With immigration on everyone’s mind, this author thought it fitting to tell a story about two immigrants who came to Danbury, one became the president of a cooperative society, labored in a hat factory and ran a saloon, the other also worked in a hat factory but eventually opened a garbage collecting business. Ultimately,  one would die in 1918 from a devastating pandemic the other  would survive and go on to build a large family in the United States.  These are their stories as best as this author can determine. One is sourced mainly from recollection, the other is gleaned from records from Danbury City Hall and the Danbury Historical Society.


According to family history, Pasquale De Domenico, this author’s great grandfather, came to the United States in the 1890s or early 1900s. He made his way to Danbury Ct and according to Danbury city directories he worked as a hatter. He married, Petrina Gillotti, and in 1911 had a daughter, Rose. Pasquale lived in the Lee Heights section of Danbury off Merrimac St. where he owned a small homestead.


The other immigrant featured is, Vittorio Ceppo.  Little is known about Ceppo. He was born in 1886. Eventually Ceppo emigrated to the US and after traveling to Baltimore Md or New York City Ceppo moved to Danbury. His occupation, like many Italian immigrants in Danbury was hat finisher. Information is limited but records indicate that Ceppo was married and was  the last president of the Italian Cooperative  Society. The inner workings of the society are unknown but this much is understood. The society likely promoted Italian culture and mutual aid among its members. The Italian Cooperative Society was similar to clubs like the Polish American Club, the Lebanese American Club and Portuguese American club of Danbury. The other arm of the business was the Italian Cooperative Company a grocery establishment operated at 20 Elm St next door to the society that was at 18 Elm. During the early 1900s there was a large influx of Italian immigrants into the Danbury area They looked for jobs and places to live. They were also interested in merchandise like remedies and cures oils cheeses, processed meats like capicola and prosciutto. The grocery likely sold the items they needed. In fact Hat City Diggers has recovered cure bottles from dumps that are embossed in Italian that may have come from the Italian Cooperative companies shelves.  If the Italian Cooperative Company was the center of business, the Italian Cooperative Society was the center for socializing.  Hat City Diggers can picture men drinking at the saloon  playing pinochle, smoking pipes and sipping ouzo laced espresso.    The Italian Cooperative Society was quite sophisticated in its hierarchical structure there was a secretary, treasurer and a president. The society wasn’t broke either according to records the society had a capital of $5000. It’s unknown if Pasquale frequented the society for a social drink or two what is known is that he  grew grapes and produced wine at his homestead. Although Pasquale was self-sufficient on the farm,  he and his wife probably did business from time to time with the cooperative company at 20 Elm St.


life in the hat factories for both  Pasquale and  Vittorio could be rigorous and harsh and dangerous. It was cold in the winters and hot in the summers the men were exposed to mercury in the felt making process required for hats.  As a result, mercury left Pasquale sick for six months his gastrointestinal tract was affected my grandmother used to say that the mercury ate the lining of the stomach and that he lived on crackers and milk for six months.



In 1918 my great grandfather, Pasquale  and Vittorio Ceppo were impacted by the great flu pandemic that spread across the globe. Not wanting to get the family ill Pasquale went to live  in the barn according to my grandmother, Rose Rayback. Subsequently my great grandfather came down with double pneumonia, however, moving to the barn did not prevent the family from becoming ill with the flu because according to my grandmother’s recollection the entire family had been sickened.  Pasquale and the rest of the family recovered.  Vittorio was not as lucky Vittorio contracted the virus sometime in the fall of 1918 complications  developed and Vittorio came down  with  lobar pneumonia he died on October, 24  he was 33 years old.


The Italian  Cooperative Society closed its doors in 1919 after the rise of prohibition. As mentioned,  the Amerigo Vespucci lodge evolved from the ICS and opened its doors in 1924. The fate of the Italian Cooperative Company is unknown, however, the jug pictured likely originated at the Cooperative Company and may have contained olive oil.Eventually  Pasquale changed his name to Domain and opened a garbage collecting business Domain ‘s Refuse which operates today. In the early 1960s Pasquale  was impacted by diabetes my cousin  Francis Mazzotti recounts a story from her childhood she remembers seeing Pasquale in his tomato garden with blackened toes an impact on the feet caused by diabetes. Pasquale  died a year later.



Danbury’s Spring Street is far removed from the bucolic countryside where you’d expect to find a dairy operation but nonetheless the Scalzo brothers worked a dairy from their Spring St address for roughly 3 years. Contrary to popular belief, a dairy doesn’t need rolling meadows, vast carpets of green grass and clover and hundreds  of black spotted cows. The realization is that a stable of a few cows and plenty of hay is enough to support a fledgling dairy firm.  Angelo Scalzo started one such small firm   in the 1910s probably to supplement the income he was making as a hatter.   This author wasn’t able to determine who Angelo’s brother was  but according to census records Angelo was born in Italy in 1873 he worked as a miner possibly in Italy and when he immigrated to the USA in 1897, he found his way to Danbury and began his employment driving of a coal wagon.   Although listed as unable to read and write in the 1910 census within a decade Angelo had become literate. 1920 also saw Angelo moving from teamster and hatting to farming. For about 3 years Angelo operated his dairy at 24 Spring street. He likely peddled milk from a wagon or light truck within the Danbury area. One of Angelo’s bottles found its way to the top of Danbury’s Golden Hill where it was purchased by a farmer in the area and tossed into a dump on the side of the house, only to be dug up 100 years later. competition in Danbury’s  milk industry was  robust  and Angelo stopped operation in the early 1920s. Scalzo milk bottles are very rare and the one pictured may be the only known example.



We may never know for sure who saloon keeper A. Sands was, but we have one possible suspect- an epileptic Jewish junk dealer who emigrated to Danbury about 1903. This name was Albert Sands.


Albert Sands   was born in 1887 in Lithuania.  Albert   likely emigrated from Lithuania because of   antisemitism   that was widespread in his country at the turn of the century. Records indicate Albert arrived on the SS Palatia in New York 1903. Albert who was just 16 at the time eventually  moved to Danbury. Life in Danbury may have been difficult for Albert. His primary language was Yiddish,, however, he likely learned to speak English. Not only was there a language barrier that Albert had to overcome Albert also struggled with a disability. There is no way of knowing when Albert developed epilepsy, however, it is possible, he suffered from the illness as a child. Records tell us Albert had a large scar over his eye so his illness may have originated from this head injury.   Although Albert had seizures this did not prevent him from making a living.  Records tell us that Albert was a junk dealer and fur trader . Albert likely dealt in fur trading with the many hat factories in Danbury. Rabbit fur was used primarily for making hats. Albert likely supplied the pelts. It appears Albert primarily dealt with scrap metal in his junk business.




There appears to be no written record of Albert Sands keeping a saloon, but we suspect he may be the A. Sands who had his name embossed on the beer bottle, pictured.  After searching directories, we found the following listing for Sands Albert, George, Marie, Louis and Rebecca.  There are no listings for Albert Sands prior to 1905. Oddly he is not listed for  the years 1906, 07, 08, 09 or 1910. In addition, we find no evidence to corroborate the existence of another A. Sands living in Danbury at the time.  (It should be noted not everybody living in Danbury was listed in the City Directories as noted by Albert Sands missing, for example from several years in these Danbury Directories.)   If Albert is indeed A. Sands, he likely operated his saloon sometime in the 1910s (considering his age in 1903.)

Albert’s liquor career may have been a short one. Although his saloon could have closed for a number of reasons two likely causes may have been the anti-saloon climate of the early 1910s or the prohibition act of 1918 that made alcohol illegal across the United States. Throughout his life in Danbury Albert remained a junk dealer. In March of 1942 Albert Sands died after suffering an epileptic seizure. Death records do not detail this event but Albert possible died from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) 1 and 1000 people with epilepsy may die from SUDEP.  though grand mall epilepsy is suspected in Albert’s case without medical documentation we can only speculate as to the nature of his illness and his death, consequently, Albert could have also died from a fall or choking during a seizure.  Finally,  whether Albert Sands,, a Jewish Junk dealer and fur trader, is A. Sands as presented on the bottle remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the possibility does exist.  In the mid 1910s several bottlers were arrested in Bridgeport for using other liquor dealer’s. bottles without their permission. One of the persons arrested was a junk dealer.  The beer pictured dates to about the 1910s.









After saloon keepers Paul Pope and Henry Gaya dissolved their partnership, the pair went their separate ways- one of the liquor dealers lived a long productive life the other developed health issues and chose a direction that ended in a Danbury boarding house one night in 1917.


Built from multiple sources the history of Pope and Gaya’s   business relationship begins in 1910. February 1st of that year Paul Pope and Henry Gaya leased the first floor of a building located in the Ely block on Danbury’s White Street. Though the partners leased the building from Caroline Ely for $450 a year they purchased the business from Edward Panoiroli.




Pope and Gaya seemed an unlikely pair. Paul was a policeman for the city of Danbury he was born in Bridgeport Ct in 1882 in later years Paul would open a candy shop in Danbury. Henry Gaya was a hatter and bar tender who emigrated from Italy. How the two men became acquainted is unknown. It’s easy to understand Henry Gaya’s motive for opening a saloon – he kept bar since 1907 and had experience in the liquor trade. However, the reason Paul Pope turned to trading liquor is anybody’s guess. Paul entered law enforcement about 1908 and Paul may have moonlighted as a saloon keeper because he could not make ends meet on a policeman’s salary. What’s also interesting is Why Paul turned to a profession that was getting so much negative attention involving the police in the Danbury and Bridgeport newspapers. By 1910 several saloons in Danbury had gained and unsavory reputation with police being called to the establishments almost on a nightly basis. There is no evidence Paul was involved in these calls.  The dynamics of Gaya and Pope’s partnership is unknown but according to records the saloon opened in 1910 and by 1912 depending on sources Paul Pope sold his interest in the whole sale and retail firm at 78 white street. Henry Gaya continued the business with another partner, John Osbeck City directories report  that the Gaya, Osbeck liquor firm was at 48 Division St. The Danbury Evening News reported the business was short lived and in 1917 Henry was making a living tending bar in a Danbury saloon. It’s unknown why Gaya’s business failed but the business was involved in a lawsuit that cost Gaya and Osbeck $300. As for Paul he continued work as a policeman     until 1925 when “He resigned… [and] erected a multi-store business block at White St and Moss Ave. Paul Pope “conducted a confectionery store there and later a liquor store.” Paul retired in 1945. Paul Pope died in the spring of 1966. He was 83. Henry Gaya’s life was much shorter.





There’s no way of knowing when the gangrene impacted Henry’s foot. Henry could have been a diabetic or he may have injured the foot somehow. Either way in the winter of 1909-1910 a surgeon removed all the toes on Henry left foot. This likely caused Henry to limp. A gimpy leg was the least of his problems. Because The gangrene continued to spread, and doctors recommended Henry’s foot be amputated.  The state of    Henry Gaya’s   mind is unknown but a Danbury Evening New account for February 8th, 1917 suggests Henry was despondent about the thought of losing a foot. and in the early morning hours of the 8th or possibly the night of the 7th Henry put the barrel of a revolver to his head and shot himself in the temple. Henry was found at 6am lying on his bed a revolver clutched in his right hand. Henry Gaya had told the owner of the boarding house some time earlier “he would do away with himself rather than go to the hospital. Needless to say, no one tried to stop him. Henry was found clad in his night shirt. Death was ruled a suicide. The purple color of the Pope and Gaya bottle pictured is caused by manganese in the glass. This color change was done deliberately to affect the bottles value.




“It was a drug store out of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” this is how Lisa Burns remembers Burns’ Drugs.  Lisa started working at the family business when she was 14.  Burns’ was a cornerstone on Main St and Keeler St for years and a big part of Lisa’s life.  During interviews one summer Lisa shared family stories of the firm and of her grandfather Cornelius “Connie” Burns’ who along with partner John A. Mahoney started the firm in the 1910s. During one of our last interviews curiosity got the better of Lisa   and one late summer afternoon Lisa returned to the site of Burns Drugs after an absence of more than thirty years.



If you are heading north on Main St the Burns’ building sits on the right, across from the Danbury Public Library

Burns wasn’t the only drug store at this site    Pharmacies occupied the old red brick building back 120 years. The first pharmacy was a firm called Apothecaries Hall. After that firm closed, Reed and Co (Pahquioque Pharmacy) owned by Charles Kerr- a former Danbury mayor-occupied the site. Connie and John purchased the business after Pahquioque closed. Over the ensuing decades Burns became a landmark in Danbury.   Throughout the 1910s, Mahoney and Burns served the Danbury community. Eventually Mahoney and Burns opened a second drug store on White St.   Mahoney and Burns ads for the time were fond of saying “The old-time pharmacy and still a good one” The pair worked closely together and according to Lisa Burns developed several remedies including one for poison ivy. “I used it myself,” says Lisa. “It was a preparatory formula that they put together.”




In the cellar, deep in a back room of the old Burn’s store is a large cross beam- its black with carbon from a near disaster that almost destroyed the building. In the evening of February 13th, 1917 John Mahoney and Connie Burns attended the Dorthely (sic) ball at the Hotel Green.The men left Claude Maxwell in charge of the store.   According to the Danbury Evening News Claude was at work in the rear room when glancing down through the register of the floor he saw what he believed was the furnace fire. “Maxwell looked into the cellar from the top of the stairs and saw flames and smoke.  Maxwell hurried to the phone and called the fire department. Maxwell then evacuated the store as it began to fill with smoke. Two Danbury policemen finished the evacuation. The Danbury Fire Department arrived and broke the front basement window to access the basement the entire basement was soaked with several inches of water the 100-year news report had been spot on. The fire had charred the support timbres for the main floor. Lisa and I inspected the timbres when we were allowed unprecedented access to the building’s old basement one summer afternoon. Even charred These timbres were so large and strong that they still support the floor today.   With the fire out work was done to clean the water and by day it was gone. The Danbury Evening News reported most of the damage to the store was caused by smoke.   That “tainted the supply   of candy and similar goods in the rear rooms.” The inventory up front was protected and not affected. John Mahoney quoted in the Danbury Evening News said that he knew no way in which the fire could have started as the cellar is lighted by electrify and the clerks use electric flashlights when going into dark corners. Danbury Fire Chief Beckerle told the Evening News he believed the fire was started by a cigarette or cigar being swepted into the basement when the store was being cleaned for the night. Claude Maxwell said no one was smoking at the time.





The first report we get that Connie Burns and John Mahoney ended their business relationship comes from the Danbury City Directories which states that John left town. The following year he returned to Danbury and according to city directories he opened a sporting goods store.  Connie never worked with another partner   again after John’s departure.




Connie Burns continued business through prohibition and the roaring 20s. Lisa says that Burns (and other drug firms) were the only places Danburians could buy alcohol legally for medical proposes during this time. At Burns’ Drugs, liquor was kept in a cabinet Connie and his friends referred to humorously as the “tabernacle”  During the depression Connie and his family took up residence at Park Place not far from the drug store. Eventually the family moved near Dear Hill Ave. But Connie was never no more then walking distance from his store.  During Connie’s tenure as a druggist he helped many Danburians through sickness and injury.  Lisa remembers during her time at the family business “They (the pharmicists) were on call 24 hours.” Social media is unanimous as to  Burns’ character. Cornelius and Louis, Connie’s son, who ran the business later    were well loved and fondly remembered “THEY WERE THE BEST PEOPLE TO OWN A DRUG STORE IN DANBURY. Connie Ross Hallecks writes in all caps. on Facebook, “WOUNDERFUL PEOPLE.” Consequently, Connie’s’ business was one of the best known on Main St.   Jean Akridge fondly remembers the pharmacy “Oh yes. Got medicine there as a child and they had a soda fountain.” Although Connie is fondly remembered little is known about his early life.      Depending on records Connie was born June 28, 1883 or 84 in Harwinton or   Collinsville Ct.  curiously Connie’s parents are listed as “unknown.”  Lisa Burns is unable to shed light on who they were Connie’s early life is even a mystery to her and the rest of the Burns’ family.   The News Times tells us a little about Connie: he lived in Danbury for 40 years and he operated his pharmacy for over 30 years.

As the 1950s progress Connie’s health declined and on May 1, 1955 Connie Burns died.  Over the next 20 years Louis Burns, Lisa’s father, ran the store. Through the 1960s Burns was the all-American drug store. Burns’ was a place “where kids gathered says Lisa. Young people were not just costumers Louis employed young Danburians “They were soda jerks.”  Lisa says. Past employees of Burns Drugs carved their names into a basement door. When the firm finely closed Lisa tells me it felt like the end of an era,” In fact, hometown pharmacies were becoming a thing of the past throughout Danbury as chain drug stores like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS opened in the area. By the early 1980s Burns’ Drugs was the last family owned drug store on Main St.






It’s a warm Sunday afternoon in early September when I meet Lisa. She comes to my house with photocopies of Connie in a manila envelope and I have Burns’ Drug bottles for her that I recovered in Danbury trash dumps. She and I sit on the porch facing each other the tape recorder on my iPhone recording the conversation.  She tells me about her dad’s day-to-day operations at the pharmacy “It was a seven day a week job.” she says. Invariably we move to the topic of the basement door Burns’ employees carved their names into. She wonders aloud if it still exists in the basement of the old drugstore. We move to the topic of returning to Burns Lisa hasn’t set foot in the store in years. Overcome by the sense of adventure we jump into Lisa car and head to Main and Keeler. I’m filled with anticipation as we enter the side door of the old red brick building that was Burns Drug store. The store is now Michael’s Varity and they sell everything from cell phone cases to food, candy and phone cards. I imagine the ceiling looks the same as it did 100 years ago its tin and painted white. Lisa steps to the counter the lady behind the counter appears to be middle Eastern she has a thick ascent Lisa   explains to her   why we are here “I’m Lisa Burns” she says.  “40 years ago, my family used to own this store.” The lady acts like she remembers. Lisa tells the lady that I’m working on a story about Burns’ Drugs. She speaks about the door and asks the lady if we can to go into the basement. I wonder if the door will still be there- names carved into in so many years ago communication from the past. Surprisingly the lady says yes and the three of us head down a very narrow staircase into the buildings past when it was the Pahquioque Pharmacy. I can imagine the owner of Pahquioque, Charles Kerr in the basement preforming tasks. The walls seem to speak of a bygone time they are red bricked the foundation is fieldstone. It’s quite dark but dry not musty Lisa and I part ways as we begin to explore this part of the store rarely seen by the public.   I head into a back room not knowing what I’ll find.    In the back are the support beams   charred as the newspaper story reported 100 years ago. Lisa takes pictures of the burnt beams I can almost hear the fireman working to extinguish the flames. As they fight the choking smoke.  I’m back in time Danbury is once again a hatting town the streets are lined with stately Elms; I can hear the trolley as it rolls passed out   front.   I’m in Burns Drugs its 1919 and so is Lisa and it is like It’s a Wonderful Life.      We exit the cellar back up the narrow staircase to the present the door with the carved names is gone but we are not disappointed at least I’m not. As for Lisa, it is a home coming a connection with a store run by two generations of Burns.  Finally,  I wonder if she can see her father or grandfather a man who died before she was born behind the counter I don’t ask if she can that’s her personal memory Lisa drives me back home. Burns closed sometime in the 80s after Lisa’s father died Lisa doesn’t remember when exactly it’s not important, I got my story.  Birth and death are like book ends that hold the pages of life together and what really matters is all that happens in-between.





As the Coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, hatcitydiggers.com looks back at the impact a much worst pandemic had on Danbury and Nicholson Dairy over one hundred years ago.


Danbury in the early 20th century had countless milk dealers. Many of these firms were cottage industries.  That is to say, small dairies operating out of homes in Danbury’s rural areas. These dairy owners delivered milk every morning to a small body of customers throughout town by horse and wagon or light truck. Sometimes they made just enough money to get by more often then not competition drove them out of business.   Lester Nicholson was one of these small milk dealers. However, Nicholson’s story is more than the trifles of a dairyman.    In the fall of 1918, the Danbury Fair was gearing up to open.    However, according to Michelle Amundsen Collections Manager for Danbury Museum, this never happened and that fall all of Danbury’s health resources were stretched to their limits and Nicholson’s own wife would die from the epidemic that was not only gripping Danbury but the entire world in 1918- the Great Flu.





Lester Coryclon Nicholson was born on July 4, 1869 in Rutland Massachusetts (census records dispute this) to John and Delia Nicholson. Mary, Lester’s  wife, a New Fairfield native, was born in 1874.  In April of 1897 the couple married he was 27 Mary was 22. At the turn of the century, Lester found work at a dairy delivering milk to homes in the Danbury area. He likely developed knowledge of day-to-day dairy operations from this experience. In the 1910s at nearly 50 Lester made the leap from employee to owner when he began operating his own dairy, which was located on land he mortgaged on Padanaram Rd in rural Danbury.  Lester success as a dairyman is unknown but Danbury City Directories lists his occupation as “milk dealer” for about four years from 1917 -1921. It was during this short time Lester was in the milk profession that tragedy impacted his family.





In 1918 WWI was still raging in Europe but it wasn’t the war that impacted the Nicholson family. A month before the armistice Lester’s wife Mary died unexpectedly.  That October the worst influenza outbreak in modern history reached Connecticut. Danbury was hit hard newspaper accounts tell us Danbury Hospital’s resources were stretched to the breaking point “Charles A. Mallory president of the hospital said that the demands being made upon the institution under existing conditions are taxing its facilities [there is a] shortage of help in some of the departments  [that puts] extra work upon the members of the present force of employees.”  Because of the epidemic, Danbury Hospital set up a temporary emergency hospital on Town hill Ave. As each day progressed officials reported. more cases of flu   Dr. G. E. Lemmer Danbury Health Officer reported in the Danbury Evening News 124 new cases. The total cases for the second week in October were 1274.  Checking death records hatcitydiggers.com discovered a grim statistic large numbers of Danburians died from the flu from October to January with a spike in deaths in October and a spike in January when the epidemic struck again.   According to a Danbury Evening News report the state was in desperate need of health professionals during this time mainly nurses to help with the sick. It was at the height of this epidemic in October that Mary Nicholson became ill alarmingly it took only five days for her to die proof of the virulence of the 1918 flu. We are unsure if the disease impacted the rest of Mary’s family. Lester and his two daughters may have become ill but simply recovered. Why some people died and others lived is unknown. But what is known is the 1918 flu killed young people at a shocking rate. Of the over 130 deaths in Danbury from the flu in October through January most appear to have been between the ages of 18 to 45 years old. Death records also tell us danburians were also dying from complications associated from the Great Flu such as the on-set of lung infections like pneumonia. In the end, over 195000 Americans died from the flu in October and by the end of the flu season, 500,000 Americans had died. 30 to 50 million would die worldwide.  There were more deaths from the 1918 flu than in WWI and WWII combined.




