Monday, February 26, 2024

Van Pickerill and the Evansville Liquor Bust


Wholesale Liquor dealer Van Pickerill played duel roles when statewide prohibition descended on Evansville, Indiana, first as a perpetrator of schemes to get around the law and second as the star witness against a bootlegging ring led by the city’s police chief.  For coming clean he was attacked in court by the attorney for the police chief with a torrent of ugly names and accusations.  Nonetheless Pickerill appears to have walked away from the criminal proceedings a free man and able to launch a new life.

Indiana, a state that had been reliably “wet,” in 1906 passed a local option prohibitionary law.  That act did not still the drumbeat for altogether banning the making and sales of alcohol. In 1918 the Indiana Legislature passed a statewide liquor ban and the governor signed.  The law took effect on April 12, 1919. 

Political pushback against the “dry” law in Evansville led to the re-election of Mayor Benjamin Bosse, shown left.  Bosse, in turn, appointed as chief of police a previously demoted police officer and crony, Edgar Schmitt, right.  The newly minted Chief  announced purchase of a sleek speedboat, similar to the one shown below, ostensibly to halt smuggling of booze over the Ohio River from “wet” Henderson, Kentucky, a distance of just over eleven miles.


The sleek vessel, named the Fanola,  ran up and down the river, sparking press stories of thrilling chases.  Strangely, however, no arrests were made.  In reality the Fanola had a far different purpose.  With a green light from Mayor Bosse the craft was bootlegging illegal liquor from Kentucky and stashing it in the police station, shown here.

The new “dry” law dictated a short window of just one week for Evansville liquor dealers to get rid of their stocks or face their destruction and loss.  Pickerill, aware of this deadline, as early as November 1917 began purchasing on-hand whiskey from affected dealers who were shutting down.  Just ten days before the April 18, 1918, deadline, Van Pickerill sold his Evansville liquor store and moved his stocks and an enterprise he called the Mint Springs Distillery Company to Henderson.

Pickerill had been born in Custer, Breckinridge County, Kentucky, in 1879, the son of George W. and Julia Ray Pickerill. By 1910 he was recorded in Evansville directories living with a married older brother, Calvin D. Pickerill.  Although I do not have Van’s picture, a description of him exists in a WW II draft registration form.   At age 63 he was recorded as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with a ruddy complexion and “salt and pepper” hair.

In addition to running a wholesale and retail liquor business Pickerill claimed control of a distillery near Owensboro, Kentucky, known in federal parlance as RD#2, 2nd District.  That distillery, built in 1874 on the Ohio River, was owned and operated by long series of well known Kentucky whiskey men, including Millett, Callahan, Monarch, Medley, and Meschendorf.  Although the Pickerills likely purchased the whiskey there for their proprietary “Old Mint Springs” and “Father Time Pure Corn” whiskeys, I find no evidence of actual ownership. 

Despite having moved their liquor to Henderson, the Pickerill brothers continued to live in Evansville.  Both men became deeply involved in a major conspiracy by Evansville government officials and others to circumvent Indiana liquor laws.  After the legal deadline Van Pickerill agreed to buy remaining stocks from Evansville liquor dealer Jack Hampton.  Catching wind of the sale, Chief Schmitt got there first, confiscating the booze and adding it to the stash at police headquarters.

Apparently recognizing that acting alone was a losing proposition given involvement of city officials in the bootlegging, Pickerill became associated with the Schmitt-Bosse whiskey ring. Beginning in January 1919 he began paying Chief Schmitt $500 a week hush money to bring liquor into Evansville.  A month later Pickerill coughed up another $1,000 to help Schmitt ostensibly bribe individuals in the sheriff’s office and clear the highway from Henderson and Evansville from surveillance by law enforcement.  Later he would give the police chief $500 to vacation with his wife in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Edgar Males and his deputies were not to be bribed.  On February 25, 1918, they went into hiding along the Evansville docks. As Schmitt’s bootlegging Fanola docked and tied up, Sheriff Males and his men stepped out of the shadows.  “Hello Sheriff,” greeted the boat’s mechanic. “What do you want down here?”  Males’ response was short and stunning: “You’re under arrest,” directed to the police boat’s four crewmen.  Search of the vessel revealed more than 100 cases of whiskey of whiskey aboard.  The Evansville conspiracy had begun to erode.

