History of Chicago

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History of Chicago

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Sun Apr 11, 2010 5:54 pm

From History of Chicago, Volume 3 By Alfred Theodore Andreas, the distilleries mentioned.

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? :D ) 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.
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Re: History of Chicago

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:05 pm

I'm adding a lot of stuff here. I probably should have called this the History of the Whiskey Trusts, or Distilling North of the Ohio. Anywhere here's what I wrote or copied or extracted from the Reports of the Industrial Commission mentioned above.

On the History of the 19th century Whiskey Trusts

These Whiskey Trusts didn't usually made whiskey, they made spirits and alcohol, usually of very high grade (proof and purity). Such alcohol was used in the arts, by druggists, industrially, as well as in the production of blended whiskey, or common whiskey. These companies typically did not produce rye whiskey or bourbon. The spirits they sold was sold in bulk, and there was a quick turnaround desired on the product. Also, many of them if not all were involved in raising cattle. So once you've created your distilling feed lot, you have to keep going, as otherwise your cows will get mighty hungry.

This could also be called History of Distilling above the Ohio River. Nearly all these distilleries were located in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana. The introductory note from the Congressional hearings of the Industrial Commission on the trusts in numerous industries describes the history of the whiskey trusts north of the Ohio River.

As early as 1870-1871 many of the distillers north of the Ohio River entered into an agreement to limit their production in order to keep up prices.

November 1881, the Western Export Association was formed to limit the output and assess members in order to pay expenses of exporting the surplus stock, and thus to keep up prices.

From this time on there were frequent pools lasting for short times each until 1887, when, in order to secure a more stable combination, the Distillers and Cattle Feeders' Trust, formed on the model of the Standard Oil Trust, was organized with a capital of $30,000,000 to be issued in trust certificates.

In 1890 the Trust was reorganized as a corporation under the name of the Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company with a capital stock of $35,000,000. The new company had taken over from the trust 81 distilleries and cash and earnings to the amount of $3,837,066, and there still remained in the treasury 34,984 shares as an asset. In the latter part of January 1891, this treasury stock was issued. The Shufeldt and Calumet distilleries were bought, the stock being sold at 45.

In November 1892, four other distilleries, making practically all of the important opponents, were bought. No bonds or stocks were issued to pay for these distilleries. Instead, the surplus was used and dividends lessened. In January, 1893, it was found that the cash on hand was exhausted and that no money remained to pay rebates, which had been promised to purchasers. The stock fell shortly from 65 and 70 to around 20. In May, 1893, the attorney-general of Illinois brought suit against the company on the ground that it was illegal. During 1893 $2,500,000 bonds were issued and placed in escrow to secure rebates which had not been paid; $1,000,000 worth of bonds was to be used as collateral in making loans for current expenses.

In December, 1894 the directors of the company suggested plans of reorganization; the treasurer suggested another. All of the plans involved a decided lessening of the stock. The suit in Illinois had gone against the company in the lower court and was before the supreme court. In January 1895 notice was given that over a third of all the stockholders had organized a committee to protect their interest and secure a change of management.

January 28, 1895, holders of 1,700 shares applied for a receiver. The company, through the President, consented, and the President (Mr. Greenhut) and Mr. E. F. Lawrence were appointed temporary receivers. January 30, the stockholders' committee mentioned above secured from the court a stay and an order not to turn the property over to these receivers. February 2 Judge Grosscup removed Mr. Greenhut (he was said to be 15,000 shares short of the company's stock) and appointed Gen. John McNulta as the chief receiver, representing the court, and John J. Mitchell, president of the Illinois Trust and Savings Company, to represent the stockholders. Mr. Lawrence remained as a third receiver.

A committee was appointed to prepare plans of reorganization.

The plan finally submitted in 1895 provided for %1,500,000 first-mortgage 6 percent 20-year golf bonds (out of a total issue of $2,000,000); $7,000,000 5 per cent noncumulative preferred stock and $28,000,000 common stock.

