Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Pre-Prohibition Bartenders and Their Libations

Foreword:  One way of approaching pre-Prohibition alcohol is to concentrate  on the cocktails of those times.  My one foray into that territory, to co-write a celebrity drinks recipe book, proved to be too complicated and the idea was dropped.  Now the Louisiana State University press has forged ahead with a series devoted to cocktails associated with New Orleans.  A just-published slim volume entitled “The French 75”  by John Maxwell Hamilton reveals how much history a cocktail can reveal.  It has spurred me to provide here brief vignettes of three notable American bartenders of the 19th and early 20th Centuries and the drinks associated with their names.

Orsamus Ward:  America’s First Celebrity Bartender.   Born in a bucolic corner of Massachusetts, a young man with the unusual name of Orsamus Willard (1792-1876) became America’s first celebrity bartender, earning a reputation that spread far beyond New York's City Hotel. Caricatured here, Willard went from farm boy to a reputation as the “The Napoleon of Bar-Keepers.”

City Hotel

Starting as an office boy about 1811, Willard quickly impressed hotel management with his energetic and intelligent approach to his duties.  Able to write with either hand, his dexterity was noted as a skill that, accompanied by his outgoing personality and “urbane and courtly” manners, eventually fitted him to become the posh hotel’s principal bartender, a position he held for almost 27 years.  

An 1894 history of the Willard family was lavish in its description of Orsamus’ abilities:  “He acquired a wide reputation for…His never failing memory of names, persons, and events.  He…possessed in a remarkable degree the power of giving politely prompt and satisfying answers to the multifarious questions of guests, without interrupting the bookkeeping or other business details upon which he might be engaged.

Just as important, Willard could whip up one helluva good cocktail. This from one patron: ‘Willard was one of the first in the city to concoct fancy drinks, and he introduced the mint-julep as a bar drink,’ frequently mixing them up three or four at a time.”  Among his other specialties were Whiskey Punch, Apple Toddy, and an Extra-Extra Peach Brandy.  An English traveler observed (with some exaggeration) that Willard’s name was “familiar to every American, and to every foreigner who has visited the States during the last thirty years [as] the first master of his art in the world.”   The result was his anointment as the “Napoleon of Bar-Keepers.”

Jerry Thomas was “King” of American Bartenders.  Described as “a gentleman all ablaze with diamonds,” Jeremiah P. “Jerry” Thomas (1830-1885) during his lifetime was a gold miner, (minor) Broadway impresario, art collector, inventor, gambler, reigning monarch of American bartenders, and the author of the nation’s first drinks recipe book.  Thomas’ “Bar-Tender’s Guide” published in 1862 during the Civil War, is still in print, available from multiple sources.  His signature cocktail was the “Blue Blazer.”

In his early 20s and restless, Thomas moved  to New York City in 1851 and opened a saloon below P.T. Barnum’s American Museum.  It was the first of four he would run in New York City during his peripatetic lifetime  He wore flashy jewelry and his solid silver bar tools and cups were embellished with gem stones.  Thomas became famous for the showmanship he brought to his bartending.

Thomas developed elaborate flashy techniques of mixing cocktails, sometimes while juggling bottles, cups and mixers..  His signature drink, depicted here, was the “Blue Blazer,” a fiery concoction thrown from glass to glass, as shown below.  Later he would claim the invention of the “Tom & Jerry.” Thomas also has been credited, probably erroneously, with the original martini.  His "Bartender's Guide" was a first in the field.

In 1885 while running a Manhattan saloon, Thomas, 55,  died of a stroke.  His death occasioned obituaries around the country, particularly in the cities in which he had worked.  The New York Times opined that he was the Big Apple’s best known barkeep and “was very popular among all classes.”  Thomas was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

“The Ideal Bartender” Was Black Tom Bullock.  Born in Louisville, Kentucky, not long after the Civil War, Tom Bullock (1872-1964) was the son of former slaves who learned his bartending skills at the local Pendennis Club.  The use of African American bartenders was a Southern tradition, not replicated in northern states and Bullock made the most of it.  Honing his skills in a variety of venues, he finally became chief bartender at the exclusive St. Louis Country Club.  There he attracted influential patrons and a reputation that spread far beyond Missouri.  

A playful 1913 editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contended:   “Who was ever known to drink just a part of Tom’s? Tom, than whom there is no greater mixologist of any race.”   With the help of men like George Herbert Walker Sr.,

pater familias of American presidents and August Busch of Budweiser fame, in 1917 Bullock was able to publish his drinks recipe book, entitled “The Ideal Bartender.”  Now well more than a century old, it has never been out of print.

