Tuesday, December 14, 2021



An interesting little tidbit came to light awhile back when I was doing some research. Sometimes when I get a lot of “hits” when doing newspaper research, I often don’t bother looking at those that appear to be way out of the time period for a particular item. This happened when searching for “Pacific Congress Springs”. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1903 and the associated bottling activity had already stopped by then. One hit showed up that was dated 1911 and I didn’t bother to check it for a long time, but my curiosity got the best of me.

It was totally not what I had expected but was so interesting that I thought I would share it, as it really relates to the very beginnings of the Pacific Congress bottles in an unusual way. The organizers of the springs were the financier, Darius Ogden Mills and the lucky miner, turned financier, Alvinza Hayward, in 1864.  The Pacific Congress Springs Company was organized in San Francisco in November 1865, with a capital stock of $100,000, divided into two hundred shares.  

As many people know, the State of California initiated a trade mark system as early as 1861 which allowed proprietors certain legal protection to help deter imitators from stealing their profits. This was the case with the Pacific Congress Springs when they decided to bottle and sell their water. Begun as early as 1864, the springs soon became quite popular and fearing the probability of unscrupulous competitors, by 1868 the company decided to trade mark its name, as well as specifically protecting their bottles.




This handwritten document is a portion of the trade mark registration for Pacific Congress water, registered with the State of California as Trade Mark No. 113, on October 21, 1868. It clearly notes that an example of the bottle to be trademarked was submitted along with the necessary paperwork. This was an unusual precedent since most trademarks were submitted by picture or drawing since an actual object could present obvious storage or filing issues for a governmental agency. Nevertheless, an actual bottle was submitted to the care of the California Secretary of State, which is even further documented by way of the Sacramento Daily Union of October 22, 1868, which noted, . . . “The trade-mark of the Pacific Congress Springs Company, and likewise a bottle of the Congress water for which the trademark is claimed, were filed in the office of the Secretary of State yesterday.” This statement makes it sound as if the bottle was even full of spring water. Perhaps it was.

As time went by trade mark registrations continued into the files of the State – in fact, thousands of files, for any number of different goods. The older documents would eventually be stored in odd ‘out-of-the-way’ places at the Capitol, to make room for more current or more relevant items. Employees would retire, or find other jobs, and files would often become forgotten, fragmented or even lost. This is an all too common issue that most of us can relate to.

Nearly fifty years passed when a new position was created at the state capitol in Sacramento.  The former editor of the Watsonville Pajaronian, George Radcliff, was given the job by the new governor. This position was titled ‘Superintendent of the Capitol and Grounds’ for the capitol building. It was his job to create a smoothly running ‘house’ within which our elected officials could operate. Apparently, one of his duties was to deal with some of the neglected papers, etc. that had accumulated in various storage rooms in the old building. I am sure he stumbled upon any number of items for which he had to make a judgment call on what to do with it. At least he would need to ask someone else their opinion as to what should be done with some of the ‘stuff’. As is often the case, no one really knows what should be done with some of the items, and usually had no interest in it. It would often be relegated to the trash.

This was the case when Radcliff happened upon an old bottle which was apparently part of a trade mark submission. Being an old newspaper man, he saw a story in his find. Whether he wrote most of the copy is not known, but the article played up the age of the bottle found among the rubble.


The meaning of Adam’s Ale has been somewhat lost in time, but it refers to the only drink available to the first man to inhabit the earth in the biblical text – water. (Sacramento Bee, July 20, 1911 Sacramento, CA, Page: 5)


It is not clear if that old bottle of Pacific Congress Water has survived to the present day, but I do wonder if one of the impressive deep blue variants was given to the Secretary of State as the trade mark example.


A rendering of the Pacific Congress Springs in 1876, while under the ownership of Lewis A. Sage.

Monday, November 8, 2021

MAC - a "cure" for Train Sickness and Sea Sickness~



I’d never heard of Smith Bros. of Fresno until I bought a huge collection from that area several years ago. In it, was a bottle that I found intriguing. Embossed on the obverse “M.A.C. / For Dyspepsia / And Constipation / Smith Bros. / Fresno Cal. “and “For Sea Sickness” on one side panel with “Train Sickness” on the other. I’m not a cure collector per se, but this just had too much going for it to sell it.

Oddly enough, I could locate a “Smith Bros.” doing business as a pharmacist / druggist in Fresno around the turn of the century, but could only find one Smith; a George H.. Was the brother a silent partner, or was this an attempt by George to piggyback onto the Smith Brothers of cough drop fame of the same era?...

