Friday, December 29, 2023


                                              By Eric McGuire

It has been nearly 52 years since I first wrote about this bottle in THE CORKER, the November 1972 issue of the newsletter of the Golden Gate Historical Bottle Club.  Back then the bottle was a curious rarity with virtually no information available regarding its provenance.  The Cassin brothers were already famous in bottle collecting circles for their Grape Brandy Bitters, Old Plantation Whiskey in glass and stoneware, and for a rare variant of the Mills Bitters.  The soda water bottle was so rare and elusive that no one was sure if it was even a product of the San Francisco Cassins, especially since it had a decided British style, with its typical round bottom “torpedo” shape.

By a stroke of luck I located an advertisement for the product in the April 1872 issue of the Wine Dealers’ Gazette, a relatively obscure monthly trade newspaper published in San Francisco.  That find brought me to publish my original short article in The Corker.



The first, and last, advertisement found for the Cassin’s English Aerated Waters ( Wine Dealers’ Gazette, San Francisco, Calif., April 1872).

There is one benefit to growing up, and growing old with an interest such as antique bottles.  One can track, over time, the relative numbers of a particular bottle through digging, bottle sales, auctions and networking with other collectors.  Remarkably, this bottle is nearly as rare now as it was fifty years ago.  I have seen probably a handful in all that time.  The relatively simple advertisement that appeared in the Wine Dealers’ Gazette definitely documented the origin of the product but little else.  In the same issue of the Gazette the editors inserted a short article about the introduction of the product that I did not publish previously.  I quote from the Gazette:

English Aerated Soda Water - What is it?

   In our advertising columns will be found a notice of the introduction into this market, of the above named spring and summer beverage.  Samples are sent to us, which to the taste, are pleasant and agreeable.  We could not give them editorial indorsement, in a sanitary sense, (being somewhat of a chemist  ourself) until we were assured of the materials from which they were manufactured.
     We are a little sensitive on the subject of “Soda Water”, as we have suffered from its effects.  We inquired of Messrs. Cassin Brothers, the manufacturers, from what material they made their Sodas.  They appeared to be reticent, thinking as we supposed, we were prying into their secrets.  We then reminded them that as editor of the GAZETTE, we conceived it to be our duty to inform the public as to the healthfulness of all new beverages, such as they were offering to the people.  From further conversation, we are satisfied they have imported the machinery for the new English process in manufacturing Sodas, wherein the base is Carbonate of Potass.  The new process consists, in part of passing carbonic acid gas through a solution of the Sub Carbonate, and evaporating at a temperature of 212 (degrees) to crystallization.  This new process is indorsed by English and German chemists and European Pharmacologists, as a “wholesome effervescing draught”.  The base of the old style Soda was Sulphate of Potass or Salt of Tartar.
     We have long known the deleterious effects of many of our, so called, Soda Waters.  Some are made in the old style, even out of Bisulphate of Potass, which is nothing more than a high character of Nitric Acid!
     This article is written by the editor of the GAZETTE, not for pay, nor for the two dollar advertisement, we believe there is in another column of this paper; but for the benefit of Soda drinkers.  We do not say, because we do not know positively, that Messrs. Cassin & Co. have the machinery and process above alluded to, for the manufacture of pure Soda Water; but from the reputation they bear, as Front Street merchants, and the fact positively known to us, of the enlargement of area of operations, and having sent to England and engaged a man to manufacture Soda Water, it is fair, at least, to presume they are entitled to the confidence of the public, and we believe they have the improved process, and we believe they mean business.

After all these years, I have seen no new information come to light regarding this product.  Production must have been very short-lived, as no further advertisements were printed in the Gazette or any other newspapers of general circulation.  There were no directory listings for the Cassins regarding the manufacture of soda water.  It must be assumed that the venture ceased operations shortly after inception.  Most of the bottles were likely returned to the Pacific Glass Works for sale as frit, thereby making the few “escapees” rare artifacts.  A huge question remains as to why their soda water was such an immediate failure.

