Wednesday, December 16, 2020



The year of 1860 was a truly historical milestone for the early manufacture of glass in San Francisco, including the entire West Coast. The partnership of Francis Cutting and Augustus Baker had already produced a small amount of pickle bottles by late in 1859 but, with no experience in glass making, this attempt was extremely challenging for them. The reject rate for passable bottles must have been quite high but it appears that Baker was still optimistic about success. Judging from Baker leaving their partnership in the pickle business, and forming a separate partnership in the California Glass Works, with Cutting, it would appear that both were still hoping the venture would work but Cutting was not willing to impact the assets of the pickle business if the glass works venture failed.


Daily Alta California, January 3, 1860

The only known intact specimen of the Baker and Cutting pickle jar, blown in 1859.

A surprisingly large number of the Baker & Cutting pickle bottles have been excavated over the years, except all but one have been found in pieces.

The partners earnestly continued their quest for a successful glass works in an environment that was new to such a venture. Expertise was not easy to find in California and their search for competent glass blowers was extended as far away as Wheeling, Virginia.


After a month of trials Baker and Cutting placed this advertisement in The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer of Wheeling, Virginia. The ad ran for most of February and March 1860.

It is not known if the plea for experienced bottle blowers was successful, but it is evident that Francis Cutting became weary of the mounting expenses involved in getting the glass works to a point of success. He apparently decided to cut his losses and ended his partnership with Baker in the San Francisco Glass Works at the end of February 1860.


                                                 Daily Alta California, March 5, 1860

To say that A.D. Baker is not well documented in the record while he was operating the San Francisco Glass Works is an understatement, as newspaper information about this new and important California venture is quite scarce. The attempt to produce good glass for the bottling of their food products finally caused Francis Cutting to abandon the project as noted by the dissolution of their partnership in the glass works on February 29, 1860. Baker continued on his own, and whether he was ready to operate a fully functioning glass works as a profitable venture is a cause for speculation – but he decided to open for business anyway in early March 1860. This was most likely a move of desperation, for surely, he was heavily in debt at this point. Regardless, in the next few weeks Baker produced a number of historically significant bottles, most of which were not lettered, which does make it difficult to identify them. Just three embossed medicine bottles were found in the wastage area of the works in such a quantity as to assume that they had to have been blown at this factory.


Photos of some of the bottle types found in the 'wastage area' of the San Francisco Glass Works, including liquor, insulators, soda and wine bottles. The last two pictures includes a batch of glass sand ready for the furnace. It includes selected frit, mostly lighter colored broken bottles, which act as a flux in the melting process. The last photo shows the side wall of a furnace pot along with a batch just beginning to melt.

A.D. Baker’s opening of his San Francisco Glass Works occurred on March 6, 1860. He advertised the sale of “WINE, SODA, PICKLE, And most kinds of BOTTLES, TELEGRAPH INSULATORS, etc.” (Daily Alta California, March 11, 1860) 

 Probably in a move of desperation to garner some operating capital, Baker advertised for sale three tons of fire clay. This would have been product to be used in the construction of pots for melting glass. (Daily Alta California, April 6, 1860)


The terminal date of the San Francisco Glass Works under the direction of Augustus Baker was almost certainly near the end of April 1860, with a total run of almost two months.

 The exit from San Francisco by A.D. Baker was unceremonious to say the least. Based solely on a small newspaper article containing a confusing error, it is clear that Baker skipped town due to mounting debts that he could not pay. The noted error, shown in the actual article below, states Baker as the proprietor of the San Francisco Iron Works, instead of the San Francisco Glass Works. This can be well documented as an error since no person by the name of Baker was ever noted as the proprietor of the San Francisco Iron Works. And, further, the San Francisco Iron Works was not even established until 1865.


