had none then. I used to sell whiskey over their counter at 6¢ a glass—and charged it too.”   Despite Burner’s claim being unsupported, it frequently has been reprinted.

Burner’s account also appears on a widely distributed “broadside.” shown here, that contains a reproduction of “Abraham Lincoln’s Liquor License and Bond.” That document describes the issuance on 6 March 1833 to Lincoln and Berry of a one year license to keep a tavern in the Town of New Salem, attested to by Charles E. Oppel, clerk of Sangamon County, Illinois, and dated April 25, 1908. 

In an atmosphere of using any weapon at hand to combat the rising tide of prohibitionary sentiments in America, the purported “Lincoln license” was given wide distribution.  Clarke Distilling of Peoria took a full page ad in newspapers nationwide to publicize the document.  It added a picture of Lincoln and purported to show the interior of the “tavern,” below, despite the actual building having disappeared

Experts do not believe the document is authentic.  Writing for the Digital Records Library of Illinois History, Dr. Neil Gale, after consulting with other Lincoln historians and weighing the evidence concludes:  “…We are inclined to look upon this whole tavern license transaction as it is now so widely publicized as a forgery.”

Dr. Gale quotes extensively from Lincoln’s remarks in the first debate with Douglas:   "When a man hears himself somewhat misrepresented, it provokes him—at least, I find it so with myself; but when the misrepresentation becomes very gross and palpable, it is more apt to amuse him….The Judge is woefully at fault about his early friend Lincoln being a 'grocery keeper.' I don't know as it would be a great sin, if I had been, but he is mistaken. Lincoln never kept a grocery anywhere in the world.”

Lincoln followed up this remark in his speech at Charleston, Illinois, during the debate on September 18, 1858, by giving the definition of a forgery:  "What is a forgery? It is the bringing forward something in writing or in print purporting to be of certain effect when it is altogether untrue.”

Nothing of this controversy deterred the Nation’s pre-Prohibition liquor dealers from selling whiskey by using Lincoln face and name.  Baltimore’s Dumbarton Liquor Company featured its “Old Honest Abe” brands of rye and bourbon.  Herman Toser whose Milwaukee liquor dealership lasted 47 years featured a label entitled “Old Abe.”  In more recent times, McCormick whiskey created a figural flask of a young Lincoln.  Up to the moment is a line of Lincoln bourbon, rye, and amber whiskeys being issued by the Boundary Oak Distillery of Hardin County, Kentucky.   Shown here is a special memorial whiskey that recently sold to a Lincoln descendant at a charity auction for $25,550.

Notes:  This post was derived from a range of sources, of which the principal ones were the aforementioned article by Dr. Neil Gale and an online article by Amy Williams entitled “What Would Abe Lincoln Drink?”

Monday, September 26, 2022

Capt. Tom Morrissey: A Stellar Life on the Mississippi


When Thomas M. Morrissey died in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1943, the local press provided him with a laudatory obituary that cited his contributions to civic advancement as well as his important local business interests, Mississippi River boats, and prize-winning cattle ranch.  Nowhere was it mentioned that Morrissey got his start by selling liquor. 

Shown here in maturity, Tom Morrissey was born in September 1874 in Killmacomma, Waterford County , Ireland, the son of Timothy and Mary Fitzgerald Morrissey.  According to family members, when his mother died and his father was unable to raise the children, Tom was sent to the United States to live with an uncle in Vicksburg, apparently a saloonkeeper.  Tom was given an elementary education at Saint Aloysius School run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.  Relations with his uncle were not easy, however, and the youngster quit school, leaving Vicksburg to do farm labor in Kansas.  

Indicating his entrepreneurial bent,  Morrissey returned to Vicksburg in 1895 and at the age of 21 went into business for himself.  Although his obituary failed anywhere to mention his beginnings in the liquor trade, indications are that he opened a drinking establishment at 355 Levee Street, overlooking the Mississippi.  The photo below shows the Vicksburg waterfront as it looked in the early 1900s. The T.M. Morrissey Saloon can be seen just above the steamboat at right.