Frances and Patrick J. Cassin were born in Dublin, Ireland and became caught up in the lure of California gold. Francis was the first to arrive, in 1849, and Patrick followed a few years later.  They both operated separately until late 1866 when they formed their partnership. They are most famous for production of their Wild Grape Root Bitters from 1867 to about 1872, and for the introduction of their embossed bottle for OK Plantation Whiskey in 1874. The Cassin brothers separated their partnership on October 8, 1880 when Frances retired. He never married but maintained a residence with his sister, Mary Cassin, in San Francisco.  After retirement he seemed to slip into oblivion as no record of his death could be found.  Patrick remained in San Francisco and continued to operate a wholesale liquor company for a few years.  He later moved into real estate and maintained a saloon for awhile.  In 1878 the 45 year old Patrick married 18 year old Frances Titus Cole in San Francisco.  Patrick died August 5, 1889, aged 56 years.

This soda water bottle was not the last time the Cassin name appeared on products of a decided English style. In 1883, Patrick Cassin imported tan and white stoneware jugs from England for his O.K. Plantation Whiskey.  He sold the whiskey, in the one gallon, half-gallon and quart sized jugs at $5.00 for the gallon. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 1883)  The gallon size is stamped with the name of P.J. Cassin & Co., 433 Battery St., San Francisco and the name of the contents, O.K. Golden Plantation Whiskey.  This marketing move was probably a final attempt to sell his remaining stock of Plantation whiskey.

The Cassin English style soda water bottles are found in shades of very dark to light aqua.  They are 9.5 inches in length and look very much like their British counterparts, such as Ross’s, Webb’s and Cantrell & Cochrane. It is plainly embossed CASSIN'S / ENGLISH / AERATED / WATERS





The rounded base has a small “dot” at the bottom, which very likely was the location of a mold vent for escaping air as the molten glass was blown against the mold

Saturday, November 25, 2023




Firsthand newspaper descriptions to the activities at various glass works are available but not common. They are all different in how the observer describes the event. This account, taken directly from the Russian River Flag newspaper of Healdsburg, California,  printed on November 26, 1874, is one of the best I have seen and I show it in its entirety. It is nicely detailed and offers some new information about the San Francisco Glass Works as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023



 Santo Carlo Ceribelli was born in Italy, probably in Lombardia, about 1828, and likely departed Italy from the port city of Genoa with his wife, Antonetta.  The couple was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1870, when their first child, Joseph (Giuseppe) Ceribelli, was born.

 His earliest documentation in California was in April 1873, when he was appointed Postmaster for Burnett, in Santa Clara County.

The first notation of his presence in San Luis Obispo was in June 1875, when he advertised the opening of his soda works.

Ceribelli's first advertisement for his soda works
 San Luis Obispo Tribune (Weekly),  June 5, 1875


In June 1878, Ceribelli advertised his new store in San Luis Obispo, now located on Higuera Street, adjoining the store of W.E. Stewart (San Luis Obispo Tribune, June 8, 1878). The 1880 U.S. Census for San Luis Obispo documents Santo as a liquor merchant. Although he was still producing soda water he probably found that selling wine and whiskey was a much less demanding occupation.

He purchased property in San Luis Obispo in 1877 and 1881.  Markota notes that L. Martin purchased the San Luis Obispo Soda Works in 1883, presumably from Ceribelli. He did, in fact, sell his business to Luther Martin in October 1881.


San Luis Obispo Tribune (Weekly), October 29,1881

 On the subject of his soda water venture, Ceribelli posted this unusual statement in a Los Angeles newspaper.

To My Friends and the Public

Having come here from San Francisco with the intention of opening a Soda Water Factory in Los Angeles, I regret to be obliged to announce that failing health has forced me to give up the enterprise.  I am glad to be able to say that I have effected a sale of my machine and outfit to Mr. Stoll, who, by the way, I see sells his goods as cheap as such things are sold in San Francisco.

                                                                                   S. Cerebelli”

(Los Angeles Herald, June 30, 1883)


Ceribelli had his soda water bottles produced in San Francisco. Only one variant has been found, indicating that he likely placed only one order with the glassworks due to short business activity.

