Originally, establishments destroyed in the Great Fire (1871) were the distilleries Dickinson & Leach, Union Copper Distilling Co., and Kirchoff, and the Northwestern recitfying house on Fifth Avenue.
Production averaged 7.2 million gallons between 1871 and 1884, and an average price of $1.09/gallon. According to this source, the highest production was 10.9 million gallons in 1879 from eight registered distilleries. The book detailed for the First Illinois District (I think this means the Dept of the Treasury tax collection district) the amount of grain used, the production of spirits, and the amounts rectified, and number of wholesale liquor dealers, and number of rectifiers.
There is mention of the Chicago and Phoenix distilleries being destroyed by fire. The book states that in 1886, there were eight distilleries in the district, each capable of processing over 500 bushels per day. These are:
Phoenix Distilling Co
H.H. Shufeldt Co.
Chicago Distilling Co.
United States Distilling Co.
Empire Distilling Co.
Riverdale Distilling Co
Garden City Distilling Co.
Northwestern Distilling Co.
Of the wholesale dealers the book discusses histories of the following:
Samuel Myers & Co.
Founded by Samuel Myers in 1847, when there was only one other wholesaler in Chicago. Nephews Jerome Myers and James E. S. Fuller joining in 1849. The firm became E.S. Fuller & Co. In 1857, the firm named changed again to S. Myers & Son, and his son Samuel Groot Myers became a partner. When the book was written, this latter Myers was the head of the firm. Henry Wilkinson became a partner in 1863. The building and stocks of the firm were destroyed in the great conflagration. But they rebuilt and were successful.
Samuel Myers himself was born Dec 25, 1800 in Dutchess County NY. He worked on the Erie Canal, and operated a wholesale liquor business in Schenectady, NY and moved to Chicago in 1847. He died on Nov 5th, 1882.
S. G. Myers was born in Schenectady 1837. He began working with his father in the wholesale liquor trade at the age of 16.
Henry Wilkinson was born in Albany 1832. He began working in his father's distilling business in 1855, the Jacob Wilkinson & Son, after some years at the Bank of Albany. In 1863 he moved to Chicago and joined S. Myers & Co.
Farrell, Coleman & Co.
This firm mostly dealt with imported teas, cigars, wines, coffee and liquors. Began in 1880. A partnership of two Irishmen, M. P. Farrell and Thomas Daniel Coleman.
Weadley & Cleary
Another of the line of Irish partnerships specializing in wholesale liquors. Operated by James M. Cleary. At one point, the business was Weadly, Dennehy, and Cleary.
John A. Lomax was born in England in 1825. He came to the US in 1851 starting in Haverstraw, NY. Unlike many of the others he was not from the wholesale liquor or distilling trades, but from the (wood) milling trades. A man who worked hard to build a business, often to see it burnt to the ground. Not once, but several times including the great fire of 1871. He nearly gave up in dispear after this one, but he did not. And by the time of the book was again a wealthy man. He had two farms of 600 and 2400 acres, expensive horses, and a silver mine in Colordao. The soda and spirits business business was very good to Mr. Lomax.
Paul Schuster was of French descent, and operated and edited the Champion of Freedom and Right, a National organ of the liquor interest. Born in 1825. He apparently wanted to join the French Bar, but instead became a Jesuit. The revolution of 1848 chased him from Alsace, and he was sent to America to (pause) Bardstown, Ky. And after a year, requested to be released from his vows (was it the whiskey? ) which was granted. He seems to have had an exciting life helping found the town of Tell City, Perry Co, Indiana (he was an agent of the Swiss Colonization Society). By 1860 he was in Memphis Tenn. At the outbreak of the war he was elected captain of Co. "A", 1st Memphis Volunteers, given the title of colonel. He next ends up in the Memphis Independent Dragoons, but when that unit was disbanded, he soon took his family to Cincinnati. (He was one who had advocated that Tennessee remain in the Union rather than join the Confederacy.) Eventually he moved to Chicago, with the Champion of Freedom and Ligh, a major outlet for anti-prohibitionist sentiment. A true defender of liberty!
William Ainsworth isn't mentioned in this history, but he can be found to have worked for the Union Copper Distilling Co from this history of manufacturing.
Although the record is not definite, we do know Ainsworth worked for a period of time for the Union Copper Distilling Company of Calumet in Cook County, Illinois. (The company made and distributed bourbon, rye whisky, 188 proof alcohol, cologne spirits and French neutral spirits). Here he was employed as a steam engineer and family stories indicate his employers were so impressed by his mechanical ability that in a very short time, he was made Chief Engineer. He must have stayed with this job for several years and in February of 1874, at the age of 24, requested and received a letter of recommendation. (He also received an August 18, 1875 letter of recommendation from the Office of Roelle, Junker & Company, Distillers & Rectifiers located at 261 & 263 East Kinzie, corner Cass St. in Chicago. This letter was signed by the secretary of Union Copper Distilling Company located in Riverdale, Illinois).
From the Treasury decisions under customs and other laws, Volume 10 By United States. Dept. of the Treasury, United States. Customs Court we see the names Anton Junker, Joseph Roelle, and J. P. Kissinger, in 1877. They were apparently involved in some fraudulent whiskey dealings in 1875, and owed the gov't a lot of money.
There is also the Reports of the Industrial commission... By United States. Industrial Commission, James Henderson Kyle, Albert Clarke that gives quite a bit of imformation about how the trust operated. (Interesting text occurs before the point listing the business members of the trust which includes our friends Empire Distilling and Union Copper Distilling Co.) This book is from 1900, and discusses how water was used by the distilleries, the importance of coal as well as access to corn.
Beginning on page 438 of the PDF, there's a lot of testimony and figures etc on the so-called Whiskey Combinations, which began as early as 1870-1871 north of the Ohio River. These distillers worked together to limit production in order to keep prices high. Our good friend Distilling and Cattle Feeding Co. is the main object of the commissions attentions.
Some of the pages aren't well copied, but oh well. And not searchable.