Smith Bros first started appearing in advertisements dating to 1898. They were puffing their miracle cure for dandruff.  San Jose must have been a hotbed for this disease because they advertised incessantly in the Mercury News. Actually the ads were in the form of news articles, which I found odd. This campaign continued into late 1899.

By 1901 they were marketing a Catarrh Cure and a Deafness Cure  as well; (if one reads between the lines, it appears that they were one in the same - just appealing to different maladies). Ads appeared in San Jose for the deafness cure. They expanded their territory to Hanford, Eureka and Santa Rosa, as well as San Jose, for the Catarrh Cure. The price? A buck a bottle or six for a five spot. 





They must have done well in Santa Rosa because ads started appearing in Healdsburg not long after the initial foray into Santa Rosa. By mid 1902, they were offering a free book describing the maladies of Catarrh and extolling the virtues of their miracle cure. Madera was next in their ad parade starting in 1903. The ads for all locations were carbon copies of one another. By 1903 the price had dropped to four bits a bottle. They must have been making the profit margin up in volume by then. But by late 1903 advertising had dwindled to a shadow of its former self. The year 1904 saw promotion of the products slow down drastically from the fever pitch of the previous two years and advertising is all but non-existent. This despite their attempt to broaden the need for the cure by claiming that catarrh infected the lungs plus, now, the stomach and bladder too (might as well cover all the bases…) Ohh, and the price had risen back up to a buck a bottle since it cured so much more than originally claimed.

A single advertisement in January of 1904 seems to signal the end for “Smith Bros.”, SB Catarrh Cure, and their Dandruff Pomade. Try as I did, I was never able to find a stitch of advertising for the train / sea sickness cure.

And so, yet another here today - gone tomorrow participant in the cesspool of turn of the century quack medicines.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021




These interesting bottles, that don’t offer up much of their history by first sight, except for the embossed monogram, are more enhanced by the story of their proprietors. The primary clue is the prominent S&L monogram boldly embossed on the face. This represents the partnership of Frederick William Schmidt and Rufus Cane Lowell. Of these two men, the life of Schmidt is, perhaps, the most important relative to the bottle.

 Born in Kentucky about 1847, it is not known when he came to California. Having a relatively common name he is hard to trace, however, one person of interest stands out somewhat. He may have been the same Schmidt who was listed as a gunner in the Stockton Light Artillery Company in 1864. He would have been about 18 years old at the time. (Sacramento Daily Union, September 22, 1864)

 Schmidt arrived in Virginia City, Nevada, via the “Donner Lake route” in April 1868. (The Evening News, Gold Hill, Nevada, April 27, 1868) By November 1868, he was the musical director of Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City, (The Evening News, Gold Hill, Nevada, November 16, 1868) and then became the leader of the orchestra. (The Evening News, Gold Hill, Nevada, March 11, 1870) He held that position until the end of the year.(when Carl Williams took his place) After a hiatus of a few years, Schmidt was back at the Opera House and leading the orchestra again. (Gold Hill Daily News, Gold Hill, Nevada, February 16, 1874), until November 1875 (Lyon County Times, Silver City, Nevada, November 2, 1875)

 Exactly when Schmidt left the mainland for Hawaii is not clear, but his sojourn was just long enough for him to befriend the most significant figure in the development of Hawaiian music as we know it today. Unequivocally heralded as the father of Hawaiian music, Heinrich “Henri” Berger was selected by King Kamehameha V to create and lead the Royal Orchestra in 1872, which became one of the most important cultural features of Hawaiian society.  Berger was so loved by the King and subsequent Hawaiian rulers, that Berger led the famous band until his retirement in 1916. Several years into creating the band the King gave Berger permission to return to his former home in Prussia for a much deserved vacation. Berger, his wife and two children left Hawaii for his homeland at the end of July 1876, and returned via the Zealandia from San Francisco, on May 31, 1877. (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Honolulu, HI, June 2, 1877).

 Henri Berger was born August 4, 1844, in Berlin, Germany, and died October 14, 1929 in Honolulu. He married first, Sarah Anna Booth, born August 2, 1850, in Hawaii, and died November 19, 1911, in Hawaii. She married first, Christian Frederick Pfluger about 1865 and second, Henri Berger, on January 26, 1874 in San Francisco.

 Berger’s vacation left the orchestra without a leader, and considering the value of this musical treasure to the Hawaiian people, it would be such a significant hiatus that Berger entrusted its temporary leadership to Fred Schmidt during his absence.