Ceribelli continued his residence in San Luis Obispo for several more years while he sold the remainder of his wine and liquor stock. His final advertisements, in 1885, gave notice of liquidation of his business, with the note that, “Mr CEREBELLI is compelled to visit Europe to attend to important family matters, and therefore offers this opportunity to buyers.” Nothing more was located about Santo Cerribelli, the soda water manufacturer of San Luis Obispo. California.

It is assumed that Ceribelli and his wife and children, returned to Italy, as no further information could be located.

Not until 1902 does the youngest son, Santo Cerribelli, jr., return to the United States. Santo, jr. was born in San Luis Obispo on May 7, 1878, which made him a U.S. citizen. After his return to the United States  he stated that his plan was to go back to San Luis Obispo. He may have, but Santo quickly returned to New York City.  He spent most of his life there as an importer, initially working for an Italian relative, Giacomo Ceribelli, who probably resided in Milan, Italy. The company was styled G. Ceribelli & Co., with Santo jr. heading up the New York branch. The company was a major supplier of Ferro China Bisleri, a popular aperitif, until the onset of prohibition in the U.S.  Santo jr. also maintained a summer house in Darien, CT.  The 1930 U.S. census documents Santo as a chemist in the drug business.  He lived a life in the world of high society, residing at 895  Park Avenue in Manhattan.  By 1942 (per his draft registration card) he was still working for G. Ceribelli & Co., at 121 Varick Street in New York City, which was acting as an agent for A. Brioschi & Co. He eventually became president of A. Brioschi & Co., pharmaceutical manufacturers.   Santo, Jr. died in New York in April 1953.

Monday, July 31, 2023



The Hawley family was first noted in San Francisco in 1856 when the father of our subject, Hawley William Baxter, was listed in the San Francisco city directory as a “boarding house keeper” at 26 Battery Street. He was noted at the same address until his untimely death on November 17, 1858, which must have created an extreme hardship for his wife and children. Hawley’s widow, Louisa L. Baxter, continued to maintain the boarding house for a few years, and by 1860, her oldest child, Edward Hawes Baxter, began his career as a clerk with the drug firm of Crane & Brigham in San Francisco – just sixteen years of age. By 1865, Louisa’s second oldest son, Hawley Hall William Baxter, jr., also secured a position with Crane & Brigham. In time, Edward Hawes Baxter found his niche as a drug salesman and Hall W. Baxter chose financial work, becoming a bookkeeper for Crane & Brigham.


Each brother maintained their respective positions with Crane & Brigham until 1879 when some occupational changes occurred. In the case of this sketch the most significant change was Edward H. Baxter’s decision to enter the patent medicine business himself, but continuing his tenure with Crane & Brigham as a drug salesman. He received Federal Label Registration No. 2096, on October 29, 1879, for NICHOLS INFALLIBLE INJECTION, which was advertised as a “sure cure for Gonorrhea, Gleet and the Whites”. As a traveling salesman for Crane & Brigham, Baxter had an excellent opportunity to sell his own product to drug stores while he was doing the same for his employer. While this activity does not appear completely ethical, it apparently worked, at least for a while.


Baxter did not rely heavily on newspaper advertisements, however; a few were noted for a period of about 12 years in California, Arizona, and Washington, but mostly in Nevada. This early example is typical of most. (Humboldt Times, January 8, 1880) The last ads appeared in 1892.


A copy of the label was registered in 1879 by Baxter for his Infallible Injection. Why the name Nichols was used has not been verified. It may reflect the name of Jesse Christie Nichols, an Oakland, California, druggist who died on March 4, 1890. Aside from the potential desperation some users of this medicine may have had, the high cost of the item is partly reflected in the fact that a syringe was also included in the package.


Edward H. Baxter’s younger brother, Hall W. Baxter, jr., left the employ of Crane & Brigham in 1880 and became a payment receiver for the Spring Valley Water Works, one of several domestic water companies that serviced the city of San Francisco. He opened the No Percentage Pharmacy in 1891 and in January 1896 he also took over Henry Fox’s Red Front Drug Store in Healdsburg, California. He sold the Red Front Drug Store after about one year then opened the Ferry Drug Co. in San Francisco. At nearly the same time he purchased the No Percentage Pharmacy in San Francisco, as well as continuing with his cashier position for the Spring Valley Water Works. Hall W. Baxter, jr., died in San Rafael on May 26, 1901.