A few years after Mary’s death, Lester remarried.  For a time Lester worked at various jobs. Danbury City Directories tell us he worked in the laundry business and as a “fish and Oyster” dealer. Eventually, Lester found a job working for Archer Huntington of Bethel. For 17 years Lester worked as a houseman at the Huntington estate on Sunset Hill Rd in Bethel, Ct. In 1958 Lester became ill and in March of that year, he died.   He was 88    Mary Nicholson was only 44 when she died.  She is buried in Wooster Cemetery with her husband.  The bottle above is a rare Nicholson milk that we discovered over the summer





On a cold December morning, Louis Dick was returning home in his rented delivery truck to his cattle and dairy farm on Great Pasture Rd. As he crossed the train tracks, near the Danbury/ Bethel border he had only seconds to react as a train barreled down on him. A few years earlier Dick’s career was that of saloon keeper. But in 1910, Danbury’s clean up movement began to show its teeth, the liquor firm of Dick and Vogel was besieged on White St. -the powers that be determined to close the firm. It was a battle Louis Dick and Abraham Vogel ultimately would lose. The testimony at the liquor hearing by several Danbury cops was damning to the firm’s reputation even though the captain on the Danbury police force admitted he patronized the saloon regularly, nevertheless, with the demise of Dick and Vogel’s liquor firm Louis Dick was forced to make other choices, choices that eventfully lead to a showdown with an oncoming locomotive at Carney’s Crossing.




By the early 1900s, Danbury had acquired a reputation as a hard-drinking town with almost as many saloons as hat factories. Danbury’s White St. was the center of the town’s liquor trade. On any given day- except Sunday- and at the time even that rule was bent – White St. was a bustle with activity with nearly a dozen saloons lining the street like a gauntlet against sobriety. But the new century saw the temperance movement gain more and more steam and soon the movement had gained power and influence in the state and the city  A year after Dick and Vogel open for business The Bridgeport Harold reported Mayor Gilbert of Danbury had made up his mind to clean up Danbury, ” He has tackled a pretty hard proposition,” said the Harold in a July 7, 1907 story, “but he is determined and keeps on his job all the time and soon Danbury will be as dry as the inside of a lime kiln.” Mayor Gilbert’s resolve was bolstered by legislation in Hartford. In May 1907 a bill was put before the House. This bill required the licensing of saloons according to population and that the renewal fee for a license be $1000 a year.  In addition, another bill in the House would require saloons to remove their screens.   (Saloon keepers covered their widows in their saloons.) The timing couldn’t have been worse for Dick and Vogel.  Both bills passed.




Sources differ but land records report that in 1906 Dick and Vogel rented the building at 86 -88 White St from Oscar Meeker.∗  The previous tenants Henry Dick (Louis’ brother)  and Samuel Hornig had vacated the site sometime earlier and Meeker needed a tenant. Dick and Vogel’s establishment was located just across the bridge that crossed the Still River.   In the back of the establishment was the Dick and Vogel package store. (Land records also tell us the pair ran a business on Ives St. as well). Since opening its doors the firm had legal difficulties.  Dick and Vogel’s establishment had gained an unsavory reputation only exceeded by notorious saloonkeeper Frank Rotello. 1909 several saloonkeeper’s licenses came up for renewal including Dick and Vogel’s and an effort began to close the saloon permanently.


As the winter progressed, the state began holding liquor hearings in Danbury.  The commission could deny or approve a saloon’s license. Since the commission’s creation, saloons throughout the state battled to stay open. Now the commission had its sights set on Danbury. On a cold February morning, the liquor hearing in the case of Dick and Vogel commenced at the Danbury County Court House.  Representing the defense were two well-known Danbury men Judge Eugene C. Dempsey who was elected associate judge of the city court in 1895 and Attorney Henry A. Purdy- a graduate of the Albany Law School. The Remonstrants was lead by Col. Joseph Moss Ives an ardent Christian, an attorney for the Judge Advocate General and brother of Danbury’s favorite son, composer Charles Edward Ives, his partner, Stiles Judson, was a Connecticut senator from the 25thdistrict. The first witnesses to take the stand that day for the Remonstrants were two Danbury police officers, James I. Turner and Edward Streaman.




The Danbury Evening News covered the hearings extensively and the facts we present are assembled from this paper’s reporting. Officer Streaman was the first witness. At first, it appeared Streaman’s testimony would benefit the defense. Streaman said that “conditions in front of Dick and Vogel’s place were not   as bad as at saloons on the other side of the street because it was farther from the street line,” however, as his testimony continued, Streaman began painting an unsavory picture of Dick and Vogel’s clientele “…many of the people who hang out there are frequenters of the city court.” Streaman said, “In the summertime there are many bums who hang out in front of that place, who solicit money and then spend it there.”  Streaman also testified that he arrested several women for loitering at Dick and Vogel’s saloon.  He also reported that Mr. Dick “objected to his taking the women out of his saloon and   interfering with his business.” Under cross-examination office, Streaman admitted he was never called to arrest Louis Dick or Abraham Vogel.  The defense cross-examined Streaman about the women- in- the- saloon issue at length. “Did you even see a woman in Dick and Vogel’s barroom?” asked Judge Dempsey.

“No, only in the wholesale department.” Replied Streaman.

“You did not see any indications that these women of whom you speak had been sitting around a table and drinking?”

“There were empty glasses on a tray which was on a whiskey barrel,” said Streaman.

“You don’t know what these women went to the saloon for…?”


” Don’t you think that would have been a fair and reasonable question to ask?”

Streaman told the court that it wasn’t necessary

”You prefer to come down here and infer that they were in there for improper purposes?” At this point, Streaman became angry and replied ” I’m not inferring anything. I am testifying to the facts as I know them.”

(During the 19thand early 20thcenturies women were not allowed in saloons. It was only during prohibition that the practice became acceptable.)

Judge Dempsey then asked officer Streaman if he was ever “called into Dick and Vogel’s to suppress a riot. “No,” replied Streaman, “he (Louis Dick) generally threw them out into the street for us to take care of.”

Also during the morning hearing testimony by Officer James I. Turner was taken into record he said that he had “frequently seen women enter [Dick and Vogel’s] saloon- mostly colored women.” Turner also testified he considered Dick and Vogel’s saloon to be the “worst [place] on White Street in the matter of crowds and loitering.” Likewise, Turner said that the proprietors (Dick and Vogel) “objected to the officers [removing women from the] saloon saying that it interfered with their business. Turner said that  “He [also] had seen men come out of the saloon and drop-down drunk on the door sill.” Under cross-examination officer, Turner admitted he was never called to arrest Mr. Dick or Mr. Vogel for any violation of the law.  A week later on February, 12ththe testimony continued. According to the Danbury Evening News “[t] he first witness of the day for the remonstrants … was John McBriety, a ten year old newsboy who testified that he was sent to Dick and Vogel’s in the fall of 1908 with a note and was given a bottle of whiskey to carry to a relative who sent him on an errand.”  Johnny testified that a bottle washer at the back of the saloon gave him the bottle. Judge Dempsey cross-examined the boy who said he went to the establishment a “second time and was refused.”  Also on the 12ththe defense presented witnesses to the commissioners as rebuttals to the Remonstrants charges several witnesses came forward during this session with reports that Dick and Vogel ran a reputable well-respected business. According to the Evening News William H. Greeley, Dick and Vogel’s landlord* made one of the best witnesses for the defense. Mr. Greeley said that “[He] had the occasion to go to his business place once a month to collect the rent. He said, “he had never seen anything objectionable about the place and considered it the equal of any in the neighborhood.” During the day other witnesses came forward with similar stories.  However, one of the most damning admissions against the Remonstrants: Senator Judson and Col Ives came from the captain of the Danbury Police force, David Bradley.  During the cross-examination, the commission learned that Capt. Bradley was a regular patron of Dick and Vogel’s saloon.

“’You are a customer of Dick and Vogel’s are you not’ asked Judge Dempsey” “Yes,” said Bradley. “You’ve patronized them for years haven’t you- when you were off duty of course.” “I never bought a drink there in my life,” said Capt. Bradley. “ I have bought whiskey in the bottle for use of my family.” said Bradley “Why did you go there to buy of a place which you are now trying to put out of business?” asked Judge Dempsey. “I went there because I could buy Old Crowe whiskey for 90 cents when it cost $1.35 in every other place in the city,” said Capt. Bradley.  On February 14ththe Dick and Vogel’s hearing concluded.  A month later on March 27th the commission reached a decision and Dick and Vogel learned what they may have already known- their license would not be renewed. We are not sure how the saloon keepers felt but as the 1910s drew on one of the pair started an entirely new career while the other remained in the liquor trade.



According to Danbury Land Records Louis Dick sold the liquor business on Ives St. to his partner Abraham Vogel in 1911. In 1913 Abraham Vogel opened another saloon at a different location in Danbury. Louis Dick’s plans were much different than Vogel’s. Like his brother, Harry, Louis Dick may have seen the writing on the wall as to the eventual demise of the liquor trade.  A few years before prohibition Louis Dick turned his talents to a softer drink- milk. And at the end of the decade, Louis started a farm with 10 cows on Great Pasture Rd. Louis, however, did not stay in the milk trade long. According to Danbury City Directories Louis’ trade was cattle dealer in 1919. Likely the business drew Dick away from the farm to run errands. Dick returned home using South St. At the intersection he crossed the train tracks onto Great Pasture Rd. He probably did this without incident dozens and dozens of times during the course of his career as a milk and cattle dealer. What exactly was Louis’ mindset on December 17th1919 will never be known? But a misjudgment as he turned from South St on to Great Pasture Rd cost him his life.

This damaged bottle (above) possibly is the only known example of a Louis Dick milk.




In the morning hours of Dec 17thLouis Dick finished errands in town and headed home down South St toward his farm on Great Pasture Rd. Heading to Danbury from South Norwalk, the New York, New Haven and Hartford passenger train was running late and moving very fast. When Dick was  crossing the tracks at the South St and Great Pasture Rd intersection, he saw the train barreling down on him and according to reports in the Danbury paper Louis Dick swerved to try and avoid it by running his light delivery vehicle along the tracks but the car skidded on the icy road and “[t] he step of the tank of the locomotive struck the automobile.” As the train raced by, the force of the crash threw Louis Dick from the delivery car. According to The Danbury Evening News, Louis struck the ground a considerable distance away. The train stopped a few hundred feet away and “trainmen and passengers hurried back to the scene of the accident. They found Dick lying along the tracks in grave condition.”  His skull was fractured and he had compound fractures of both legs but he was conscious. The passengers and trainmen covered Dick with a blanket (or placed him on a blanket depending on reports) and headed back to the train the locomotive then moved on to the Danbury station.  Before the train left the conductor, Frank T. Manent telephoned the police about the accident. The police arrived 15 minutes later. In the squad car was Capt. Bradley and Patrolman Streamen two of the police officers who testified for the remonstrants at Dick and Vogel’s liquor hearing years early. Bradley and Streaman learned the ambulance from Danbury Hospital was not running so the policemen placed Louis Dick in the patrol car and ushered him to Danbury Hospital. Doctors and staff did their best to aid Dick but according to the Danbury Evening News at 11 pm that night Louis Dick died of his injuries. He was 44.




On December 20th Coroner John J. Phelan held an inquest into the accident at Carney’s Crossing. The inquiry raised two important questions. First,  why had Louis Dick not seen the train? (Carney’s Crossing in 1919 had an unobstructed view in both directions for almost half a mile). Second, why had  the train crew not placed Louis Dick on board the train and taken him to the station. According to The Danbury Evening News “A number of new facts related to the accident were brought out” during the inquiry that answered these questions. Attending the inquiry was Henry Dick, Louis’ brother. The Danbury Evening News reported that members of the train crew explained to Henry Dick why Louis was left at the scene. It was the company’s policy that if an ambulance can be secured it was the company’s rules not to move the injured person more then necessary. If the train crew brought him on board the train he would have been moved a number of times rather than twice if taken by the ambulance or in this case the police car. According to The Danbury Evening News Louis’ brother felt different about the matter after the explanation.   The inquiry then tried to resolve one of the disasters most puzzling questions. Why hadn’t Dick seen the train?  Only one man saw the accident as it happened Raymond Wilmot a motorman for the Danbury and Bethel Street Railway Co. The Danbury Evening News reported  the trolley was heading into Bethel and was “some distance from Carney’s Crossing.” According to Wilmot Louis Dick was not traveling any faster than 6 miles an hour because that was the speed of the trolley said Wilmont and the trolley kept its distance without gaining on Dick’s car. Wilmont saw Dick turn onto Great Pasture Rd then swerve in the direction of the train trying to avoid it.  “He did not drive into the train nor did the train hit the machine squarely,” Wilmont said. According to Wilmont the engine past before the train struck the car and in his opinion, Dick did not see the train as he turned onto Great Pasture Rd. Finally according to the Danbury Evening News Coroner Phelan made no definite announcement as to his conclusions from the testimony but his opinion was one that the train crew was not at fault and  Louis Dick did not give proper attention when he reached the crossing. Why Dick was distracted will never be known but  the road itself and the mechanics of the car may have also contributed to the accident.  Frank Rowley, a witness who lived on Great Pasture Rd, said he heard the train blow its whistle and he noticed the marks where the machine had skidded. And he could see that the brakes were applied. he also testified “that there was a downgrade from the main highway to the railroad tracks and that the road was snowy and icy.” Braking wasn’t as effective in early twenty-century cars. Today’s modern vehicles have anti-lock braking systems and disc brakes which are much more effective at stopping a vehicle.  If Dick’s vehicle had a modern braking system, he may have been able to stop- considering that the testimony of trolley motorman Wilmont is accurate- in that the car was going no more than 6 miles an hour- barely a crawl by today’s standards. However,  if the road was covered in ice and snow as reports indicate Dick likely would not have been able to stop with any braking system since stopping a vehicle once it has encountered ice especially on a downgrade is virtually impossible.





Because of newspaper accounts, we know much more about Louis Dick. However,  here are a few items we learned about Abraham Vogel: Abraham was born in Austria in either 1875 or 1876. According to census records, he arrived in the United States in 1882 or 1883. Abraham was Jewish and his native language was Yiddish. At some point, Dick and Vogel dissolved their partnership and  Abraham ran a liquor firm at 8 Ives St until the start of Prohibition.     A search of land and probate court records turned up nothing on Vogel.   In 1922  Abraham Vogel’s occupation was shoe dealer. Abraham died on September 13th, 1945.


Today the name Carney’s Crossing is forgotten but the downgrade still exists and signs warn motorists not to stop on the tracks.


Carney’s Crossing, as it appears today, still has the grade in the road when you turn from South St to Great Pasture Rd.



∗Land records show Oscar Meeker was Dick and Vogel’s landlord. However, The Danbury Evening News reports that William H. Greeley was the liquor dealers’ landlord.










During 52 years of business Henry Eugene Northrop never missed a day sick at his beloved pharmacy and he never took a vacation, oh, except for that one time- when he got married. Henry was born in Brookfield, Ct on November 27, 1859, to Amos Wilkes Northrop and Marian Smith Northrop. As a young adult, Henry entered the shoe making trade and apprenticed as a shoemaker in Brockton, Mass. According to the Danbury New-Times for July 8, 1938 “…it was shortly after this that he came to Danbury and took a position as a drug clerk in the store of Howard Smith. Why the sudden change in careers is unknown but in 1891 Henry went from store clerk to pharmacist. He then bought the store of Charles Halstead. In May of 1900 Henry married Lydia Alvord. Census records tell us the couple had two children, Stuart and Eugene. Henry was 45 years old when Stuart his first child was born. For years Henry’s pharmacy was located in the Masonic Temple building on Main St. Even after a fire in 1917 Henry rebuilt and continued business in the temple building until 1928 when he moved the business. In the late 1930s, Henry was stricken with coronary thrombosis, which according to the News-Times “…confined him to the hospital for two weeks.” It was the first time the Dean of Danbury Druggist as the paper called him had missed work in years. Henry regained his strength  and returned to work but “…because of ill health,” The News-Times reported “[Henry sold the firm] to James McCollum and Howard Mignerey.” Henry worked for them after the sale. Henry died July 7, 1938. The last act he performed before he became ill from pulmonary edema was to turn over his stock of narcotics to the state commissioner. (the document recording this act is held by the Danbury Museum and Historical Society)   The Dean of Danbury Druggists, one of the last old school pharmacists was 78  when he died.  Henry is buried in Danbury’s historic Wooster Cemetery.








John A. McPhelemy- one of Danbury’s best know businessmen- sold all his business interests and left the Hat City for Massachusetts and life on the farm. But did the vim and vigor of a ” strenuous life” promoted so vehemently by Teddy Roosevelt help kill the well-known Danbury businessman?    John was born in Oakland Cal. While still a child, John moved to Danbury and attended Danbury schools. After school, John worked as a clerk and salesman then entered employment with his uncle the famous Danbury businessman Michael McPhelemy who owned a grocery store on White St.



In 1904 John A McPhelemy and two other Danbury businessmen William Walsh and George McPhelemy (John’s Brother) leased the saloon and restaurant at the Walmac Hotel on Main St from liquor dealer W. H. Leonard. “… at that time the Walmac was one of the leading hotels in the city.” Soon the men began selling liquor under the business name McPhelemy, Walsh and McPhelemy.   The saloon and restaurant at the Walmac were quite posh at the time and consisted of a 29ft bar, five chandeliers a lunch counter and more. The furnishings cost the partners $2500.  According to Danbury Land Records the partners had the right to use “the room on the second floor of the Walmac, formally [known as] the Osborne… as a ladies’ parlor.” Ultimately the partnership dissolved and in 1906 William Walsh sold his interest in the McPhelemy, Walsh and McPhelemy Co.



By  1909 according to land records, John A McPhelemy was operating the Walmac solo when he leased the establishment from Danbury businessman John Blake, Blake had purchased the Walmac.  John A. McPhelemy operated the saloon at the Walmac for at least six more years. In 1913 John took on more responsibility when he leased the hotel Groveland on Main St from William McPhelemy. A short time later a fire broke out in the Groveland that caused $ 20,000 in damage wrecking the second and third floors. Water also caused extensive damage throughout the building. Luckily no one was killed. The fire was caused by an electrical problem. Sometime after the fire, John began selling his business interests   and according to Danbury City Directories   he began working as a saloon keeper at 33 White St. Then directories tell us John took a job as a bartender at 35 White St.  By 1916 it appears John came to believe the pace of his life was damaging his health this is cooperated by an April 29 story in the Danbury Evening News. Thus John and his family left Danbury for Caver Mass. [John] purchased a farm in Carver in the hope that farm work would restore him to health. Theodor Roosevelt likely influenced John.  Roosevelt, sickly as a child, had his health restored the president and former Rough Rider believed his indulgences in boxing and other strenuous activity had improved his health and saved his life. In 1899 Teddy Roosevelt made his famous “Strenuous Life” speech in Chicago ill in the speech Roosevelt talked about hardship, toil and the virtues of a strenuous life. He espoused this hard living as a way to build strength and character. At the turn of the century, medicine was in its infancy and people relied on many processes to “cure” illness. According to Michelle Amundsen of the Danbury Historical Society the Roosevelt speech lead to the Vigorous Life Movement “[It was] take control of your own life, your own destiny,” says Michelle. “[It was about] sleeping on porches working on a farm was part of this [too.]”



When John McPhelemy left Danbury to work a farm in Carver, Mass. he likely believed in the “Vigorous Life Movement.”   Roosevelt had improved his health, however, he was an asthmatic that outgrew his illness John, on the other hand, had a bad heart something he would not be able to recover from in 1910s America and in the spring of 1917,  after toiling on the farm, he died. The clincher is in the death certificate.  The cause of death is listed as “exhaustion.” Ironically, the intense labor of farm life that he hoped would improve his health ultimately destroyed it.   Michelle Amundson, Collections Manager and Brigid Guertin Executive Directory of the Danbury Museum both agree with this conclusion. The Walmac Rye (above) comes to us from a home in Bethel. During renovations, it was discovered in a ceiling. The Paper Label not only lists the brand of Whiskey but the hotel’s address and the name of the proprietor.






What Ella Kahn did with the Trunk Brothers’ bottles after she dissolved the brother’s business is anybody’s guess. One thing is for certain, she had no idea Trunk sodas would be considered one of the rarest and sought after pieces of Danbury glass out there.  Like their bottles, the Trunk brothers’ history is elusive. Nevertheless,   we uncovered a wealth of information about the brothers and their short-lived firm. This is what we learned: In 1910 the Trunk brothers moved to Danbury from parts unknown and set up residence at the Arlington Hotel at 89 White St. In the winter of 1910, Israel and Wolf Trunk, organized their small soda water business.  The operation was located in a barn Israel leased at 5 Ellsworth Ave, for $8 a month this increased to $9 a year later. In the meantime, the Trunk brothers moved to 14 Maple Ave taking up residence with Ella and William Kahn. The Kahns may have been relatives of the Trunks.  Over the next two years, Israel and Wolf labored to establish a foothold in Danbury’s lucrative bottling market. Ultimately, the business folded probably because of competition and expensive overhead (At 5 cents a bottle the Trunks had to sell over 100 sodas a month just to pay the rent). It’s hard to believe but the Trunks sold everything related to their enterprise which according to Danbury Land Records included the following: two fountains, a crowning machine, all the remaining bottles, their wagon and their horse, Nellie to their roommate  Ella Kahn. Why Ella agreed to the purchase is unknown but in 1912 she reopened the soda works.  Ella kept the business breathing for about a year then she too threw in the towel. In 1913 Trunk Brothers’ Soda Works closed for good. In a seemingly unrelated piece of news that same year a small fire broke out at the Trunk/Kahn residents. No one was injured and there was little damage but shortly after the fire, Ella, William Kahn and Wolf Trunk moved to Michigan. The fate of Israel is unknown. The house at  5 Ellsworth Ave and the barn in the rear where the Trunks’ and Mrs. Kahn bottled their soda is long gone replaced by a modern townhouse. A final note of interest: Wolf or Israel represented himself as “William” Trunk at the soda works’ sale. The reason for the name change is unknown but interestingly, “William” is the first name of Mrs. Kahn’s husband.  Ultimately, history would have overlooked the Trunks if not for the finds we made one year. Of all the bottles connected to the Trunks’ firm we known of only three that survive today. The eagle (which looks a little like a vulture preached on a sprig) makes it one of the most desirable Danbury bottles.