The Booze-toting Hearse

Meanwhile the Pickerills were having their own problems with honest lawmen.   Seven weeks after the Fanola raid, the brothers attempted to bring in a stash of bootleg whiskey to the Henderson dock in a hearse, shown below, where the liquor was to be picked up by boat and brought to them via the river,  They had calculated that the vehicle would not attract undue notice.  They had not considered that a hearse being unloaded on a dock might be considered unusual. “Hearses as a rule, when loaded, do not stop at wharfs,” one Henderson policeman told the press. The officers took photographs and noified Sheriff Males. The liquor shipment was tracked via a loaded taxicab to the home of Calvin Pickerill.  There deputies discovered 49 gallons of whiskey.  Calvin was arrested and later fined $100 and given a one month jail sentence. 

The Evansville conspirators had another major setback when the investigation was taken out of the Indiana courts and pursued at the Federal level.  Although National Prohibition was still months off, the Webb-Kenyon Act, passed by Congress in 1913, had survived multiple court challenges and was in full force.  The law made it a federal offense to export whiskey from a “wet” state into a “dry” one.  The lead investigator was Lemuel Ertus “Ert" Slack. shown right, a smooth but hard-nosed U.S. attorney.  (Slack later became mayor of Indianapolis.) A grand jury was empaneled under the watchful eye of Federal Judge A.B. Anderson. 

Judge Anderson, left, gave no doubt to his stance: "A person cannot sit here in court like I have for several years hearing these cases unless he is a prohibitionist,…I am one and I am here to tell you I am in favor of prohibition, as it is the only way to have decent government. The saloonkeepers, by their action in the corruption of city officials sworn to do their duty, have compelled the citizens to bring on prohibition. "The cure of the thing is to cut it off at the very root and that is what prohibition does.”

Meanwhile Pickerill was increasingly concerned about his own role in the bootlegging conspiracy.  He heard rumors that the judge was going to call a witness who would bring his name into the inquiry and asked a  police co-conspirator to try to stop the informant. The effort failed.  Knowing well his brother’s fate, Van made a feint to get out of liquor trafficking by buying an Evansville hardware store, shown below.  He renamed it the Van Pickerill Hardware Company.  The move considerably alarmed the bootlegging cabal.  Chief Schmitt and Mayor Bosse paid a visit to Pickerill and, according to a report, “tried some tactics” to insure his silence.

My guess is that by that time, Van had decided to “come clean.”  In 1912 at age 33 he had married Mary E. Walsh, a local Evansville woman.  The couple would have two sons, Van F., born in 1904 and  James Frederick “Jay” born in 1906.  The thought of a conviction and federal prison, away from family, must have been terrifying to Pickerill.  He began to meet quietly with U.S. Attorney Slack.

Pickerill became the prosecution’s “star witness” against the conspiracy.  It is not evident that he testified in open court, although he gave a detailed a formal deposition.  All traces of what Pickerill revealed to authorities and a grand jury somehow have disappeared.  It is clear, however, that he disclosed names, dates and illegal activities in considerable detail.

During the June 1920 trial the defendants attempted to make Pickerill the culprit. Police Chief  Schmitt’s attorney, Thomas Duncan of Evansville, charged that Pickerill had been the mastermind of the illegal liquor trafficking, referring to him as a “moral leper,” “serpent,” and “arch conspirator.  Evansville would never be decent as long as the Pickerills were free to walk about the city, Duncan admonished the grand jury. Those who had implicated the police chief, he said, were “the lower scum of society.”

Duncan’s bombast had no effect. The jurors found Edgar Schmitt guilty on all counts of importing liquor from Henderson into Indiana, a clear violation of the Webb-Kenyon Act.  Judge Anderson sentenced the police chief to two years in the federal prison in Atlanta and fined him $2,000 and court costs.  Of the 67 defendants, Schmitt’s punishment was the most severe. Of those charged and sentenced, 62 pled guilty and five others were found guilty.  Of an additional 11 accused of being implicated, two had fled arrest and not been found. Nine others were discharged by the judge.  Pickerill appears to have walked away a free man. Despite accusations that Mayor Bosse had received bootleg whiskey worth thousands, he was not indicted.  Two years later Bosse died in office at 47 years old, a victim of lobar pneumonia.