Berger’s wife was Sarah Anna Booth. She was one of 11 children born to Joseph and Anna McGuire Booth. Joseph Booth was the owner of considerable property consisting of the majority of Pauoa Valley, north of Honolulu and currently within its city limits. Booth also owned the National Hotel in downtown Honolulu. During Berger’s absence, Fred Schmidt married Clara Herminia Booth, sister of Sarah Anna Berger (nee Booth) on May 1, 1877, in Pauoa Valley, thus Fred Schmidt and Henri Berger became brothers-in-law.

 After Berger’s return from Berlin, Fred Schmidt, relieved of his temporary duties of orchestra leader, continued with his musical passion, giving several performances in Honolulu. (Hawaiian Gazette, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 9, 1876)


A show advertisement for performances by the Royal Hawaiian Band when Schmidt was its leader,  including some piano solos by him. (The Hawaiian Gazette, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 20, 1876)

 Shortly after Henri Berger’s return to Hawaii Fred Schmidt left Hawaii with his new bride, Clara, on June 20, 1877, aboard the Steamer Australia, bound for San Francisco. (The Hawaiian Gazette, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 20, 1877) The couple stayed in San Francisco for a year and then moved to Stockton in 1879. Schmidt became a regular fixture in the musical events of the Stockton area, including leading the Sixth Infantry Militia Band.

 For reasons that are unclear, Schmidt seized upon an opportunity to diversify his activities and joined in partnership with Rufus Cane Lowell in the enterprise of bottling the special sarsaparilla drink called SARSAPARILLA  AND IRON WATER. Just as Schmidt seemed an unlikely candidate for such a career change, Lowell also had no previous experience in such a venture. He was born September 21, 1851, in Portland, Maine, the son of John Pierce Lowell and Aphia Milliken Lowell. By 1866 the Lowell family was living in Sacramento, where the senior Lowell was a dealer in hides, wool, tallow and skins.

 Rufus Lowell excelled in school and developed a gift for public speaking for which he was amply praised . . . “Rufus Lowell gave a recitation which was warmly applauded.  Lowell is a fine elocutionist, and displayed a degree of cultivation in dramatic reading that is seldom excelled in that theater.” (Sacramento Bee, May 4, 1871)  He was in attendance at the University of California at Berkeley, at least for 1869.

 In 1874 Rufus C. Lowell married Nettie Simpson in a double ceremony that included his sister and her new husband. (Sacramento Daily Union, April 9, 1874)

 By 1875 his father relocated his business to San Francisco and took up residence in Oakland. Rufus and his brother, Henry, stayed in Sacramento. In 1875 Rufus Lowell was elected Auditor and Controller of Sacramento County. An audit of the Auditor / Controller was taken in 1878 and it was found that Lowell had defrauded numerous accounts in his favor. The matter was given to the District Attorney on felony charges. (The Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1878)  Lowell made good the money he stole from the County and pled not guilty for his actions. (The Sacramento Bee, July 31, 1878).  He was acquitted of the charges and he ran again for another term but didn’t succeed. In fact, he had to claim bankrupt status in the amount of $1500 the following year. (Morning Union, Grass Valley, CA, May 11, 1878)

Rufus Lowell’s older brother, Henry Lowell, was an important fixture in his father’s hide and wool business, and maintained his father’s sheep ranch activities near Sacramento. In the summer of 1876, Henry went missing and it was ultimately determined that his financial activities caused him to leave town with about $25,000 that did not belong to him. (Sacramento Daily Union, June 6, 1876) This loss to his father’s wool business was critical and having never recovered from his financial loss, his father was forced into bankruptcy by 1879. (Oakland Tribune, February 26, 1879)

 Rufus Lowell subsequently moved to Marysville, California, where he was involved with a new corporation called the Citizen’s Ice Company. For more years than could be counted, ice had traditionally been harvested during the winter and stored in locations that would keep it as long as possible for use in warmer months. With the advent of ice making machines in the mid – 1850’s, reliance on natural ice became less important, and by 1880 a large number of ice making machines were installed in American cities. The Citizen’s Ice Company was constructed to create ‘artificial’ ice as it was called at that time.


Rufus Lowell acted as general manager for the Artificial Ice Company in Marysville, established in 1880. (Marysville Daily Appeal, May 6, 1880)

 Not unexpectedly the new ice company ran headlong into competition from existing ice businesses in Marysville, with J. Tomb being the oldest and most established. He tried a variety of tactics to get the new upstart shut down, and it appears he was successful. For reasons unknown, Lowell could not compete and the Citizen’s Ice Company faded away within the year.