Bullock became particularly famous for his Mint Juleps. “The Ideal Bartender”contains two recipes – Kentucky Style and St. Louis Style. The former is the familiar Mint Julep he probably mastered at the Pendennis Club. The other recipe includes gin, lemon, lime juice, and grenadine, a non-alcoholic bar syrup. In a nod to Busch, “The Ideal Bartender” also includes a drink called Golfer’s Delight that used Bevo, a non-alcoholic beer that Anheuser-Busch developed in anticipation of Prohibition.

During the “dry” years, Bullock was forced to giving up openly dispensing alcohol.He remained employed for several years at the St. Louis Country Club performing unspecified duties.  He disappears from the public record after 1927. It is generally believed that Bullock lived until 1964, but almost nothing is known about his later years.  His drinks manual remains  his legacy and a continuing reminder of this extraordinary, indeed, ideal,  bartender.  

Notes:  Longer articles on each of these bartenders may be found elsewhere on this website:  Willard, June 13, 2022;  Thomas, Oct 12, 2022, and Bullock, July 7, 2022 (The last a reprint of an article researched and written by Michael Jones for the Louisville Tourist Bureau.)  Finally a word about the new book that generated this post, “The French 75” by John Maxwell Hamilton.  I recommend it for a delightful romp through the history, lore and many manifestations of this iconic cocktail.  Just published, the book is available from the LSU Press and Amazon Books. The author is interviewed at https://www.marketplace.org/2024/04/10/the-enduring-legacy-of-the-french-75-cocktail/.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Kobre Bros. and Murder in Winston-Salem

The Kobre brothers, Max, Sam and Henry, left their native Lithuania in the late 1800s as thousand of Jews fled for safety from ruthless Russian pogroms.  Finding their way to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, they opened a saloon and adjacent restaurant.  In 1906 the Kobres found themselves enmeshed in a nightmare in which one brother was accused of murdering another, a case that for weeks rocked Winston-Salem to its core.  A whiskey jug conjures up the story.

Max was the eldest brother by 15 years, born in 1870.  He was followed by Samuel “Sam” in 1885 and the youngest, Henry, in 1887.  Their first American landing point was Baltimore but by the early 20th Century the Kobre boys had moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  There Max had opened a saloon, one of dozens such establishments in the city.  Sam was tending bar there and Henry was managing an adjacent restaurant. The younger brothers were living together in a nearby rooming house.  Max was married to Sadie, another immigrant from Lithuania, and living with his family.

Although Winston-Salem, in this era, boasted a plethora of saloons and restaurants selling liquor, the city appears to have kept them under close scrutiny and a short leash.  It charged $1,000 annually ($25,000 in today’s dollar) for a saloon license and could rescind it for a variety of perceived offenses.  In March 1905 Max was hauled into court for keeping his saloon open after 8 PM and fined $22.10.  At the same time Henry was in the dock for a violation of the restaurant law, again for being open after 8 PM.  He was slapped with a similar fine.

While the Kobre brothers seem to have taken those infractions in stride, a year later their world would be torn apart by a horrendous series of events that made national headlines and dominated Winston-Salem for weeks.  On the evening of January 21, 1906, Sam Kobre returned to the room he shared with Henry.  There he said he found his brother, wearing his night clothes, lying on the floor in a pool of blood.  Assuming his brother was dead, Sam ran across the street to the Hotel Phoenix at 4th and Liberty Streets, shown below, where he phoned Max about the shooting.  He then went to the police station to report the crime. 


Two officers returned with Sam to the room where Henry was found apparently still clinging to life.  They placed the victim on the bed and called for an ambulance to transport him to the Twin Cities Hospital, shown left.  Shortly after arrival there, Henry was reported dead.  Sam told police he believed the motive for the murder was robbery.  Henry was known to keep substantial amounts of cash on hand, receipts from the restaurant, but his wallet was empty.

A coroner’s jury was convened on March 8, 1906. Considering the evidence from 9 a.m. until mid-afternoon,  it called several witnesses to testify, including Sam.

Following its deliberations the panel returned this verdict:  “Henry Kobre came to his death on the eighth of January by being unlawfully slain by someone unknown to the Jurors…The Jury examined several parties and their evidence was recorded.  Nothing was revealed, however, to give the officers, at present, a clue to the guilty party or parties.”