One of the foremost saloon keepers in Danbury was Mr. Jean Hornig.  Jean supplied liquor and soda to the Danbury area for years and was only rivaled by liquor giant Michael MacPhelemy. Jean Hornig immigrated to the United States from Landau Bavaria, Germany in 1865. He moved to Danbury in 1871. Early in the 1870s, Jean started a bottling business. Jean didn’t work alone he was assisted by a friend, Valentine Lied, also a German immigrate, together they built an establishment that incorporated almost an entire block on Elm St.      Jean and Valentine sold a variety of beers, liquors, extract wines, sodas and bottled cider. In addition, Lied started his own saloon and bottling company.  Valentine and Jean may have also developed family ties- Lied married Anna Hornig a , relative of Jean possibly his sister’. Sources tell us,  Lied’s and Hornig’s holding expanded beyond Elm St. The partners also managed Cosmopolitan Hall, a large ballroom at Cosmopolitan Park that was located between Main St and Town Hill Ave.  Cosmopolitan Hall not only hosted dances but also large roller skating events.  Interestingly, Jean Hornig actually lived at Cosmopolitan Park.  Years later, Cosmopolitan Park evolved into Park Pl a street that exists today in Danbury. For the most part, Jean ran an honest business but there were times he had brushes with the law. In 1882 Jean’s business was raided. A complaint had been issued against Jean for storing and selling illegal liquor. In 1910 Jean was sued by Jacob Ruppert the famous brewer from New York and another bottler Christian Feiganspan. The suit alleged Ruppert and Feiganspan were cheated out of money stemming from a business deal concerning a saloon vacated be Valentine Lied, Jean  paid the two New York brewers $719 in compensation. In 1916 Jean suffered a personal misfortune when his brother Peter was struck and killed be an automobile. Finally in the 1930s twenty years into retirement, Jean died of a heart attack at home. Pictured above are two gorgeous yellow-amber Jean Hornig Weiss beers from the turn of the century they explode with color as light pours through them. We dug these handsome beers on September 20, 2016  from a dump we discovered over the weekend.  The one (left) is mint. The one to the right has delayed breakage in the “O” and the “R” in Hornig.





Jean Hornig didn’t  bottle just beer he was also in the soda business. An example is this rare 1880s Hutchinson with tombstone slug plate, the Hutchinson stopper is clearly visible at the bottom of the bottle.





One soda Hornig was famous for was his Quaker Root Beer. Treated more as a patent medicine than a soft drink, Quaker Root Beer was touted as being invigorating, healthy, pure and wholesome. Other businessmen, like T. H. Bard, made arrangements with the Hornig Company to sell the famous root beer. Bard not only sold Quaker Root Beer in bottles but also straight from the draught.  The bottle pictured is a typical Hornig Quaker Root Beer and probably dates to the 1890s or 1900s.


Jean Hornig as he looked ca 1890. He must have been quite a sight during his time with his wild muttonchops. (Photo courtesy Danbury Museum)

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Jean Hornig sold several kinds of beer the bottle pictured contained Weiss beer.  It dates to the 1880s. Hornig ran his liquor business for years and his saloon was a cornerstone on Elm St in Danbury. Hornig, who came from Germany, brought with him not only his keen business sense but also a bit of his culture: next to his saloon on Elm he built a beer garden which appears to have lasted years.









Martin Coughlin’s career as a pharmacist lasted 20 years but that didn’t stop him from abandoning the profession several times. The Danbury Evening News tells us that Martin was born in 1878 and he was a native of   Bridgeport, Ct. His parents Daniel and Katherine Coughlin immigrated from Ireland. According to the Evening News, “When [Martin was] a boy he entered the drug store of John A. Leverty and Brothers [of Bridgeport] as an apprentice druggist.”  The Evening News also reports”[That in] 1902 he got his pharmacy license. Mr. Coughlin came to Danbury and entered the employment of … Reed and Co” also known as the Pahquioque Pharmacy and worked under Charles Kerr. Eventually, Kerr would become   Danbury’s mayor. In 1904 Martin purchased the pharmacy of David E. David for $2500- $700, which he borrowed from “various persons.” Land Records suggest Martin probably had a silent partner, James E. Gallagher. The bottle above demonstrates Martin did not change the firm’s name after the 1904 purchase. In 1909 Martin sold the business to Joseph Culhane. Then after a “temporary absence” Martin purchased the Reed and Co Pharmacy.  The Evening News reports Martin operated that firm until 1914 then sold the business to Mahoney and Burns.  (Hatcitydiggers.com can find no record of this sale in Danbury Land Records.)  After the sale, Martin worked as a traveling salesman selling wholesale drugs and surgical supplies. In 1927 he again opened a drug firm this time at South St and Town Hill Ave (The building may stand today.) A year later he sold the firm and took a job as an investment broker for Hincks Bros out of Bridgeport Martin worked at the Danbury branch. In 1932 Martin Coughlin died from a heart attack at home- he had suffered from coronary thrombosis for years.  He was 53.       Martin Coughlin is buried at St Peter’s Cemetery in Danbury.






The story of the Danbury Creamery is quite complex. With many players and records incomplete  hatycitydiggers.com can not completely guarantee the accuracy of this story. However, this much is certain: the firm wasn’t the first dairy at the 17 and 19 Foster St location and Herman A. W. Schneyer owner of the creamery never owned the land at this address. We can, however, say with certainty before Schneyer opened his business on Foster St  the site was occupied by  The Danbury Milk Sterilizing Company (bottle pictured). Possible Danbury’s first modern dairy operation.  The Danbury Milk Sterilizing Company was owned by  Lucius H. Boughton and Herbert N. Judd. Boughton and Judd appear to be the pair who coined the name Danbury Creamery as the bottle above demonstrates.  Boughton and Judd initially called their firm Danbury Milk Sterilizing Company but at some point, they added Danbury Creamery to the name and the firm became Danbury Creamery and Milk Sterilizing Company. In 1918 according to the Brewster Standard Boughton and Judd retired and Schneyyer bought the firm.   Research suggests Schneyer owned the firm, Haviland Dairy, which he appears to have purchased from Dairyman E. T Haviland in 1917.   In 1918 Schneyer’s firm became known as Danbury Creamery and Haviland Dairy.  Through the 1920s  The firm processed milk at its Foster St plant eventually shipping it around Danbury and neighboring towns in milk wagons drawn by horses.  Danbury Creamery milks show up frequently in dumps   Finding these milks everywhere is a tribute to the success of the company and drive of its owner Herman A. W. Schneyer. Herman Schneyer was born in Germany in 1872. In 1897 he married  Anna Schulze. Records suggest they had one child. Even though Danbury Creamery was one of the most successful businesses in town, Schneyer (an extremely wealthy man- his Bethel home was worth $20,000 in 1930.)  never owned the land at the dairy’s Foster St location. He leased the property at 17 and 19 Foster St for years from Florence D. Grouse.  The property came equipped with everything a dairy needed.   It consisted of a large building with an office and refrigerator room for storing the milk, two sheds and a barn for the horses. Later Danbury Creamery used milk trucks for delivery. Records indicate, in addition to milk the Danbury Creamery made its own ice cream. The creamery sold a variety  of other products as well from “fresh” cottage cheese and baby milk to heavy cream and butter (their butter was 70¢ a pound in 1919.) In 1919 the annual capital was $10,000 and the rent on the property was $25 a month.




Based on evidence from later Creamery bottles Schneyer changed the name of his creamery in the 1930s when he incorporated. The wrap-around milk pictured reads Danbury Creamery Inc. Scheryner business continued into the depression and in order to stay competitive Schneyer adopted a trend that may have been common in the milk industry at the time that is the use of ultraviolet light to irradiate milk. The process supposedly enhanced the vitamin D content in the milk.  Herman Schneyer ever the “pioneer” in Danbury’s milk industry used the gimmick and advertised in the Danbury NewsTimes touting the process. “Danbury Creamery has arranged with the Mitchell Dairy Company, the ad reads “for delivery of the laboratory-controlled milk fresh each day for the small cost of one cent more.” A few years after incorporating the firm went out of business Danbury City Directories tell us the creamery closed during the depression. Danbury City Directories for the mid-1930s list the property as “vacant.” Why the firm closed is still a mystery. Schneyer may have died or gone bankrupt or possibly retired Records are incomplete.

Block letters, wrap-around embossing, this morphology is indicative of later creamery milk bottles.






Christian H. Stone and Bernard  S. Taylor opened their saloon at 92 Balmforth Ave in 1893. For most of his life, Christian worked as a hatter.  Bernard fancied himself a musician.  The business at 92 Balmforth Ave likely catered to the countless hatters and workers from the T. C. Millard Hat Fur Factory or workers and  The Rogers Silver Plate Company that were across the way on Rowen St.      Stone and Taylor leased the property, a wood-framed building with a shed, from Frank W. Hodge. For nearly a decade the men operated the saloon. Finally, in 1901, the enterprise closed and the pair dissolved their partnership. Interestingly, besides selling beer and liquor, the patrons may have gambled ( an illegal pastime in Danbury)  According to land records, dice and dice boxes were some of the items sold when the team closed their business after its 8-year run.





Lou Capellaro knows the history of Danbury’s  Aunt Hack Ridge Estates and Richter Park Golf Course better than anyone. “[I] lived on the 8th hole growing up made money in the summer selling golfers golf balls hit in my backyard.”  We drive through Aunt Hack one fall morning the neighborhood is quiet and no one takes notice of Lou Capellaro’s white Grand Cherokee as he pulls to the curb to let cars pass. Lou takes his time soaking in the memories, describing the homes and who lives in them. “All the people here were doctors, lawyers or owners of businesses,” he says. “This one here is still owned by Feinson of Feinson’s Men’s Store on the corner of White. That’s Addessi of Addessi Jewelers they were on Main St, and this was my house growing up.” Lou continues his drive through the maze of streets in the Aunt Hack neighborhood heading to the centerpiece of the neighborhood the Richter Park Golf Course. I ask Lou a question that has nagged me for years: “Why is [the community] called Aunt Hack?” Lou’s anticipated the question. “I knew you were going to ask that,” he says.  Lou goes into a prolonged explanation.  “It’s legend but it’s based on some facts… so as far as the history or legend goes where the name Aunt Hack came from…  there’s a farmhouse on the old maps of Danbury,  and it says E, and period, Hack [on the map] and according to my mother… the woman that lived there, [her name was Hack and] it was the only house in the area, so they called her the aunt of Hack.”  Lou’s family weren’t only residents of Aunt Hack he says his family also helped develop the estates starting in 1958. However, Lou’s family weren’t the first to develop the land.    “On Joe’s Hill Rd there was a family called Swanson,” Lou tells me, “Leroy Swanson… was the original owner.  George Roth… and E Paul Kovacs … bought some of the land from Swanson in 1955  Swanson, he owned a tree farm, [then] my uncle in 1958 bought 200 acres for 200,000… He laid out all the street for all the land.” A new home in Aunt Hack cost about $30,000 in the late 1950s Lou tells me. Lou says. the development of Aunt Hack was done in stages and took over 30 years.  Lou and I enter Richter Park the greens of the par 72 golf course are immaculate. Development of the land changed the area. Years before Aunt Hack Estates or Richter Golf Course there was Stanley Richter’s West Lake Farm. Nowadays there are sand traps, fairways and putting greens. 80 years ago, however, it was pasture, fields and meadows.  Lou Capellaro remembers the farm and pasture land but if you want to know about West Lake Farm or Richter Park, for that matter, you have to speak with Thomas Soderstrom,  Soderstrom is the Assistant Superintendent at Richter Park Golf Course. “I’ve worked at Richter for 40 years, I worked with Mrs. Richter’s caretaker,  I know a lot of history,” says Soderstrom. I learn Stanley Richter was Assistant States Attorney General and was quite wealthy. According to Soderstrom “[The Richters] had a farmer who did all the work and a caretaker, cook, chauffeur, four maids, groom for horses and dogs,” he adds, “They most certainly didn’t do much on the farm they spent the summers there.” The Richter’s had a home in New York City   Stanley Richter bought the property in 1937 it consisted of a caretaker’s house, farmhouse, barns and other outbuildings.  The Richter’s raised cows, horses, chickens and terrier dogs. About the time he purchased the property Stanley Richter began bottling milk.   Soderstrom says the Richter’s “had a full dairy”. Why Richter, a wealthy man farmed and bottled milk is not known but Soderstrom has his own opinion “To me, it’s like the white-collar guy who goes out and buys a chainsaw and cuts down one little sapling to make himself feel like a man. I had a tree business and saw it all the time.”   the development of Aunt Hack Ridge Estates by Lou’s family never had an impact on the Richter property,  however, about the time developers broke ground for the first Aunt Hack homes, Stanley Richter lost a close friend. Squire was a special horse to Richter. Soderstrom says  Squire was a large draft horse “Mr Richter always rode [him] down the middle of Aunt Hack Rd at the time a dirt road.” Soderstrom adds “Mr Richter had polio as a child… and it bothered him and made him feel less of a man because he couldn’t walk good well that’s why he rode [Squire].  When Squire died Stanley immortalized the horse by burying him on the property. Soderstrom says Squire “was buried right in the parking lot where our lower maintenance building is. No bones were found, the stone was in weeds about 8 inches tall. We found it by accident, saved it for history reasons.”  The marker reads “Here lies Squire a noble steed 1934- 1955. You can find the grave today next to the maintenance building on the park property

The Stanley Richter farmhouse (above) is the site of Richter arts events.

In 1968 Stanley Richter died and the fate of West Lake Farm was unknown.   However, Lou Capellaro believes the Richter land always interested developers. “I can only speculate. The Richters were not in favor of development I was  very young only thing I remember was my mother, who was a member  of Aunt Hack Ridge Estate Inc, telling me she had written letters to the Richters on my uncle Louie’s behalf but the Richters weren’t interested.” Members of Danbury’s Golf League were, however. The golf league needed a viable piece of property to build a golf course for years. According to the Richter Golf Course Master Plan of 2008  caddies from Ridgewood envisioned in 1940 a golf course for Danbury’s working class.   After Stanley Richter’s death in 1968 they got there wish Martin E Goos, Danbury Conservation Commissioner convinced Stanley’s wife, Irene, to sell the property to the city to develop the golf course. Richter park opened for business in 1972. According to Thomas Soderstrom, this made Mrs. Richter  very happy “She didn’t want it to be homes, she wanted the arts to be involved that’s why we have musicals at Richter and Richter arts.” Today Richter gets rave reviews. Steven Frankel golfed  Richter over 100 times and considers the course first-rate “… it’s one of my favorite places to play says Frankel, “The greens are fantastic. It is consistently rated as one of the top courses to play in Connecticut.”    Through the years the Richter golf course has dealt with challenges According to the Richter “Master Plan” the course has had to deal with “competition from more recently build golf courses and financial pressures.  “We will always have some financial pressure because we are not a country club with memberships,” says Soderstrom. Soderstorm sees better days ahead for Richter. “We are doing much better these days people love the layout of the golf course… it’s very challenging.”  Soderstrom says Richter is up for all the challenges ” We are installing a driving range … that will generate much more income also Mayor Mark Boughton helps where he can Richter is heading in the right direction for the future.” In 2016 the city approved a cell tower for the property to date there still is no tower.  Development of land surrounding the Richter Park and Aunt Hack neighborhood slowed to a trickle today Lou Capellaro explains why “It’s not very good (the land) it’s probably going to remain undeveloped because of either access to it or [because it’s] wetlands. Although the development of Aunt Hack still attracts the wealthy to its neighborhoods. The community, like Richter Park, is changing  Lou explains “The original families were all “‘ self-made “‘ today a few original families remain or the homes have been handed down to the next generation but the majority are new families many from New York or families from Danbury who upgraded to larger homes.” Lou says many of these newer  “residents… commute to Westchester county” and don’t work in Danbury.  Although Richter and Aunt Hack have changed over the past 50 years since Stanley Richter’s death to people like Maria Johnson who grew up in the area, it will always be seen through the eyes of a younger person now older.  The 1960s… It was a great area in which to grow up. We could ride our bikes up to Middle River Road no traffic back then it was a close-knit community we were lucky to spend our childhood there.” Lou Cappelaro agrees. “Our tour together Saturday brought all the good memories back,” Lou says speaking on Facebook Messenger, “sometimes  it feels… so very long ago… other times it feels like it was just yesterday.” Lou concludes our conversation by saying “Richter was a big part of my life from 1972 to 1976 before that Aunt Hack Swim Club was important…  since speaking with Lou, this writer has taken a drive through the neighborhood it’s business as usual at Richter as Golfers tee off.   Except for road improvements that the city doing in Aunt Hack, the community is quiet, the homes neat the lawns manicured.  Driving back to Middle River Rd I pass Richter Golf Course again this time I can almost see Stanley Richter astride Squire as the horse canters up Aunt Hack Rd toward the Richter farmhouse.





Light Rock Spring is a Danbury survivor.  Today the firm is over 100 years old.  Thomas.W. Bartley was the companies original owner but when  Bartley died of a stomach ailment at his Balmforth Ave home, the business fell into the hands of Alice Bartley. For a short time, Alice  (Thomas Bartley’s wife) ran the business- she even had bottles produced with the embossing “Mrs T W Bartley.” A few years after Thomas’ death, Alice sold the firm to   Thomas Antous an Arab American who had ties to the Danbury community. The year was 1918. Since, Light Rock has persevered while pretty much flying under the radar in Danbury. Today Light Rock does virtually no advertising and maintains no website, regardless,  the business thrives. Hidden between Holley Ln and Balmforth Ave you would never know it was a bottling works – The business doesn’t even carry a sign on the building.  A hundred-plus years ago the business thrived also but to a greater extent in the public eye. During his time Thomas.W. Bartley advertised heavily in Danbury.  In fact, Thomas Bartley tapped the well on the property. Today the Antouses still use that well in the bottling process.

Initially attempts by hatcitydiggers.com to reach Light Rock Spring for comment were unsuccessful. However, we  did eventually contacted the owners  after church one Sunday and they agreed to a short interview.  The Antous told us they bottled about a million bottles of soda last year. Most of the soda is bottled for the Jewish communities in New York. On any day but Sunday, the business is abuzz with activity. Hat City Diggers visited the property one morning.   We witnessed a business alive with activity:  forklifts moved in and out of the warehouse, stock workers loading-trucks, etc. Light Rock owns a few tractor trails which they sometimes park because of lack of space  across the street. “You ever try and load a truck on Holley Ln. It’s horse and buggy width. More power to them.” a source said.   Pictured a rare green variant of a typical Light Rock bottle from the late 1930s.




Two early Antous sodas. Both date to the 1920s.





Evidence suggests when Thomas W. Bartley died at home, the bottler left behind a business without an owner until Mrs. Bartley stepped in to fill his shoes. Very little is known about Alice and census records disagree on her place of birth.    It was either Connecticut or New York.  We know she was born in 1889 and that her parents emigrated from Ireland. During her time married to Thomas Bartley she worked at his bottling firm as its bookkeeper. After Thomas’s death. Alice attempted to keep the business running   Alice Bartley began bottling what was likely soda in what is now an extremely rare Danbury bottle.  Embossed Mrs. T. W. Bartley the bottle pictured dates to 1916 or 1917. Today Alice’s venture is so obscure there appears to be no record of it. In fact, the operation likely would have been lost if not for the discovery of the bottle above. Nevertheless, without documentation, we still can only speculate about a business that was operational for a very short time. Records do tell us Alice sold Thomas Bartley’s Light Rock Spring company to Thomas Antous in 1918-1919. Finally,   1930 census records inform us Alice left Danbury for New Haven. Alice remarried and in 1961 she died. The Bartley’s had two children.








When Hat City Diggers unearthed a George Rundle milk we were more than thrilled. Rundle was a man of means: mayor of Danbury, president of The Danbury National Bank, Director of the famous Danbury Fair, a leading citizen of Danbury and now long a lost milk dealer.  In truth, there were two George Rundles living in Danbury at the time one an important, well-connected man about town, the other- the one the 120-year-old milk bottle belonged to- a simple peddler. This is his story.


George Rundle the milk peddler was not a maker and shaker like the famous mayor there is no extensive paper trail to follow. But George the peddler left behind a few clues- enough to piece  together a life. George was born in Southeast, N.Y. his father was Nathan his mother Martha. George lived in Southeast until he married. In 1894 he and his bride, Elide moved to Danbury. Shortly after coming to the Hat City, George started peddling milk. Danbury City Directories tell us during these early days in Danbury George lived on Pleasant St. A drive through the area today reveals a population of mostly Latin immigrants but the homes suggest the neighborhood was a mix of classes we found George’s home at the uppermost part of the street over the years additions have been added but in his time it probably was a small humble single-family home. George more than likely rose early and started work likely milking his one cow then maybe using a horse and cart or maybe going by foot he’d travel the Hat City neighborhoods selling his milk door to door.


In time his small business grew. Although it was a modest enterprise, George saved enough money to buy land for a milk depot in 1904. By chance, the business was located on George St.   George. Mortimer Rundle also owned land his acreage was on upper Franklin St. There he bred fine trotting horses. years later the Ridgewood Stock Farm as it was call was sold. Today we know it as the exclusive Ridgewood Country Club. George Mortimer Rundle was also a man of business he was an industrialist and leader involved in Danbury’s lucrative hatting industry and his life in business spanned three- quarters of a century George the milk peddler ran his modest business close to 20 years in Danbury. In that time George’s firm was eclipsed by other firms such as Danbury Creamery but his little business marched on until his retirement.


George had been ailing for years after retiring from milk dealing then one day after being confined to his home for a short time because of illness he died in the early morning hours of October 3, 1928, he was 76 years old. George. Mortimer Rundle the mayor, banker, the hatter Director of the Danbury Fair also died in October. Not on the same date but 28 years later. He was 95. The milk above dates to the 1890s about the time George started his business. Hat City Diggers believe it is blown in a mold and quite rare.  So far Hat City Diggers can find no link in ancestry between the two Rundles. The search continues.






When Danbury milk dealer Enoch Wood died he left a married woman $5000 and forgave her debts and no one knew why until now. Enoch was born in Patterson, N.Y. on a warm July 4th day in 1872. The Woods, however, left Patterson and Enoch lived his early life on Sunset Hill in Bethel, Ct. Unfortunately, information about most of Enoch’s life is unknown. However, evidence suggests Enoch not only made a living as a dairyman but also as a real estate investor.   Enoch owned a number of properties in the Danbury area. It appears Enoch collected rent on these properties and amassed a small fortune. As a result,  when Enoch died his net worth was at least $37000 that’s over $600,000 in today’s money. However,  not all his wealth went to his brothers, Fred and Floyd, when he died part of his fortune passed to Josephine Lechner a married woman from Danbury.  Enoch’s generosity didn’t end there, in addition, to the monetary gift, Enoch canceled the note on Josephine’s house and  forgave  debts her sons Albert and Kenneth owed him.