The plan was in due time accepted, and the American Spirits Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York, August 22, 1895. After considerable litigation between the receiver with the reorganization committee, and the former president and trustees, the best of the plants (16 distilleries) were taken over from the old organization.

In 1896 the case against the old Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company was finally decided in the supreme court of Illinois. The decision of the judge of the lower court was affirmed, the company being declared a trust and its charter annulled. Previous to the rendering of the decision, however, it had gone out of business, the most valuable property going into the hands of the American Spirits Manufacturing Company, as said heretofore.

The Standard Distilling and Distributing Company was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey to begin active business July 1, 1898. Capitalization, $24,000,000 — $16,000,000 common stock and $8,000,000 7 per cent cumulative preferred stock; there were no bonds. It was thought that this company would get control of most of the spirit-distilling plants outside of those in the American Spirits Manufacturing Company.

February 11, 1896, there had been incorporated in New Jersey, with a capital of $7,850,000, the Spirits Distilling Company.

February 3, 1899, the Kentucky Distilleries and Warehouse Company, capital $32,000,000, was incorporated in New Jersey.

The names of those interested in these companies suggested union; and in June 1899, were published plans for the union of the four companies last named, together with certain rye-distilling properties, under the name of The Distilling Company of America, with a capital of $125,000,000—$55,000,000 7 per cent cumulative preferred stock, and $70,000,000 common stock.


Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company

Was the successor company organization of the Distilling and Cattle Feeders' Trust, registered January 31, 1890, and headquartered in Peoria, Ill. The commissioners of the company were

Joseph B. Greenhut
Adolf Woolner
George J. Gibson

And the following were the original subscribers of the stock at $100 per share.

Purchasers of 43,750 shares: Joseph B. Greenhut, Warren H. Corning, William N. Hobart, Lewis H. Greene, H. L. Terrell and Adolf Woolner. Peter J. Hennessy purchased 43,650 shares, Nelson Morris purchased 43,350 shares, and Henry M. Kingman purchased 500 shares. One February 11, 1890 they elected themselves officers of the company. These folks were the same trustees of the Distilling and Cattle Feeders' Trust and they assigned the assets of the Trust over to the new company. Greenhut was the President of the company, and Gibson was the Secretary.

By 1895, the company was insolvent and in court appointed receivership.

(Page 224 of the testimony, pg. 493 of the google PDF gives a list of the managers of the distilleries run by the company at that time. The page is blurred.)


American Spirits Manufacturing Company

On August 14, 1895 certain assets of the D&FC Co were sold at auction. The purchaser was the American Spirits Distilling Company for the sum of $9.8 million. The following properties were included in this purchase:

Shufeldt Distillery, Chicago, Ill.
Central Distilleries, St. Louis
Star and Crescent Distilleries, Pekin, Ill.
St. Paul Distillery, South St. Paul, Minn.
Riverdale Distillery, Riverdale, Cook County, Ill.
Hamburg Distillery, Pekin.
Northern Distillery, Manhattan Distillery, Monarch Distillery, Great Western Distillery, Woolner Distillery, Peoria Distillery, all of Peoria.
Willow Springs Distillery, Omaha.
Consolidated Distillery and the Maddux-Hobart Distillery, Cincinnati.
The Wabash Distillery, Terre Haute.
The Latonia Distillery, Milldale, Ky.

Charles Clarke was a distiller, or owner of a distillery business. He originally sold to the Trust, then later decided against this, left the Trust/Company and started a rye and spirits distilling business outside the trust as the Clarke Brothers Distilling Co, Peoria, Ill. In his testimony to the commission there are several things that drew my attention.

He says the main products of the D&CF Co were alcohol, cologne spirits, gin and many whiskies. Presumably blended as he says the products of the company differed from those of the Kentucky distilleries in that they did not require aging, that these spirits are refined by running them through charcoal, and leaves pure spirits (more or less). He says the 1 gallon of whiskey is blended with 5 or 10 gallons of pure spirits. He says most of the whiskey sold in the US is of this type and is blended with old rye whiskey or bourbon.