Meanwhile, Edward H. Baxter, the prime subject of this sketch, left Crane & Brigham about 1881 and went to work for its major competitor, Redington & Co., for about one year, and then worked for Langley & Michaels, yet another large San Francisco drug company, still acting as a salesman, until 1894. Baxter married the widow Fannie Lathrop Wright on August 9, 1893, in Tulare County, California. Then, in 1895 he went to work for his brother, Hall W. Baxter, at the No Percentage Pharmacy in San Francisco, until 1898.


One last entrepreneurial attempt occurred in 1899 when Edward H. Baxter opened a store described as “merchandise specialties, electric belts, rubber goods, etc.” This activity sounds like a drugstore without a prescription service. Baxter died on January 3, 1906, just missing the devastation caused by the great earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906.


Baxter’s widow, Fannie Lathrop Baxter, continued with her husband’s former business until 1913, eventually focusing on just electric belts, which were then a popular health item. (San Francisco Call, 8 August 8, 1909)


As part of a pioneering family, Fannie was born in San Mateo County, California, in 1855. (birth name, Fannie Rhodes Lathrop) She was the daughter of Benjamin Gordon Lathrop who arrived in California in 1849 via wagon train. She had no children with Edward H. Baxter, but several with her first husband, Sampson Boone Wright. In 1917 she moved from San Francisco to Calistoga and finally to Santa Rosa to be closer to her children. Fanny died in Santa Rosa on June 8, 1949.


Curiously, the youngest brother of Edward H. Baxter, who was Charles Ethan Allen Baxter, born about 1848 in New York, is listed in the California Great Register of Voters, as a druggist in Bodie, California, in 1879. He died an untimely death on September 27, 1880, in San Francisco.  His young daughter, Eva May Baxter, had died in Virginia City, Nevada, just 10 days earlier, on September 17. One has to wonder if there wasn’t some connection between these two deaths.




The bottle is 7.5 inches tall and embossed on one of the two ‘side’ panels, “NICHOL’S INJECTION". The opposite panel is inset to accommodate an accompanying syringe. A pressed glass dose cup was probably fit over the applied top of the bottle to complete the package. Several of these cups have been found in the West.



A second bottle is also known. It is in the same configuration as the previously shown example except for an alteration to the embossed lettering. It reads NICHOLS’ INFALLIBLE INJECTION. With the word “Infallible” added it also moves the possessive apostrophe to more correctly represent the word “Nichols”.


The bottles are very likely a product of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works, and had there been the letter “R” in the lettering, it would no doubt have a signature curved leg typical of many bottles produced in molds engraved by an unknown San Francisco craftsman.

Sunday, July 23, 2023


Two related medicinal bottles are found in this ‘package’. STAR REMEDY NO. 1, and STAR REMEDY NO. 2. Although heavily advertised throughout the west for about one year, from August 1877 to August 1878, both bottles are relatively rare.


Advertisements such as this often peppered newspapers throughout the West during the one year period. Of great interest and causing some frustration, the advertisements never reveal the proprietors of the medicines, although some note that Redington & Co. were the wholesale agents. (Virginia Evening Chronicle, Virginia City, Nevada, August 8, 1877)


Perhaps considered the least desirable of the duo is Dr VAN DYKE’S / ANTIBILIOUS CURE / * REMEDY No 1. While it is embossed with the coveted word, CURE, the bottle lacks any pictorial embossing, aside from a five point star.


The reverse of a trade card for the Star Remedies.



Undoubtedly blown at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works in 1877 is Dr. Van Dykes Antibilious Cure. About 6 ¼ inches in height, it is made of typical western aqua glass with applied top.


The second bottle is the coveted Star Remedy No. 2. Embossed on a large panel is the depiction of a Lake Tahoe trout, with a five point star at about the location of the fish gill. Embossed on the side panels is, TROUT OIL LINIMENT / (STAR) REMEDY No 2.