Interestingly Josephine’s husband Joe was not a recipient of Enoch’s generosity   So why was Enoch so generous to the Lechner family. Evidence suggests Enoch was a lifelong bachelor. hatcitydiggers.com found no evidence he was ever married. But a check of Joe Lechner’s death records filled in the blanks regarding Enoch and Josephine’s puzzling relationship. Records tell us Josephine was not married at the time of Enoch’s death as Danbury City Directories implied- she was divorced. In fact, death records tell us why. Joe Lechner had syphilis. Ultimately the disease took his life.       Hatcitydiggers.com  has no evidence Josephine knew about Joe’s illness but it is probable she did and she may have contracted the illness from him. Consequently, what lead to the divorce may have been a combination of Joe’s illness and his extramarital affiars.   Ultimately  clues  extrapolate this much about   Enoch and Josephine’s relationship. It was likely a close one, possibly a romantic one however,  if Josephine was infected with syphilis ( there was no cure for the illness at the time) She and Enoch may have only had a close emotional relationship that lasted for years. Needless to say,  this is all open to speculation.        The E. K. Wood milk above is mint and may date to the 1910s the height of Enoch’s dairy enterprise.





Through the years Hat City Diggers have unearthed dozens of milk bottles, however, few have been rare. So when we saw this Danbury milk for sale on eBay we had to have it. The bottle is mint, unfortunately, it has generated no leads covering the firm, its location* or its owner. While we had a slam dunk with the mysterious Pure Milk and Cream Co. Elm Ridge Farm remains a puzzle with most of the pieces missing except for this great one-pint milk (above).

*Three members of Hat City Diggers were born in Danbury and have lived there most of their lives and they have never heard of an area or street called Elm Ridge. The search continues.













Today the name Harry Dick raises eyebrows, however, 60 plus years ago the name was synonymous with furniture yet Dick wasn’t always a furniture dealer, in fact, as the bottle above demonstrates, Harry ran a long-forgotten liquor business and saloon.  Now over a hundred years later Hat City Diggers is uncovering the evidence of Harry’s foray into the trade. A trade he left just in the nick of time.  Harry was born in Austria in 1880. In 1889 he moved to Danbury.  As a young man, Harry was restless. He left Danbury moving several times in the 1890s, first to St Louis, then to Hoboken, N.J.  Finally, in 1902 he returned to Danbury and started a furniture business. However, five years later he left the furniture business and opened a wholesale and retail liquor firm at 71 White St. Harry ran his bottling business for about a decade . In 1912 Harry almost lost his firm when a fire broke out in the building one night. However, quick work by the fire department saved the establishment. Accounts suggest Harry was a model businessman during his tenure as saloon keeper  and according to   least one report he ran a respectable establishment. Therefore in the spring of 1912 when a rowdy Irish patron Thomas McCauley ran a muck in Harry’s saloon he put the man out. Irate McCauley hurled a large stone through Harry’s side window. McCauley was arrested and sentenced to jail.    In 1914 Harry moved his business to 76- 78 White St and on April 3 at 7:00 pm Harry had the formal opening of his new stores. Music by Bretz Orchestra made it a festive evening.   Whether Harry knew prohibition was coming is debatable but in 1917 Harry left the liquor trade just in the nick of time. By 1920 saloons had closed across the land putting scores of people out of work and saloons  out of business.  Harry toyed around with a taxi service then in the 1920s  Harry picked up where he had left off over a decade earlier and started the business he’d become famous for- The New England Furniture Company.  Through the years, Harry Dick’s reputation grew. He even had a building named after him: The Harry Dick Building still stands today in Danbury’s Wooster Square. In 1959 Harry Dick died in his sleep at his home on Deer Hill Ave. He was 79. A note of interest: Harry was related to Henry Dick of Henry Dick and Son’s furniture- a fixture on Main St for years.  The Harry Dick above is attic mint with the bale and stopper still in place.






Harry not only bottled beer but also soda.  A heavily stained Harry Dick & Co crown top  (above) taken from a dump in New Milford, Ct. This bottle is ca 1910s. There is no address embossed on this bottle but it probably came from Harry’s new stores at 76-78 White St.




(Above)  A rare Harry Dick flask dug from a large dump in Danbury. Note that the consumer would receive 2¢ for returning the bottle evidence the flask was worth almost as much to Harry as the liquor it  held.





When liquor dealer and saloon keeper Frank Rotello opened his roadhouse on the outskirts of Danbury, he never thought accusations by a remonstrance prosecutor would drive him out of the Hat City to say nothing of an evening at an unrelated roadhouse that would land him in the hospital for days.


Frank opened the Haines’ Pond Roadhouse when he bought the Pond View enterprise in 1906. Frank’s establishment was located along the Brewster Danbury Rd. (now Rt 6) near the village of South East, N.Y. Today Haines’ Pound is just as isolated as it was over 100 years ago. Not easily accessible- there isn’t any parking to speak of- and the road that leads to the remains of one of the pond’s two roadhouses is overtaken by nature making it more or less an overgrown footpath. It’s hard to believe a busy trade in liquor and other vices occurred in this now serene place. Rotello’s roadhouse is gone and its exact location is unknown. An exploration of the area by Hat City Diggers found no sign of the business featured so prominently in a Danbury Evening News story for February 26, 1910.  About the same time Frank opened his business on the Danbury/ New York border,  he leased a saloon at 98 White St from the bottlers William Bartley and William Clancy of Danbury.    The lease agreement stipulated Rotello would sell only Bartley & Clancy products. Nevertheless, as the bottle pictured above demonstrates, Frank sold beer under his own name. He also likely promoted his beer at his roadhouse. In any case, Rotello’s saloon was one of at least 40 in Danbury. These businesses were concentrated in an area of  White St, Main St, Elm St and Ives St. Eventually Frank’s other business came under fire when a clean-up movement beset Danbury   Frank’s troubles reached beyond moral panic in early 1900s Danbury. A 1908 Danbury Evening News story reported an incident that sent Frank to the hospital which more than likely didn’t help his reputation in a city weary of liquor and vice.


The facts about Frank’s assault are shrouded in mystery. According to the Danbury Evening News, the incident occurred at Nellie Sheehan’s roadhouse located on the outskirts of town near Lake Kenosia, a popular location for vaudeville shows. Frank took a severe beaten during the assault and he spent several days in Danbury hospital. According to the Evening News, he never filed a police report and the police never investigated the incident.      News of the assault spread quickly in small-town Danbury and rumor was the beating occurred because of a woman but nothing could be confirmed. The Evening News contacted an employee (possibly Nellie) at Sheehan’s who gave this statement: “I hear that the man got struck by a freight train out in Mill Plain.” Rotello recovered.



During the early years of the 20th century, Danbury had developed a reputation as a hard-drinking, indecent and salacious town. According to one report from the Bridgeport Herald the, “fast houses were running full blast… as they have been for a year past in Elm St and Ives St.” One hotel was especially detested. A report told of race mixing and orgies at the establishment. The vice, however, wasn’t limited to just “fast houses.” Stories of Danbury’s “Pajama girls”, as they were called, reached as far as the Bridgeport papers. According to one reporter, the girls, who worked for a manicurist, called Kit Williams paraded around the shop on White St in nothing but “nice fitting silk Pajamas.” More than likely these antics upset a number of citizens who called for the City to clean up its act.  By 1910 Frank Rotello found himself a target of the movement when he  reapplied for a liquor license. During the remonstrance hearings at the Danbury Court House Frank’s businesses and character came under fire. Deputy Sheriff Charles Scheuber of Brewster told a tale of illicit behavior at Frank’s roadhouse. When the sheriff raided the establishment he found two girls ages  15 drinking alcohol on the premises. They were remanded to the industrial school in Middletown, N.Y. and Frank’s brother Felix was arrested. Frank was not on the premises. The court took this incident into evidence.


There was no shortage of roadhouses in the Danbury area in the early 1900s. And at one time or another, Women ran them all.  Interestingly Frank Rotello dealt with at least two of these barmaids as papers called them. Papers reported about Frank’s interaction with Nellie Sheehan but when he sold his business to Mae Ives it didn’t go unnoticed by the remonstrance prosecutors.  Conjuring images of “Kate” the infamous madam, saloon keeper and mother of Cal and Aaron in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Mae had developed a  “notorious” reputation fostered by the Danbury and Brewster papers. Ultimately the court denied Frank’s liquor license likely because of his association with Mae Ives and other  incriminating evidence.     Finally, six years after Frank sold his roadhouse to Mae Ives she made headlines in the Brewster Standard. In 1916 and 1918 authorities raided the Haines’ pond roadhouses’ of Mae Ives and Esther Stafford for violating the excise laws and operating  brothels. In the Bewster Standard story of  December 22 1918 it’s reported both women made bail.  However, The Danbury Evening News reported that only Mae and her contingent made bail. According to The Evening News Mae produced a large wad of cash and sprung herself, her husband, (George Ashmore) and her girls. In 1924 the Standard reported on Mae’s death stating in short  that the “world-famous barmaid… fell dead on a street in  Bridgeport, Conn.” Esther Stafford’s  “Palace” Known also as the Putnam Rod and Gun Club burned in 1920. The ruins stand today at the north end of the pond. As for Frank? The Danbury City Directory for 1911 states that Frank Rotello moved from Danbury to Pittsfield, Mass. However, that may not be the end of Frank’s story. Several months after this story was published in hatcitydiggers.com. This author posted the story on the Danbury, Ct Facebook group page. After posting, a gentleman came forward with an incredible tale. According to Gabriel Rotello who may be a distant relative of Frank, Family legend has it that the Mafia murdered Frank Rotello in 1923. So far this story cannot be verified. Finally, today nothing remains of the Ives/Rotello roadhouse. The Rotello bottle pictured is uncommon to Danbury dumps and Hat City Diggers only found one to date.   More than likely this blob came from Rotello’s saloon.

Esther Stafford’s “cobblestone” roadhouse (brothel)  the “Palace” on the north side of the pond is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Haines’ Pond in early fall. The Stafford roadhouse (brothel) the “Palace” is located near the pond’s north shore. Rotello’s and Ives’ establishment was situated near the railroad tracks that course passed the pond.








On the night of February 18, 1926, Joseph Fernand left work at his confectionery shop and began the walk home to 7 Down St where he lived with his wife Margart.  It was raining and fog had settled in around Danbury.  Joseph entered the crosswalk at the intersection of Main and North Streets. Slushy snow covered the road. Halfway across Main St a dark mass seemingly out of nowhere came into view  a man yelled, “Why the hell don’t you get out of the road!” Then Joseph was on the ground. Pain shot through his body as a heavy weight rolled across his legs. In a few seconds, the weight was gown but returned crushing Joseph again… then it was over.  Joseph was well known in Danbury his legacy included ownership of Danbury’s famous Turner House and a liquor bottling business but his venture in Turner house ended in bankruptcy so in his later years he worked as a clerk then as a candy maker he was now 63 years old had had a stroke a few years ago and he was diabetic and he had just been run over by a speeding automobile.


  What we’ve learned about Joseph’s time before Turner House comes from death records Danbury City Directories and census records Joseph was born in 1862 or 1863 in Londonderry in what is now Northern Ireland.  His father was Charles Fernand, his mother Margaret McCloakey. Joseph emigrated to the United States and by 1891 Joseph was living and working in Danbury. Danbury City Directories lists Joseph’s occupation as a bartender.


By 1897 Joseph went from tending a bar to running a hotel. Land records show Joseph leased the Hotel Pahehoque for $600 a year. A few years later Joseph made a sizable purchase when he acquired Danbury’s famous Turner House at the corner of Main and State Streets for $10,000 Turner House was a Danbury landmark for years. According to We Crown Them All by William Devlin  “In 1850 Aaron Turner built the Turner House in the center of the village of Danbury next to the courthouse. For several decades the hotel and the area behind it served as winter quarters for the successful circus of Turner’s son-in-law, George F. Bailey.”  Through the years, Turner House not only provided lodging but also catered banquets and suppers, parties and dances. It had one of the largest dining rooms in Danbury- seating 250 guests at a time.


Whether Joseph knew Turner House was a risky investment is not known.  Also heavily invested in Turner House were several Danbury businessmen and the New York brewer Jacob Ruppert. It is unknown why Joseph was unable to pay his bills but by 1913 he defaulted on his loan and he was unable to pay his taxes. So as the city of Danbury,  Jacob Ruppert and a number of Danburians including the Gallegher brothers brought liens against the property Joseph was forced to declare bankruptcy.


Eventually, those with a stake in Turner House sold the hotel to Knights of  Columbus and by 1915 Joseph Fernand had taken a job as a clerk. In time Joseph would open a candy story But by the 1920s Joseph had developed health problems.  He was impacted not only by a stroke but also by diabetes. After closing his shop one night, Joseph began the short walk to his house at 7 Down St.  Several blocks away Joseph Zaleta, a 20-year-old Polish immigrant neared the intersection of Main and Franklin Street. As Zaleta crossed the railroad tracks, his car slammed into a rut. The shock caused Zaleta’s headlight to go out. Inexplicably Zaleta continued down Main St in almost total darkness, rain and fog. Joseph Fernand was in the middle of the crosswalk when he saw Zaleta’s car. Joseph heard Zaleta yell but he could not move in time. Zaleta struck Joseph he fell and Zaleta ran over his legs breaking both of them. The 20-year-old man stopped then backed over Fernand injuring him again. Then Zaleta drove away eventually stopping on Patch St to fix his lights. In the meantime, witnesses helped the injured Fernand and called the police. Police arrested Zaleta  three days later. On April 13th, just after his 64th birthday, Joseph Fernand died. He held on to life for sixty days.


The court set Zaleta’s bail at $10,000. Unable to pay, Zaleta sat in Danbury jail for months. On May, 8th  the court arraigned Zaleta. Ultimately he was found guilty of, “willful misconduct in his operation of [his] automobile.” He was sentenced to six months in jail.  William H, Comley, States Attorney “characterized [Zaleta] as no more fit to drive an automobile, nor to assume such responsibilities than a child.” Zaleta’s public defender stated the 20-year-old Zaleta who could not read nor write English should have never been behind the wheel. The whiskey (above) dates to the early 1900s. Land records indicate Joseph updated or added a saloon to Turner House in 1905. He purchased from Jacob Ruppert Company of New York a beer cooler, bottle case, back bar and front bar.  The J.J. Fernand whiskey pictured more than likely came from the Turner House Saloon. Note the bottle states   “union made.”


This rare fragment of a bottle is all there is to represent the drug firm of  George Bouteiller.  George started his firm about  1901 when he bought Major Austin’s pharmacy at 417 Main St in the Jennings Block for $3500 and other valuable considerations.  It’s possible Major sold the firm to Bouteiller after a fire damaged it. At any rate, shortly after purchasing Austin’s pharmacy, George added an associate to the business, N. W. McLean. As part of the sales arrangement with Major Austin, George purchased liquors, drugs and medicines.  Ultimately, George needed to restock everything from ice for the soda fountain to patent medicines and pills for the cabinets. Merchandise and sundries routinely came to the store in boxes. So it was no surprise when in 1906 George received a box in the mail loaded with pharmacy goods. Whether he knew it or not this simple box of goods would land George in court in a David vs Goliath battle.


George received the goods from the Puritan Company a firm located somewhere out west. Sources reveal, George hadn’t ordered the goods and “declined to receive the consignment…” The Puritan firm claimed  George signed a contract with them and Puritan took legal action to recover $200 in damages.  George fought back claiming there was no contract “not even an order…” The Judge agreed and threw the case out of court. The Puritan Company which filed a similar legal action with other firms said that they would appeal. George Bouteiller had his day in court and won but Georges’ days as a druggist in Danbury were numbered.


Although George won his court case his time as a Danbury druggist was coming to an end. According to records, by the 1910s, George was working as a simple drug clerk possibly in the same building his firm once occupied.  Although records are sketchy, George may have lost his position because he could not pass the pharmacy exam. Until we uncover more facts the reason George closed his business will remain a mystery. By the middle of the 1910s, George is no longer listed in the city directors and a check of death records by hatcitydiggers.com turned up nothing. George Bouteiller entered Danbury in 1900 from parts unknown then disappeared 15 years later. For now, the only physical evidence we have of Georges’ time in Danbury is the fragment of bottle pictured above. And with information on George limited we ultimately end with just a fragment of truth.




When druggist and progressive candidate David. F. Stevens died during Danbury’s Mayoral election, Danbury Democrats lost their best chance of winning the election, and the city lost a man of the highest moral and personal integrity. David Franklin Stevens was born at home in Danbury on February 12, 1875. He attended Balmforth Ave School and went to Danbury High School which was located on New St at the time.   He excelled in athletics becoming a member of the football team. As a young man, David apprenticed at F.S. Stevens’ pharmacy.  In 1896 David married Mabel Nichols of New York City.  They would have one child, Sylvester


Eventually, David became the manager of Mr. Stevens’ firm. By then he was 6′ 2½ ” tall and weighed in at over 200 pounds. When Mr. Stevens died   David bought the firm at 397 Main St. Ultimately the stand would become one of the most successful businesses in the city.  Much of the store’s success was owed to David’s friendly nature and his unceasing work ethic. It also helped to have some of the best ice creams in town.  According H. George Lepper recalling in his 1974 oral history of D. F. Stevens’  firm. Stevens would rise early, bring large blocks of ice from the ice-house situated in the rear of the pharmacy and place them in a room attached to the firm. Stevens would chop the ice add the ingredients to the ice cream slurry and proceed to make the ice cream which came in only two flavors chocolate and vanilla. Stevens had an array of syrups to top the rich ice cream with. One of his best according to Lepper was syrup he made from wild black caps. Beyond epicurean delights, David stocked his store with the leading patent medicines, pills, liquors, fine cigars and more. Although Stevens enjoyed work in the private sector, he felt the call of civic duty and became Superintendent of Water Works. A job he worked at unceasingly. Stevens civic call extended beyond this appointment, however. The next job he had his eyes on more than likely would pull him away from his beloved pharmacy for years. But if all went well David F. Stevens would be Danbury’s next mayor.


On February 26 the Danbury Democratic party nominated D.F. Stevens to become the Democratic/Progressive candidate for Mayor of Danbury. Five days later at Democratic headquarters, Danbury Democrats  and Progressives formed the Mayor’s Club  to, according to the Danbury News,“advance the candidacy of D. F. Stevens.”  Without delay, Danbury’s women voters followed suit.  D.F. was challenging incumbent Republic Mayor A. Homer Fillow who was seeking a second term. Democrats were on track to beat Fillow when voters went to the polls in three months. However,  a few days after the formation of the Mayor’s clubs, without warning,  David  “experienced,” what the Danbury Evening News described as “some slight attacks of distress late in the afternoon.” Then “on Sunday his condition became serious and shortly after noon he passed into a state of coma…” The Family doctor tried to help and a specialist was “summoned from New Haven.” Both doctors agreed. The diagnosis was a cerebral hemorrhage. D.F Stevens died that day less than twenty-four hours after he had become ill. The city of Danbury was shocked. How could a man so healthy one minute die the next? That Sunday speaking to the Danbury Evening News the “officers of the Democratic and Progressive [parties] said ‘”The question of selecting a new candidate would not be considered until after the funeral.”‘


Three months later A. Homer Fillow was unanimously re-elected. However, Fillow’s second term would be his last and Danburians voted him out of office in 1931. Fillow, a life long Republican, died eight years later. Finally, when David F. Stevens became ill and died he was home at 397 Main St. His drug store was only a few steps away. Ironically he died in the same home he was born in years earlier in 1875. The D.F. Stevens pharmacy (above) is blown in a mold and dates to the early 1900s.






More than likely Joseph Culhane knew something was terribly wrong when he went to Danbury Hospital. He had been a pharmacist for years and his twin brother was a respected doctor. They had both treated and advised people about all kinds of complaints. But the severe pain Joseph was having in his right side was more than just a complaint it had all the earmarks for one thing- a ruptured appendix. Joseph needed emergency surgery. But had he made it to Danbury Hospital in time.



Joseph was not native to Danbury he was born and schooled in Bethel, Ct.  When Joseph finished his education he went to work for druggist  P. J. Garvan. After several years at Garvan’s firm, Joseph became a registered pharmacist and entered into the employment of Pharmacist Jennie Hamilton. One of the best known and respected druggists in Bridgeport, Ct, Hamilton had been in business in the large port city for years when Joseph went to work for her as her store manager.  Although a rare breed female druggists were not unheard of, in fact, Hat City Diggers know of at least one female druggist who owned a firm in Danbury.  In 1904 Jennie Hamilton died. We can only speculate but after Jennie’s death, Joseph may have moved back to the Danbury area when he heard a pharmacy was for sale in town. Joseph Culhane purchased the David E. David pharmacy from the successor of Mr. David, Martin J. Coughlin. Coughlin’s pharmacy was located in Danbury’s Wooster Square. Joseph opened his business around 1908 and according to sources, “through his energy, business ability and personality [turned the firm] into one of the leading pharmacies in Danbury.” Joseph’s business thrived through the 1910s and 20s and into the depression. In 1933 Joseph became ill. Doctors diagnosed appendicitis and Joseph had emergency surgery. Luckily the operation went well and Joseph was expected to recover. Then the worst happened Joseph’s appendix had been so gangrenous that when it ruptured it caused acute peritonitis. In an age without antibiotics, the infection spread and could not be stopped and on September 16, 1933, Joseph Culhane died. He was survived by Walter his brother and a sister (name not known.) Sources tell us, Joseph, never married.   The Culhane’s pharmacy (above) dates to the 1910s and has a tooled finish.