Despite his youth, Morrissey apparently was an early success as a saloonkeeper.  Like his competition, he was generous with his bar tokens.  At right is a metal disc worth five cents toward a drink.  Below are highly unusual tokens made of wood.  Also worth five cents, Morrissey may have been playing a riff on taking “wooden nickels.”

By 1906, Morrissey’s success was such that he opened a second location at 124 Levee Street, one he listed as a restaurant.  He was advertising heavily in the Vicksburg city directory, featuring multiple vertical page ads that that advertised “T.M. Morrissey:  Dealer in Wines, Liquors, Cigars & Tobacco.”  He also was an agent for F.W. Cook, a brewing company in Evansville, Indiana.

As many saloonkeepers of his time, Morrissey soon recognized that selling whiskey in two gallon jugs was less labor intensive and more lucrative than hustling liquor drink by drink over the bar.  There is no evidence that he was a “rectifier,” that is, blending and labeling his own brands of liquor.  My guess is that Morrissey was buying whiskey by the barrel from Midwest distillers, shipping them to Vicksburg via the Mississippi River, decanting them directly into jugs with his name on them, and selling them to the public and other local saloons.  Shown here are examples of his containers.

As he was building his business, Tom also was having a personal life. in November, 1899, at the age of 25 he married Josephine “Josie” Romano, born in Salerno Italy, the daughter of Andrea and Angelina Romano.  The  beautiful woman shown right, Josie was only 15 at the time of their nuptials, ten years younger than Tom.  Perhaps as a present to her family, Morrissey built a third saloon on Levee Street, in the 1200 block.  Called the Steamboat Exchange Saloon, in 1907 its operation was given to Josie’s brother, Sam Romano.

Neither Romano or Morrissey would be in the Vicksburg saloon trade much longer.  For years prohibitionary forces had been growing stronger in Mississippi and in 1908 culminated in a statewide ban on making or selling alcohol.  This ban was 12 years before National Prohibition.  Unlike his fellow publicans, Morrissey is not on record commenting on the situation.  He was busy calculating a new strategy, one that would launch him onto the Mississippi River.

Morrissey rented docking space on the Louisiana side of the Yazoo Canal, a channel that served as a border between states.  He opened a floating bar and, as per the ad shown here, would go to the Mississippi side to pick up and return customers.  So successful was this enterprise that Morrissey soon expanded by introducing gambling, a restaurant and entertainment.  As his grandson, Jesse F. Jones III noted in 1943:  “He literally had a monopoly on the sale of whiskey to the thirst citizens of Vicksburg and surrounding towns. He prospered, purchased the Louisiana property known as Desoto Island…and when a bridge was built across the Mississippi at Vicksburg he bought all of the land on the Louisiana side of the bridge thereby assuring himself of a continued monopoly on whiskey sales to Mississippi.”  

Vickburg local artisan Victor Bobb observed:  “One time Old Man Morrissey, he put him a boat (The Charles J. Miller, shown here) down there….He was right on the line between the two states.   The Louisiana people would get after him, and he’d just move the width of the boat over to the Mississippi side of the line.  And the Mississippi people would get after him then and he would move over just the width of the boat again!  They claim they spent half a million dollars trying to figure out if he was in Louisiana or Mississippi.”

Morrissey’s vessels became part of a fleet of steamboats plying the Big River from New Orleans to Memphis.  Among them were The Ben Hur, The J. H. Menge, The S.B. Duncan, The Falls City, and The Rosalie M.   Morrissey’s flagship was the Belle of the Bend.  Shown below, that steamer once brought President Theodore Roosevelt to Vicksburg for the hunt that gave the world the Teddy Bear.  During the flood of 1913 Morrissey’s boats did rescue work bringing many families and their possessions out of the high water areas.  Up and down the river he bore the honorary title of Commodore but he was better known by the populace as “Captain Tom.”