There is some indication that Baker may have left for Australia for several years but it has not been proven to be the same A.D. Baker.  (Sacramento Daily Union, April 26, 1860)


The article notes that the buyer of the San Francisco Glass Works was Lucien Bell, who was obviously a victim of fraud, and who apparently was a novice at making such a purchase. Lucien Bell is non-existent in San Francisco in 1860, or any other time,  but there was a tea broker listed in the SF directory for that year named Lucius Bell. First noted in San Francisco as early as 1852, he initially worked for his brothers-in-law, the Goodman Brothers, who were general commission merchants. Bell later partnered with Washington Elliot as grocers in San Francisco in 1858 and 1859. He was apparently not a good money manager and had to file for insolvency in both previous businesses. Then, in 1860, he was a tea broker, which was his last business listing in San Francisco. If the article shown above is correct, and Baker did sell his heavily indebted business to Bell, this event must have been a heavy financial burden on Bell, and Baker likely wasted no time in removing himself from San Francisco.  In fact, to further document Baker’s removal from San Francisco, 12 cases of pipe clay in the name of A.D. Baker were auctioned off to pay for unclaimed freight in July 1860. (Daily Alta California, July 11, 1860)

 Bell was discharged from his debts in April 1860, probably due to the unusual circumstances of being duped by Baker. (San Joaquin Republican, April 20, 1860). Unfortunately,  Lucius Bell found himself in the same predicament about a year later when he filed for bankruptcy and his assets were ordered to be sold. (Daily Alta California, April 14, 1861) Bell then moved to Napa for a few years and then, about 1865, moved back East to Brooklyn, New York, where he died on November 18, 1906. He was buried in Rochester, New York.

 As fate would have it the brother of Sarah L. Bell, the wife of Lucius Bell, was a wealthy banker named James Harvey Goodman. He left a trust fund to Bell’s wife in the amount of $136, 800, which passed to her upon Goodman’s death in 1891. (Napa Register, April 24, 1891) After a long history of business failures in both California and New York, his wife finally brought some financial stabilization to the family, and Bell retired from business.

 In some way, whether through a court ordered sale, or some other unknown conveyance, the San Francisco Glass Works that had become virtually abandoned by its owners, must have passed to someone. The next name in the written historical record that is associated with its name, is J. Lambert. The most likely candidate would be Joseph Lambert, who was also experiencing some difficult employment issues in 1860.

 A newspaper article fairly secures his full name: “ OFFICERS OF THE ALTA CALIFORNIA TELEGRAPH COMPANY.- An annual meeting of the Alta California Telegraph Company was held at their office in this city last evening, and the following elected officers: W. W. Welty, President; J.M. McDonald, Superintendent; J.W. Coleman, Secretary; R.H. McDonald, C.H. Swift, John Pattison and Joseph Lambert, Directors”.(Sacramento Daily Union, September 7, 1858)

 Likely the same Joseph Lambert is listed in the 1859 SF directory as “Lambert, Joseph, telegraph, bds, Hotel International.” 

 The telegraph company was hit with what was likely its death blow in mid-1860. “Morse et al. vs The Alta Telegraph Co. et al  - A suit has been commenced in the U.S. Circuit Court by S.F.B. Morse, F. O. J. Smith, Theodore Little, and George T. Cobb, residents of various Eastern States, against the Alta Telegraph Company, Jas. M. McDonald and Joseph Lambert, of this State, to restrain them from using Morse’s telegraphic patent, to compel them to account for profits which they have made by its use, and to require them to pay damages done to plaintiffs by its use. The argument in the case is to be heard on the 19th inst.” (Daily Alta California, June 12, 1860)

 J. Lambert was the operating agent of the Alta Telegraph Company for San Francisco in 1860, and as a member of the reporter’s union, was one of those who welcomed the first Pony Express rider of the Overland Pony Express. (Daily Alta California, April 13, 1860). A week later a newspaper advertisement documented that Lambert had been selected as the San Francisco agent for the new Pony Express service. (Daily Alta California, April 20, 1860, p. 4)

 August of 1860 is the earliest that the glass works of Lambert & Co. had successfully produced glass, with the silica component coming primarily from the extensive quartz deposits near Folsom. The absence of the darker elements, as found in most sand grains, would, theoretically produce a very light colored batch. Perhaps the most difficult part of using quartz rock would be grinding it finely enough to easily melt and thoroughly mix with the other ingredients of soda and lime, as well as the frit.