While, in reality, the fish essence contained in these bottles could have been sourced anywhere, it was likely taken from Lake Tahoe.  At the time of production of the liniment, Tahoe fish were being harvested by the ton. Not only were commercial nets being used, long-line fishing was also practiced. Yet another devastating harvesting process was also underway. The indigenous Washoe tribe had fished Lake Tahoe for millennia and they knew how to do it well.


It was not until the new Americans came on the scene did the natives indulge in “over-fishing” induced by economic incentives from the white market hunters. With payment in the form of money and whiskey, the natives enjoyed their newly found wealth while the fishing lasted. However, the glory days were soon shortened by the lack of product.


I strongly recommend the reader look at a newspaper article on this subject of market fishing written by the recognized early ‘environmentalist’ Charles F. McGlashan, that appeared in the Sacramento Daily Union, on June 8, 1877.  It may just be a coincidence that this article was written at about the same time as the Trout Oil Liniment was being produced. And, it may also be a coincidence that sales of the liniment appears to have disappeared within a year, just as the heyday of commercial fishing in the lake came to an end. But, one has to wonder.

Monday, June 26, 2023



This unusual bottle has had many collectors bewildered with precisely what it represents. They are not very numerous and the majority were found in the ‘big dig’ of about 1998 in San Francisco. Most have been found in blue with nearly as many in aqua. Embossed CLASSEN & Co. SPARKLING, surrounding crossed anchors, one doesn’t have to guess it is a product of the soda water maker, James Milton Classen. While his story is interesting, I would like to just focus on this one product. Classen was born in New York and, like so many Easterners, got caught in the lure of gold in California. While establishing a successful soda water business in San Francisco, he returned to his hometown several times.


In 1863 Classen left control of his Pacific Soda Works to his partner, John Rohe, and returned to New York for nearly two years. While there, he created another somewhat complementary product for his business in San Francisco. It wasn’t exactly the same and I am guessing he saw it as a potentially new market product. He devised the bottles and designed labels for the product which he copyrighted to prevent protection from possible counterfitting. On November 12, 1865, he received federal protection for his Anchor Brand sparkling cider.


Embossed as noted above, the bottles appear very similar to soda water bottles of the day, with the biggest exception being a more refined top. A big question remains about whether the bottles were designed for single use. Was the cider a product of the East or were the bottles filled in the West? The labels are very clear that it was a product of New York for the California market. This seems a little incredulous with regard to the expense involved, especially if the bottles were for single use. Of course, he may have shipped the bottles while empty along with barrels of cider, and bottled the product at his soda works in San Francisco. The answer is not clear.


This label was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California as an example of his federally protected copyright. While it is true that Classen did not avail himself of the recently adopted trade mark law for California, however; there was no federal trade mark protection until 1870. It was not unusual for proprietors to use federal copyright laws for interstate protection since California trade marks were only enforceable within the State. Copyrights provided interstate protection. He apparently knew the law well for Classen had already received a trade mark in 1863 for his Pacific Soda Works bottles, which he never planned for use beyond the State boundary.


The sparkling cider project was apparently not successful as it was short-lived. No newspaper advertisements were located for the project which was a kiss of death. Nineteenth-century marketing depended heavily on reaching out to the public through papers. It is not clear when Classen became disillusioned with the soda water business, but by 1867 he exited the Pacific Soda Works and left it to his partner, John Rohe. Classen had already dabbled in the real estate business by this time and he saw a much better road to success. For the following twenty years, he became a successful ‘capitalist’, and is even noted as a ‘stock broker' in the 1880 U.S. census for San Francisco. Unfortunately, he let most of his wealth slip, and by the time he died, on September 9, 1891, he had little left. His wife was forced to take up residence in the “Old People’s Home of San Francisco”, where she slipped into oblivion in 1905.


The dissolution notice of the partnership of the Pacific Soda Works. Rohe became the sole owner but closed the business after a few years and then became a trustee of the newly formed Bay City Soda Water Company, . . .a corporation.


Thursday, June 22, 2023



Small town soda water works in California seldom used embossed bottles as far back as the 1870’s. One exception is the river town of Colusa, the governmental seat of Colusa County. Located on the Sacramento River, it was a shipping port for an extensive agricultural region in the central Sacramento Valley of California.