As his shipping enterprise grew, Morrissey, perhaps also reflecting his youth in Kansas, invested in farm land.  His Eagle Lake plantation was 6,700 acres of good bottom land located beside an 18 mile lake that had been a bend in the Mississippi River until it changed its course.  There he raised prize cattle, said to be “one of his prides.”  Four other plantations were devoted solely to cotton.  He took personal control of those farms, often leaving for them at dawn and returning at nightfall.  It is said that he always carried a pistol with him in the car.  

Morrissey’s obituary emphasized his attention to family:  "He was a devoted 
husband and a loving father and enjoyed home life.” Shown here, the Morrissey home was a large rambling structure built by slaves in 1831 as one story and gradually expanded over several owners to the house shown here.  Originally designed in a Greek Revival Style, the house later was remodeled with Italianate features. For all of Morrisey’s success, his and Josephine’s personal lives had been marked by all too frequent sorrow.  Their marriage produced ten children over a period of 26 years, one son, Michael, and nine daughters.   Of those, three girls died in infancy: Mary at two in 1905;  Alice, within a year, in 1922;  and Antoinette, within a year, in 1926.

In later years, Morrissey stayed closer to Vicksburg with his enterprises.  The 1935 Vicksburg city directory provided insights into his multi-faceted activities.  At 60 years old “Captain Tom” was listed as the president of a wholesale beverages company;  president of the Morrissey Line, a river freight service;  general manager of Morrissey Storage Garage, Inc., and vice president of Morrissey Construction Co., headed by his son, Michael.  To this litany, his obituary added “real estate and banking interests.”

Widely recognized as an economic and, according to family members, political force in Vicksburg, Morrissey continued to direct the fortunes of his business empire until his death at 68.  After what was described as “a short illness,”  he died at home on Sunday, March 28, 1943.   He was extolled in the local press:  “He was a loyal friend and his word was his bond. He was most happy when aiding and assisting others along life's roadway.Through his kindness and generosity many have benefited.”

While giving the family time to assemble for his funeral, Morrissey’s wake at the family home lasted three days.  Jesse Jones described the scene: “What was particularly noteworthy was the day the Blacks attended his wake. This was the segregated South and they all came on one day. I remember looking out the window upstairs in the Big House and seeing them in their best dress coming to say good bye to Captain Tom. My sister Nina has the registry that they signed. Since many were illiterate there are lots of X's in the book. There are also lots of nicknames that he had given them over the years, Son Ab, Dusty, Shortstuff, Little Bit, Peter Rabbit, etc.”

The funeral for Captain Tom is said to have been one of the largest in Vicksburg’s history.  There were 46 honorary pallbearers, a number that included U.S. Senator Theodore Bilbo and Vicksburg Mayor J.C. Hamillton.  Following a solemn procession from the Morrissey home to St. Paul’s Catholic Church, a Requiem Mass was offered.  Interment was at Cedar Hill Cemetery.  Josephine would join him there 23 years later.  The Morrissey monument and graves are shown below.

A cast-off pre-teen Irish boy, sent to live with an unwelcoming relative in a strange Southern city in the aftermath of the Civil War, Tom Morrissey blossomed in that environment and died a self-made millionaire.  Although ignored in his obituaries, for a quarter century until National Prohibition arrived in 1920, Captain Tom ran saloons and sold liquor; his business empire was built on alcohol.

Addendum:  Not long after this vignette was posted the article that follows became available.  Dated July 29, 1803,  it makes clear some of the reasons Morrissey was so popular in the black community.  It describes how he traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to provide an alibi and free a black man scheduled to be hanged the next day for a murder he did not commit.

Note:  This post would not have been possible without the instigation and assistance of Kelly Stevens, the great granddaughter of Tom Morrissey.  She provided information and the majority of the images.  Other prime sources were the Morrissey obituary in the Vicksburg newspaper of March 29, 1943 and a memorial article by grandson Jesse Jones III in the Waterways Journal of April 10, 1943.  The extended comment on Captain Tom’s floating saloon is from the book, “Local Color:  A Sense of Place in Folk Art” by William Ferris, Anchor Books, 1982.  