News article explaining Lambert’s testing and using quartz for use in glass making. (Sacramento Daily Union, August 16, 1860)


But, how do we know that the J. Lambert noted above, is the same person who operated the San Francisco Glass Works, after the exit of A.D. Baker? One small news article mentioning a display of bottles at the Mechanic’s Institute Fair by the San Francisco Glass Works, includes its business address as 153 Montgomery Street. This address is the same as that of Joseph Lambert for his business office.


 (San Francisco Daily Herald, September 10, 1860)


Note the same address for both the California Glass Works and Lambert’s Pony Express Office is 153 Montgomery St. Also of interest – this ad is the last for Lambert as agent for the Pony Express. (Daily Alta California, August 24, 1860) J.W. Brown became the second San Francisco agent and the office was moved to Olney’s Washoe Exchange at the corner of Montgomery and Merchants Streets in September 1860.

 Aside from a few additional news reports about the glass works display, virtually no information has been located, and it must be concluded that the works were not successful and closed its doors shortly after the fair. Only one small note has been located to date. (For additional contemporary news reports see EARLY GLASSWORKS OF CALIFORNIA, by Warren B. Friedrich. N.D.)


Essentially, this article is championing a glass factory in the town of Folsom since that is where the raw material – Folsom quartz – was mined to make soda bottles for a Folsom proprietor. The article is obviously referencing the California Glass Works of Lambert & Co. To my knowledge no soda bottles have been found in or around Folsom that may fit the description of those noted. (Marysville Daily Appeal, September 21, 1860)


Certainly, there are soda bottles whose origins are in question and may actually be attributed to Lambert’s factory, even though they are extremely rare.



This rare partial bottle of Napa Soda is a fine candidate for being made at one of the iterations of the  California Glass Works. It is market P & W  SF, near the base. The crudity of the mold is nearly childish in nature and surely could not have come from any glass factory with experience. I have seen two other specimens of Napa Soda bottles, almost clear in color but also lacking in execution of the mold. The glass color could certainly fit that expected if Lambert was using pure quartz rock.



Little to no information was gleaned about Lambert until a possible mention in September of 1861, when a news article noted a meeting of the Silver City Quartz Mill Company was to take place. Lambert was noted as a president of the company (Daily Alta California, September 28, 1861, p. 2)  Another news article a month later excoriated Lambert for acting without authority of the Board of Trustees of the Milling Company. (Sacramento Daily Union, October 12, 1861, p. 2)  At a meeting of the stockholders, he was absolved of any wrongdoing, with the members noting, “By virtue of the By-Laws, as amended, he is General Superintendent and Manager of the Company’s mill and property, and not subject to suspension or removal by the Board of Trustees. (Daily Alta California, October 16, 1861, p. 2)  Keep in mind, however, that it is not possible to determine if this is the same Lambert. In later news articles there are too many John Lamberts to determine if it is the same person, so he becomes effectively lost.


To summarize the timeline of this early San Francisco glass works, that began simply as a side business of the Baker & Cutting pickle trade in 1859, and by the beginning of 1860, was to be an entity in its own right, but quickly failed. It is highly unlikely that it was ‘in blast’ during much of its short lifespan. The following timeline is noted:


The California Glass Works

December 31, 1859 to February 29, 1860. Baker & Cutting, proprietors.

February 29, 1860 to about April 22, 1860. Augustus D. Baker, proprietor.

About April 22, 1860 to about May 1, 1860. Lucius Bell, owner. (Was probably never in blast under his ownership.)

About May 1, 1860 to about October 1, 1860. Joseph Lambert, proprietor. (It was probably idle for at least the first three months of his ownership.)


Sunday, November 22, 2020






Mendocino City, a coastal California town in Mendocino County, California, was established as a logging community that served the rapidly growing West beginning in the 1850’s. Its picturesque setting assures its long term survival as a tourist destination. For a short time in its history Mendocino was the primary site for the distribution of G. M. Henderson’s Bonanza Mineral Water.



Embossed G. M. HENDERSON’S / BONANZA / MINERAL WATER / MENDOCINO / CAL. , its history has remained somewhat of a mystery.