Little is known about the original proprietors of the works. The primary player was Jonathan Leonard Poulson. He seemed to prefer using only his initials, “J.L.” and his last name was commonly mis-spelled, which creates a challenge in researching the man. He was the son of  Henry “John” and Elizabeth Cox Poulson, born in Ohio on July 8, 1847, and like most men of his age Poulson served in the Civil War, as a private in Co G 178th Ohio Infantry. He enlisted August 26, 1864 and mustered out June 29, 1865, at Charlotte, North Carolina. Poulson then moved to Iowa for a few years and then relocated to California about 1869.

Poulson is first noted in California when documented in the 1871 Great Register for Yuba County, listed as a 23 year old farmer born in Ohio, and living in New York Township. Poulson is known to have been in Colusa at least by October 1874, when his name was listed in the local newspaper, noting that undelivered mail was waiting for him at the post office.(Weekly Colusa Sun, October 17, 1874). The Letter List was a common feature in newspapers alerting residents that mail needed to be retrieved. It was probably about this time that Poulson went to work as a driver for the Colusa to Chico stage line. The job was difficult with a variety of perils including stormy weather conditions, robberies, vehicular mishaps and passenger issues, not to mention long and tiring hours. For at least these reasons Poulson decided to switch professions. The local newspaper reported . . . . “Leon Poulson, of the Colusa Stage, who has been driving between Chico and Colusa for a considerable time, has resigned his position as knight of the ribbons, and will start a soda factory at Colusa”. (Chico Weekly Enterprise, March 16, 1877). “Knight of the ribbons” was a slang expression for a stage driver, implying a master of roads.

Poulson’s partner in this new venture was Asa Brower, born about 1843 in New York. Prior to partnering with Poulson in the soda water business he was described as a painter. (1870 U.S. Census for Grafton Twp., Woodland, California) 

The most significant newspaper item located that concerned the establishment of the Colusa Soda Works was printed in 1877.



The announcement of the beginnings of the Colusa Soda Works includes a description of the bottles recently blown for the bottling of soda water. (Weekly Colusa Sun, April 14, 1877)  The description most certainly fits the example pictured below.

From the newspaper information provided it appears the company’s soda bottles were blown about March or April of 1877. They were surely blown at the factory of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works.


The base mold of the Colusa Soda Works bottles was engraved with an unusual rayed design dividing the circle into eight segments, not found on other California soda bottles of this time period. Its meaning is unknown but probably just decorative.


For reasons that are not clear the partnership of Poulson & Brower came to an abrupt end about nine months later, at the end of December 1877.

The dissolution notice signaled the end of the partnership of Paulson and Brower at the Colusa Soda Works.

Asa Brower, is noted to have been a soda water manufacturer in Willows, Glenn County,  California (Weekly Colusa Sun, December 13, 1879). He is also noted in Colusa County in 1880.   (1880 U.S. census for Colusa County, Monroe Twp., line 43 and WoodlandCalifornia. (Yolo County, California, Great Register of Voters, 1882).

 Asa died December 24, 1885, in MazatlanMexico, of yellow fever. (Sacramento Daily Union, January 27, 1886) He owned 6,000 shares of the Descubridora Mill located, near Guanacevi, Durango, Mexico,  and was probably there concerning his interest in the mine.

It is likely the embossed bottles continued to be used by the soda works under the new partnership of Poulson & Eller. No data was revealed about Eller. His name was often misspelled as Ellis. Later advertisements confirm the new partner’s name was Eller. Regardless, this second partnership was dissolved on August 21, 1878, with Eller leaving. (Weekly Colusa Sun, August 31, 1878) However: Eller retained an ownership interest in the soda factory property for awhile. As a single proprietor, Paulson began bottling his “Boston Champagne Cider” (Weekly Colusa Sun, October 5, 1878) and sold Bethesda Water as well.