Culhane’s Drugs ca. 1940s. After Joseph Culhane died, the firm was sold. According to Danbury City Directories in 1939 William C. Balaz handled the pharmacy. The firm was still in business at the time of the disastrous 1955 flood that left Danbury submerged in several feet of water. (Photo courtesy Danbury Historical Society)




Did bottler James Gallagher,  a man of means nearing the sunset of his life, find pleasure working as a clerk in Danbury’s grand Hotel Green? James was born in June 1874 and lived in Danbury all his life. James appears to have been quite an ambitious lad.  Before he graduated high school he was already putting a business together that would become a keystone in Danbury for years. In 1886 he leased the building at the corner of “Ives St and the passageway of the Danbury and Norwalk Rail Road Company.” Eventually, James and his brother Frank (his silent partner) would open a saloon and distribution warehouse at this site.  Land records indicate in 1908 James and Frank also leased the Baily House from Sidney Baily at Lake Kenosia, a resort area on the outskirts of Danbury.      Evidence suggests, Baily House had a somewhat bawdy reputation in the early 1900s.   At some point during James’ career, he began selling beer from the famous Eagle Brewing Company out of Newark, N.J.  All but forgotten today, Eagle Brewing Company was well known at the turn of the century and closed numerous business deals with Danbury bottlers in the early twentieth century. For reasons unknown, James moved his business from Ives St to Rose St in the 1910s.  James business ventures weren’t limited just to the liquor trade eventually he purchased the New Hotel Groveland and opened a paper mill in Beaver Brook. In 1918 the paper mill caught fire. Fire wasn’t the only problem for the mill.   James used water from the Still River to make his paper. The River’s water had to be clean but it was being contaminated by Danbury’s many hat factories. What was done, if anything, to correct the problem is unknown. Throughout the 1920s James ran the New Hotel Groveland and the Groveland soda shop. Eventually, James “disposed” of the New Hotel Groveland but instead of retiring James took a job at the Hotel Green as a clerk.  Why James went to work at the Hotel Green as a humble clerk is a matter of speculation but he may have continued working to stay occupied and engaged in the hotel profession, a profession he must have loved. James may have also enjoyed the day to day contact and banter with people he met coming and going from the hotel through its lobby.  James was still employed by the Hotel Green when he died of heart disease in 1944 at age 69.  The James Gallagher Jug (above) comes to us courtesy the Danbury Historical Society. It was a gift from an unknown patron who left it on the Society’s doorstep.


Three different variations of Eagle Brewing Company beers.  James likely sold  Eagle Brewing Company beer from his saloon and or distributed it to other Danbury locations from his warehouse on Ives St.

This corner building at 2 Ives St (formally 4 Ives) housed the Eagle Brewing Company, Danbury branch. James E Gallagher ran the branch. The bottling works closed years ago but the building was repurposed through the years as of late it housed a  nightclub.  Railroad Pl, at the left, is now a walk. The Danbury Rail Yard stretched across Ives St with a track ending along Railroad Pl beer probably was off-loaded into the bottling facility. James Gallagher moved his business from Ives St in 1910. By then Ballantine ales and lagers was his forte.




Today Mill Plain is one of the most  heavily developed districts in Danbury; however, one hundred years ago the district was rural and unincorporated an area of farmland, few people, dirt roads and RFD addresses. Hubert Ellis lived at one of these addresses with his extended family on Brewster RD near lake Kenosia. Hubert was born in Danbury on December 15, 1884.  When he was 16 he went to work as a hat tracer. In the 1910s Hubert tapped a spring on his farm and began to bottle water for the public. Though Hubert was in the spring water business for 20 years it was not his sole source of income. Over the years Hubert worked not only as a bottler but also as a carpenter, wood farmer, metal worker and  mason. Hubert died on January 1st 1962. The bottle above is an Ellis Springs half a gallon which Hubert probably shipped to Danbury using a horse-driven wagon. Later, Hubert  likely shipped his water using a small truck. The exact location of the Ellis spring is unknown.




When Thomas. B. Benjamin died,  it was decades since he filled his last prescription. His partner Herbert Kinner died years earlier from an especially deadly form of cancer. Time all but erased the history of Kinner and Benjamin’s years as two of Danbury’s most distinguished pharmacists. In spite of this, after a recent discovery, Hat City Diggers can now examine the lives of Thomas Benjamin, his partner Herbert Kinner and their pharmacy -a cornerstone in Danbury for decades. Thomas was born in Danbury in 1868, Herbert in Bethel, in 1872. Records suggest Thomas being his pharmacy career in the 1880s as a clerk possibly at the City Hall Pharmacy run by the well-respected druggist, George Kinner  (Herbert’s father.)  Danbury City Directories from the early 1890s tell us  George promoted Thomas to the manager of the pharmacy and by the mid-90s, Herbert joined the firm on the ground floor as a clerk. We are unsure when the two men became friends but needless to say, the relationship between the two lasted over thirty years and helped create by all accounts one of the most respected drug firms in the city.  Regardless of how popular the firm was, it might have never achieved success without the help of Herbert’s father, George Kinner. George was an aging Civil War veteran who by the turn of the century had decided to invest more time in his other pursuit- hatting. so  George sold his drug firm to Herbert and Thomas. For the next 20 years, Kinner and Benjamin Drugs was a cornerstone at 173 Main St. The men eventually expanded the firm adding a second store. Kinner and Benjamin were so successful that the location of their enterprise became forever known as the Kinner and Benjamin block. In 1926 Thomas retired and Herbert’s son Kenneth began working at the firm.  In the early 1930s  Herbert Kinner became ill and in 1934 he died from pancreatic cancer at 62 years old. Thomas Benjamin retired and moved to Bethel where he lived for years.  Thomas was born before the invention of the telephone and died in 1963 almost a year after John Glen circled the Earth in the spacecraft Friendship 7.  He was 94 years old. The Kinner & Benjamin (above) dates to the early 1900s. It’s a medium-size blown in a mold pharmacy with a tooled lip. Hat City Diggers was looking for this bottle ever since they found a broken example two years ago and the excitement the team felt at finding this bottle was out of this world, to say the least.




Hat City Diggers were able to piece together a few facts about this obscure Hat City bottler’s life and the choices he made to secure a future for his children when his wife died. From multiple sources, Hat City Diggers learned Louis was born in Stuttgart Germany in 1828 or 1829. He was educated in private schools and in 1859 he was admitted to the United States.  Danbury City Directories for the early 1870s list Moegling’s occupation as dyer. In addition, an 1875 map of Danbury records Moegling’s business as Connecticut Fancy Dye Works (no address is given.) Land records say nothing about Louis’ dye works. However, a newspaper account from The Morning Journial- Courier (New Haven, 1901) reports  Louis left the Dye works because of ill health from exposure to the dyes.  In 1871 Louis turned to saloon keeping when he  leased space at the Taylor Opera House to open a “gentlemen’s and ladies’ refreshment saloon.” Considering the location, the establishment probably was quite stylish. The saloon consisted of an oyster bar, bagatelle table, fishbowl*, showcase, etc. There was an icehouse in the cellar and land records list lager beer and ale on tap. Louis’ business was taking shape, however, in 1872 Louis suffered a tragedy when his wife Louise ( she is named Louisa by one source) died. Death records do not list a cause of death.



After Louise’s death, Louis was left to care for their three children: William, Julia and Charles but it wouldn’t be easy for Louis.  Probate Court records suggest his opera house cafe was far from a success. The court records specify Moegling’s estate as being “unproductive.” These records also tell Hat City Diggers that Louis was left with an “inability to properly support [the] children.” Hat City Diggers are uncertain if the court was going to take the children from Louis but records indicate he took action to provide care for his three children. He surrendered a $2000 life insurance policy and in 1875 he sold land belonging to the children for $1000 to “support and educate them.”  There is also evidence Louis was putting the pieces of his life back together after his wife’s death.  Two years after Louise died Louis met Gertrude Bandenstein a widow fifteen years his junior. He was 48, she 33. In 1876 they married. In addition, city directories for the early 1880s suggest Louis changed vocations. Listing his occupation as “hotel.” whether he owned or managed is unclear. Needless to say, Louis may have change jobs just in the nick of time. In 1884 a massive fire swept through the Taylor Opera House destroying it completely. A story concerning the fire from the Danbury Evening News lists the businesses damaged or destroyed by the inferno. Moegling’s was not on the list.  Two years after the fire Louis picked up the pieces of his life and moved the family to West Haven, Ct. Louis open a hotel at Savin Rock. By the Journail-Courier account was quite sucsessful. Louis died in 1901 from cirrhosis for the live. The cause of the illness is not known however exposure to dyes is one possibility. The L. Moegling blob top pictured is proof Moegling was bottling in Danbury around to time of the fire. The bottle dates to the 1880s as suggested by its morphology. However, it may not have originated from the Opera House Cafe but from the hotel, Louis was involved in.

*Land records stating Louis applied for a chattel mortgage using a mere fishbowl as collateral is a misnomer. Moegling’s “fishbowl” more than likely was an ornate Victorian-era aquarium that may have looked similar to the ones pictured below.






In all likelihood when James Doran went for surgery in the summer of 1933 he knew he was very ill.  Up to then, James had been in business for over 45 years and over those years he counseled thousands of Danburians about health matters. Now James was the one who was ill yet no matter what the consequences of the procedure, he had already sealed his legacy as one of the best-loved druggists in Danbury.  James was born in Bethel, Ct in 1867 to Thomas and Catherine Doran. He was educated in the Bethel schools and when he was of age took a job as a clerk at the Baldwin Drug Company at 201 Main St in Danbury. James worked for Mr. Baldwin for several years learning the drug trade and when Mr. Baldwin was ready to close shop for good, James, with the help of his father, leased the property  in 1889. James  at 6ft 3/4in tall and 220 pounds  towered over most of his customers. However, James was far from threating and with his, “affable and sympathetic disposition” became well admired by many Danburians and his business grew. In 1903 James signed a lease with James Clarence Harvey the famous Danburian who published poems and edited the popular children’s magazine St Nicholas.   “James made extensive alterations [to the store making it] one of the most modern and attractive in the state.” The J. P. Doran Pharmacy was a fixture at 197  Main St through the 1910s and 20s  it was a popular destination for Danburians from all walks of life. In the early 1930s, James became ill. Facts are few but at some point, probably after consulting his doctor, James learned he had cancer. Whether cancer started in his liver or gall bladder is unknown but by the time James had surgery both organs were impacted. Several weeks later James died. He was 66 years old. By chance, the famous Danbury bottler Jean Hornig died a day earlier on September 5th. The J.P. Doran Druggist above came from a dump near Main St and dates to the time James leased the old Baldwin building.




Like the Trunk brothers ,a few years earlier the Lehninger boys, Frank and Albert, descended on Danbury with a vision. The Trunks, came from parts unknown and started a bottling works, the Lehningers arrived from Central and Southern Connecticut- Frank from Hartford, Albert from Bridgeport.  Why the Lehningers picked Danbury for their dairy operation is unknown. But chances are,they came with money and more than likely they left with nothing.    We believe the men were related, probably brothers.   They converged in Danbury in the fall of 1920. Land records reveal the Lehningers leased property, first from dairyman Samuel Moody of Danbury’s Great Plain District, then five months later, from Anna Dick, wife of the legendary Danbury businessman Harry Dick. The Samuel Moody property consisted of a shed, ice house, barn and stables. The Dicks had a small bottling facility in the back of their home at 47 Balmforth Ave. Most likely the plant was sitting idle after Harry closed his soda and liquor firm in the late 1910s,    The Lehningers called their small dairy firm, Pure Milk and Cream Company. Frank and Albert leased the plant on Balmforth for $15 a month. The lease was $20 a month at the Moody property. This meant the Lehningers would have to sell large amounts of milk just to pay the overhead. In the 1920s, Danbury had close to a dozen milk dealers operating in a town of just over twenty thousand people.  Milk in Danbury was relatively cheap. for example, in 1923 a quart of milk at Danbury Creamery was 13¢, a pint was  7¢. That meant if Albert and Frank sold their milk at competitive rates they’d have to sell 300 quarts of milk just to pay the rents.  By 1922, Frank, possibly seeing the writing on the wall, moved back to Hartford. A year later Albert followed, we assume for the same reason. All that exists to remind us of the Lehninger’s time in Danbury is the bottle (above). The fate of Frank and Albert Lehninger is unknown.




If not for the milk bottles, the legacy of the Winter and Heibeck enterprise would be completely forgotten. No definitive record of the dairy firm seems to exist. Regardless, with the help of one of the dairy men’s ancestors we’ve pieced together part of the Winter and Heibeck puzzle.  This much we’ve learned from written sources:  In the late 1910s, a man named Peter Winter is listed as working for the dairy firm: Danbury Creamery .  In addition, a source reveals that at one point Winter ran a dairy operation at 9 Balmforth Ave.* Land records, however, do not corroborate this. Even so, it stands to reason that Peter Winter could be half of the dairy team of Winter and Heibeck. Peter Winter had experience in day to day dairy operations. Also, the surname Winter is not common to the Danbury City Directories. So the inference that another Winter likely ran the firm, though not impossible, seems unlikely.  In addition, the other mystery name connected with the firm, “Heibeck,” is also uncommon in the 1910s and 20s Danbury. However, Heibeck, William was his first name, is listed as a printer for the newspaper, Danbury News. Assuming a man schooled in printing would open a dairy firm seems doubtful, however, not entirely unreasonable. The famous Danburian Charles Darling Parks started his dairy operation with no experience.  Just the same, we could find no association between the men listed in the directories to the names on the bottle. Then we received and email. This email from Peter Winter’s great grand son contains the following information: Jason Winter the author of the email states that indeed Peter Winter is one of the men from the Winter and Heibeck firm. Jason related a story about the demises of the firm. “I want to say my father told me that towards the start of World War I the two German names on the bottle didn’t help business and perhaps that led to the decline but I have no idea if that’s true and have no one to ask/confirm…I was likely 12 or so when we talked about this so a lot of time has passed and quite possible I am wrong but the timing seems plausible. Although Jason’s story is not conclusive proof.  It does reinforce the idea that Peter winter could have been one member of the elusive   frim. We end  with the Winter and Heibeck bottles these bottles  we discovered  while  creek walking the Still River. Ironically for the firm beginning such a mystery, the dairies’ bottles are quite common.

*9 Balmforth Ave was also the site of T.W. Bartley’s bottling works.





When L. S. Benedict died in 1892  Danburians called him one of the most honest businessmen in all of Danbury.  Through the years this reputation helped Benedict become quite a wealthy and respected man. Levi was born on Christmas Eve 1805 in Burlington, Vt  and  according to the Danbury Evening News  he came to Danbury with his parents, “as a lad.”  Levi apprenticed in the comb trade with Mr. George Clapp of Bethel and later went to work at a comb factory in the Grassy Plain District. In 1829, likely around the time, Levi was in the comb making business, he married his wife Mary Gregory. The union produced seven children.  In 1835 Mr Benedict established, “… the first store in Danbury to be devoted exclusively to groceries and meats.” Danburians most likely came in droves to Benedict’s store because of its conveniently accessible goods. Benedict worked the business with his cousin David Nichols. The firm was located in one of Danbury’s older buildings south of the Baptist church. Eventually, Levi and David moved the store, “opposite of City Hall.” In time the store  Levi moved to his final location at 193 Main St.  In 1870 Nicholas retired and Levi’s youngest son, Albert, joined the firm. The business was renamed L.S. Benedict and Son. By 1890 Levi Benedict’s health began to fail and for an entire year before he died he was sick with what the Danbury Evening News called a “weakness” of the heart. At home, on Sunday, March 13, Levi went into his library, reclined into his favorite easy chair, exclaimed, “Oh!” and passed away in front of an astonished servant. He was 86 years old. Albert continued the business after his father’s death and he was very successful in his own right. The store crock (above) dates from 1870 to 1890 and comes to us courtesy of our friends at The Danbury Museum and Historical Society.




Egbert T. Haviland’s first line of work was milk peddling. a job for the early riser: milking cows at 4 am, delivering milk at 5. Working as a milk dealer Egbert likely stepped in the occasional cow flop but in the end Egbert Haviland came out smelling like a rose. Egbert was born in Patterson NY in 1862. Although we are unsure when Egbert moved to Danbury, 1910 census records tell us he was living in Danbury , married and working as a milk peddler on Padanaram Rd. By 1917 Egbert had changed locations of his dairy operation in addition to entering into a business deal with  Herman Schneyer an entrepreneur in Danbury. Schneyer had purchased the dairy,  Danbury Creamery, located on Foster St. After the merger the dairy became known as The Danbury Creamery and Haviland Dairy.   Danbury Creamery milk bottles after 1917  are embossed with a large “H” for Haviland and ads for this time, also, show an association between  Haviland Dairy and the Danbury Creamery.  In 1918 for $500 Haviland leased the Fred Knapp farm from Enoch Wood also a Danbury milk dealer.  Besides leasing Kapp’s 115-acre tract, it appears Haviland owned land in New Fairfield’s Ball Pond area. Egbert likely used this land for his dairy operation with Schneyer.    In 1937 E. T. Haviland died his wife of over 50 years had passed 3 months earlier. Three years before his death Egbert had entered a new line of work. One that seems to be the antithesis of milk peddling. although both lines of work at some point are concerned with manure. Egbert’s new profession was florist his firm was the North St Conservatories. Why Egbert segued into cut flowers is unknown.  The E. T. Haviland milk pictured probably dates to the 1910s.





John E. Small was a rock-solid businessman who died tragically from two illnesses that are considered highly treatable today.  John was born in Bridgeport, Ct in 1859 to  William and Bridget Small. The Smalls came from Ireland and may have escaped the then not so lustrous Emerald Isle during the dark days of the countries Great Potato Famine. Either way, they came to the U.S. and settled in Connecticut.  Sometime later the family moved to Danbury and John’s father opened a grocery store at 27 Main St. When John was old enough, he began working with his father at the store.  Later William Small moved the family store, first to 19 Main then finally to 25 Main St. After William’s death, according to the Danbury Evening News, John took over the establishment but later John, “disposed” of the business and, “became associated with the clothing firm of Sam Harris and later with F. E. Hartwell  and  Company.” In 1899 John, “retired” from the clothing business and with his son John Jr opened two new businesses on Main St: The Oak Club saloon at number 23 and next door at number 25 John reopened his father’s grocery store. Although Danbury was saturated with saloons in the early 1900s, John’s was the only establishment at the south end of Main St. John sold all kinds of liquor including his own brew which he marked, as the bottle above demonstrates, “John E. Small & Son.” By 1909 another saloon in Danbury’s long line of “cafes” as they were sometimes called opened at the corner of Main and South St. Apparently John’s business wasn’t impacted and by the 1910s when he fell ill business was strong.  For three years John dealt with the impact Bronchial Asthma was having on his life. In 1915 things took a turn for the worse when John developed Pneumonia. The illness was complicated by a severe attack of asthma, doctors tried their best to save him but early 20th-century medicine was quite limited and a few days later John died. He was 55 years old. After his death, the Danbury Evening News published an error-filled story not only did the paper get John’s age wrong but they completely omitted John Jr. as John’s child. Nevertheless, John E. Small was remembered as a man with a “courteous manner” someone who was actively involved at St Peter’s church and in his, “younger days” a volunteer fireman for the city of Danbury. The blob top (above) was excavated from a dump in Danbury. This secret location is the only area we have ever dug J.E. Small & Son bottles. Interestingly death records do not give John’s middle name. It’s merely listed as “E” just like on the bottle. After John’s death, the Smalls apparently moved from Danbury since they are no longer listed in the town’s city directories.

This rare example of a J. E. Small & Son Whiskey comes from a collector in Danbury. Workers discovered the bottle behind a wall during renovations to a building.  If the bottle were embossed rather than only paper labeled it would have been truly been an exceptional find.





Was Christopher C. Hand a man that worked as a hatter all his life too inexperienced to open a saloon in Danbury  Or was there another reason his saloon failed-  one that took Connecticut by storm- and drove saloon keepers out of business in a hurry?  Chris was born in 1889 in New Jersey.  His father was Christopher P. Hand a native of Ireland.   His mother was   Margaret Hand.  As a young man, Chris Hand learned the hatting trade and years of  Danbury City Directories confirm this. However the 1908  directory lists Chris’s occupation as bartender. So was it during his time tending bar that Chris Hand tried to break into the bottling business? This writer believes so.



The bottle pictured demonstrates that a Danbury Man named Chris Hand was bottling beer in the early 1900s. So could have an 18 year old bartender been our saloon keeper?  Not only does this writer believe this to be so but it is more than likely. Many Danbury bottlers cut their teeth working in saloons- Danial McNamara for one- so it’s safe to say Chris Hand working as a bartender started his own firm. Adding credence to this theory is this key fact: Chris’s father was a bottler and saloon keeper on Canal St in Danbury and Chris likely wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Another noteworthy detail is in 1908   William Sperb a German immigrant closed his bottling operation at 18 Elm St (the same address embossed on the Chris Hand beer)  with the building vacant  Chris would have been more than happy to fill the empty space.  The owner of the property was   Valentine Lied. Lied who  would lose money on an empty piece of real estate would have jumped at the chance to rent the property to Hand.   just as he had Sperb (his cousin.) But as an 18-year-old boy was Chris in over his head or was another factor at play.  Toward the end of the decade, a clean-up movement had taken hold in Connecticut Saloons were seen as establishments that attracted the dregs of society nowhere was this more evident than in Danbury where there were reports of drunkness race mixing and fallen women at the town’s saloons.  The remonstrants held hearings in Danbury superior court on saloon licensing renewals. Newspaper accounts of unsavory activity in the town’s taverns was reported daily. To combat this unpleasant activity   the state had increased the fee to renew a liquor license to $1000 If a tavern owner couldn’t come up with the money they were forced out of business. Chris Hand and 18 year old just starting out in the liquor trade may have encountered this problem. If this was the case he likely would have closed.  That said, Chris’s business run was short so short in fact it never made it into the city directory and if not for the bottle Chris’s foray into the liquor trade would have been completely forgotten. Directories after 1908 list Chrises’ occupation   as hatter a profession he was quite familiar with.  Chris worked as a hatter for the rest of his life. And finally reseaching this story led to some confusion since both father and son are named Christopher Hand and city directories did not differentate between the two. Needless to say  this writer discovered tragic imformation regarding two great loses Chris suffered.   Near the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, Chris was impacted by the death of his father and his 12 day old son also named Christopher Hand.


In 1966  the Danbury NewsTimes, reported   Chris had died. He was 76 years old and lived at 16½ Sheridan St in Danbury. His obituary reads as follows: “Mr. Hand was born in South Orange, N.Y. [sic],  July 19, 1889 son of the late Christopher [P] Hand and Margaret (Shanagher) Hand.” There is no mention of the long lost bottling enterprise.




The story of Major C. Austin calls for some speculation but this author has pulled together various sources to paint a clearer picture of this Danbury druggist life. Major Austin was born in 1864. His father was Francis Austin, his mother was Harriet. 1885 Major worked as a drug clerk but by 1886, 1888 and 1889  Danbury City Directories list his occupation as a grocer.  However, by 1892 Major is listed as a druggist.   Major’s firm was at the north end of town at 417 Main St. The Austin’s Pharmacy (pictured above) is an early variant likely produced when Major Austin’s firm was located at this Main St address. Austin’s business interests weren’t limited just to the drug trade. He also continued operating his grocery located next door at number 419.  In 1900 Austin’s firm suffered damages when a small fire broke out. However, the damage was minimal, no hoses were used, only extinguishers and a few buckets of water. The damage was estimated at $500. That same year possibly due to the fire Austin updated his pharmacy leasing a soda fountain from a firm in Philadelphia.  Then for reasons unknown, Austin packed up everything and moved his firm to the other side of town. His new pharmacy was located at 228 White St. near Locust Ave. As to be expected, Austin opened a grocery next door.  Austin may have suffered a setback in the drug trade when according to H. George Lepper in his oral history from 1974 reported that Major could not pass the “written and practical exam given by the Board of Pharmacy.  Evidence suggests Major eventually passed the examination since Danbury City Directories list his occupation as a druggist in 1917 and 1918 and 1920.  Records tell us Major was married his wife’s name was Ida. Census records recorded for 1900, 1910 and 1920 indicate Major and Ida had no children. Major died on May 10, 1946.