George Marshall Henderson was the fourth of 12 children born to Irish immigrants, Robert J. Henderson and Eliza Ewing, in New Brunswick, Canada. He was born about 1836, spending his early years in Canada and marrying Elizabeth Stockford there in 1861. They had one child, born there in 1865 – James Albert Henderson.  Apparently Elizabeth died early leaving George a widower, along with their young son. George then married his second wife, Ann, early in 1872.  George and Ann then moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was first noted running a boarding house.


By 1874 Henderson had become a Chicago policeman in the 10th Precinct, a job that he maintained until he left Chicago about 1887. His marriage with Ann appears to have been quite acrimonious. George’s son, James Albert Henderson, was sent to Mendocino County, California, to live with relatives about 1876. George M. Henderson’s sister, Anna Jane Henderson Mann, had moved to Mendocino County by 1875 where she joined her husband, John Mann, who had already established himself at Albion as a lumberman. It is likely James lived with them for awhile; however, the 1880 U.S. census schedules James A. Henderson living with another Canadian, James S. Corrigan, at Big River in Mendocino County.


In January 1880 George Henderson applied for homestead land in Mendocino County, at the head of the North Fork of the Albion River, ultimately comprising about 360 acres. He was still living in Chicago at that time and it is surmised that the required occupation and improvement of the homestead was actually conducted by his sister and brother-in-law, who were living in the same general area at this time. To be sure, his young son, James Albert Henderson, was living in this same area, as he was noted several times in the local Mendocino City newspaper. One of the most notable references was in the Mendocino Coast Beacon, October 2, 1880.

Albert Henderson, the boy mentioned in the BEACON last week as having killed two bears near Robert Dart’s place, the 13th ultimo, on the Albion Ridge, comes to the front again this week by killing three more, near the same place, making six in all this Summer.  Evidently he is a boy of nerve, being only sixteen years old, as he goes alone into the forest and faces these savage denizens of the woods single handed, trusting alone to his faithful Winchester rifle.  The lot of bears, which the boy has killed, have been known to exist in the Albion Ridge woods for several years, and have often been hunted by experienced hunters, but without success, and now comes a boy, a swaddling nearly, and carries off the palm.

George and Ann’s marriage conflicts became particularly pronounced in 1885 when he left his wife without any financial support. She was forced to pursue legal avenues against her husband.


Legal action to gain financial support was effected by Ann Henderson in 1885. (The Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, September 19, 1885)  


The couple soon resolved their immediate issues regarding their relationship, as noted in another newspaper.


Apparent reconciliation was noted in the Chicago Tribune. (Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, September 19, 1885) 


With continuing matrimonial issues, by 1887 the marriage was effectively over when George Henderson left Chicago and abandoned his wife, moving to his homestead property near Comptche, just east of the town of Mendocino City, California. Anna stayed in Chicago at least until 1895, with directory listings noting she was widowed. George became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. on August 10, 1887, in Ukiah, California.


Taking up residence on his property, Henderson finalized his homestead rights to his ranch near Comptche, upon which his soda spring was located. (Mendocino Coast Beacon, Mendocino, California, March 24, 1888)  


It is not known if George Henderson was initially aware that his homestead property contained a mineral water spring, but soon after he took up residence he embarked on the challenge of selling his own soda water in the bottle shown above, probably by 1889 and certainly by 1890. He called the product BONANZA MINERAL WATER, which was embossed on his bottles. This name has caused some confusion over the source of the water due to another soda spring also called Bonanza Springs, about 100 miles to the east in Lake County.


Contrary to some sources, the Bonanza Springs in Lake County, California, located between Seigler Springs and Howard Springs, some 100 miles east of Mendocino, was not the source of Henderson’s Bonanza Mineral Water. (Sacramento Daily Union, June 21, 1882) 


George M. Henderson’s dream of becoming a successful mineral water bottler came to an abrupt end early in 1892 when he died of what was diagnosed as stomach cancer on January 29th. He was obviously aware of serious health issues for some time previously as he created a will on January 6, 1892. In his will Henderson left $1,000 to his sister, Anna Jane Mann, with the remainder of his estate to his son, James Albert Henderson. His wife that he left in Chicago was specifically excluded from any inheritance. She was probably the same Anna Henderson who died in Chicago on February 7, 1896, and is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery.