 This article documents the considerable competition the Citizen’s Ice Company faced while attempting to establish itself in Marysville. Tomb was apparently successful in defeating the upstart Artificial Ice Company, (Chico Weekly Enterprise, June 8, 1880)

 Lowell proved to be elusive during the first part of the decade of 1880 after the demise of his ice company. He was scheduled in the Sacramento voting register of 1882 (no occupation listed)  and then seems to vanish from the record for several years.

Finally, his next venture is a significant element as it relates to the subject bottle even though very scant documentation covers the subject. It was probably in late 1886 that Rufus Lowell and Frederick W. Schmidt crossed paths. This unlikely duo created a partnership in Stockton, California, which was primarily based on their Sarsaparilla and Iron Water. How this came about is currently a mystery, and judging from the lives of these two individuals, the story was likely out of the ordinary. The only commonality located was that Fred Schmidt became a director in the newly formed corporation called the Stockton Ice Company in 1886. (Sacramento Daily Union, March 26, 1886) While the scant evidence is solid, their partnership was probably a fleeting moment in time. The earliest evidence comes in the form of a State of California trademark number 1411, filed on January 17, 1887, by Schmidt and Lowell, who shared in the exclusive use of the term “Sarsaparilla and Iron Water”. Having never tasted such a concoction it doesn’t sound like something that could be successfully marketed, which may also have been the thinking of Lowell as well.

The trade mark documents for Schmidt and Lowell filed January 13, 1887, securing the words SARSAPARILLA  AND  IRON WATER for their exclusive use.

It can also be documented that the Schmidt and Lowell partnership was still functioning several months later by virtue of an extant sales receipt for a barrel of the same product, dated March 2, 1887. With that date in mind, note below that Lowell had formed another slightly later partnership with one Jimmy Howard in the real estate business, in Los Angeles, by September of the same year. Of course, it is always possible that Lowell maintained his partnership with Schmidt as a silent partner in absentia, but his ubiquitous ways imply otherwise. Complicating this issue even more is the fact that Frederick Schmidt was buried in the Stockton Rural Cemetery on September 28, 1887. His widow, the above noted Clara Schmidt, was the sole heir of her husband’s estate and Lowell’s name was not mentioned in the probate process, further bolstering the idea that he had severed his partnership with Fred Schmidt prior to his death.

A receipt for the sale of a barrel of Sarsaparilla and Iron Water, dated March 2, 1887. There is some evidence that Rufus Lowell had left his partnership with Fred Schmidt about June of 1887. It has been documented that a new partner, Walter Blackmore Starbird, took Lowell’s place at that time. Due to the length of this article, the later Schmidt and Starbird relationship will be continued in another ‘chapter’.

An example of the Schmidt & Lowell bottle, embossed with their S & L monogram. This specimen may look slightly different than most as it is the smaller size, containing about a pint. The more common size bottle contains a quart. All specimens noted have an applied top.


 By 1887 Lowell seems to have become closer his calling in life when he became part of a partnership in Los Angeles.  “A. J. “Jimmy” Howard and R. C. Lowell have gone into the real estate business, and opened an office at 40 1/2 South Spring street.  These are stirring young gentlemen, and should meet with a great measure of success”. (Los Angeles Herald, September 15, 1887) It becomes apparent that throughout the 1880’s Lowell actively pursued a number of jobs, with the hope that one may pay off. His next venture came in 1888, when the Sacramento Union noted, “Also, of the Pacific Manufacturing and Construction Company, to acquire, own, rent, bargain and sell clay land for the manufacture of brick, contract for the laying of the same, etc. Principal place of business, Los Angeles.  Directors – J.M Abrams, R.C. Lowell, L. O. Merrill, G.W. Judkins, J.R. Mores, Capital stock, $50,000.” (Sacramento Daily Union, April 6, 1888)

 Lowell registered to vote in San Francisco in 1888, and registered to vote in Alameda County in 1890, and then registered in San Francisco again in 1892. He then registered to vote in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1894. It is surmised that these locations reflect his ‘temporary’ residences while he was working on various street construction projects, since he was also noted in various newspaper articles as working in those areas.

In 1896 his wife, Nettie, filed a complaint for divorce from Rufus, undoubtedly on grounds of desertion or lack of support. (San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Sep 1896). 

In the 1900 U.S. census for  El Paso, Texas, he was living with his second wife, Grace, having been married for about two years. His occupation was noted as a street contractor. Lowell won a number of street related projects in El Paso in 1900 and 1901.