One of Pickerill’s first moves after the trial was to sell the hardware business and building he had purchased in his futile attempt to disguise himself as a legitimate businessman.  The structure, however, continued to be called the Pickerill Building.  Despite any animosity they might have encountered in Evansville from the friends and family of those convicted, the Pickerills continued to live there.  With his brother Calvin working as a salesman, Van opened an Evansville music store, replacing booze with Beethoven, Bach and Brahms.

Apparently tiring of Evansville and the music business, Pickerill in 1933 moved to Springfield, Illinois.  Under the name Van Pickerill & Sons, for a short time he became a gasoline wholesaler and distributor.  The liquor business, however,  continued to have a hold on him. With the end of National Prohibition in 1934, Pickerill went to work as a local sales representative for the legendary “Pappy” Van Winkle of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, below.  A decade later, with his sons, Van F. and James “Jay,”  Pickerill opened his own wholesale liquor house.  The business rapidly found success in Springfield and Pickerill gained a reputation as a leader in the liquor trade, becoming a co-founder of the National Wine and Spirits Association.

Van Pickerill died in Springfield in May 1956 at the age of 76 and was buried in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery, Block 31.  His monument and gravestone are shown below.  He had been preceded in death by son Van F., killed in a 1952 auto accident.  Continuing under the name Van Pickerill & Sons, son Jay guided the fortunes of the liquor house with notable success until his death at 63 in 1983.  A former president of the National Wine & Spirits Assn., Jay in 1981 received Time Magazine’s “Distinguished Wholesaler Award.”  

Thinking about the story sketched here, I wonder when the Pickerill clan got together in later days if they ever talked at length about the moment Van Pickerill decided to “come clean” about Evansville’s dirty business and what that fateful decision had meant for him and his family.

Note:  A more complete recitation of the corruption that characterized Evansville in the early 20th Century is contained in a 2022 book by R. Erick Jones,called “Wide Open Evansville.”  A local boy, Author Jones also has put a considerable amount of relevant material on the Internet, including a timeline of the conspiracy, from which some of this post was created.  For more information on Pappy Van Winkle, see my post of November 22, 2014.




Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Rock and Rye Nostrum Peddlers

Foreword:  On April 1, 2015, this website told the story of Nathan Van Biel and his campaign to protect his “Rye and Rock” alcoholic patent medicine.   In his efforts Van Biel claimed that those words or any variation of them were a violation of his trademark and the work of “dealers in imitation or counterfeit goods.” He pledged to prosecute anyone who tried.  Briefly reviewed here, at least four other whiskey dealers paid scant attention to Van Biel’s threats.

First a word about Nathan Van Biel.  Born in Philadelphia in 1832 and by 1860 running a liquor store there, Van Biel moved to New York City in the late 1870s, opening a wine store.  Even then, however, Van Beil’s major interest was in a highly alcoholic patent medicine that in 1877 he trademarked as “Rye and Rock” with the Patent Office number of 7001. It was rock candy — large sugar crystals — dissolved in rye whiskey.  

Van Biel advertised it widely as:  The great tonic sure cure for malarial diseases,”  — an easily made claim since at the time no one had a clue about what caused malaria.  He also touted this nostrum as a remedy for asthma, coughs, colds, bronchitis, consumption (TB) and even diphtheria.  His attractive ads and trade cards, however, also contained a dire wanting.  Considering himself the “father” of Rock and Rye, he declared: “I assumed a father’s responsibility for the article…Infringements will be prosecuted and consumers  and dealers will take notice.”

Van Beil meant his threat.  In 1880 he sued in the New York courts on the grounds that his trademarking of Rye and Rock gave him exclusive right to the words, in any combination, including “rock and rye.”  His target was an enterprise headed by Henry W. Prescott, who appeared in New York directories as a saloonkeeper and liquor dealer, located at 75 Chambers Street.

Prescott scoffed at Van Biel’s “fatherhood” claims.  He declared that he and his predecessors in business had been selling white rock candy dissolved in rye whiskey for at least 10 years and selling it as “Rye and Rock.”  In fact, Prescott contended, for decades bartenders all over America had been doling out rock candy in rye whiskey.  He advertised his “Golden Rye and Rock” vigorously, claiming it as a remedy for coughs and lung disorders.