His son was obliged to sell a majority of the property in order to pay off debts. The Albion Lumber Company purchased 280 acres Henderson's timber land and James kept the remainder which included the house, some bottom land and the soda spring. The will also left his son certain named equipment including two horses and a buckboard. Also scheduled in his estate inventory were, “20 cases of soda water bottles”, valued at $25.00. One of which is undoubtedly pictured above.

It is not known if he later sold the bottles or recycled them, but it is highly unlikely he continued to bottle the mineral water as there is no record of any further sale of the water. James A. Henderson worked in the lumber business and was a butcher for most of his life.  He died in Mendocino on February 13, 1938.


George M. Henderson's obituary. (Mendocino Coast Beacon, Mendocino, California, February 6, 1892)








Monday, November 16, 2020



Not an extremely rare bottle but it exhibits all the qualities of a fairly early product of the San Francisco glass factories. Which factory is difficult to determine. The proprietor, Joseph Lipman, was born in what is now Krakow, Poland, in February 1832. He immigrated to the United States in 1853, and his name first appears in San Francisco in 1858 as a barber in partnership with Nathan Clark. By 1861 Joseph Lipman opened his What Cheer Hair Dressing Saloon in the What Cheer House of San Francisco. This unique hotel catered only to men, for which it was famous. He became a well known fixture there, also employing various other members of the Lipman family.


A photograph of the What Cheer House of San Francisco taken about the time that Joseph Lipman would have operated his What Cheer House Hair Dressing Saloon.


Joseph Lipman continued working at the What Cheer House until 1875. He then joined in partnership with Jacob Hyman as hair dressers, and established their shop at 403 Pine Street in San Francisco. He continued at this location until the end of his working career and was last listed as a barber in the San Francisco business directories in 1885.

 Lipman is interred in the Salem Memorial Park and Garden at Colma, San Mateo County, California, with his wife. (see FindaGrave Memorial No. 150934993) He died November 8, 1907 in San Francisco.

 During the time Lipman was working at the What Cheer House he developed and sold his own hair restorer.


Simply embossed on the side panels, J. LIPMAN / SAN FRANCISCO, this information gives no clue about the contents of the bottles.




A copy of  the bottle label  was registered by Joseph Lipman in 1868 for his hair restorative. ( Copyright registration for the Northern District Court of California, June 22, 1868)


Joseph Lipman’s newspaper advertisement that he used throughout the West from April 1871 to December 1873.

  Even though Lipman’s hair restorative was first developed in 1868 the first newspaper advertisements that were located began April 1871. The text of this ad was used in newspapers throughout the western slope over 700 times until December 1873. The only difference in the text being that the general agents were changed from R.H. McDonald & Co. to Charles Langley & Co. in November 1872. After the end of 1873 the advertisements stopped except for a few ads by local druggists trying to reduce their stock. It appears that manufacturing of the product ended by 1873.

The mystery with Lipman’s Hair Restorative is the time between the label copyright and the first newspaper advertisement. This ‘quiet time’ is not the general rule for a product but might represent Lipman’s sales technique. He may have initially sold the restorative only from his store for a few years prior to ‘going big”. He then may have lined up R.H. McDonald & Co. to handle both manufacturing and sales. Purely speculative on my part, but it does present some questions. Regardless, it appears the outside time line for production would be 1868 to 1873. The vast majority of the bottles have characteristics of being blown in one of the two glass factories in San Francisco. Keeping in mind that the San Francisco Glass Works burned in July 1868, and didn’t open for business again until September 1870, I would lean heavily toward the Pacific Glass Works being the company of their origin. However, there would still be time for the San Francisco Glass Works to have produced some as well, in 1871 and 1872. The jury is still out on that question.