 The 1920 U.S. census finds Rufus still living with wife, Grace C. Lowell, but in Los Angeles. She was 65 years old, and born in Kentucky. Grace died Feb 20, 1923, in Los Angeles County, CA. Grace was the daughter of A.H. and Celia McDevitt.

At the age of 76, Rufus applied for a marriage license with Ida L. Dickey, of Hollywood, California, in Maricopa County, Arizona, on January 20, 1928. Rufus died July 1928 in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1928)


The grave stone for Frederick W. Schmidt, located in the Stockton Rural Cemetery. It is extremely rare for a stone to not include any birth or death information. I suspect there is an unusual story that goes with those major omissions – especially the missing death date. Cemetery records document his burial date as September 28, 1887. It is also interesting to note that an obituary could not be found for Fred Schmidt.




Monday, August 2, 2021


Apparently, it’s true...”time flies when you’re having fun”.  Hard to believe that it’s been 28 years since the first Downieville Antique Bottle Show was started in 1993.  The early show was a great success and set the tone for future shows. Downieville offered something different from other antique bottle shows; the charm of the small historic town and the camaraderie of the bottle collecting community which both contribute to the draw of Downieville’s show.

 Over the years, the show gained popularity and featured several significant first-time events in bottle collecting history.  The 1997 Downieville Western Whiskey Extravaganza was amazing.  Never before had such a collection of western bottles been featured in one exhibit.  Valued at over one million dollars, show attendees were treated to a once in a lifetime viewing of rare and sought-after antique bottles all in one place.  Another year, the show featured the most desirable Slug Plate and Picture whiskies and many scarce and exceptional examples of early glass.  These two events have shown that, although small, the Downieville show has attracted the attention of many high-end collectors.

The 2017 Downieville Show was bittersweet; being announced as the last show to be hosted in Downieville.  However, after several years of retirement and then the pandemic Corona Virus which shut down so many shows across the country for over a year, it was decided to bring the Downieville Show back to life!  Downieville will host another top-notch antique bottle show on Saturday, September 18.  Dealers from many western states including, California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon will be selling at the show.  Items for sale will include antique bottles, insulators, gold rush items, advertising, saloon, mining and railroad items, as well as many other western related artifacts.  There will be something for almost every kind of collector and finding a great treasure at this one-day show is inevitable!

The show venue is the Downieville School gym located in the heart of Downieville. “Early Lookers” will be admitted for $10 between 8am and 10am.  Admission will be FREE to all from 10am to 3pm.  Don’t forget to purchase tickets for the drawing to win some great prizes.  Hope to see everyone at the Downieville Antique Bottles & Collectibles Show and Sale on September 18!

Friday, July 30, 2021




Soda Water Bottle


This article touches upon the history of one of the most historical, yet elusive, of the early California bottles, once used in the Gold Rush town of Columbia, Tuolumne County, which was settled in 1850. Historical research for Columbia is somewhat hindered by two major fires that effectively gutted the town – the first on July 10, 1854, and the second on August 25, 1857. Newspapers have become an important source for details and activities in any given settlement in America, and Columbia is no exception. The only problem is that no complete runs of newspapers have been found for Columbia, and those early fires surely had a hand in destroying at least part of its archives, including the newspapers. The few online newspapers that remained, including from surrounding towns, were meticulously searched to reveal most of the information herein, but numerous questions are still unanswered.

The two partners who produced this gold rush era bottle are VanRennselaer Raymond and Albert Buel Holton. It appears that Raymond was the primary impetus behind the soda water bottling venture when these bottles were used, so I will document him first. Raymond was born in September 1824 in Vermont. I was not able to document neither his parents nor his early life before coming to California during the beginnings of the California Gold Rush.

Raymond had participated in the formation of a mining company by the name of the Pacific Pioneer Company, a group of 15 individuals organized in Meriden, Connecticut. Along with another mining company organized as the Ware Mechanic’s and Mining Association, they chartered the brig Leveret for Chagres, Panama, which would be the first leg of their journey to California. They set sail from New York on March 26, 1849, with 62 passengers on board. It is not known when the ship landed in Chagres; however, the trip was likely uneventful and should have lasted no more than about a week.