True to his threats, Van Biel sued Prescott in a New York court — and lost. Unsatisfied,  he hired a well known Gotham lawyer and appealed to the Superior Court of New York.  Those judges also failed to be impressed and sustained the lower court decision.  They held that Van Beil had no exclusive right to “Rye and Rock” and other combinations of the words.  A New York legal journal in jest suggested that to influence the court verdict Prescott might have been “dispensing his compound not at the bar alone, but also at the bench” 

In making his case, Prescott stipulated that he had never claimed an exclusive right to the use of  “Rye and Rock” and that it was a “common name” in the liquor trade.  His subsequent ads for “Prescott’s Great Rye and Rock Remedy,” however, made the extravagant claim that: “By the decisions in our favor in the Superior Courts, Prescott’s Rye and Rock stands pre-eminent.”  

Recognizing that the court decision had no such effect on Prescott’s libation, other whiskey dealers ramped up their advertising for rock candy and rye concoctions.  The Fernberger brothers, Solomon and Henry, operated their Philadelphia liquor store at 1230 Market Street from 1871 to 1902.  They advertised their nostrum, as shown below, as benefiting “more people suffering from Colds and Lung Troubles than all the medicines combined.”  Indeed a bold claim.  Why they chose an angry woman with an umbrella and an empty glass to illustrate their “Rock Candy and Rye Whiskey” is something of a mystery.

A second Fernberger trade card was more subdued.  It shows a couple sitting check-to-cheek, reading a paper headlined “Pure Liquors for Medicinal Use.”

This trade card added throat diseases to the promised cures.  A third card, not shown here,  depicted a train conductor asleep on a train with his mouth open and his head in his left hand.  What this image had to do with the Fernberger’s elixir is not clear.

C. B. Barrett & Company was a Boston liquor dealership that  sought to cash in on the Rock and Rye decision.  Located at 46 North Market Street, it differed from the crowd by identifying the whiskey in its elixir as “Hermitage Rye.”  That was a well-respected and popular brand produced by the W. A. Gaines Company of Frankfort, Kentucky.  Heavily advertised on its own, Hermitage Rye likely resinated with many in the drinking public. By combining it with Barrett’s rock candy, the result was advertised as a “standard remedy for all diseases of the throat & lungs…The Only Original & Genuine Article.” 

That message was carried by a slightly naughty trade card for “Barrett’s Rock Candy and Hermitage Rye,” showing a male, likely the master of the household, making an advance on a serving girl.  Given the close proximity of their mouths,  one hopes neither has a disease of the throat or lungs.  Two other Barrett trade cards, below, had a milder flavor, one depicting bearded youths enjoying a snort. Note the chap on the card at right, apparently sleeping off Barrett’s elixir.

From Chicago the challenge came from  Lawrence & Martin.   Located at 111 Madison,  those liquor dealers added a medicinal plant, Tolu, to their recipe for Rock & Rye.  They herald it as “the Great Cure for Coughs, Colds and Consumption and all Diseases of the Throat and Lungs.” A trade card from about 1881 showed a buxom young woman, presumably a sufferer from one of the referenced maladies, dressed for a night on the town, drinking from a bottle of Tolu Rock and Rye.  A second card showed an angel bearing a bottle of the nostrum, carrying a sheaf of rye grain.


After the court decision, Lawrence & Martin grew bolder.  In 1882 they created a separate company, located at the same address, called the Tolu Rock and Rye Co.  They also launched an ad campaign in druggist magazines that plugged their product as a “sure cure.”  As proof they cited a letter from Gen. Green B. Baum, the Commissioner for Internal Revenue, stating:  “This compound…in the opinion of this office, would have sufficient quantity of the Balsam of Tolu to give it all the advantages ascribed to in this article in pectoral complaints, while the whiskey and syrup constitute an emulsion compound agreeable to the patient.”  Baum apparently later was moved from office.

The record indicates that by 1883, only three years after the court ruling C. B. Barrett had been declared bankrupt and Lawrence & Martin had gone their separate ways.  No amount of Rock and Rye advertising apparently could save either business.   That was the year that the drink was reclassified by federal authorities as a distilled spirit.  It no longer was taxed at a lower rate than liquor.

Since introduction of Hochstader’s “Slow and Low Rock and Rye” in 2013, the drink has had a revival of public interest, joining brands like Mr. Boston and Jacquin’s  Rock and Rye.  According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 3,272,582 bottles of Jacquins were sold during 2017, making it the state’s third-highest selling spirit. “Rock and rye cures absolutely nothing but it can taste great,” says Alan Katz, one of the distillers. 

