Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pearson Brothers - Placerville and Bodie California

John McFarland Pearson started business in Placerville selling ice,
which he cut and stored at his ice house above Riverton. In 1852 he established the Pearson Soda Works at 594 Main street in downtown Placerville. 

                                 The Placerville Soda Works

In 1859 Pearson built the lower floor in his building on upper Main Street. Caves, or abandoned mines, behind the stone structure were used to store ice and keep the soda cold. In 1890 John Sr. died and John Pearson Jr. carried on the business expanding it to include the sale of beer, wine and cider. 

According to Peck Markota, in his book "Western Blob Top Soda and Mineral Water Bottles"  The first Pearson bottle embossed Pearson's Soda Works dates before 1879 and was probably in production during the early to late 1870's.

Pearson Soda Bottles
 On the left is the first embossed Pearson's Soda Works from Placerville and at right the Pearson Bros. from Bodie
It is not known when the Pearson brothers opened their Soda works in Bodie but I have seen billheads and invoices dating from the early 1880's to about 1890. (If memory serves me)
Both of the Pearson Soda bottles are embossed with the curved R's associated with the San Francisco Glass houses
Applied top with original bale on Pearson Soda Works
 Applied Top on the Pearson Bodie bottle
(note the marks left from the gravitating stopper)
Beautiful downtown Bodie 
I was lucky enough to acquire these bottle this week and will have them at the Golden Gate Bottle Show next month in Antioch.....
See you there! - rs -


  1. Both of the sodas were dug in the same holes in Bodie more than once also they had I belive a depo in Carson City , so the one without Bodie could be a Nevada botle also..rts

  2. The two bottles pictured in this post were dug by an early digger from Bishop. The newspaper wrapped around the bottles dated from 1968. - rs -

  3. The Pearson's Blob tops are dug in Placerville, so they certainly were used here also. There are 4 other Hutch style soda variants used in Placerville also

    Matt L. in Hangtown

  4. Hopefully they were not dug in 1968, as by then Bodie was a State Historic Park for six years, and we all know about digging on State Park Land don't we.........

  5. Whoa there, anonymous. A little quick on the draw, aren't we?

    Re-read the post. No where does Rick indicate that this pair of bottles was dug in Bodie, in 1968. He states that the bottles came from Bishop, slightly over 90 miles to the south, and that they were wrapped in newspaper dated 1968.

    RTS states that both variants of the Pearson sodas had been dug previously on more than one occasion, in like context, in Bodie. No mention as to when, though. And he made no reference to the specific bottles that Rick mentioned.

    Adelle Reed dug Bodie extensively in the 1950's. She once told me, when we were digging at Hamilton, that the owners of Bodie put digging off limits in 1960. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and in 1962 it became Bodie State Historic Park. It was dug extensively, by many, many people, for many years prior to these dates.

    Bodie itself is a comparatively small footprint of state land, originally encompassing right at 500 acres. In 1997, the state acquired an additional 520 acres, making it just over 1000 acres in size. 1000 acres is a mosquito bite on the surrounding landscape compared to the vastness of the area. Woodcutting camps, gopher hole miners cabins, prospects, lesser towns, mills, and other vestiges of 1870's and 1880's life are evident everywhere. And so yes, it's illegal to dig in the state park, but there's "stuff" literally everywhere outside of the park; if you know where to look. And the smart diggers don't talk...

  6. I’d be careful about citing what’s state property and what’s not. As with the 54 million tax payer dollars these people hide away from us their definitely not above reproach. One of the nicest Western whiskies I’ve seen was sold by a state funded archeologist that snuck it off a site in Bodie in the 70s.

  7. Correction, post has been changed, because it first stated that the bottles were dug by a guy from Bishop, and were wrapped in 1968 newspapers. Where is that statement in the current post??? Nice try, but no cigar, and there is no doubt as to when it was made a state park, just go the website and read the info.. I do not happen to agree with all the rules concerning state PROPERTY, just stating some published here facts.........

  8. I know for a fact the post was never changed because I wrote it. I never said the bottles were dug in Bodie. RTS' posted a comment, and I quote:

    " Both of the sodas were dug in the same holes in Bodie more than once also they had I belive a depo in Carson City , so the one without Bodie could be a Nevada botle also..rts "

    Now about that "nice try but no cigar" Maybe you should get YOUR facts straight

  9. I have a bottle exactly like this .

  10. I have a bottle exactly like this .