Although The Danbury City Directories list Danial  W. McNamara’s first job as a saloon keeper at 17 Main St in 1885. D. W. more likely cut his teeth in the liquor trade when he tended bar for several years in Edward Burk’s saloon at 109 South St. (Click here for more on Edward Burke)  In time D. W. garnered enough experience to open  his own wholesale and retail wine and liquor business at 100 South St just a few doors down from his old bosses’ establishment.  D. W. bought the land and building at 100 South St from William Sharp for $7000. McNamara didn’t stop there. Records also indicate D. W. opened a saloon at 11 Ives St for a time. Dan sold that business in 1898 to Joseph Rose of New York. The bottle pictured is likely from McNamara’s time on South St or Ives St rather than his short stay as a saloon keeper on Main St.  The reason is, City Directories suggest D.W. was only in business a brief time at the Main St address hence bottles, if they exist, are much rarer from the number 17 Main St location than his Ives or South St sites. Although Danial was a long-time Danbury resident very little is known about his life before his career in the liquor trade. His parents immigrated from Ireland to the U.S. and Danial was born in Newtown, Ct.  His 1932 NewsTimes obituary omits almost all biographical information and there is no mention of D. W ‘s. career as a saloon keeper or bottler. There is one item worth mentioning at some point, D. W. was superintendent of public works.  The town is not mentioned but it’s safe to assume he was the super at the Danbury Public Works.  Death records suggest Danial retired from the liquor trade in 1918-like so many other bottlers- probably due to the onset of prohibition. D. W. died of heart disease on March 1, 1932. He left behind a wife, Margaret.  The 100 South St address where D. W. kept bar for so many years is gone. Close to the site today is the Danbury sports bar Pippa’s.




When the doors finally closed at Marcus Dairy it was the end of an era. In spite of this, the dairy icon lives on in the memories of its loyal customers and the artifacts we at Hat City Diggers find. Such as the two early Marcus milks (above.)    Marcus Dairy was Danbury’s last family-run dairy when it closed in 2011 and one of the largest and best-known dairies in the state. According to the Newstimes, at its height Marcus delivered milk products over several hundred square miles in Connecticut and New York State “from Kent in the north to the Greenwich-Stamford-Norwalk area to the south… and all of Westchester County in New York at the west and most of the Naugatuck Valley to the east…”


Marcus like other famous Danbury dairies such as Hatch (click here for more on Hatch) and Rider (click here for more on Rider) started from humble beginnings. Harry Marcus began the business in the early 1900s running a small dairy farm in Sharon Ct.  In 1919 the Marcus family moved the operation to Ridgbury, Ct. The bottle pictured (right) probably originated from that early farm in Ridgbury a few years after Ridgebury was incorporated into Danbury. Eventually, Marcus sold the farm and concentrated on milk bottling.  In 1948 Harry’s son, Jack Marcus and his wife Pearl opened, as the Danbury NewsTimes reported in their 1976 story on the dairy “…a  small dairy-processing operation and lunch counter on Sugar Hollow Road…”  From its humble beginnings on Sugar Hollow, Marcus Dairy grew into the operation most Danburians know today. “My first memories of Marcus Dairy are from the early 1970s.” Says Hat City Diggers team member Stephen Crowe. “My mother would take my brother and me to the dairy bar for ice cream. My favorite was black raspberry. Later I graduated to chocolate. In the 1990s we began going to the cruise nights Marcus held every Saturday during the spring and summer. The vintage cars were spectacular.” On any given Saturday you could catch a look at a GTO, a Plymouth Super Bird, Ford Mustang or many, many more classic cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Cruise night, though popular, wasn’t the event Marcus Dairy became famous for. In 1987 the dairy held its first Super Sunday motorcycle rally. Eventually, the event became so popular thousands would attend. Malcolm Forbes, motorcycle enthusiast and publisher of Forbes magazine was one of the events most famous attendees.


Marcus Dairy like other corporations wasn’t above controversy. In 1976 a Marcus Dairy employee Walter Jacobs was asphyxiated when carbon monoxide fumes from the Marcus delivery truck he was driving entered the cab. The Jacob’s children ( Walter Jacob’s wife had died two years earlier) explored legal action. The muffler of the Marcus vehicle was apparently improperly installed by the dairy. However, since Marcus Dairy was Walter Jacob’s employer legal action was limited to workman’s compensation of Ct. The Jacob children received a settlement from workman’s compensation of Ct and in 1978 ended the legal action against the dairy. In September 2012, Marcus again was in legal trouble this time for overcharging school districts for milk. An out-of-court settlement was reached and according to the Connecticut post-Marcus Dairy paid back tens of thousands of dollars to school districts, however, the terms of the settlement included no admission or allegations of overcharging.


Jack Marcus who went door to door selling Marcus milk in the early days had built with his father, Harry, a Danbury icon that lasted 8 decades. In 2011 Marcus Dairy closed its doors. The site according to the Marcus family had become too valuable for just a dairy operation. Three years later in 2014, Jack Marcus died. He was 97. Today all that’s left of the Danbury icon is the milk-white Marcus Dairy silo. A Whole Foods, Panera Bread and other retail stores occupy the Marcus site.

Pictured: the Marcus Dairy Bar. Along with serving some of the best breakfasts in Danbury (you had to try the oatmeal) you could also buy an excellent lunch and after lunch why not order ice cream. One of Marcus’s most famous ice cream dishes was the Gung-Ho. Not for the light eater, the Gung-ho was a sundae made with eight or ten scoops of Marcus’s best ice cream.

This typical half-pint Marcus is the size offered to elementary schools throughout Danbury in the late 1940s. Which schools Marcus actually provided milk to in the Danbury area is not clear. Rider Dairy also had contracts to provide milk to area schools.




The term “for family use”may have been popularized by liquor dealers in the 19th and early 20th century to promote alcohol as a wholesome product used by families. By the late 1800s, the temperance movement was in full swing and records show  Danbury had at least five temperance societies, one being the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.). In the early 1900s  rumor had it that Carrie Nation herself was coming to Danbury. Whether she showed up to destroy Danbury’s saloons with her hatchet is unknown. Nevertheless, liquor dealers thought it best to show people their product wasn’t just associated with drunkenness. Either way the term “For family use” was quite popular and was embossed on bottles such as the McAllister Bros (above.) Whether Danbury liquor dealers such as McAllister Brothers felt seriously threatened by the temperance movement is unknown. But there must have been some trepidation enough at least to add the said term to their bottles and ads. At the height of the temperance movement, Danbury had over two dozen saloons and Danbury papers such as the Evening News went out of their way to sew tales of drunkenness. Several stories of the time dealt with Danbury’s, “Tramps,” “Drunkards” and “underage drinkers.”  Many illegal liquor establishments were raided, underage drinkers, tramps and women of questionable character were arrested and sent to jail. Danbury’s rail yard was a commonplace for such people to congregate. One story in a Danbury paper deals with a raid on a shack along the Still River in the rail yard. Several people were arrested  (they were caught drinking a growler of beer). The story also went so far as to imply the building was being used not only for drinking but also as a brothel. In the early fall, we discovered a “hobo” dump in the rail yard that yielded two impressive Danbury beer bottles. (click here to see bottles)   We also recovered shoes, plates, a pipe and other items from this dump site.


Charles McAllister had one of the most notable businesses in Danbury. For over two decades Charles ran his saloon on White St, however, unbeknownst to him a treasure sat under the floor of his business just inches from his feet. Charles was born in 1861 in New Milford, Ct. When he was three or four his family moved to Danbury. In 1889 Charles married his sweetheart Maria Vesey in New York City. In time,  Charles opened McAllister Brothers (a bottling operation) and his saloon on White St. (The photo above pictures McAllister’s cafe at the turn of the century. Note the jaunty chap at far right.) According to the Danbury News Charles was in business on White St for more than 25 years.   Although Charles’s bottling firm was called, McAllister Brothers, we have yet to determine who his partner was. It very well may have been his brother, John T. McAllister, who worked as a bartender in Danbury.  However, the Danbury News reported  Edward J. Vemey, his brother-in-law “was associated with [ Charles] in the business.”  Whoever the partner was, we’re sure he was stunned when good fortune came Charles’ way in 1905. That year Charles began the demolition of his old building on White St. During the process, a contractor tearing up a floor found something unexpected: under the floor was a pail. According to reports from  the Bridgeport Harold and Danbury Evening News the pail contained a large hoard of gold coins which the Harold claimed was worth about $1000. Charles, who witnessed the event straightaway claimed the riches. Quickly word spread of McAllister’s luck and eventually people began to wonder how on earth the gold came to be under McAllister’s floor. Rumors began to spread. One theory bounced around was that it was loot from an infamous Danbury robbery. The story goes that years ago two men stole $2000 in coins in a robbery that “startled” Danbury. Rumor had it two African American men were involved. One of the men George Washington a self-styled, “evangelist” was questioned by police but never charged and it was said years later, after joining the church, he would speak of the gold. Another plausible story was an “old miser” hid the hoard there years ago. In any case, Charles McAllister was a richer man in June of that year than he was a week earlier. In 1912 Charles died. The Danbury News reported that about 11 am Charles McAllister, “dropped dead of heart disease in the kitchen of his apartments over his cafe… death had been almost instantaneous. ” McAllister was found by a jewelry store clerk who went upstairs to check on Charles. Two years earlier John McAllister had died in a similar way at his home on East Pearl St. What Charles did with his gold is unknown to this day. (Photo courtesy of the Danbury Museum)




Anyone who collects Danbury bottles has heard of Bartley and Clancy. The firm was one of  Danbury’s most popular enterprises. Nearly every dump we’ve dug in Danbury contained at least one or two Bartley and Clancy bottles. We’ve even found them in New York State. William Bartley and William Clancy came to Danbury in the late 19th century- at least that’s when their names first appear in The Danbury City Directories.   William Clancy worked as a hatter when he was younger. William Bartley,  who appeared in Danbury later, worked as a bartender. When William Bartley’s brother Thomas ( for more on T. W. Bartley click here) moved his bottling business from 94 White St,  William Bartley and William Clancy moved in. The partners called their firm Bartley, Clancy and Company.  The bottling works was located at 94½ White St in back of their saloon. Although Bartley, Clancy & Company is the name of the business listed in the Danbury City Directories we’ve uncovered evidence of an older Bartley and Clancy firm. The bottle pictured is a Danbury Bottling Works with a “B” and  “C” monogram that appears to stand for Bartley and Clancy. It wasn’t until the late 1890s that the firm appears in print as Bartley & Clancy. Bartley and Clancy operated the firm at 94 and 94 ½ White St selling beer, wine, liquor, spring water and soda in the Danbury area for years. Little is know about Bartley and Clancy’s personal lives, however we did uncover some facts. In 1905 William Clancy suffered a loss when his sister Jennie died at his home on Osborne St. She had been ill for 10 weeks and eventually succumbed to pleurisy. The funeral was held at St Peter’s church.


As the first decade of the twentieth-century roll into the second  Bartley and Clancy secured one of their biggest deals when they became sole bottlers of Coca-Cola in the Danbury area. The deal allowed Bartley and Clancy to distribute the famous soft drink locally in towns such as Bethel, New Milford, Brookfield, Brewster, North Salem and elsewhere. (To date, we have never found a single Coke bottle embossed with Bartley and Clancy or Danbury Ct. Moreover, Coke bottles before 1920 are extremely rare finds in the Danbury Ct area and when we do discover them they are embossed New York or have no base embossing at all.)



The company suffered a major setback in 1920 with the enforcement of the 18th amendment outlawing the use of alcohol nationwide. The two men continued their business selling soda and spring water but in the early 1920s,  the firm closed and both men retired. William Bartley was out of circulation for some time until he became the manager of the Cities Service and Filling Station. It was the last job he would hold. William Bartley and William Clancy both died in the 1940s by then their legacy as bottlers was completely forgotten.


One of two mold-blown crown top Bartley & Clancy sodas or beers we discovered over the summer, 2016. This bottle is large probably a quart. It dates to the early 1900s when Bartley and Clancy’s business was nearing its height.

These two superb examples of Bartley and Clancy beers are machine-made. Bartley and Clancy may have been two of the first Danbury bottlers to use machine-made beer bottles.


Another variant of a Bartley & Clancy monogram blob this one is mold-blown.



A Bartley & Clancy BarCla brand soda or spring water ca 1900s. The contents were made with Bartley and Clancy’s own spring water- BarCla water-highly indorsed [sic] by leading physicians.” proclaimed one ad. Bartley and Clancy advertised heavily in the Danbury papers touting their BarCla soda water and considering the number of bottles we find it must have been quite popular. The whereabouts of the Bartley and Clancy spring is unknown.






Ironically before collaborating with his brother William in the liquor trade John Foley was a minor celebrity in Danbury as a Danbury cop busting tramps for drunkenness and raiding illegal saloons in the city. Nevertheless, it was the liquor trade that made Foley famous. John lived in Danbury for most of his life. Accounts indicate in his early years he was “quite an amateur athlete.” His first work was as a hat finisher then in 1883 John went into business with his brother William. The two opened a cigar manufacturing business at 289 Main St.  However, this Business was a failure and in 1888 John Foley took a job as a policeman. Meanwhile, William Foley tried his hand at politics becoming a councilman. William was also secretary of the Hat Makers Association.  Apparently, the Foleys were unsatisfied with their career choices and by the early 1890s John had taken up bartending. William, on the other hand, went into liquor dealing and in 1892 opened a saloon with J. H. Gahagan.  It would prove to be a turning point in the Foleys’ lives. By 1894 William was on his own keeping saloon at 32 White St. Then a deal with W. E. Henebry ( click here for more on W. E. Henebry) changed everything. In 1895 William and John leased a saloon at 19 White St from Henebry for $700 a year. It was the best move they ever made and eventually, the Foleys became two of the most successful bottlers and liquor dealers in Danbury.


John initially worked as the businesses’ salesman then in 1897 he became a full partner.   In the early 1900s, the Foleys signed a deal with the Henry Zeltner Brewing Company of New York and became the “Sole Agents” in Danbury for distributing Zeltner’s “Old Fashion Brew.” * They also sold Ballantine’s Ales and Carstair’s and McCall brand Whiskies. Accounts suggest business was good and the Foley’s may have opened a saloon at Danbury’s Lake Kenosia.  In 1912 disaster struck the Foley’s business on White St when a fire broke out. About noon the fire alarm rang. According to the Danbury Evening News, when the fire department arrived,  “Smoke was pouring through the wall separating the Foley’s cafe from the McAllister building.” Eventually, the fire burnt through the wall but the fire department was able to extinguish the flames before there was serious damage. After the fire, John started keeping saloon at 411 Main St and in 1914 William inexplicably partnered with his other brother, Edward. Interestingly years earlier Edward had partnered with Charles Foley and opened a saloon at 21 White St a few doors down from William and John’s establishment. They also called their business Foley Brothers. The second Foley Brothers firm closed after a couple of years. In 1917 the Foley’s moved their saloon at 19 White St down to 35 White. Finally after 20 years in business William and Edward were forced to close the firm with the enforcement of the 18th  Amendment outlawing the use of alcohol nationwide. John tried to keep his firm running at 411 Main selling beverages and near beer. But near beer wasn’t enough to satisfy bone-dry hatters looking to quaff ice cold beer after a hard days work in the factories and John eventually closed his saloon. He took a job as the cities Truant Officer utilizing the work experience he had as a police officer years earlier. In the early 1930s, John left Danbury and moved to Peach Lake, N.Y. just across the border. What became of William is unknown. The bottle pictured is a Zeltner’s “Old Fashioned Brew.”



Pictured: a Carstair whiskey ca 1900s. This brand of whiskey is still sold today. at the time it must have been bottled in Danbury, however, Hat City Diggers cannot verify this.

∗ Foley Brothers were far from the “sole agents” of Zeltner’s “Old Fashion Brew”  in Danbury, in fact, any Zeltner products.  John Blake, in Danbury’s Wooster Square, was also selling Zeltner’s “Old Fashion Brew”, in addition, to numerous other Zeltner products. (For more on John Blake click here)




Bottler R. F. Baker was born in Ridgefield Ct but lived most of his life in Danbury. Rudolph began his career in the liquor trade but starting in the 1920s Danbury’s saloons began closing their doors. Unlike what was happening in New York City the process in Danbury was without violence. The liquor trade was dead, prohibition was the law of the land. But Baker was undeterred.  In the early 1920s, he and his partner Adolph Malaspina bought a bottling firm that was closing.    Sources indicated Baker and Malaspina were quite successful in the bottling business but for reasons unknown, the pair dissolved their partnership.     (For more on Baker and Malaspina click here)  Baker was committed to the business, however,  and kept the company running during prohibition selling soft drinks like his Berkshire Gate brands.  In addition to local favorites such as: Pale Dry Ginger Ale, Sarsaparilla, Strawberry, Peach, Cream, Birch, Loganberry and Pineapple, Baker’s firm also sold nationally known brands  like Nu Grape, Orange Crush, Dr Swett’s Root Beer and Cherry Blossom.  R. F. Baker Company thrived and when prohibition was  repealed in 1933, Rudolph was quick to open a package store at number 7 Rose St.  His company continued to flourish through the depression catering to the many hatters who worked in factories near and along Rose St. By 1940, though, it appears  R. F. had given up the liquor trade Danbury City Directory lists his occupation as a salesman working out of Bridgeport.  The bottle pictured is an A.B.M. crown finish Berkshire Gate which contained one of the flavors listed.

Three brands of soda bottled in Danbury by the R. F. Baker Company. From left to right: Orange Crush ca 1920s, Whistle brand orange soda ca 1930s and NuGrape ca 1920s. Orange Crush and NuGrape are still manufactured today. Whistle came in different bottle shapes. The hourglass bottle pictured is called the, “Handy” bottle its ergonomic shape is supposed to fit well in your hand.





At the turn of the century, Danbury had developed a reputation as Connecticut’s sin city. Gambling dens flourished, men and women cavorted openly in the many saloons that flanked White St, Ives St and Elm St, by the same token, blacks boldly mixed alongside whites in some of these establishments (a no-no in turn of the century society.) Furthermore, saloons flagrantly violated the blue laws- boldly opening their doors on the Sabbath. One of the best known and well-connected businessmen during this audacious time was William. E. Henebry. Henebry had land, money, not to mention power but by the early 1920s  William and his wife, Annie, couldn’t pay a $93 debt they owed so the bank placed a lean on their house. Evidence of William’s life comes from multiple sources but tell us nothing of his early days. However, this is what we do know: One of nine children William came to Danbury from Waterbury, Ct. (William’s brother John, a police officer was killed during the Haymarket riot.)  In due time William opened several saloons at the following locations: 13 White St in 1885 and 21 White St in 1888 and in 1890 he ran saloons at 290 and 292 Main St. He also owned the Opera Cafe.  During this time of change, Henebry met his future wife Annie McDermott. Eventually, they married in 1887.  In addition to moving businesses often, in those early days, W. E.’s home addresses varied. From 1885 to 1901, William Henebry moved at least five times.  However, by 1902 William had set down roots.  He leased a saloon at 194 Main St (the business was open at that address for years) and bought a house on McDermott St in Danbury.  Business was good at the turn of the century for W. E.  He owned several properties in Danbury, at least two on White St. One property, number 19 White St, he leased to the Foley Bros, William and John, two well know Danbury bottlers. W. E. was riding high but at the same time, contemporary sources tell us Henebry was involved in shady deals and lawbreaking.


In 1902 W. E. had at least five leans against properties he owned in the city. According to Bridgeport Herald for January 26, 1904, Henebry owed the city of Danbury over $700 in back taxes. As a result,  Henebry clinched a deal with then-mayor Charles Henry Peix where Peix released properties in the name of William and his wife Annie in exchange for a “note for a $100 in payment for all claims held on the property.” A committee in charge of the matter concluded the “[e]x-mayor had exceeded his authority…” It is not known if William ever paid the $754.95 owed the city. Two years later, though, Henebry was in trouble again. This time W. E. was arrested along with another saloon keeper for violating the cities’ blue laws when they were caught operating their cafes on Sunday. William was fined $100. Several years after his arrest W. E. suffered a brief setback when a fire swept through the Foley Brothers saloon and W. E.’s property was severely damaged luckily he was insured. Needless to say, bad luck continued. In 1916 William was involved in an auto accident that almost killed him when he was thrown from the vehicle after it skidded into a telegraph pole. One man was killed.  There was misfortune the following year when   William Henebry suffered financial setbacks that he appears to have never recovered from.   First, his White St property was forced into foreclosure.  Then in 1918   the United States. passed the prohibition laws. By 1920 the country was dry. Evidence suggests Henebry and others tried to cope with this disaster by turning their saloons into juice bars but by the early 1920s they had all closed.  Times were tough for Henebry and when he was slapped with a $93 injunction he couldn’t pay a lien was placed on his McDermott St property. In 1923 William Henebry died. A year later Annie moved to Waterbury.   Pictured above three William E. Henebry whiskey flasks ca 1900.


W. E. Henebry was only at his 21 White St address for a short time in 1888 making this bottle much older and somewhat rarer compared to others pictured. By 1890 Henebry was keeping saloons at 290 and 292 Main St. He was living at 17 Cottage St at the time.


In the 19th century saloons were the package stores of the day. If a person wanted, they could purchase cases of beer or bottles of whiskey, like the Henebry Old Reputation pictured.



When Ellery and William McPhelemy died, there was no mention of their bottling enterprise, the lawsuit William was a party to, or the facts regarding the true illness that took Ellery’s life in 1909-an illness that had stricken a family for years but was kept secret.  Although the brothers were partners for years, Williams first collaboration was with his brother Michael  in the mid-1880s. The two ran a saloon and grocery at 40 and 42 White St. It wasn’t until the early 1890s that William collaborated with his brother Ellery and opened McPhelemy Brothers’ Wholesale and Retail Wine and Liquors at 277 Main St. The business was advertised as, “McPhelemy’s New Place” a somewhat complicated prospect for Danbury bottle diggers and researchers seen the name can easily be confused with Micheal McPhelemy’s business. The McPhelemy brothers’ venture didn’t last long, though, and the brothers parted ways.