 On December 14, 1878, a lamp exploded and started a fire that destroyed the works. It was mostly insured and Poulson had it rebuilt. It is not clear if he was still bottling his own soda water at this time or who actually owned the facility. George Shuggart was noted as a partner at this time, but probably only had a financial interest in the operation and was not a working partner. Shuggart was of African descent and upon his death the local paper stated, . . . “Mr. Shuggart, in the days before the Civil War was a slave in Missouri. In 1869, he was in Illinois when he received a message from his former master, asking him to return to Missouri.  He did so and came to California with the master.  They came to Colusa County and here it was that Shuggart stayed.  Since his arrival here he has never been out of the state and has only been outside the county’s limits six times. Mr. Shuggart has held the contract for sprinkling Colusa’s streets for thirty-eight years.  At one time he owned a soda works here. About a year after he bought it, a lamp in the house of the plant’s manager, Len Pohlson (sic), exploded and the soda works burned to the ground. (Colusa Herald, November 4, 1922)


The drawing of the Colusa Soda Works was published in Colusa County, California, Illustrations Descriptive of its Scenery…etc., by Will S. Green, published by Elliott & Moore, San Francisco. 1880  It was apparently subscribed when Poulson was operating without a partner, probably about 1879.

By about 1884 Poulson left Colusa, abandoning his wife, and moving to Vancouver, Washington. In 1886 Poulson’s wife, Sarah Ann Poulson, brought suit against him in the Sacramento Superior Court, on grounds of “willful desertion and neglect” and requested the court to reinstate her maiden name of “Brummett”. Poulson likely did not respond to this action and probably didn’t even see it in the newspaper since he went to Washington State. (The Record-Union, Sacramento, California, June 8, 1886) 

Poulson remarried in Portland, Oregon, to Annie May Betts in 1888, who was 29 years younger than he. Poulson died in April 1888. His new widowed wife then married Samuel Foraker in Vancouver, Washington, on September 25, 1900. She was 47 years younger than her new husband. Samuel died on March 17, 1915, in Vancouver, Washington, aged 91 years.  


The grave marker of Jonathan Leonard Poulson, spelled “Poulsen” on his stone. The simple marker is the typical free stone given to veterans which doesn’t even have his death date inscribed. It is located in the Old Vancouver City Cemetery, Vancouver, Clark County Washington.


A later graphic advertisement for the Colusa Soda Works after it purchased the relatively new crown cap closure equipment invented by William Painter in 1892. (Colusa Daily Sun, September 8, 1899)


Thomas Henry Polley (aka Polly) purchased the Works about 1884.


Rankin Blackburn purchased the Colusa Soda works from Thomas H. Polly in 1886.


John Blackburn purchased the Works from his father, Rankin Blackburn, in 1896. (Colusa Daily Sun, June 8, 1896)


Theodore Frederick Phillips purchased the Colusa Soda Works from John Blackburn in October 1898. Phillips died on January 3, 1912, and his widow finally sold it to the Woodland Ice and Bottling Works in 1930.




Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Not exactly a whiskey but... I'll bet a lot of it was consumed on this auspicious occasion!

This is an interesting piece which will appeal to many collectors of various genres. It is a dance card for the 4th annual ball at Wadsworth Nevada, in 1902. The card is dated Dec. 31, 1902, and is significant for one reason, it was Wadsworth’s swan song.

Wadsworth Nevada was originally a wide spot on the trail, located on the Truckee River. It was a stopping spot for weary settlers headed west. Later, during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Central Pacific (CP) selected this spot as being ideal for their repair shops. In 1868, they built a roundhouse, repair facilities, and a depot. Hotels, stores and saloons soon followed. A residential section also began to emerge.

All went well and the place thrived. In 1882 the CP elected to begin construction of new facilities (across the river) and by 1884, the relocation had been completed. 1884 was also significant because the original town site across the river burned to the ground. Things went well and the new town site continued to flourish for nearly twenty more years.

Clubs, lodges and fraternal organizations were popular and the Ladies Society of the BOF (I know not what this stands for) was one of the active groups. Lillian Flint was one of the members. On Dec. 31, 1902 Lillian attended the 4th annual ball.

There are many things about this dance card that make it unique. Check out the names of each dance! One of the other things that I noted is that Lillian dutifully wrote down each partner with whom she danced. That was until about half way through the evening. It would appear that either her feet gave out, or she had one too many libations, as the entries ceased with #7, a polka~


The date of this waltz (Dec 31, 1902) was significant. In 1902, the CP (by then the Southern Pacific - SP) had decided to realign their route and move their facilities, lock, stock and barrel, to their new company town, which we know today as Sparks.