Even though Chagres was set in a picturesque coastal location, at the mouth of the Chagres River, it was less than idyllic. Tropical heat, copious rain, vermin infected and laced with all sorts of biting insects that often resulted in incurable diseases; this was not a place to stay for very long. The overland traffic required across the isthmus was slow and dangerous so most gold seekers chose to charter a “bungo”, which is a small Panamanian canoe type craft, propelled by the locals with a long pole. It could ferry travelers up the meandering Chagres for about 50 miles to Cruces, where the remaining 20 miles to Panama City, on the Pacific Coast, had to be managed by foot or mule. One eyewitness described it thus:

The first stage of the journey to Panama is made on the Chagres River, in canoes propelled by poles in the hands of the native boatmen.  The distance to Cruces, the end of river travel is 50 to 55 miles.  The journey takes from twelve to thirty-six hours, according to the number of hands employed to propel the canoe.  The passenger sits on the stern of the light craft, and is placed in the center, and he is obliged to remain perfectly quiet, to avoid upsetting.  He must take his provisions with him, -- to land is impossible without running great risks, as the river swarms with alligators, and the shores with panthers and deadly snakes.  The shores are marshy and clothed with exorbitant vegetation down to the water’s edge.  No village or even a hut lines its banks the whole distance.  It is the region of disease and venomous animals and reptiles.  The lowest cost for a single passenger is a doubloon ($16) and from that up to two, three, or four doubloons.” One account, from the memory of group member Timothy Gladwin, noted the group walked across the entire Panama peninsula, a journey of six months. It is far more likely that the Chagres River was used to transport them to Cruces. (The Journal, Meriden, Conn., October 20, 1902, pg. 1) The entire journey was closer to 3 ½ months.


A picture of a typical Panamanian canoe carrying passengers on the Chagres River. This was the most efficient method of crossing the the isthmus prior to construction of the railroad.

 Der Isthmus von Panama auf der Höhe des Chagres River, by Charles Christian Nahl, 1850 (Source Wikimedia Commons)

Once in Panama City, situated on the Pacific Coast,  the final leg of the journey necessitated finding a ship bound for San Francisco. The historic record is a bit fuzzy about the circumstances; however, at least some, and possibly all of the Pacific Pioneer Company were able to secure passage on the steamer Humboldt. V.R. Raymond was definitely on board. The trip from Panama City to San Francisco was likely no more pleasant than the previous part. The Humboldt left port on May 21, 1849. Recollections of the first night out of the port of Panama City, notes the Humboldt lost its “tiller and main boom” (The Journal, Meriden, Connecticut, October 20, 1902). The food served on the trip consisted of coffee, bean soup, tea, and occasional rations of beef. Seven deaths were experienced. The Humboldt dropped anchor off San Francisco on August 30, 1849, and the passengers disembarked at the corner of Montgomery and Washington Streets on September 1st.

Of the original group of  Pacific Pioneer Company’s members, only two stayed in California. All others returned home within two or three years of arrival, mostly virtually penniless with barely enough to buy their way back to Connecticut. The two who stayed in California were John W. Whitney and V.R. Raymond. Whitney was a ‘family man’, marrying Eliza Grimwood in 1835. He had fathered five children prior to his departure to California, and never returned home. He was a coach maker in his native New York and continued with that trade in California, eventually settling in San Juan Bautista, San Benito County, California, where he died on August 1, 1877. Perhaps due to guilt feelings, he left a will with the majority of the proceeds going to his wife and children back in New York. His wife died on July 15, 1901, in Haverstraw, Rockland, New York.

The survivors of this harrowing journey to California developed such a strong bond that one of the passengers, Collis P. Huntington, encouraged them to meet periodically and share stories, old and new. This resulted in what was known as the Humboldt Association. Of course, Huntington went on to become one quarter of what was known as “The Big Four”, along with Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker, famous for being the financial power behind the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. The ‘Humbolters” did meet periodically until death dwindled those hearty soles down to the last few. Perhaps, the most historic meeting of all, save for the fact that only five were to meet in 1900, at the decennial ceremonies of California statehood, included V. R. Raymond.

Initially, the Pacific Pioneer Company members headed for the northern mines but they soon disseminated throughout the gold bearing region. At least two are known to have eventually gone south. Russell S. Gladwin ended up in Sonora, and was soon elected an alderman there. V.R. Raymond settled a little further south in Gold Springs, which is less than a mile from from the town of Columbia.

V.R. Raymond is first noted in the special U.S. California census for 1852, living in Tuolumne County, age 26, with occupation as a miner. This census record does not record his specific town or region within the county. As a miner he probably did fairly well for he felt comfortable in marrying one Catherine McKay on March 4, 1853, in San Francisco. (Sacramento Daily Union, March 12, 1853)  Both their residences were listed as Columbia, California. This does not diminish the possibility that they were still living on the outskirts of Columbia, in Gold Springs. The couple had three children, Frances Adelaide Raymond, born in 1854 in Columbia. She married William Bradford Wilde in 1876 and died in Hollister, California, in 1921. Emma was born in 1856 in Columbia and married Worth Cyrus Ober in 1876. She died at Point Reyes Station, California, in 1937. Their son, Charles S. Raymond, was born in Columbia in 1858 and was unmarried. He died in a logging accident at Whitesborough, Mendocino County, in 1882. Their mother, Catherine McKay Raymond, died in Oakland, California, July 10, 1882.