William and Ellery enter the hotel business.

In the late 1890s, William erected the Hotel Groveland at the same 277 address. Ellery went to work at the newly opened Osborne hotel at 285-287 Main. Eventually, Ellery collaborated with C. A. Kane opening a liquor business at the Osborne. The partners also leased a store at 33 White St in 1906 from The Eagle Brewing Company out of New Jersey.  33 White St would become known in later years as the McPhelemy Brothers building. In 1913 William leased his Groveland hotel to John McPhelemy. A month later the Groveland was in flames. The fire caused $ 20,000 in damage wrecking the second and third floors. There was also extensive water damage throughout the building. Luckily no one was killed. The fire was caused by an electrical problem.

William’s lawsuit. Ellery’s other woman.

The hotel Groveland was rebuilt, but William’s bad luck continued. In 1915 William McPhelemy and nearly a dozen individuals and businesses including P. Ballantine and Sons the famous brewers out of New Jersey and the famous Lash’s Bitters Company out of California were named in a civil suit brought by The Saving Bank of Danbury. The reason for the suit: The bank had begun foreclosure against the Hotel Groveland. To date the outcome of the suit is unknown.  William recovered and became involved in the hatting industry becoming a fur broker. Problems weren’t just isolated to William, Ellery McPhelemy made the scandal sheets in 1901 when a woman came forward claiming to be his wife. Mary Owens, a dressmaker who lived on Main St, asserted that she and Ellery or “Sig” as he was known in Danbury married in Brewster N.Y. 16 years previously. Ellery, of course, denied the union ever took place and Miss Owens had no certificate. Sig accused Mary of being insane and Miss Owens star witness Charles McAllister denied any knowledge of the affair. Finally, a reporter for the Bridgeport Harold voiced his opinion on the validity of “Mrs. McPhelemy’s”, as she called herself, charge. “[W]ith her star witnesses [McAllister and his wife] denying all knowledge of the marriage… It looks very much as if her case [Owens] was founded on imagination.”

William and Ellery’s deaths and a McPhelemy family secret revealed.

In 1936 William died suddenly at his home on Osborne St from heart disease. He was 72.  Ellery’s death is a somewhat more complicated matter. The Danbury Evening News for 1909 stated the following: “Death was due to diabetes from which the deceased had been suffering from for the past two months.”  The Evening News‘ statement was a fabrication concocted by Ellery’s family or his doctor to hide the true sickness that had taken his life, a sickness associated with the poor, the lower classes and immigrants- tuberculosis. Research is in the preliminary stages but records show the McPhelemy family was stricken by this horrific illness. At least three male members died from the disease, Ellery being one. Finally, the bottle above is an example from the brothers’ brief partnership and dates to the early 1890s. Considering the finish style, it is an odd design for a liquor flask, in fact, it resembles a medicine bottle. This leads us to believe the brothers were involved in the quack medicine industry, however, we can find no evidence to corroborate this theory.


An 1890s ad for the McPhelemy Brothers‘, “New Place” not to be confused with Michael McPhelemy who ran his own separate liquor business. (Below) a William and Ellery whiskey flask with the words, “New Place” embossed through the center of the slug plate.



The Groveland Hotel during its heyday. As luck would have it, a short time after William McPhelemy leased the hotel to John McPhelemy a fire swept through the building causing extensive damage. Interestingly the massive oak or maple bar from the hotel’s saloon still exists and is the centerpiece in the restaurant located at the site today.

William McPhelemy photographed about 1900 in Danbury, Ct. (Photo courtesy of the Mutch family)





William Sperb emigrated to the United States in 1892 with dreams of a better life but hope turned to failure  in spite  of aid from his cousin a famous Danbury bottler. Census records indicate William was born in Germany in 1868.    Although we can’t be certain, we believe William likely had some experience in the liquor trade when he came to Danbury. In fact, Danbury City Directories list William’s first occupation as “bottler” and land records tell us he was also keeping a saloon at 70 White St.   Ultimately, though, the business was a flop and by 1900 it had closed. To be released from debt Danbury Land Records suggest William sold everything in his possession right down to the very bottles in which he sold his beer. But William wasn’t about to give up.  These same records indicate William Sperb began working for his cousin the famous Danbury bottler, Valentine Lied (Sperb was one of the men to find Baltzer Schwartz dead in Lied’s saloon in 1902) (click here for Lied story).   As a result, Sperb entered into an agreement with  Lied and opened a bottling business- and possibly- a saloon at 18 Elm St. William probably licensed all the typical bottling accouterments from Lied: two delivery wagons, bottle washing machine, washtub, one and half tons of hay, for his bay horse and cases and cases of beer which he most likely hoped to sell for about a dollar a case. William without a doubt put a reasonable effort into his firm, and by arranging a licensing agreement with his well-respected cousin may have believed he was taking fewer risks, but ultimately his second bottling business was also a failure. He likely was unable to carve a niche for himself in Danbury’s saturated liquor market- a market Lied and others controlled. By March 1907  Sperb dissolved his firm. He found a buyer  Mattias Lauf of Danbury but it appears the deal fell through. However, ten days later, on March, 30th, Sperb was able to secure a buyer.  Jacob Ruppert Company the famous brewery out of New York purchased Sperb’s failed business, Ruppert had a branch in Danbury at Railroad Pl. (Why Lied didn’t by out Sperb is unknown but we speculate the cousins may have had a falling out. Sperb was living with the Leid family but moved to a boarding house after the business’s failure. After his saloon closed Sperb may have returned to botting one more time. Danbury City Directories list his occupation as a driver after his departure from the Lied home. However, military census records for 1917   record his occupation as bottler. also, around this time,  Danbury City Directories tell us  William lived a somewhat nomadic life moving from boarding house to boarding house.      Eventually, he disappears from Danbury City Directories. William Sperb bottles are rare we dug up the bottle pictured over the summer, 2016.





There are no roads named for Edwin Herbert Kellogg in Great Plain. In fact, his legacy is only evident  because of  his milk bottles. Nevertheless, Edwin was a fixture in Great Plain and part of a large clan that lived and worked as milk dealers in Great Plain and Beaver Brook district.  One of Edwin’s sisters married milk dealer Levi Partrick of Beaver Brook and Samuel Moody of Great Plain married Edwin’s other sister, Opal.  Edwin Kellogg was not born in Danbury. Depending on sources, he was either from   Jacksonville or Waverly, illinois,  He moved to Danbury in the 1910s.  Danbury City Directories suggest Edwin with the help of his brother assembled a small dairy firm on Hayestown Rd in the 1910s. In time, the brothers moved to the rural district of Great Plain.  The expanse of the district with its broad flat land was perfect for dairy farming. For several years Kellogg ran his firm under the name E. H. Kellogg then in 1936 he changed the name to Kellogg Dairy. He sold milk and cream. He died 1961 in Danbury Hospital after a long battle with colon cancer which metastasized throughout his body. He was 78 years old.  If detected early, colon cancer is highly treatable today. The bottle pictured is depression-era and dates to the 1930s.




Most Danbury milks are few and far between and this double “S” Slaipy [sic] Dairy (it should be Slaiby the “P” in the surname is a mistake) is no exception. In fact, this “Slaipy” is so rare we only have a half a bottle. Equally rare is this L. S. Partrick pictured below. Information is difficult to come by on rare Danbury milks. Most of the time the business section of the Danbury City Directory has no listing for them and many of the rarest milks come from dealers who were only in business a short time. Levi Starr Partrick was one of these short time dairymen.  Levi was born in 1891. He married his wife Flora in 1914 the couple had 3 children. Levi ran his dairy business from Brookfield Rd in Danbury’s. When Levi’s business failed he found steady work at the Hatch Dairy. He died in 1979.       Samman Slaiby’s dairy business was also short-lived. Samman,  a stout man with jet black hair and brown eyes emigrated from Mount Lebanon,  Syria to the United States in 1902. For a time he lived in    Hopewell Junction N.Y. In the early 1920s. Samman bought a house on Homestead Ave in Danbury’s Morningside Park and started a dairy business.  Where Slaiby processed his milk is unknown. For reasons unknown, in 1926 Samman and his wife Mary moved to Brookfield, Ct ending the business in Danbury.


Samman Slaiby and his wife Mary lived in this house on Homestead Ave when Samman ran his short-lived milk business.







One of the most enigmatic milks in our collection to date is this Mutual Dairy. Hat City Diggers checked years of Danbury City Directories and found no listing for this business; nevertheless, this is a Danbury milk- “Danbury” is clearly embossed on the heel of the bottle.  This half-pint milk may date to the 1930s or 40s considering the age of other artifacts coming from the dump.


The 1922 Danbury City Directory lists 11 milk dealers.  Dealer bottles like George Rundle, George Pulling, William Wixon and Walter R. Smith are extremely rare and sought after.





Fall in, Connecticut can be a solemn time of year. For diggers, it reminds us of the coming winter and an end to the digging season. Needless to say, it’s always better to go out with a bang than a whimper and this is precisely what happened in the fall of 2016.  This fall dig was uneventful at first and the discovery of a large 1930s trash dump near a pond wasn’t anything to bounce off the walls about. Regardless there is always a chance to find a chunk of late throw gold and that’s exactly what happened. This dump of junkers didn’t produce one but three  Silkman Dairy bottles.  One of these rare Danbury milks sold for over $100 at a recent auction and we just found three!   However, good fortune is fleeting and we never pocketed three C notes but nonetheless, we still felt pretty good in the end.



According to sources, the  Silkman Dairy originated with Wright Silkman in the early 1900s. After leaving New York State, Wright settled in Mill Plain and bought large tracks of land which eventually became the Silkman Dairy. Wright’s massive 270 acres of farmland encompassed the back end of Mill Plain and included land occupied today by Trader Joe’s, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Interstate 84 and the Algonquin pipeline. Old Ridgeberry Rd and the New York and New England Railroad cut through the property. Wright’s home was located along what is now Route 6.




Research is on going but we’ve discovered at least two law suits that involved Wright silkman  there may be more. One suit from 1912 is of particular interest. In July of that year Wright purchases a horse from Frank G. Clark for $75- that’s.  over $2000 by todays standards. According to the Danbury Evening News “Silkman claimed that on June 25, 1911 that Clark warranted the horse to be kind, gentle, of good wind and a good worker.” A month later an irate Silkman returned the horse claiming it had fallen short of at least one of its virtues. Silkman claimed the horse was “not a good worker” Clark offered Silkman a bay horse. When Wright did not return for the bay horse Clark sold it. The Danbury Evening reported that Clark would not take back the lazy black horse because it was lame and had lost considerable weight. The Evening News also reported that  on  July 4th the black took sick, and despite veterinary care the indolent black died a few days later. Wright sued. the outcome of the suit is unknown.




Unlike the first suit of 1912 this secound  suit had Wright being called as defendent. In the former law suit Wright was seeking $75 compansation. However, the latter suit was for much more money so much money, in fact that if Wright lost he could lose his farm.




According to city directories, by the 1930s, Alfred Silkman, Wright’s son had joined the Silkman Dairy business.  In addition, Alfred’s brother, Hawley, worked for the dairy in some capacity though what role he played is unknown. Wright Silkman died in February 1959 he was 86. He left behind his wife and ten grandchildren.  Alfred, passed in 1975.  Interestingly, Alfred worked for Danbury’s famous Marcus Dairy through the 1950s until his retirement in 1960. There have been major developments in the the Mill Plain area over the years and nothing remains of the Silkman farm. As for those Silkman milks, is a story in its self. Several months after recovering the Silkman milks Hat City Diggers received an email from a Silkman relative. Courtley Anne a charming woman in her 30s claimed to be the granddaughter of Hawley Silkman.   Last month her Father Claude received one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever- a Silkman milk. Claude a private and sentimental man grew up on the Silkman farm and he collected what he could from the property over the years. He had several relics from the long lost farm but no milk bottles. So, in the end, Hat City Diggers made a fraction of what the milk was worth but in the process we brought a smile to a man’s face on Father’s Day who hadn’t seen a Silkman Dairy bottle since his time growing up on a farm that was a Mill Plain District landmark for years.  Best wishes, Claude Silkman.





Theodore G. Bodine died penniless in a hotel room on Main St. But his life hadn’t always been fraught with misfortune.  Theodore was born in Montgomery, N. Y. and came to Danbury in 1884. He found employment at the Frank W. Barnum Pharmacy until he earned enough money and experience to buy his own drug business. The time came in 1888 when Theodore purchased a firm from C. E. Mason. Bodine’s Drugs was located at 281 Main St and according to one ad served some of the best milkshakes, sodas and Mexican Sherbet drinks in Danbury.  Bodine’s success grew and he eventually opened a second store on South St. By all accounts business was good.  A popular event for the kids at his Main St pharmacy in the early 1890s was “Danbury News Day” Danbury kids would bring in a coupon clipped from the newspaper to use toward a free soda at the pharmacy.  According to the Danbury Evening News, the children would all gather at the soda fountain and drink their sodas as fast as they could- especially the boys!  It was a big success for Bodine. By the end of the decade, though, Theodore developed financial difficulties and suffered a personal loss when his father, Frederic died.  In 1901, with creditors after him, he sold his business outright. According to the Danbury Evening News Bodine sold his firm to John M. Nixon of New York. Eventually, Nixon sold the firm to E. M. Baldwin and Randall McDonald two established pharmacists from Danbury.  About the time Bodine lost his business, he lost his house at 11 Terrace Pl an  affluent area located on a hill above Main St.  A short time later, the stress of T. G’s. financial collapse took its toll and after taking up residence at Turner House on Main St, Theodore came down with pleurisy and died in July of 1901. He was 36. His death was a shock to his friends and family.  He is buried in Montgomery, N. Y.  The reason for Bodine’s financial collapse is unknown (Above) a nicely embossed T. G. Bodine dating to the 1880s.


Theodore Bodine lived here on Terrace Pl. the house went into foreclosure when Bodine developed financial problems.





In all likelihood, we may never know which Thomas Hanley the milk bottle pictured belongs to. Records indicated there were two Thomas Hanleys working as milk dealers in Danbury.     Though the information is subjective we suspect the pair were father and son.  Thomas Senior as we shell call him ran his dairy operation from his home on Backus Ave. The other man who we will refer to as Thomas Junior operated a milk peddling business on    North Lingar Hollow Rd ( this road no longer exists).  Both men ran their businesses during the early 1920s. It appears both businesses failed by the end of the decade. City directories tell us Thomas Sr  worked as a carpenter. Thomas Jr according to city directories was employed as a cleck.







Philip Simon was one of the best known and talented pharmacists in Danbury. Many of the nostrums he sold he conjured up himself and some of the bottles his creations came in are quite rare, such as  Simon’s Sure Cure for Rheumatism, which sold for over $300 at auction.   Simon dabbled in more than nostrums he also concocted a bedbug poison and a mange cure. Simon wasn’t your trite mixer of potions and snake oils, though, he was well educated and bent on success. Philip Simon was born on September 17, 1865, in Stolp Pommern, Germany According to census records Simon emigrated to the United States in 1881.  In 1886 he graduated from the  New York College of Pharmacy. And just two years later opened his first drug store at 34 White St in Danbury. Simon’s abilities were put to the test soon after when Thomas Riley of White St attempted to take his own life.  Mr. Riley swallowed some Persian Insect Power then went home to die. A man discovered Riley unconscious and ran to Simon’s Pharmacy for help.  According to the Danbury News  Simon, “administered emetics” and saved the man’s life. Simon business success continued. During the 1890s and 1900s not only did he operate a store in Danbury but also in New Haven at George and College Streets. He was also involved in Danbury’s lucrative hatting industry. Land records indicate Simon purchased a hat factory in Danbury.  Simon also spared no expense when it came to his pharmacy: Phil added one of the most expensive and beautiful soda fountains in his store: a 12-foot long oak fountain that according to The Practical Druggist for November 1910 had all the “modern” features.  In his later years, Simon concentrated on his hatting business and his son, Samuel handled operations at the drug store. In the early 1930s, Phil and his wife moved to New York City. The bottles pictured above probably contained some of Simon’s patent medicines. The one to the right is a rare example it’s the only one we’ve ever dug. The one at left is more common. Oddly the statement on the bottle may not be entirely accurate. Sanborn maps from the era show Simon’s drugs at the corner of White and Ives, not White and Crosby. The bottles date between 1888 and 1900. A final note. Danbury City Directories list Phil Simon’s occupation as not only a pharmacist but also as a physician. When and where Simon received his medical degree is unknown.


Philip Simon in his Sunday best, ca 1903



Money problems haunted Brown most of his career



Facts about Darius P. Brown are so sketchy the accuracy of this story is uncertain at times.  This much is known: Danbury Land Records suggest Darius was in the tobacco business before he got into bottling. Danbury City Directories corroborate this- though their listings are much later- around the turn of the century.  In 1870  it appears Darius had financial difficulties. Land records suggest he sold land in Danbury’s Pembroke District to square debts with creditors. Probate Court records verify Darius’ financial problems.   According to Danbury City Directories, it wasn’t until the early 1880s that Brown started a liquor business- running a saloon at 231 Main St. Darius also had a business partner, Charles Spencer and they leased property on Main St. From 1886 to 1887 Darius operated a botting firm- Old Time Rootbeer from a building at 99 Osborne St.  In 1887 according to Probate Court records Darius was again in financial trouble. This time creditors wanted everything right down to the thousands of root beer, lager and sarsaparilla bottles in Brown’s possession. They even confiscated his bottle brushes.   We believe Daruis sold his business to Jehial Grumman of Wilton Ct because Darius then operated The Jehial Grumman Root beer Co. out of Danbury. As Danbury City Directories relate Darius was involved in cigar manufacturing at the turn of the century up until his death on February 28 1910 Darius produced cigars.





Nick Julian’s time in Danbury was so short the paper trail so thin Hat City Diggers has almost nothing to go on. Nevertheless, we’ve pieced together this modest story from the tiny bits of information we gathered.  Nicola “Nick” Julian ran a saloon at 33 White St at the corner of Ives St. He most likely sold beer, whiskey, and wine from this site.   By 1914 Nick closed shop and moved to Huntington, L. I.. Nick, like Frank Rotello, may have been a victim of Danbury’s “clean-up movement.”(for more on Frank Rotello and the clean-up movement click here.) This is the only example (above) of a Julian beer we have. It dates to 1913.

Nick not only sold beer but also hard liquor as evidenced by this fine Nicola Julian Whiskey jug courtesy of the Danbury Historical Society.





Michael McPhelemy was one of the most successful businessmen in Danbury in the latter half of the 19th century. However, Michael’s success was not a given, in fact, when he was crippled in a railroad accident as a young man his likelihood of ever achieving the American dream was quite uncertain. Michael was born in 1836 in Drumragh, County Tyrone in what is now Northern Ireland. Shortly after the Great Potato Famine, where close to a million of his countrymen died of starvation, Michael and his relatives emigrated to the U.S.A. Michael arrived in Danbury when he was 18 and according to The Danbury NewsTimes found work as a brakeman on the Danbury to Norwalk train line. Railroad work was very dangerous in the 19th century Danbury Evening News printed several stories about horrific injuries and deaths railroad men sustained at the Danbury rail yard.  Michael’s job as a brakeman was particularly dangerous.   In 1892, from mid-March to  April, three brakemen were killed in the Danbury area.  The Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioner for 1888 through 1889 reported a least 150 brakeman were injured and several killed. Details about Michael’s accident are few, however, we do know that Micheal’s injury was severe enough to cause him to lose his leg.  Since workers’ compensation in 19th century America was virtually nonexistent the likelihood of Michael receiving any money for his injury was slim. In addition, job prospects for a one-legged man were low during the labor-intensive industrial age of the 1800s. However, Michael persevered. Using his keen business savvy, he started a bottling and grocery business that made him a giant in Danbury commerce for years. As well as selling liquor, Michael bottled mineral water, soda and beer. In addition to the grocery firm Michael also ran one of the city’s best-known saloons. He also immersed himself in Danbury politics serving during his career as Second and Third selectman. Michael was also Director and one of the largest stockholders in The Danbury and Bethel Electric Light and Gas Company.  Running a business empire could be quite stressful and when Michael developed a stomach ulcer the pressures of business life may have aggravated it. He died in 1901 from the impact  this ulcer was having on him in addition to a heart infection. Today these illnesses are treatable but in the pre-antibiotic world of the early 20th century, they were quite deadly. He was 65. After his death, the McPhelemy empire continued under the name: M. McPhelemy Estate. The firm embossed their bottles with this wording. In 1905 under E. A. Culhane’s management, the firm began to modernize. Culhane purchased a state of the art bottle filling machine. Normally beer was siphoned from a barrel into the bottle by hand.  This machine used tanks filled with carbonic acid gas to “force the beer into the bottle.” At this rate, the firm could fill one dozen bottles of beer a minute, 600 dozen a day, more than enough to keep up with demand. The bottle pictured is a M. McPhelemy aqua beer with a double “M” monogram for Michael McPhelemy and a crown top finish. This bottle used a porcelain lighting stopper as a closure.


A very stern, clean-shaven Michael McPhelemy ca, 1890.



McPhelemy sold cases and cases of beer and soda. And to keep it all cold during the hot New England summer: ice.  McPhelemy had his own private ice houses spread throughout the city that could store tons of ice harvested from the Oil Mill Pond, Lake Kenosia and elsewhere. Pictured: A McPhelemy Hutchison soda, with a chipped lip, and McPhelemy blob top beer both ca 1890s.




McPhelemy was so popular his bottles seem to pop up everywhere. We discovered this strap-sided flash in Bethel, Ct.







Edward Burke was a lifelong Danbury resident who was not above rocking the boat when he saw unfairness in Danbury’s business circles. Edward was born in Danbury in 1852 the first of five children born in America to Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Burke. Edward’s parents were Irish immigrants who, with their first six children, crossed the ocean in 1850. Four of Edwards siblings died of, “ship fever shortly after landing.”   Like many Danbury men, Edward learned the hatting trade and he worked at several hat factories. Eventually, Edward left hatting and took a job with Mr. William Sharp working at Sharp’s cafe.  In time Burke left the cafe and opened a grocery and liquor business. Burke did so well that in 1885 he built ” the brick block ” on South St at the corner of Townhill Av. The building still stands.  By the  1880s Edward was a well-established businessman in Danbury. He enjoyed politics and voted Democrat. In the 1890s he switched tickets to the Republican party  and according to The Danbury News, “Mr. Burk was a leader of this party in the fourth district for years.”  Edward was also president of the Wine, Liquor and Beer Dealers Association of Danbury.  As president, Edward made waves  when he became champion of a bill to put druggists on an equal footing as saloons and to “compel them to do a legitimate business… some of them keep their stores open twenty-four hours a day,” he said,  “and sell liquor of all quantities.” Burke went on to emphasize that pharmacists sold “liquor by the glass” and could keep their “‘saloons'” open even on Sunday. It’s safe to say Edward made few friends in the Danbury druggist community.   Edward retired in 1907 selling or leasing his saloon to the New England Brewing Company. On the morning of April 14, 1917, Edward rose for his customary 5 am walk. One hour later family members found him lying on his couch dead. He was 65. According to The Danbury News     Edward had died of heart disease. (Above) A rare Edward Burke beer dating from the late 1800s. Note the 109 South St address embossed on the bottle.