The date of Dec. 31, 1902 was indeed Wadsworth’s swan song as the town emptied out as quickly as it had originally been built.

Monday, May 29, 2023






Mineral water has been a rich resource of California for many years. Tucked into the lee side of Snow Mountain, and within Mendocino National Forest is a mineral spring resort first established in 1874. Established by John Fleming Fouts along with his wife Elizabeth (O’Neil) Fouts, they came to California from Iowa in 1854 and eventually established the town of Meridian, near Yuba City, in 1863. Their oldest child, Ionia Orland (Fouts) Moon , was born at Iowa Hill, Placer County, in October 1854, while their wagon train was on its way westward to Sutter County.


Among his many activities, John Fouts also acted as a Justice of the Peace for Sutter County, California after his arrival there. (Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, CA, 26 February 1862) 

 Fouts founded and successfully operated a ferry across the Sacramento River at Fouts Ferry, and he proceeded to lay out a town by the name of Meridian as early as May 1863. He was also the postmaster and general merchant of the town.  Three of their young children died in Meridian in the months of May and June 1866. Three more lived to be adults. He named the town, Meridian, because it lies on the Mount Diablo base meridian, which was the prime meridian for Northern California used in the Township and Range land survey system.


In his role as a general merchandiser Fouts even sold patent medicines. (Weekly Colusa Sun, Colusa, California, August 15, 1868) 

 Fouts became quite successful in his businesses at Meridian, . . . “Meridian lies ten miles above the Mill (Grand Island Mills) and is a nucleus for a village.  John F. Fouts has built a handsome brick store and dwelling house at this place. He also has a ferry that is like a mint to him.” (Weekly Colusa Sun, 4 September 1869) However, by 1872 Fouts filed a request for land patents that likely coincided with the property he would soon inhabit in Colusa County. Perhaps he was facing increasing competition with his ferry crossing on the Sacramento River as well the potential for the construction of a new bridge, which was an inevitable scenario.

 The Fouts family soon moved West into the forested lands of Colusa County where Fouts reportedly established a saw mill, and then moved nearby to a small, well watered valley, on the South fork of Stony Creek, where he established Fouts Springs in 1874.


This informative article, which sounds much like an advertisement for the newly established Fouts Springs, was published in the Sacramento Daily Union, August 5, 1874. 


During his tenure at the springs, Fouts never exploited the water beyond the resort itself, but he did champion the water’s healing properties. (Weekly Colusa Sun, 22 April 1876) 


By 1879 Fouts had leased the operation of the Springs to George H. Ware, who took over management. Fouts maintained the stage line to the springs he established about a year earlier. By 1882 the springs were leased to Alfred Sax Moon, who was the husband of his daughter, Ionia Fouts.

Fouts Springs Hotel, circa 1900, all decked out with flags for Independence Day.


After two years, for reasons that are not clear, Fouts again retained operation of the springs in 1884.   (Colusa Sun, 14 June 1884) 


 While Fouts Springs water was known to have been shipped to various retailers within the vicinity as early as 1897 there was no mention of it being bottled during that time. Probably bulk shipments were made but only for a short while.


A quart size FOUTS SPRINGS / NATURAL MINERAL / WATER bottle. Tooled blob top, with a large “M” embossed on the base. The bottle is considered rare.

 Fouts Springs prospered throughout the first two decades of the 20th century but the bottling of its waters appeared to have dried up about 1913, with no mention of sales of the water after this date. The cost of hauling the water from its source caused a cessation of the product within the year of 1913. Not until ten years later another company was formed to put the water back on the market. (Colusa Herald, 19 Apr 1923)  Besides the Red Eye Spring, Fouts also maintained Champagne, White Sulphur, New Life, and Arsenic Springs. None of the latter were mentioned as being bottled except Champagne Spring.


The Fouts bottle pictured above likely contained water from the Red Eye Spring. (Marysville Daily Appeal, February 26, 1913)


 John F. Fouts died August 30, 1913 in Oakland, California, and is buried in the Meridian Cemetery, along with his wife and four of his children.