An 1855 lithograph view of the town of Columbia commissioned by the local stationers, Towle & Leavitt. Included in this view, in the lower right corner, is a cut of the house of Niles Mills, who was a younger brother of wealthy banker, D.O. Mills. The younger Mills is also the same person who had a financial interest in Fish’s Infallible Hair Restorative.

Apparently is was Raymond who first entered the business of bottled water, as the Columbia Gazette stated, “We are indebted to friend Raymond for a supply of his fine mineral water” (Columbia Gazette, April 8, 1854). Other notations document that he was still living at Gold Springs at this time.  The earliest reference to Raymond and Holton as partners notes, . . . . “Those of our readers troubled with the palpitation of the heart, will be glad to learn that soda water is an effective cure for it, and our friends Messrs. Reymond (sic) & Holton, of Gold Springs, will be happy to fill any quantity of orders for the article” (Columbia Gazette, June 17, 1854)



Embossed R & H / COLUMBIA / CAL; on a single panel, the bottles are of a typical soda water form of the mid 19th century. All known specimens exhibit an iron pontil base and are blown in a green- aqua colored glass. They were most likely produced at an eastern seaboard glass house.

Regardless of exactly where he was living, the object of mining was never far from nearly every resident in this vicinity. The Columbia Courier first reported, “A splendid piece of pure gold, weighing forty-seven ounces, was taken out of the Evans’ claim, in the Main Gulch, in the rear of V. R. Raymond’s residence, on Wednesday last.” (Sacramento Daily Union, July 22, 1858)



This single surviving newspaper advertisement implied that Raymond & Holton were no longer engaged in the sale of soda water by 1859, but focused on the mainstay of groceries and provisions. (Columbia Weekly News, December 8, 1859)

The 1860 U.S. census for Columbia paints a change in the business relationship of the partners, Raymond & Holton. The census notes Raymond was in the business of manufacturing soda water in Columbia, while Holton’s occupation was noted as a grocer. Raymond continued in the soda water business as well as farming and mining. In 1861 Raymond was elected to the board of trustees for the city of Columbia. (Daily National Democrat, Marysville, Calif., May 19, 1861)

The Civil War appears to have had little effect on Raymond, but he did become a member of the Co. A., Tuolumne Home Guard, organized in 1861. (Appendix to Jornals of Senate and Assembly of the Fourteenth Session of the Legislature of the State of California, Sacramento. 1863). No record of Raymond or the Tuolumne Home Guard being involved with the U.S. military was located.

The IRS Tax Assessment List, for Sonora, California, dated September 1864, notes Raymond’s business was “Soda Water”, and was assessed $15.00. Again, what appears to be an address change for Raymond may simply be that he was living on the outskirts of town, between Sonora and Columbia, and as Columbia began losing its prominence it is quite possible that Sonora laid claim to more of its surrounding area. In 1866  the Tuolumne County Great Register listed Raymond as a “Quartz Miner” and living in Sonora. By the time of the 1870 census he was noted as living in Columbia with an occupation of farmer. It is again unclear exactly where he was living except that it was probably somewhere between the town lines of Sonora and Columbia.

Raymond’s interest in farming did not go unnoticed in the local paper . . .”Mr. V.R. Raymond has a very promising garden, in which he has set out a great variety of fruit trees, for future comfort and use.” (Weekly Columbian, July 5, 1856).


By 1869 Raymond was mentioned several times in association with Rosedale Ranch. It seems that he probably owned the property, or possibly leased it, from which he actively sold fruits and vegetables. (Union Democrat (Sonora, California), April 17, 1869)

His presence in the Columbia / Sonora region ended about1873 when he patented land in Sec 3 of Twp 1N, Range 14E and in Sec 34 of Twp 2N, Range 14E, MDM, in Tuolumne County. Within a year Raymond moved to Alameda County, California, living in Oakland.

V.R. Raymond is noted as working for the U.S. Mint in San Francisco as a “helper” in the Melter and Refiner’s Dept. in 1875. 