Saturday, October 17, 2020





This investigation began with a simple desire to attempt to determine the manufacturing date of the soda bottle embossed, G. P. MORRILL. It is clearly understood to be the product of druggist, George P. Morrill, while conducting his business in Virginia City, Nevada. My research then expanded into attempting to follow the history of Morrill in California, and to understand his relationship with several of his brothers, who were also in the drug trade. A simple project suddenly got complicated. What a story the Morrill brothers weaved, but I dared not tackle the entire bunch for I would never finish with my intended goal.

 I did find it necessary to touch upon the lives of the other brothers because they were so intertwined with George Morrill. As always, one of my underlying goals is to document my findings as well as possible, so if anyone else is interested - or obsessed as I -  in looking into Morrill’s life, my data could be retraced. Another element of this story is the use of visual examples of some of the uncovered newspaper documents to actually take a leading role in telling the story. Reading the actual news articles then become items of discovery for the viewer. This method, laid out in timeline fashion, can be a little confusing; however, I believe it can be appreciated by many. The article ended up being much longer than expected, but anyone interested in the Morrill soda bottle should find the history of the man just as intriguing as well.

The heavy use of historical newspaper research is rather new to many historians. It does not replace traditional researching but adds to it tremendously. I often expound on the amazing ability to ‘word search’ many newspapers with just a click of the computer button – something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. The technology is actually in its infancy and has a long way to go, but is already something of a miracle. I have discovered information that could, otherwise, not be found in my lifetime.

The G.P. MORRILL soda bottle is a favorite collector’s item from the glory days of Virginia City, Nevada. The date of the bottle would mean that the bottle manufacturing order was placed with the Pacific Glass Works of San Francisco, or the newly re-opened San Francisco Glass Works.  From the following information it becomes clear that the G.P. Morrill soda bottles were blown about June 1871. If additional orders were placed they were most certainly made prior to September 1872.


This article focuses on the soda water bottle of G.P. Morrill, who spent most of his adult life as a druggist in California and Nevada. He came from a very interesting family of siblings that who also deserve a good story, but my objective here is to focus on George Peverly Morrill, and to pin down the date of his somewhat scarce soda water bottle. Born on July 6, 1828, in Chichester, New Hampshire, he arrived in California aboard the ship New Jersey, which sailed from Boston on May 1,1849. He first worked the gold fields in Coloma, the site of the first discovery of gold. (New York Daily Herald, May 11, 1849)  After investing the usual hard work in ‘digging’ for gold, he opened an apothecary shop in the early mining town of Diamond Springs in 1853. He also opened another store the same year with his brother, Augustus Morrill, in Volcano, California. Based on early advertisements the brothers seemed to have had a ‘back and forth arrangement’ between partnership and sole proprietorship of the two stores.


Advertisements for the Volcano store nearly always listed both partners as proprietors, even though George P. Morrill lived in Diamond Springs. This ad announces the opening of a new store which, incidentally, was brick construction, a more secure structure from the previous wood frame building. (Volcano weekly ledger. Volcano, Amador County, Cal., December 01, 1855)


 The Diamond Springs store was burned out in 1856 but George Morrill rebuilt and continued in the same location. Augustus Morrill operated the Volcano store until the later 1850’s when it was then advertised for sale. The partners sold the Volcano store in March 1857, and continued the Diamond Springs store for a few years.


One of the few advertisements noting a partnership interest of the two Morrill brothers in the Diamond Springs drug store. (The Granite Journal, Granite, California, March 2, 1856)


The Volcano drug store of George and Augustus Morrill was put up for sale in November 1856 and sold in March 1857 to Dr. Charles W. Shoeneman. (Volcano Weekly Ledger. Volcano, Amador County, California, November 15, 1856)


The business life of Diamond Springs had begun slowing down and there was no interest in his drug store, and the nearby town of Placerville had begun to outshine Diamond Springs.


George P. Morrill advertised his interest in selling his drug store in Diamond Springs in 1858. His brother, Augustus, had apparently dissolved his interest in the store and went to work for their brother, Charles Morrill, in Sacramento, probably managing his coal oil business which had grown considerably. Charles was harvesting oil on the beaches near Santa Barbara as well as oil fields in Colima, Mexico

 George P. Morrill left his store in Diamond Springs and set up shop in Placerville, early in 1860. His first advertisement noted in Placerville was April 1860. (Mountain Democrat, 28 April 1860).