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Whiskey Men: The Lure & Lore of the Log Cabin


 Foreword:  During the Nineteenth Century, the “old log cabin” became an icon of the genuine in America. Candidates for political office were quick to claim that they were born and raised in one.  Log cabins engendered great nostalgia for the simple virtues of the Nation’s rustic pioneer past, including neighborliness and fair dealing. The liquor trade seized upon the dwelling in its advertising.  After a quick look I have counted at least 16 different pre-Prohibition whiskey brands that referenced a log cabin.  Here are examples of five.

In a real sense, the desire of American politicians to be associated with a log cabin began with the Presidential campaign of 1840 when Gen. William Henry Harrison advertised his successful candidacy (but short-lived presidency) by the use of a log cabin as his symbol.  Actually born in a Virginia plantation mansion, Harrison later lived in a log cabin in Indiana during a failed effort as a farmer. 

The log cabin shape was derived from a supposed quote by Harrison he would “rather sit on his front porch sipping whiskey than run for President.”  His opponents used the comment to slur him. As the story goes, Harrison turned the tables and offered free bottles of whiskey in the shape of a log cabin to the electorate.  Shown below the bottles, now very rare, were made in two styles by the Mount Vernon Glass Works of New York.  

The bottle at left is blown in the shape of a cabin with a four-sided “hip roof.”  The front has the legend “Tippecanoe,” an allusion to Gen. Harrison’s success at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe against a Native American confederacy, a victory that in effect open much of the Midwest to settlers. The other side of the bottle reads “North Bend,” Harrison’s southern Ohio home not far from Cincinnati.  Later Edmund Booz, a Philadelphia distiller,  would issue a series of log cabin shaped bottles, shown below.  They often are mistaken for the originals.

After working for others in the liquor industry, Dan Russell, shown here, had the foresight to see that the Old Times Distillery, located on Louisville’s West Broadway would be an excellent vehicle to advance his desire to be among the Kentucky “bourbon barons.”  Founded in 1869, that distillery had been brought into national prominence during the 1890s. Russell was able to buy a controlling interest and become president of the distillery.

Seeing the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago as an excellent opportunity for publicity the distillery owners built a small working log cabin distillery in the heart of the fairground “between the cliff dwellers exhibit and the educational buildings.”  Shown below in a replica die-cut trade card the structure closely identified the whiskey with the rustic log structures of the rapidly expanding Nation.  The exhibit was a great success, the whiskey won a gold medal, and “Old Times” whiskey was launched as a national brand.

Billy Winter in Portland, Oregon, took the theme one step further.  He emerged about the turn of the century as the founder and genial proprietor of a watering hole known as “Billy Winter’s Log Cabin.”  a saloon and liquor house located on Third Street near Morrison in downtown Portland, a building crafted inside and out to resemble a log cabin.  

The trade card here appears to show the sales room portion of the saloon.  It has a definite rustic frontier look.  Two gentlemen appear to be filling containers from an array of about ten large barrels lining one wall.   Each barrel has a number of whiskey bottles around it for a ready sale.  Hanging from one wall is the stuffed head of a deer. Guns and other artifacts are scattered about. 

A similarly cluttered look identifies Billy’s bar on a second trade card where the owner is shown standing.  Whiskey bottles, American flags and trophy heads dominate the wooden walls, reenforcing the log cabin theme.  His flagship brand of whiskey was “The Log Cabin.”  Shown below is a clear glass pumpkinseed flask embossed with his name and the outline of a log cabin.  Given the expense of creating this container for his whiskey, Winter clearly anticipated significant sales.

Distilling was in Arthur Philip Stitzel’s blood. His father, Philip Stitzel, immigrated in 1857 to the United States with his father and two brothers Frederick and Jacob. The Stitzel family eventually settled in Louisville where the three brothers produced bourbon.

The Stitzel brothers experimented with using wheat in place of rye in a typical bourbon recipe. Typically bourbons are made with corn, rye and barley. The change in grains was not widely done at this time, so the distillery never released a commercial version of this recipe. Instead the knowledge was passed on to Arthur when he eventually opened his distillery.