Meanwhile rumors and speculation abounded in Winston-Salem.  Much of the attention focussed on Sam himself.  After finding Henry bloody, why had he first gone to the hotel to call his brother, Max, and only then to alert the authorities? Why had Sam not realized Henry was still alive and immediately called for medical help? Other rumors circulated through the city, some of them publicized by the local newspapers.  The Winston-Salem Journal in particular reported a series of hearsay reports, quoting “thoroughly responsible persons” implicating the Kobre brother.  Congratulating himself for uncovering details previously unknown, a Journal reporter published an item about a local “Jewess” who suspiciously had gone to a fortuneteller in town for advice on two friends who were in deep trouble.  Sam and Max, of course were Jewish.  

Another source, at first anonymous in letters to authorities, fingered a man named William Plean, a salesman at a local clothing store.  Plean was single, an acquaintance of Sam Kobre, and living in the same boarding house as the informant.  Discussion of the murder made Plean nervous, said the source, later identified as a man named Shouse.  The stories triggered a 16-year-old woman named Sallie Stewart, a known local “soiled dove,” to come forward to confirm Kobre's and Plean’s involvement in the murder.  She identified Sam as the shooter.  Sallie also implicated a third man she called “Finger,” who she said had masterminded Henry’s killing. 


That was all it took for local authorities, under strong pressure from the mayor, to arrest Sam and Plean for murder and later to identify “Finger” as a traveling salesman named J.E. Whitbeck.  He too was arrested and jailed with the other two while awaiting trial.  Virtually unsaid went a likely motive for Sallie to lie.  Sam Kobre, apparently unaware of her reputation, in March 1905 had married Sallie.  When Sam found out more about his bride the union was short-lived.  Sallie obviously had since nursed a grudge.  To keep the pressure on their star witness, the mayor had her arrested and imprisoned on charges of prostitution.  


The stage was set for the trial, May 31, 1906, at the Winston-Salem courthouse. The three men stood in peril of being hanged.  Earlier the Journal had suggested that the evidence looked strong against the defendants and took a semi-victory lap, declaring:  “If the Journal has aided in bringing to justice the murderers of Henry Kobre, it has done a distinct service of great value to this city.”  The outcome would be disappointing to the newspaper.  Witness after witness came forward to established that none of the accused men were present at the times and places of Sallie’s allegations.  It became clear that Sam’s ex-wife had concocted the story, likely to get revenge for his having divorced her.  Her motivation for implicating Plean and Whitbeck were less clear but she may also have harbored grudges against them.

After all the evidence had been submitted, Judge Peebles instructed the sheriff to usher the jury of 12 men out of the courtroom. He then addressed the prosecution lawyer, asking him to show him where any evidence existed against the three men other than Sallie Stewart’s story:  “I would not let a yellow dog be hanged on the testimony of Sallie,” said the judge.  “If a verdict should be returned against these men I should set it aside.  The jurors apparently saw things the same way as Judge Peebles.  It took them only five minutes of deliberation to reach an unanimous decision of acquittal.  Sam Kobre and the other two men were released immediately.  The judge also ordered the release of Sallie Stewart.

I can find no evidence that the murder of Henry Kobre was ever solved.  Most likely it was a case of robbery as Sam Kobre had first theorized.  Henry, known for keeping large amounts of cash on his person, likely had been killed for his money.  Smarting from the acquittal, however, the mayor of Winston-Salem revoked Max’s saloon permit.  Although the elder brother had kept a low profile during investigation, refusing to talk to the press, Max almost certainly had paid for Sam’s successful defense.  In the process he apparently angered local authorities bent on convictions.

In the midst of the tumult caused by Henry’s death and Sam’s arrest Max also was dealing with a crisis at home. In September 1906, his wife, Sadie, sustained serious injuries after being thrown from her buggy and dragged for some distance.  Her horse, usually reliable, had bolted and she was thrown out. Her clothing caught in the rigging and she was dragged a considerable distance on the pavement, resulting in serious cuts and bruises.  The newspaper commented: “Mrs. Kobre, while suffering considerable pain, is doing as well as could be expected.”  Her ultimate recovery is indicated by her living to age 83.