Note:  Some of the information contained here was obtained from the Whiskey Advocate website of April 29, 2019.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Ohio Rohrers and Their Mud Lick Distillery

Coming from a prominent Pennsylvania distilling family, members of the Rohrer clan about 1837 migrated across state lines to settle in Germantown, Ohio. There two generations of Rohrers continued making liquor.  Their Mud Lick Distillery would become among the most famous in America, highly successful until the Great Flood of 1913 bankrupted the company and prohibitionary laws made it impossible to recover. The story is best told through three family members —  Christian, David, and John Rohrer — who together guided the family distilling destiny for 76 years.

Early Rohrer History:  The Rohrer clan were among the earlier settlers of Pennsylvania, deeded land in Lancaster County by an agent of William Penn.  There in December,1804, Christian Rohrer was born on the farm where his father and grandfather, also named Christian, had been born.  As Unitarians the Rohrers had no prejudice against alcohol and distilling was part of their agricultural production. (See post on Jeremiah Rohrer, Oct. 16, 2015.)

Christian Rohrer:  Shown here in later life, Christian is said to have received a good education and upon achieving his majority inherited from his father’s estate a farm and sawmill.  Restless nonetheless, in 1931 he ventured into Ohio to assess that territory and was impressed with prospects in German Township of Montgomery County.  Christian came home, sold his farm, and headed to Ohio.

Christian’s move there may have been motivated, at least in part, by a romantic attraction.  In Germantown he met Margaret Emerick, the locally born daughter of Christopher and Catherine Kern Emerick, a couple who had settled there in 1804.  Shown here in maturity, Margaret married Christian in November 1832. Over ensuing years the couple would have five children, three girls and two boys.

Christian’s first move was to buy an existing flour mill that he operated for several years.  He then purchased the mill of Col. John Stump, located on 75 acres of land. Still standing, the mill building, dated 1817, bears a plaque that credits the Rohrers with ownership from 1831 to 1900. The mill was located adjacent to Mudlick Creek that provided water for whiskey and power to mash grain.  The property contained an idle distillery, shown below, that Christian refurbished and expanded.

He then began distilling liquor that soon achieved a reputation for quality far beyond its origins. What made Mud Lick Whiskey so good was the mineral rich waters of the springs that fed Mudlick Creek.  Throughout the 1900s those presumably healing waters had drawn believers from all over America.  Many now went home with a bottle of what has been called “the soothing whiskey” from the Rohrer distillery.  This small facility, however, had limitations, capable of producing less than ten barrels of liquor a day.

Christian became known as “one of the solid and successful businessmen” of the mid-Ohio region. In addition to expanding the distillery as shown below, he co-founded the First National Bank of Germantown, still in business today, and was an early investor in the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway, an electric inter-urban line.  A biographer said of Christian:  “(He) always took a deep interest in worthy public enterprises, as well as in the progress, growth and development of the valley.”

As he aged, Christian retired from management of the Mud Lick Distillery, turning over the work to his son, David.  The father, age 78, died in July 1883 and was buried in the Gemantown Cemetery.  A large monument was erected  by his family over Christian’s grave.

David Rohrer:  As Christian’s eldest son, David, shown here, was the heir apparent.  Born in November 1835, he was educated in the Germantown public schools and at age 22 entered his father’s distillery, quickly being made a partner.  The company became C.Rohrer & Son.  After succeeding to the company presidency in 1861, David embarked on an expansion program that increased distillery capacity considerably, as indicated in the painting below. 

The distillery proved to be a boon to Germantown.  At its height the Mud Lick plant employed 30 workmen who turned out 40 barrels of the bourbon daily.   That production fattened 400 head of cattle and 1200 hogs annually with the spent whiskey mash.   About 20,000 barrels were kept aging at one time at Mud Lick, representing a $1 million inventory.

In 1868 Charles Hofer, a liquor dealer of Cincinnati, was admitted as a partner. This partnership existed until 1883, when David purchased Hofer's interest and took full control of the Mud Lick Distillery. He renamed it “D. Rohrer & Co.” During ensuing years he appeared to be a marked success at guiding one of the Nation’s largest distilleries.  David also became an extensive landowner, purchasing 800 acres of farmland in the vicinity of Germantown and 3,000 acres in newly opened Indian lands in North Dakota.  His fortune, calculated in todays dollar, would exceed $8 million. 


