Monday, March 03, 2008

Milton Whiskey Business

(click on photograph for larger image)

These photographs were shared by a Caswell County collector. The flask may date from 1870 - 1890, but the exact date is unknown.

Warranted Flask: They were made in great quantity (millions) around the turn of the century. They were generic bottles used by many proprietors to put up there own product. They can be found pretty much all over the country. A large portion of them are not machine made, but have hand tooled lips.

1814 Hull
Richmond, VA.
Source: Richmond Business Directory

The following is from When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977):

Page 155
Bartlett Yancey in 1810, commenting on the great number of distilleries operating in the county which were "nuisances to society," said: "I know of nothing [else] which has so great a tendancy to demoralize Society, except it be the late practice of electioneering by drenching the people with grog, and with falsehoods." [Yancey estimated that more than fifty distilleries were in operation in 1810.]
Page 117
The lone distillery in the county in 1850 was owned by William Long who employed two men to operate it. One of them may have been Jesse Zimmerman, native of Davie County, whose occupation that year was a distiller. With a capital investment of $250 it produced 2,000 gallons of whiskey valued at $700.
Pages 278-279

Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1872 reports that J. W. Lea of Locust Hill and Jon A. Johnston of Pea Ridge were dealers in dry goods and liquor, while one Blackwell at Blackwell's and G. B. Gibson of Milton dealt in groceries and liquor. In 1877 only three sources of liquor were identified in the directory and all were in Yanceyville: M. H. Graves, retail liquor merchant; Kerr & Corbett, groceries and liquor; and Richmond & Gunn, drugs, liquor, and groceries. The threat of prohibition in 1881 may have been responsible for an increase in such business, for in 1883 there were not only seven general merchants who also offered liquor, but there also was a whiskey distiller identified -- John Love of Hightowers who was also listed in 1884. By 1884 specialization seems to have been the rule, except for one McMeachin in Semora whose general store offered liquor, all the others offered only liquor: G. A. Griffith, J. J. Henderson, and N. P. Oliver in Yanceyville; J. T. Baynes, and T. Y. Baynes in Hightowers/ and W. B. McCain and J. M. White in Milton. White's establishment was very plainly identified as a saloon. That list for 1889 identified Felix R. Gordon's business in Milton as a bar, and in 1890 it was reported that there were two saloons in Yanceyville and a saloon and a bar in Milton in addition to other assorted sources of liquor.

Note that the label states that the John W. Sowers Distilling Co. was formerly of Ronda, North Carolina, which is a town in Wilkes County, North Carolina (northwest portion of the state). The population was 560 at the 2000 census. Ronda was named after a nearby estate called "Roundabout", which was the residence of Benjamin Cleveland, a locally prominent planter and a colonel in the North Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War.


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