Oakland and San Francisco directory listings for Raymond:

1876 (Oakland) with US Mint (SF) res W s Broadway nr Twntieth

1877 (Oakland) with U.S. Mint (S.F.), res 954 Webster

1878 (Oakland) with U.S. Mint (SF) res 954 Webster

1880 (SF) Van Rennsselaer, Raymond, helper melter and refiner’s Dept U.S. Mint, r. Oakland

1882 (SF) helper melter and refiner’s dept U.S. Mint, r. Oakland

1881 (Oakland) melter U.S. Mint (SF), res 1002 Market

1884 (Oakland) helper US Mint (SF), res 1002 Market

Raymond’s job at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco ended in 1887 (San Francisco Bulletin, June 1, 1887)

The 1888 Oakland directory lists him as a Notary Public living at 459 Ninth, and the 1890 Oakland Great Register notes Raymond as a “Capitalist”.  Beginning in the late 1880’s Raymond worked as a probate court real estate appraiser and was active in the Republican nominating committee in Oakland.  He became involved with politics early in his life, but eventually grew tired of the usual partisan agenda and joined a group who called themselves the “Non-Partisans”. I suspect they would, today, be more akin to the Independent Party. (San Francisco Call, Sep 11, 1894)

Throughout the mid-1880’s Raymond added horse racing to his repertoire, for which he was moderately successful. He was appointed a Notary Public for Oakland by Governor Robert Waterman  in 1888, which was a position of prestige at that time. (Sacramento Daily Union, April 10, 1888).


Over the years, reunions of the 1849 arrival of the ship Humboldt were held in San Francisco. This news article of the 1889 meeting is typical. (Daily Alta California, September 1, 1889)

 On Admission Day, September 7, 1900, a rousing celebration of the early California pioneers was held. Among those in attendance were the remaining survivors of the arrival of the ship Alex Von Humboldt. Unlike the reunions of previous years, sadly, out of the 365 original passengers, five remained, including V.R. Raymond. (San Francisco Call, September 10, 1900)

 Van Renssalaer Raymond died October 19, 1905, in Oakland, and is buried there in the Mountain View Cemetery.


The other partner behind the R & H soda water bottle was Albert Buell Holton. He was born September 21, 1826, in White Creek, Washington County, New York. It is not known how or when he arrived in Columbia, California, but it is well documented that he was in partnership with V.R. Raymond in 1854. It is also not known when Holton returned to New York for awhile, however; he married his wife, Martha Garretson Seguine in Richmond, Staten Island, New York, on February 6, 1856. The couple then returned back to Columbia, California, in time for the birth of their first child, Ellen Seguine Holton, on February 17, 1857.


Albert Holton probably originally joined the ‘rush’ to California in 1849, for he took the unusual step of applying for a passport in that year. Passports were not a legal requirement for leaving the United States at that time, even though California was not a part of the U.S. It was, however; under military occupation by the U.S. beginning in 1846. Apparently Holton was taking no chances in being able to return to New York.

Albert and Martha’s son, Albert W. Holton, was born in Columbia on Mar 6, 1861, but died there January 23, 1864. Their daughter, Ellen, died April 28, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. She had married George Harold Woods (1855-1933) in 1883, in Chicago, Illinois.

Holton was elected a town trustee for Columbia in May 1861. After the death of their son, Albert W. Holton, in 1864,  Albert and Martha immediately left California and moved back to their home state of New York. They lived for a short while with Martha’s recently widowed mother, Ellen Seguine, along with other family members, in Westfield, Richmond County.


Memorial stone for Albert W. Holton,  the three year old son of Albert and Martha Holton, in the Columbia Cemetery. There is little doubt that his death was a significant reason for the couple to return East. (Photo courtesy of Findagrave.com, at Memorial #103801247)

By 1867 Holton landed a job as a silent partner with E. & J. Good & Co., in Chicago. Illinois, who were manufacturers of steam engines.  He died October 11, 1870, in Chicago.

A lack of concise data presents a problem in dating the age of the R & H bottles. Based on existing records it is apparent that the earliest date of manufacture would be 1854. The ending date for the bottles is a little more difficult to determine. Either one of the two major fires in Columbia could have caused the cessation of the Raymond and Holton bottling activities, but this is purely speculation. It is relatively clear that the partnership ended about the end of 1859, so it is possible that the bottles could have been produced closer to the end of the decade. However, logic would dictate a bottle manufacturing date closer to the beginning of their partnership. It is also possible that more than one order of bottles were purchased during the lifetime of the bottling business. Without better information it is safe to say that the bottles were blown between 1854 and 1859.


The old business section of the town of Columbia was acquired by the State of California and became a State Park on July 14, 1945, as an example of a typical Gold Rush town.