For the Kobres, the events effectively ended of their lives in Winston-Salem.  Sam, now married a second time, moved to Danville, Virginia, not far from the North Carolina line.  As the president of a shoe company, he and his wife, Ida, raised a family of three there.  Sam died in 1933, age 48, and is buried in Danville’s Aetz Chayim Cemetery.  Max moved to Baltimore where he headed a clothing manufacturing plant, assisted by his adult son, Ellis.  When Max died in 1952 at age 82, he was buried in Baltimore County’s Shaarei Tfiloh Cemetery.  Sadie joined him there 14 years later.  Their headstones are shown below.

I can find no indication that the person or persons who murdered Henry Kobre was ever caught and convicted.  Sallie Stewart, the young woman who had fingered Sam Kobre and the others, thereafter faded into the mists of history.  Immigrants Sam and Max Kobre had discovered that while the wheels of justice in their adopted country may grind imperfectly, they grind extremely fine.

Note:  This post relies principally on the newspaper stories that provided frequent, extensive reports about Henry Kobre’s murder and the search for the culprit(s).  While every whiskey container may not have a major story behind it, the jug that opens this post most surely supplies one.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Lady and a Liquor Dealer: The Odd Couple of Scituate

Adair F. Bonney was a belle of Scituate, Massachusetts, a direct descendant of John Alden of the Mayflower, and by heritage a Daughter of the American Revolution.  Her name had graced a schooner owned by her wealthy merchant father.   When she met and married George Yenetschi, a first generation Greek American who ran a Boston liquor business, eyebrows must have lifted. Nevertheless, the marital bond held until Yenetchi’s death at age 75.

Shown here, George Varcelia Yenetchi was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1844, the son of Sophia Hutchinson and Constantine Yenetchi, a seaman in the U.S. Navy.  George was a young man of considerable ambition.  After graduating from the good local schools, he attended the Boston Commercial College (actually a secondary school) preparing for a career in business. Although his early occupations have gone unrecorded, by his mid-20s George had entered the liquor trade.

As a young bachelor working in Boston, George lodged in Young’s Hotel located on Court Street in the Financial District.  One of the first buildings in Boston to have electric lights, the hotel, shown here,  not only attracted celebrities like Mark Twain and Rutherford B. Hayes but as well the college sporting crowd, drawn by the smartly decorated billiards room. According to one observer: “Here one may see in the afternoon or evening the swellest students from Harvard in patent leather shoes exhibiting the very latest fashions in dress and toting canes like small trees knobbed with silver.” The young Greek looked and learned.

Meanwhile in Scituate, above, Adair Bonney was born in 1862, the daughter of Louisa Francis and Edward Hyde Bonney.  Through her mother Adair was a ninth descendant of John Alden, a member of the Mayflower crew who stayed in the colony and married Priscilla Mullins.  Their romance has been celebrated in American folklore and poetry. Adair also was the great granddaughter of Ruben Bates (1735-1835) who served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.  As a result she also was eligible for that exclusive auxiliary.

Her father, a leading merchant of Massachusetts, was a dealer in a wide variety of merchandise, including fresh fish, lobsters, wood, coal, hay and naval goods.  Shown here is an ad for his many commodities, claiming that Bonney maintained his own wharf.  He also had a fleet of fishing vessels.  Delighted with his only daughter, when she was ten years old Bonney named a newly commissioned 200 ton schooner after her.  Three years later, however, the ship met with disaster in a storm and the Adair F. Bonney went to the bottom of the Atlantic, never to be seen again.

The Bonney wealth allowed her family to give Adair a college education at the Massachusetts State Normal School in Bridgewater where she trained to be a teacher, graduating in 1878.  Records indicate that she taught for eleven years in local schools and likely was teaching when she met and married George Yenetchi..

How the couple met is unclear.  At age 46 George was firmly into bachelorhood when they married in March 1891, a ceremony conducted by a Unitarian minister.   Adair was 29, at that time a late age to marry for a woman as rich and prominent as she.  It suggests that having been well educated she had been careful in her choice of a mate.  The couple would have two sons, George V. Junior, and Ivan. 


With their marriage, George moved to Scituate into a household that included two servant girls, sisters from Ireland.  The dwelling was an easy walking distance to the train station, shown here.  It facilitated George’s daily commute to his Boston headquarters at 142 Blackstone Street to manage what had now become a prosperous and expanding liquor house.  