This Stitzel’s flagship whiskey was “Old Cabin Still” whiskey.  As shown here, brand featured a log cabin cabin prominently in the label, the box, and advertising.  A. Philip later would join with members of the notable Weller Kentucky distilling family to create the famous Stitzel-Weller distillery, shown above,  that survived National Prohibition and brought Julius “Pappy” Van Winkle to the fore.

After five years of operating his Louisville liquor house, a restless John Roach sold the business and began to build and operate distilleries.  Roach’s second plant was the Old Log Cabin Distillery, named for the proprietary brand of whiskey produced there.  Located on Louisville’s  waterfront, this facility included a three story still house with the capacity of mashing 600 bushels a day, two bonded warehouse that held 20,000 barrels, offices and a residence for the manager.

   The warehouses drew particular praise from an observer:  “Here are to be seen two of the finest and bonded warehouses  to be found in the state…supplied with all modern improvements in construction, patent ricks…forming a well-ventilated pyramid of barrels….It is one of the dryest and best ventilated warehouses in the district.”

Briefly profiling just five examples of American distillers and liquor dealers using the log cabin image to sell whiskey just scratches the surface of the phenomenon.  As noted earlier, just a random look identified 16.  More remain to be catalogued .  What began as a campaign device in a 1840 Presidential campaign became a symbol of American authenticity that for 80 years marvelously served to sell whiskey.

Notes:  Thanks to Ferd Myers for the images of the original “Tippecanoe” whiskey bottles that, in a sense, set off an entire phenomenon.  Longer vignettes on the whiskey men mentioned here may be  found elsewhere on this website:   Edmund Booz, July 27, 2015;  Dan Russell, August 14, 2016;  Billy Winter, June 15, 2015; The Stitzels, September 22, 2021, and John Roach,  February 18, 2022.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Alexander Fries and His Life of Many Flavors

Alexander Fries’ story is marked by incongruities.  Respected worldwide as an eminent Bavarian scientist, Fries, shown here, in 1883 was hailed into a  New York court for violating a liquor trademark and later subject of a Congressional investigation into fraudulent whiskey.  Declared a Knight of the Grand Cross, a Spanish order that carried benefits bestowed by the Roman Catholic Pope, Fries was Jewish.   A lifelong bachelor deeply devoted to his siblings and their offspring, Fries could not prevent family conflict over his legacy.

Fries was born in 1821 in Furth, Bavaria, into a family of

 scholars.   His father, Moritz Fries, shown here, was a celebrated mathematician and professor who saw that Alexander, who showed early signs of unusual intelligence, received a good education.  The youth attended lectures at the University of Erlangen and earned a reputation for his genius in chemistry, as well as his ability as a linguist.

After an early career working and studying in France, Fries’ ability caught the notice of Spanish authorities who offered him the opportunity to bring his intellect to bear on an agricultural development a large area of the country adjacent to the Sierra Morenas mountains.  His assignment there encompassed 12 years and was widely hailed as “a crowning work.”

As a result, King Carlos III of Spain bestowed on the German scientist an award he had created in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for giving him a male heir.  Called the Order of the Knighthood  of the Grand Cross, recipients were limited to sixty.  Pope Clement XIV recognized the order in a papal proclamation and bestowed religious benefices on its recipients.   The sectarian nature of the award, seen here, completely ignored the fact that Fries was Jewish.

During this period other members of the Fries family had emigrated to the United State settling in Cincinnati, a city with a large German population.  Alexander joined them there in 1855, working with Lemuel Springer, the husband of his sister, Antoine, on an ill-fated effort to make a cheap oil for lamps from bituminous slate and mineral wax.  When that failed, Fries turned his genius to the creation of supplying flavorings to the food and whiskey industries, both important in Cincinnati.

Employing two brothers, Gustave and Charles, Fries started a small factory on Avery Alley between Mill and Stone Streets.  As business volume swelled he quickly outgrew those quarters and built a multi-story building at East Second Street.  He called the company Alex. Fries & Brothers.   The demand for flavoring oils, a relatively new product, proved to be huge.  In time the business Fries founded would become three separate flavor companies, two of which are still extant, part of a $6 billion dollar American industry.  