Buoyed by his wealth, David decided to build his family and himself a mansion home like none Germantown had seen before.  In  February 1865 David had married Ada V. Rohrer, shown here. Ada was a distant cousin whose parents Samuel and Elizabeth Schultz Rohrer, originally natives of Maryland, had joined the Rohrer clan in Germantown in 1926.  Over the next few years the couple would have five children, three girls and two boys.

Still standing at 1201 West Market Street’, the house is a three-story, 15-room brick mansion The six-course walls were built with bricks fired on the Rohrer Farm. The woodwork was cut directly from a stand of hardwood timber on the property.  While continuing to be a private residence, the Rohrer House currently also is available for tours.

The mansion seemed to cap a highly successful career for David. He was hailed in the 1897 Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio. this way:   Mr. Rohrer is one of the progressive business men of Montgomery County, whose success has been achieved by upright dealing in all the affairs of life.”

The Fall of the House of Rohrer:  Things were not as they seemed for David and the Rohrers.  As the early years of the 20th Century passed, sales of Mud Lick Whiskey slumped as competitive brands appeared and prohibitionary forces increasingly closed off markets.  Additionally, David found himself over-extended financially with liabilities of $200,000 (1910 dollars)  while claiming assets of $300,000.

Taken to court by creditors said to be owed $30,000, David in a legal maneuver, in November 1909 signed a “deed of assignment” to the Mud Lick distillery and other properties to a former judge, Charles Dale, and his brother, John.  He told the press he had taken the action believing that “the creditors will not lose a dollar and that the action would result in conserving his property.”

John Rohrer, a younger brother, had a sterling reputation in Germantown as a businessman.  After a four year gambit in the West speculating in real estate and cattle, he had returned home to found a tobacco brokerage and later a grain, coal and lumber company.  His and Dale’s participation in this assignment of Rohrer assets was viewed sympathetically by the local press.  Noting David’s 50 years in local business, one story commented that the move was made “to prevent a sacrifice” of Rohrer property.

Edward Patterson

Behind the assignment, however, was a story that suggested criminality.  In subsequent bankruptcy proceedings, Edward Patterson, a distiller and whiskey broker from Cincinnati charged that David had committed fraud. (See post on Patterson, Jan.28, 2021.) Shown here, Patterson told a bankruptcy court in November 1909 that David had pledged 800 barrels of Mud Lick whiskey aging in Rohrer warehouses as security for large loans Patterson had made to him.  He testified that all but 210 of those barrels subsequently had been sold to other buyers without his knowledge or approval.  He laid claim to the remaining barrels as partial compensation.  Multiple commitment of the same warehoused whiskey was a frequent ploy in the distilling trade — and a crime.

In bankruptcy proceedings beginning in November 1909, the claims of multiple petitioners, including Patterson, apparently were settled without charges being brought against David, by now in his mid-seventies.  My surmise is that John Rohrer was responsible for surviving the bankruptcy, satisfying the creditors, and quashing any further legal action.

Able to retain the distillery, the Rohrers’ production of Mud Lick Whiskey limped along for the next several years.  That came to an end with the great Midwestern floods of March 1913 that claimed 640 victims, most of them in Ohio. Still considered the state’s largest weather disaster, the water sent the Miami River rampaging through the Germantown, destroying much of the distillery.  The remaining buildings went up in flames as ruptured gas lines ignited.

Given the circumstances, the Rohrers decided not to rebuild their distillery and are said to have taken the much coveted recipe for Mud Lick whiskey with them to the grave.  For David Rohrer that was in 1917, only four years after the flood.  He was buried in the Germantown Cemetery adjacent to Christian. His gravestone is shown here.  Ada would be buried beside him in 1920.

For 76 years, encompassing wars and national financial crises, the Rohrers of Germantown made the unusual name of Mud Lick into a well known brand of American whiskey, popular from coast to coast.  Only a combination bankruptcy, prohibitionary forces and the greatest disaster in Ohio history could shut them down.  The Ohio Rohrers and Mud Lick well deserve their place in American whiskey history. 

Notes:  This post has been gathered from a variety of Internet sources.  Key among them were “Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio — 1897” and court documents.  The two photos here of David Rohrer came to light not long ago, found for sale in a Springfield Ohio flea market.