After two short stints working with partners, George struck out on his own. He was advertising as the successor to an earlier Boston liquor business dating from 1830.  Shown here from an 1882 Boston newspaper is his notice as a dealer in foreign and domestic wines and liquors at wholesale and retail.  In the small print, in a reference to his Greek heritage, George offered for one dollar a bottle of “Marou Cordial” as “a beverage used by the ladies of Greece at afternoon parties.”   The photo below shows George, left of the doorway with stick in hand, posing with employees in front of his establishment.

Yenetchi was selling his liquor in a variety of modes, including large stoneware jugs for wholesaling to customers operating Boston’s many saloons, hotels and restaurants.  He was receiving shipments of whiskey by the barrel, rectifying

(blending) them on the premises and marketing the results.  For retail customers George was providing mini jugs each with a swallow or two of whiskey to be given away to the favored.  He gave his flagship whiskey his middle name, “Varcelia.”

George continued to operate his liquor house successfully throughout the 1880s and 1890s, and well into the 20th Century, retiring after approximately 50 years in the Boston liquor trade.  A well-known local figure as he strolled around Scituate, even at 75 he seemed in good health.  In October 1919, however, George was suddenly stricken and died only a few hours later.  The cause was not revealed in his obituary. At his death he and Adair had been married some 30 years.

My efforts to find the burial places for this couple so far has been fruitless.  I have found the monument for George’s father, Constantine. Shown here, it stands in Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett, Massachusetts where George’s mother, Sophia, is also interred.  I am hopeful that a descendant will see this story and supply the information and, I hope, a photo of the graves of the debutante and the whiskey dealer, a husband and wife who seemingly made a success of their “odd couple” marriage.

Note:  This post was suggested by a mention on Robin Preston’s “pre-pro” website. Robin in turn credits the great-grandson of George Yenetchi for information and for providing the photo above of the liquor dealer outside his establishment.  

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Fort Smith Liquor That Made Legal History

In the early 1900s, liquor dealers Samuel Harper and Cyrus Reynolds in the military town of Fort Smith, Arkansas, faced a financial dilemma.  What was to be done about the cutthroat competition from the proliferating saloons and cheap whiskey being shipped in from the East?  Deciding that cheating was their best option, they issued their own brand under completely false credentials and thereby triggered a landmark trademark suit.

Both born about 1863, the two men were experienced in the liquor trade, both pouring whiskey in a saloon and selling packaged goods.  Cyrus Reynolds had gotten his start as an employee of M.C. Wallace, a Fort Smith  liquor dealer who carried a number of national brands.  In time, Reynolds and a partner had bought out Wallace and continued operations.  When that partnership dissolved, Reynolds joined the existing saloon and liquor house of Sam Harper and his brother. He eventually was made a full partner of Harper-Reynolds Co., located at 503 Garrison Street, shown below.

The new company soon found itself in deep financial waters.  Although the owners could boast of being local agents for Miller Beer, they found themselves surrounded by dozens of other liquor outlets, some like Tom Taylor’s only steps away.  Noting the popularity of Mellwood whiskey on their shelves, a scheme began to form in the minds of the partners.  Why not provide an imitation that could sell for less and call it “Mill Wood”?

Meanwhile 670 miles northeast of Fort Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, George Washington Swearingen was basking in the success of his distillery, below,  and particularly the nationwide sales of his Mellwood brand.  As one observer said:  “Beginning on a small scale it became one of the largest and most successful institutions in the state.” Shown here, insurance documents record a distillery  built of brick and equipped with a fire-proof roof.  The property contained seven warehouse, one a “free (no federal regulation) that stood 70 feet southwest of the still and six “bottled in bond” warehouses, all within 300 feet of the still.

Although Swearingen offered a wide variety of brands, his flagship label and best seller was Mellwood.  A subject of vigorous marketing, the brand was promoted by frequent advertising in a wide range of national publications.  Sold at retail in quart bottles and pint flasks, the Mellwood label became a familiar sight on liquor shelves all over America.  Or as one publication stated: “…Being known far and wide as the equal of any in the market.”   Faced with an impostor whiskey being sold in Fort Smith, Swearingen vowed retribution and filed suit in Federal District Court in the Arkansas city.

He did so at a propitious time.  In the past trademarks has been loosely protected under state common law beginning in colonial times. Congress first attempted to establish a federal trademark regime in 1870, only to have the law struck down by the Supreme Court.  In 1881 Congress retaliated by passing a new act.  It was not, however, until 1905 when Congress revised and strengthened the Trademark Act that the laws had real “teeth.” 