He also mentions that of the time of the D&CF Co, originally only the H.H. Shufeldt Co and the Calumet Distillery, both of Chicago.

In 1893/1894 they bought up the Shufeldt and Calumet distilleries, as well as Cresent Distillery in Pekin and another in St Louis. They used the money set aside for the rebates, which caused problems later on.

Some other things Clarke discusses is how advantageous Peoria was for distilling. Where the distilleries located there was an underground river (close to the Ohio) where the distilleries could be unlimited water at a constant 54º F. Much better than using ice he says. Being in the center of the corn belt, they were always close to raw materials. He says the compounding of whiskies is done at rectifying houses, where the spirit is placed in a tub, colored with brown sugar and other coloring material and flavored with high priced old whiskies and other flavoring materials. He talks about well-aged rye whisky being from 3 to 10 years of age. Says the bulk of blended whisky is reduced to 85 or 90 proof, though some as low at 60 proof.

The druggists were buying good quality whiskey, what they call straight whiskey.

He also describes the tax system in use at that time. Others also mention the tax on still capacity, and there is much dissatisfaction with that. He says the bonding period is 8 years, in which the distiller has that much time to pay the tax. At the end of 4 years, the product in the barrel is gauged, and the tax is calculated on that. He says they lose 9 gallons per 48 gallon barrel to evaporation over the first 4 years. In the second four years he's not so sure of the loss as his oldest whiskey is 7 years old. He loses 17 gallons per 48 gallon barrel after 7 years. He also says that typically the wholesaler will buy the whiskey at 4 years old even though if he holds it another four years, he's paid tax on whiskey he doesn't get to sell. All those before the commission request the government to tax what is in the barrel when it goes into the trade, as the only fair way.

In the warehouse, mentions that warm and dry leads to an increase in proof, and cold and damp leads to a decrease in proof.

Clarke says that when the Distillers and Cattle Feeders' Trust was created, there were 81 distilleries in that trust. But about 60 of them were closed down. Some hadn't been operating, and others were perhaps inefficient.

Links to older threads that discuss some of these issues.

The Cult of Oldness

Vintage Sherbrook Rye

Mitcher's Distillery

General Bourbon History Timeline

The Golden Age


General McNulta's testimony is extensive. His Exhibit 1 (pg. 464 of the google PDF) lists all the initial distilleries of the Distillers' and Cattle Feeders' Trust. There are 65 distilleries listed, all but one with the location. Peoria, Cincinnati, Chicago, St Louis, as well as places in KY and others in Mo, Ill, etc. This list had never been published before so was of interest to the commission. There was also Exhibit 2 which listed all the houses in the Trust, all 85 of them. Many weren't operable but were purchased to prevent competition.

Compounding of Whiskey

McNulta discusses the compounding of whiskey. He states that D&CF Co has a compounding house in New York, and that the Shufeldt house (that they owned) also did compounding. He said that only brown sugar and (blurred) and glycerine and prune juice was used as blending materials in addition to the whiskey and refined spirits. Doesn't mention proof.
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Re: History of Chicago

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:41 pm

I just received my Feb 2010 Bourbon Country Reader by the renowned Chuck Cowdery and he has written quite a lot about the history of the distilleries in Peoria in that issue. Very well done. Made me want try to find some of the old Ten High, the Kentucky Straight Whiskey, but it's all been changed to the blend already.
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Re: History of Chicago

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:14 pm

Not available other than in snippet view, but looks like there's an interesting book on the history of Cincinnati that includes discussion of the history of the distilling industry in that city.

They built a city: 150 years of industrial Cincinnati
Federal Writers Project.
The Cincinnati post, 1938 - 402 pages

Searching within the book for "bourbon" results in a few hits. With just snippets, makes me want to read more...
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Re: History of Chicago

Unread postby Ginne » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:43 am

A very informative article! I've been looking for interesting bits of Chicago history. And Chicago history just isn't complete without a bit of booze :D
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