Perhaps the most problematic area of flavorings for Fries were those aimed at the whiskey and the allied bitters markets.  The U.S. boasted thousands of federally licensed “rectifiers,” allowed to blend whiskeys to achieve desired color, aroma, smoothness and taste.  Rectifiers, often liquor wholesalers, also were allowed to add “neutral spirits,” that is, plain grain alcohol to the mix.  Considerably less expensive to create than distilled and aged whiskey, it made for cheaper booze.  With the proper flavorings, in fact, no distilling at all was required.  

The Fries organization was ready to oblige. For example by 1893 its catalogue listed seven varieties of flavors for bourbon: Essence No. E, Essence No. 2, Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky, Paris, and Sour Mash. The same catalogue similarly listed rye flavorings including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Monongahela, and Robertson County.  Fries vigorously advertised his “award winning” liquor flavors.

Bitters, the highly alcoholic herbal beverage often sold as a tonic or remedy, also could be flavor fabricated.  As shown by the bottles above, Fries marketed his own brand of stomach bitters.  The company also was selling essences, oils and extracts that combined to produce, it was claimed,  “a good imitation of various well-known brands of bitters.”  Perhaps the best known national brand was Hofstetters Stomach Bitters, made in Pittsburgh.  Well aware of the effect such products might have on company profits, the Hofstetters hauled Fries into Federal District Court for Southern New York.

Hofstetter’s motion for a preliminary injunction described potential injury:  “They sell…to compounders and jobbers with instructions…of compounding the bitters and selling them as the genuine article.”  The compounders, the brief contended, sold the bitters to retail dealers who bought second-hand bottles with Hofstetter labels, filled them with Fries essences and “palm them off upon the public as genuine bitters….”  The judge disagreed with issuing an injunction noting that Fries not only had the right to make and sell the extract but also had “the legal right to make and sell a preparation which they call Hostetter’s Bitters” so long as they were not using that company’s bottles or labels. 

Others, however, were not convinced that a concoction made with pure alcohol and flavorings was genuine bitters or whiskey.  When the House Committee on the Judiciary conducted an 1893 Congressional investigation into the Whiskey Trust, the issue of non-distillery-made liquor was raised. The Fries Company flavorings came under particular scrutiny.  Although some congressmen and witnesses expressed skepticism about their legitimacy, no action was taken. 

Although Alexander Fries never married, he was very close to his family.  The 1870 census found him at 45 years old living in Cincinnati as the head of a household that included his father, Moritz, 79; brother Gustave; a sister, Ada Springer, keeping house;  Ada’s three sons and a daughter, and two female domestic servants from Germany.  Albert’s profession was given as “chemist” as were three other family members, indicating that they all were working at the Fries manufactory.

So long as Alex lived, Fries family cohesion was maintained and the Cincinnati flavors  business flourished.   With his death in 1907, unity fractured.  Alex. Fries & Brother Chemical Works came under the management of Gustave Fries, shown below left,  and Alex’s nephew,  Dr. Alfred Springer, right.

Although Alex’s brother Charles had been responsible for opening New York offices for the company, his sons, Harold and Albert Fries, broke from their uncle’s company to create their own flavoring firm, one they called Fries & Fries.  A series of court battles ensued between the two entities over patent rights.

Moreover, In 1900, after the death of  Gustave, his children, Robert, George, and Eugene, sold their father’s interest in Alex Fries and Brothers, and opened their own business in January of 1915. This company sold flavors to the cigarette industry, including a licorice essence,  Today two Cincinnati companies operate flavoring businesses that can be traced back to Alexander Fries’ original venture.

Note:  Brought to the story of Alex Fries by an article in the Ohio Swirl based on an earlier piece by Dan Woeller, my further research revealed a immigrant Bavarian genius deserving of being called  a “whiskey man.”  This post is the result.