The suit was heard in December 1908 in the federal courthouse in Fort Smith, shown here.  Testifying for the Fort Smith proprietors was Reynolds. He contended that the “Mill Wood” name was not chosen to mimic Mellwood but was named after his old home place in Indiana, a somewhat dubious claim.  Reynolds chose, however, not to rebut any of the other charges involved in falsifying his company’s liquor.  

The acusations included…:

 The word “WHISKEY” in block letters was similar to those used for Mellwood, followed by red script letters spelling “Mill Wood,” also similar to red lettering on the Mellwood bottle.   The word “Kentucky” was prominent and untrue.

The Mill Wood label featured a  picture of a large distillery, containing captions “Mill Wood Distilling Co.” “Malt House,” “Warehouse,”  “Cattle Pens.” In fact, Harper, Reynolds had no such facilities.  Their whiskey was being concocted in their Fort Smith quarters from supplies distilled elsewhere and brought in by rail.  The distillery picture was purely an artist’s invention.

The faux distillery view was followed by the designation “hand made,”  “sour mash, and the following text:  “The celebrated whiskey is made exclusively by the sour mash copper process, employed only in the distillation of the finest whiskeys, from carefully selected grains, and bottled only after  being matured in barrels for  years.”  None of this was true.

Reynolds made no effort to refute any of Swearingen’s allegations.  Instead, while admitting he and Harper had approved the label, he seemed to cast the blame on the lithographic company for having designed and printed it.  Reynolds said the company had been sent 5,500 labels, that it had used 3,400 of them on quart, pint and half-pint bottles, and that the remaining 2,100 labels had been destroyed when Mellwood Distilling brought the lawsuit. 

The Federal District Court asked:  “What are the facts?” and proceeded to provide the answer in a single sentence:  “There was no such distillery;  the whiskey was put up and owned by defendants at Ft. Smith Ark., and was a blend and certainly a cheap whiskey; it was not put up by any fire copper process; it was not made in Kentucky; it was not celebrated; it was not made of selected grain; it was not matured eight years in barrels before being bottled; it was not [just] distributed by the Harper-Reynolds Liquor Company; it was both owned and sold by that company; it was not sour mash; it was not hand made; the picture on the label of the distillery was not the picture of any distillery; the descriptions on the picture were untrue.”

The Court then granted an injunction to the Mellwood plaintiffs, restraining Harper and Reynolds from use of the label, and referring the case to a master to determine the ill-gotten profits, assess damages and set court costs.  Although the decision was reached early in December 1908, the verdict was delayed on a technicality by the defendants’ lawyers until late January, 1909.

My presumption is that back in Fort Smith, although Harper and Reynolds continued to sell Mellwood whiskey for $1.25 a quart, their erstwhile Mill Wood brand, at 75 cents a quart, was a thing of the past.  The partners did not have long to continue in the liquor business.  Things were changing rapidly in Fort Smith as the population was shifting away from the original boisterous military base town to a more sedate environment.  In August 1914, Fort Smith was voted “dry” and all saloons and liquor houses ordered to shut down. That order was followed on January 1, 1916, when the entire state of Arkansas embraced prohibition.  

After being shut down by the “dry” sentiments sweeping the country, Harper and Reynolds went their separate ways.  Harper became the vice president of a Fort Smith clothing manufacturer, Flyer Garment Company.  Also as a vice president, Reynolds joined a wholesale grocery firm, owned by a relative, called Reynolds-Davis.

Sam Harper was the first to die at the age of 69, in 1932 committing suicide by carbon monoxide while sitting in a running automobile in his garage. Cyrus Reynolds died in 1946, age 82, of natural causes and was buried in Forth Smith’s Oak Cemetery.  The grave markers of both men are shown below.

Addendum:  A 1920 study from Columbia University called “A Psychological Study of Trade-Mark Infringement” highlighted the inconsistency among approximately forty trademark legal decisions the researchers examined. They found that among control groups the likelihood of consumers mistaking “Mill Wood” for “Mellwood” was at the low end of probability.

Note:  The Mellwood/Mill Wood trademark case in many ways was a landmark decision.  Earlier whiskey cases tried in the home city of a defendant usually were followed by acquittals.  In this case the federal judges in the Arkansas city came down hard on locals Harper and Reynolds. For those interested in such legal issues, I highly recommend the book “Bourbon Justice:  How Whiskey Law Shaped America” by Brian Haara.  Although this post was written from original court documents, Atty. Haara’s informative book initially alerted me to the Fort Smith story.