In 1860 Augustus Morrill left California to manage the coal oil factory of his brother, Charles Morrill, in Colima, Mexico, arriving there on December 19, 1860. Charles Morrill was likely the most active of all the brothers, and almost always was involved in some sort of law suit. Perhaps the most unusual located was a suit he brought against Samuel Brannan and two others, claiming a violent assault and battery upon him while on board the steamer Sonora on September 10, 1858. (Sacramento Bee, December 30, 1858). Charles operated two drug stores, one in San Francisco and one in Sacramento, as well as his coal oil business in Colima. Based upon newspaper records, it does appear that Charles Morrill was either highly unlucky in his personal and business life, or he was extremely litigious.

 Oscar F. Morrill is the most mysterious of the three ‘brothers’. In fact, there is no documented record of him actually being a sibling of the other two brothers. He styled himself as an inventor, and resided near Boston, Massachusetts. Oscar died in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on January 9, 1875. He actually did hold several U.S. Patents, primarily for improvements in oil burners.

 When Charles Morrill retired in 1862, three brothers, Oscar F. Morrill, Augustus Morrill, and George P. Morrill, formed a partnership in purchasing the business interests of their brother, Charles Morrill. George P. Morrill also integrated his own assets of the Placerville store into the partnership. By the end of 1863 the partnership began to unravel, as the newspapers documented a number of lawsuits between the brothers.  Shortly thereafter George Morrill moved to Virginia City where he set up his drug store in his own name. Augustus Morrill remained in Mexico and continued with the coal oil business, eventually becoming an American Consular to Mexico. In a kidnapping plot gone awry, Augustus was killed by an outlaw gang on February 23, 1920.


An advertisement documenting a merger of three Morrill brothers, which included absorbing the businesses of their brother, Charles Morrill. (Sacramento Daily Union, February 12, 1862)


George P. Morrill’s drug store in Placerville also fell under the umbrella of the Morrill brother’s holdings, as this advertisement attests. ( Mountain Democrat, July 4, 1862)




The first of the Morrill brother’s store to be liquidated was in San Francisco. (Daily Alta California, November 11, 1862)


Exactly where George Morrill went after he left Placerville is somewhat conjectural. It is likely that he may have tried mining for awhile prior to returning to the druggist trade in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1864. His son, John Morrill, was born December 13, 1863, at a location described as near Verdi, Nevada, but in California. It is very likely he was born near the ghost town of Crystal Peak, or in that vicinity. Of course, Verdi, Nevada, didn’t exist until about 1868, which was established as a railroad stop on the transcontinental line. There is some evidence that Morrill homesteaded property in this area, or at least within the Truckee Meadow area, which was confirmed just prior to his death in 1891, (MDM, Twp 19N, Range 17E, N1/2, SE ¼, Section 12)

 Morrill’s attention also focused on the successful mining interests of the Virginia City area, investing in stock of the Palmyra Consolidated Gold & Silver Mining Company. He had opened his drug store at 16 South C Street in Virginia City by 1864. In October 1865 he suffered his first fire which destroyed most of his stock. The loss was covered by insurance.

 By July 1866 Morrill installed a soda fountain in his drug store. Given the parched Nevada climate this must have been a big supplement to his income. The same year he became involved in local politics and ran for County Commissioner of Storey County, Nevada, and won.


Morrill’s first advertisement where he presented the public with the sale of soda water. (Gold Hill Daily News, July 14, 1866)



Two days after his previous advertisement another informational type ad was printed in the same paper describing the availability of his “splendid soda fountain”. (Gold Hill Daily News, July 16, 1866)

In 1869 Morrill purchased one of William Gee’s soda generators for his drug store and ordered the necessary components for serving soda water in his shop. By September 1869, all the equipment was in place and he began advertising soda water by a much more efficient method than previously.



Morrill also intimated that he was prepared to bottle soda water for family use, but it was not yet for sale. By October 1869, Morrill advertised his bottled soda water, however, it was sold in “a peculiar style of stout glass bottle, holding about a quart”. This is an obvious description of a siphon bottle.


 In a first step toward bottling his soda water, Morrill described the use of Wm. Gee’s special attachment to his soda water machine that allows for the filling, and refilling, of siphon bottles. (Gold Hill Daily News, October 9,1869)



Along with Gee’s soda fountain, for an additional $30 Morrill purchased this new attachment for filling siphon bottles, patented in January 1868. The siphon bottles cost Morrill $15 per dozen.  He was still not prepared to sell his soda water in the typical half pint bottles.


An 1871 ad notes that he was nearly ready to sell bottled soda water, but it appears that it was still not for sale.


Finally, Morrill’s bottled soda water was very close to being sold to the public. The only caveat was his statement that some of the facilities for making it were "on hand and arriving". It is possible that everything was in place except for the bottles.


Another notice in the same newspaper appears to secure the reality that regular bottling for the general public would be occurring within days. It is fairly safe to assume that the bottles had been blown and were on their way via railroad from San Francisco.  Therefore, the earliest noted reference to Morrill actually bottling soda water occurred in July 1871, when he practiced a popular custom of delivering some gratis soda water to local newspaper staff – always a sure way to get some free advertising.  (Gold Hill Daily News, 6 July 1871)


Morrill’s business seemed to be on track at a time when Virginia City was at its peak. As fate would have it, he suffered a crippling fire a few months later in 1871. While it is not known if he was insured, he was at least able to recover.


Following the accounts of anyone, via newspaper, is normally a sketchy affair. The entire story is often hidden, which may be the case with Morrill. Financial stability is an important element in the life of any entrepreneur, but if he was overextended it had not become obvious in the newspaper record.


From this day forward, it is safe to say that Morrill was in the business of selling soda water in bottles. The following advertisement, regularly occurring in local newspapers, attests to that, with one caveat.


Morrill’s advertisement plainly notes he was manufacturing soda and sarsaparilla, however, what does he mean where the ad states, “cleanly put up in bottles for Bars and Saloons”? Was he not selling his bottles to the public?  Perhaps he was referring to his seltzer bottles, or maybe the half-pint bottles were sold only through saloons. If this was the case, then Morrill would not have to deal with the labor intensive process of retrieving his bottles - leaving that task to the saloon owners. This statement remains unclear. (Gold Hill Daily News, July 6, 1872)


Soda water and ice seems to be a natural complement, and Morrill’s industrious nature motivated him to develop a side business he called The Gold Hill Ice Company. It is clear that Morrill had some sort of property interest in the region of Truckee, where ice could be easily harvested and perhaps stored on the property. When needed it could be loaded on the train at Truckee, or by wagon, and delivered to Virginia City in quantities that would be easy to handle.


Morrill’s ice business began very shortly prior to this advertisement. (Gold Hill Daily News, September 14, 1872)


The ongoing question of whether George P. Morrill was selling his soda water bottles via the general public or whether he was selling them to bars and saloons, who then had the responsibility of collecting the returns, is an interesting one that may never be answered, for all his newspaper articles, and advertising, came to a halt in September of 1872.

Not long afterward an ominous notification was inserted in the newspaper that clarified the reason and also spelled the end of his business in Virginia City.



George P. Morrill’s drug, soda water and ice business came to an end in September 1872. (Gold Hill Daily News, December 31, 1872) He virtually disappeared in the newspaper record until his death in 1891. It is clear that he left town and most likely retreated to his property near what is now Verdi, Nevada.


After leaving Virginia City, Morrill’s residence appears to be rather vague but still within the area of extreme eastern California from Loyalton in the north to Truckee in the south. In 1875 he was scheduled as a laborer at Crystal Peak, in 1880 as a druggist in Truckee, and in 1884 the village of Oneida with no occupation. Most of his children had settled in Truckee. Perhaps of most significance, at least for this article, is that he never again engaged in the bottling and sale of soda water. If he did work in Truckee as a druggist, Morrill probably worked in a store for someone else. There is no mention of him in the Truckee newspapers.


(Sacramento Daily Union, July 20, 1891)



George P. Morrill’s final resting place is in the Morrill plot of the Truckee Cemetery, along with a number of his family members.