Edward Burke owned this building at the corner of Townhill Ave and South St in Danbury during the late 1800s. Interestingly, Burke not only sold liquor and groceries but also fine cigars.


Edward Burke ca, 1890.

DSC09388 (2)


 Reed and Company an anchor at the corner of Main and Keeler.



When George Reed died in Texas, possibly of consumption, the fate of his business was uncertain. Ultimately Charles Kerr, Mr. Reed’s brother-in-law stepped in and acquired the firm. As much as Kerr enjoyed the business world his aspirations far exceeded running an apothecary so much so that in 1897 he was elected Danbury’s mayor.  Charles was far from a Danbury native.  He was born in Ulster County, N. Y. in 1849. Charles was at one-time sheriff of Ulster County and not until the late 1880s did he move to Danbury. Kerr’s move was far from impetuous. We believe one reason Kerr came to Danbury was to help his ailing brother-in-law at the pharmacy.  Eventually, under Kerr’s management. the Pahquioque Pharmacy become one of the best-known establishments in the city later Kerr became general manager of The Danbury pharmaceutical Company on Taylor’s Ln which produced Linonine a patent medicine bottled exclusively in Danbury. The bottles pictured vary not only in size and shape but the Main St addresses are also different. Evidence suggests the Pahaquioque  Pharmacy did not have two locations but simply moved from 157 Main to 143 Main just a few doors down when Apothecaries Hall went out of business sometime in the mid-1890s. By the early 1910s  Reed and Company closed its doors.  Mahoney and Burns Drugs acquired the 143 Main St site a short time later.

Interior of the Pahquioque Pharmacy ca 1888.


This building at the corner of Keeler and Main Streets in Danbury was home to the Reed and Company druggist firm a 100 plus years ago. Considering development, and the propensity for buildings to burn in Danbury it is no surprise that in 1894 the building came close to being destroyed. Kerr was out of town in Kingston, N.Y. on business and an associate, Thomas Ryan, was in charge. Ryan was melting carbolic acid something went wrong and the burner the acid was on went up in flames. The fire intensified but the Danbury fire department was able to get it under control in a short time. Most of the damage was in the rear rooms, laboratory and office. The Danbury News for 1894 said, “The loss to stock and building is estimated at $1000.”  Years later the site became the home to Burns Drugs a cornerstone in Danbury for years. And in the late 1910s the building once again caught fire this time in the basement.  The site is now a variety store.





Thomas W. Bartley one of Danbury’s best-known bottlers may have died because he had just one too many drinks- for lunch! Thomas was born in Newtown, Ct in 1860. He moved to Danbury in his late teens and in the 1880s started a wine and liquor business. Eventually, T. W. teamed with his brother John and the pair opened businesses at 94 White St and 11 Ives St. They called their firm Bartley Brothers.  For reasons unknown, the brothers parted ways. T. W. then opened his own business at 9 Balmforth Ave.  He tapped a spring on the property and called his enterprise Light Rock Bottling Works. Thomas also owned a saloon.  T. W. prospered as a bottler in Danbury for 30 years. He was also active in the community interested especially in fraternal organizations.  In 1914, at the height of his career, Thomas became ill after eating lunch. His health worsened through the day and two days later he died at his home. The cause was attributed to acute gastritis.  Gastritis can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Whether Thomas was a drinker is unknown.  Either way, Thomas appears to have died from a terrible bout of indigestion, stomach pain and vomiting the contents of which may have contained blood.  He was 53 years old. T. W’s legacy lives on in the bottles we continue to dig from dumps in the Danbury area. The bottle above is a typical T. W. Bartley crown top soda from the turn of the century. We dug it from a privy in Brookfield, Ct. evidence that T. W. Bartley was selling his products outside Danbury. A note of interest: Thomas W. Bartley’s brother, William, was half of the famous Danbury bottling team of Bartley and Clancy.





This City Hall Pharmacy dates from 1889 to the mid-1890s. George Kinner a Civil War veteran-owned the pharmacy. George was also involved in the hatting industry. Before Kinner purchased the business in 1889,  the drug store was run by the firm of H. R. Stratton and Company. Before  Stratton the site housed the Hawley  Pharmacy. Kinner ran the site as City Hall Pharmacy for several years under that name.  In the late 1890s, he changed the name to Kinner’s Pharmacy. Before the name change, the Kinner family suffered a terrible loss when George’s wife Mrs Sarah Kinner, died suddenly at 45. She had been suffering from Bright’s disease. Sometime after her death, Herbert, George’s son went to work at the new Kinner Pharmacy as a clerk. In 1904 George sold the drug store to his son.  The pharmacy reopened as Kinner and Benjamin, Thomas Benjamin was Herbert’s partner. Over time, Kinner and Benjamin became a fixture in Danbury. After the sale, George Kinner devoted all his time to his hatting business. He lived in Bethel Ct.





This small medicine bottle from the late 1890s proclaims George Kinner top dog among druggists in Danbury. The competition was probably intense between  Danbury druggist at the turn of the century. Most Danbury pharmacies were located on either Main St or White St with some being just a few doors down from each other. All were vying for Danburians’ business, some firms lasted years others did not. A lot of money could be pumped into a pharmacy to make it eye-pleasing to the potential customer especially when it came to the soda fountain. Kinner and Benjamin spent nearly $1200 on a marble and German silver soda fountain for their store- a substantial amount of money in 1904!





H. R. Stratton and Company was the predecessor to the City Hall Pharmacy at 173 Main St. The Stratton Pharmacy lasted only about two years.





When James McNiff died he was one of Danbury’s Best know and well-respected citizens. For over 30 years James was in business in Danbury running a saloon and grocery store at 85 Main St. James was born in Drumchambrau County, Leitrum Ireland in 1853 a year after the great potato famine ended. He emigrated to the U.S.A. at  14. His first job was constructing the Litchfield branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad. After the railroad work, like so many immigrates in Danbury, he found work as a hatter. In 1877 at 24 James married Mary Mahon of New York City. Sometime later James opened his saloon. He sold all brands of liquor including liquor under his own label.   The whiskey bottle pictured above contained a McNiff brand. . It dates to the 1880s and is the only example known.



James McNiff was quite successful at 85 Main St and Land Records suggest he went out of his way to help his brother, John whenever he could. Never was this more evident when in the spring of 1888 John McNiff killed a man. In 1887 James leased a building for John on Turner St in Danbury to use as a grocery store. One night, in 1888 some men came to John’s house on Whitlock St and told him someone was breaking into his store. John, who lived close by,  rushed to the grocery.  While investigating, John found,  Francis Burns, a young man from Grand St stealing a case of W. H. Leonard beer. In a fit of rage, John McNiff beat the man senseless.  John was arrested the next day for Burn’s murder. James put up the bail -$5000- a substantial amount of money for anyone let alone a saloon keeper. On the witness stand, John said he struck Burns once. The evidence stated otherwise and Judge Hough who presided over the case found John guilty of manslaughter. Francis Burns’s father, William, sued John McNiff for $5000 over the death of his son. It’s unclear, at this time, if John McNiff served time or paid reparations for Francis Burn’s death. In January 1903 John became ill. He died of Meningitis in Danbury Hospital. He was 43. Unfortunately, Hat City Diggers does not have a John McNiff bottle but we are still looking. James was in business years after John’s death. He retired in 1917 two years before the country went dry. James McNiff’s, saloon (above) during its heyday at 85 Main St. James ran the saloon with his brother, John, and business partner James Downes.




James McNiff sold popular brew like Portsmouth Ale but as this bottle suggests, James also sold his own beer. The bottle (above) is blown in a mold and dates to the turn of the century.



Today the James McNiff building is home to a cell phone/computer repair store and a bookkeeping service. Other businesses that have occupied the build were the Park Luncheonette, Cassidy’s barbershop and Shea’s Art Studio.





Today the only reminder of Samuel Moody’s life in Danbury’s Great Plain is a street sign across the road from Saint Gregory the Great Church. Even so, most Danbury residents make no connection between the name on a green street sign and a milk dealer who died 70 years ago. Nevertheless, Moody and his extended family were enduring fixtures in the district since the 1800s- living and working the land. Samuel was born in 1880 in Danbury and lived all his life in the cities’ Great Plain District. His parents had immigrated from Ireland.  For Sam, it seemed Great Plain provided everything. Sam met his wife  Opel Kellogg, in Great Plain, she was the sister of another of the districts many milk dealers, Edwin Kellogg.  For now, nothing is known about  The Moody Dairy’s day to day operations. We do know Moody ran his milk business from his farm in Great Plain for 30 years. And considering the number of Moody milks we find, his business appears to have thrived. Regardless of missing details,   we feel we have learned a little about the man. Sam was far from selfish, bent on cornering the milk market. He worked side by side with other Great Plain milk dealers, such as his brother-in-law Edwin Kellogg.  In addition, Sam even leased part of his property to the Lehninger boys so they could start their ill-fated Pure Cream and Milk Company. In his later years, it appears Samuel retired from the dairy business.  Danbury City Directories list his occupation as a machinist and his place of work as the Risdon Company. Death records tell a different story, though. They list Sam’s occupation as  janitor. Whatever the case, Moody died July 9th, 1947 from pulmonary edema, kidney and heart disease. He was 68. Sadly five months early Samuel’s older brother died. Of the farms that spread across Great Plain over the 30 years, Moody was in business only the Taylor farm exists today. As for the Moody property, nothing remains modest homes flank the street named for the land that was once the Moody dairy farm.  (above)  Two variants of an  S. Moody quart size milk . Note the difference in the embossed “M’s”.


An ad for Moody milk ca. 1930s, note the four-digit telephone number.


An adorable 1926 ad for the Danbury Creamery. The Danbury Creamery used the standard Hood Seal a disc seal that covered the top of the bottle which was secured by a metal ring. Most milks of that era used such a seal.





Like the disease that took his life, J. E. Goux milks from Danbury are very, very rare.    We know a little about James’ life,  but nothing about his diary. James Goux’s dairy business is so obscure, in fact,  it can’t be found in the Danbury City Directories, land records or anywhere else. Here’s what’s known about James: James Eugene Goux was born in 1891 and came the  Danbury area from Windsor, Vt. When James moved to Connecticut is unknown but  Census records for 1920   tell us James lived in Bethel Ct where he owned a farm- likely a dairy farm.  We believe James first developed symptoms of his illness when he was in his 20s.  The first symptom may have been a run-of-the-mill complaint.  Nevertheless,  the ailment- a stiff knee- was debilitating enough to be noted as an exemption from service on his 1917- 1918 draft registration card.   By 1930   James’s illness had become so disabling he could no longer work the farm and census records report James and his wife Sarah were renting a home in Danbury. Ultimately, Sarah became the breadwinner. For a time the couple lived at 25 Maple Ave.  At this address, Sarah opened a  grocery. Times were tough and the business folded but Sarah was lucky enough to find a job as a janitor at Danbury High School. The couple moved often and James’ last known address was in Beaver Brook. He died in 1934 at 43 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S.) the same disease that killed Lou Gehrig the famous Yankee’s first baseman. The illness is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.  James Goux is buried at Wooster Cemetery. The bottle pictured may date from the early 1920s.  Records suggest Sarah, who was 6 years older than James, never remarried, her nickname was Sadie and she died in 1978 at 92.

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Linonine is a patent medicine once made in Danbury. According to the Maryland Medical Journal  Linonine was supposed to be a substitute for the noxious-tasting cod liver oil found in most 19th century homes.  The journal states that Linonine is as tasty as sweet cream and perfect for the most sensitive stomach.  its main ingredient was linseed oil. The Danbury Pharmaceutical Company manufactured Linonine at their factory on Taylor’s ln. The company’s general manager was Charles Kerr who was Danbury’s mayor for two terms. Kerr also owned The Pahquioque  Pharmacy at 143 Main St.  The bottle pictured is only embossed on the bottom, very common to Danbury area dig sites and not that collectible.  Kerr eventually moved the business from Danbury to Brentwood, Md. Kerr died in 1927.

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A Linonine ad from the early 1900s.

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A testimonial from a Brewster, N.Y. resident on the benefits of Linonine.





Charles Darling Parks was one of Danbury’s wealthiest men, His estate on Southern Blv was over a thousand acres of rolling meadows, ponds and fields perfect for his dairy cows, His holdings in the Danbury hatting industry were vast. Yet Charles’s childhood was filled with trauma, illness and instability.  Ultimately Charles overcame adversity and he pushed forward with such intensity and drive that at one point there wasn’t a pie in The Hat City he didn’t have his fingers in.  Charles was born in New Brunswick N.J. on August, 5th 1869. The circumstances around his parents’ deaths are unknown but the tragedy left Charles orphaned as a boy. At 8 years old  Charles moved to Brooklyn two years later he moved again this time to Rochelle, Ill.  Eventually, according to one source, when Charles was 14 he moved to Danbury where he had relatives (why Charles hadn’t moved to Danbury in the first place is unclear.) His stay in Danbury was brief and  Charles moved west because of ill health. (one source claims Charles traveled west to work as an indentured servant.) some years later Charles returned to Danbury. In 1889 Charles married Eleanor Parks. The couple remained in Danbury and over time Charles’s business empire grew. At its height Charles owned The American Hatters and Furriers Co an extensive real estate operation, Parks, Mercier Inc Co  The Connecticut Glue Co.,  The Star oil Co, an, of course, Tarrywile Farms Dairy. In addition to the businesses Charles was a board member at the  Danbury National Bank.  To say Charles was a workaholic is an understatement but when he did find downtime it was at his beloved estate Tarrywile.    In 1910 he bought the 540-acre Tarrywille property from Danbury’s first medical examiner, William Wile. Over time Parks converted the property into one of Danbury’s largest dairy farms. He added lakes and stone walls and eventually bought Hearth Stone Castle also known as, “Park’s Castle.”  According to The National Cyclopedia of American, Biography Parks had, “the finest breeds of cattle and the most modern equipment.” at his dairy. When Charles’s vision was complete he had added another 500 acres of land. Sources tell us Charles loved nature and owning a dairy farm was a way of staying close to the land. And it was at his vast estate that Charles took his last breath. Charles died at 1:30 in the morning from  Cerebral thrombosis. He was 61. Today Tarrywile belongs to the city of Danbury and hosts events and weddings. (Above) a half pint Tarrywile Farms discovered by Hat City Diggers while hiking the Tarrywile property.





A quart size Tarrywile Farms, “Pure milk from tuberculin-tested cows.” In the 19th century, a test was devised to detect TB in bovines and C. D. Parks for health and business reasons informed the public his cows were TB tested. To date, C. D. Parks’ bottles are the only Danbury bottles we know of to have the “pure milk” claim. Since the advent of milk pasteurization, TB has been eliminated from the milk supply. The milk above dates to the 1920s.


Tarrywile farm as it looks today.

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If you made a list of rare Danbury milks, Zinn Dairy would be in the top ten. The bottle pictured and its companion (below) are so obscure they’re the only examples Hat City Diggers knows of. Facts are limited about Jacob Zinn and his diary. But through land records, census records and directories Hat City Diggers pieced this much together:  Zinn was born 1894 in Austria or Poland depending on sources. He immigrated to the United States and moved to Michigan then to Danbury. The 1940 census lists his occupation as a farmer but for a time he worked as a hatter.  Records at Danbury City Hall indicate Zinn bought land near Clapboard Ridge Rd.  Hat City Diggers believe Zinn eventually quit hatting and concentrated on farming starting a small milk business in the 1920s.





Clapboard Ridge Dairy, Jacob Zinn proprietor. Zinn lived on Clapboard Ridge Rd for a few years in the 1920s. This bottle suggests he started bottling milk about that time. In the early 1930s, Zinn moved his operation to Upper Kohanza  Rd on the west side of Danbury, by then we believe he changed the dairy’s name to Zinn Dairy.


Zinn Rd located off Clapboard  Ridge Rd in Danbury. The 100-acre farm owned by Jacob Zinn and his family was located nearby on Upper Kohanza Rd now Kohanza St.





At their height, Charles Rider and his son William ran one of the biggest dairy operations in Danbury. Now 65 years after the firm closed it is on the verge of being completely forgotten.  And as the last generation who remembers drinking Rider milk or licking a Rider ice cream cone passes the dairy will become forgotten completely to all but local historians.   Charles Rider’s family were early settlers in Danbury and Charles was a lifelong resident. Charles was born in 1864 to Dr William Rider and Olivia Fry. When Charles was old enough, he began working at the See’y Silver Plating Company. In time, Rider started his first business with partner C. L. Bryant. The Rider and Bryant Company was located at 259 Main St and made watches and jewelry. After a few years, Charles lost interest in the jewelry business. In 1892, starting with one cow and one wagon he began his dairy business which would become famous throughout the Danbury area.  His first operation was on Maple Ave in Danbury. Eventually, he moved to Cleveland St where according to the Danbury NewsTimes he erected a “small creamery building and commenced the manufacture of ice cream.” Rider was quite mobile in those early years he eventually moved again this time to the old Pete Rowan farm on North St. In 1902 the business moved the final time to 11 New St where Rider built a large dairy to bottle his milk and manufacture his famous ice cream. He called the dairy The City Creamery.  In 1919 after serving in the military Charles’s son, William started working for the firm.  He started at the bottom learning the ins and outs of the dairy business. In time William became co-president.  In the mid-1920s Charles incorporated the business and changed the name of the dairy from The City Creamery to The Rider Dairy. The diary became more and more famous and was a popular destination for ice cream. Rider’s business flourished. Not only did he have home delivery but he also sold his dairy products at mom and pops throughout Danbury, such as the Terrace Fountain at 28 Lake Ave Ext which had the exclusive rights to sell Rider ice cream for 10 years. On June 8, 1942, Charles Rider died at his home on Farview Ave after a year-long illness.  William Rider continued the business by expanding and modernizing the dairy. At its height Rider employed 50 people. William Rider died in the early 1960s. Then after nearly 70 years in business, the Rider Dairy firm was sold in 1961 to the Brock Hall Dairy Company out of Hamden, Ct. Records suggest  Brock Hall sold the 11 New St site to Southern New England Telephone which razed the dairy to build their offices.


An A.C.L. (applied color label) Rider, ca 1950.


Rider delivered,  “Golden Guernsey Grade A milk”  in the Danbury area since the turn of the century. They also sold whipping cream, cottage cheese, butter, eggs, orangeade and chocolate milk from their retail store at 11 New St.


The Rider Dairy at 11 New St ca 1953.  On-site were several brick buildings including a dairy bar and ice cream plant, retail store and offices. Rider also had a fleet of dairy trucks and 20 drivers to deliver his products to homes, stores, restaurants and schools in the Danbury area. All Rider milk came fresh from the Harlem Valley in New York State. (Photo courtesy Danbury Museum)


The Rider dairy bar had a choice of 20 flavors of Rider’s finest ice cream. Rider’s ice cream factory was impressive with its mezzanine floor, 12 ton York refrigerating outfit and hardening room with a capacity for 2000 gals of ice cream.  (Photo courtesy Danbury Museum)



This one quart pinstriped Rider milk was sold at local stores in the Danbury area and beyond.





This City Creamery is a very nice example of a slug plated milk but one of the most common milks found in dumps around the Danbury area.  Charles Rider started The City Creamery in 1902. In the 1920s he renamed the firm Rider Dairy. A note of interest for all Danburians: in 1910 Charles Rider was selling ice from Sugar Hollow Mountain in Danbury. Sugar Hollow still exists today and is located near the Danbury Airport.






Dairyman Blase (Vincent) Carlucci was born in Stamford, Ct in 1903 or 1904, depending on sources, to immigrant parents, Joseph and Katherine Carlucci. Blase’s grandfather, Vito was also a dairyman. 1910 census records note the extended family living in Stamford but by 1920 the clan (11 people altogether) had moved to East King St in Danbury Ct. Census records tell Blase worked as a farm likely on the family farm. By 1930  Evidence suggests Vito now 77 was still working as a dairyman. Danbury Land records indicate Vito Carlucci rented the old Stephen Treadwell place on Padanaram Rd. in 1932. The property consisted of an ice house and milk house and plenty of room for vehicles to come and go. Vito paid $25 a month rent.   Vito ran his dairy in Danbury for several years under the  Vito Carlucci as indicated on the bottle. Sources tell us Blase by 1940 was also working as a dairyman. We believe Blase sold milk under the name Carlucci Dairy. However, its possible Blase had already sold the Carlucci Dairy by 1940 since multiple sources indicate he was working for the  Ridgewood Creamery on Padanaram Rd.  in some capacity.  Blase died January 9th, 1960  from a massive heart attack he was only 56.  Blase’s grandfather died in 1946.   The bottle pictured is a one-pint Carlucci Dairy which dates to around 1936.


This house on Locust Ave in Danbury is listed in city directories as the business address for  blases’s dairy operation.

Three Carlucci Dairy’s two quarts, one pint dug from a gully in Danbury. Like so many other small Danbury milk firms there is no record of Blase or Vito Carlucci advertising in the Danbury NewsTimes.





Just as Marcus Dairy was the crux in Danbury’s Sugar Hollow, Beaver Brook Creamery for years was the centerpiece in another of the cities’ districts, Beaver Brook. Chester Cornelius Hatch owned the firm. Hatch was a fixture in  Danbury for years and his name was well-respected in Danbury’s dairy community. Chester was born in Danbury in 1888. Records indicate he started his dairy firm The Beaver Brook Creamery in the 1910s. The Hatches owned acres of land in Danbury’s Beaver Brook district and it was the perfect location for a dairy. The creamery was located on Old Brookfield Rd. and consisted of a creamery building, ice house, 10 car garage and 12 acres of land. At its height, the dairy’s output was 500 quarts of milk a day. Like Rider, Hatch sold ice cream throughout the Danbury area. One ad tells us that Hatch’s Vogt ice cream was creamier, mellower and melted right on your tongue. In the early 1930s, Hatch incorporated and changed the name of his business to Hatch Dairy Inc.  Chester’s business realm wasn’t limited to just Danbury. According to the Danbury NewsTimes at one point Chester Hatch had “a chain of three ice cream and dairy stores in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford.” In 1941 a  significant change occurred at the dairy.  Hatch Dairy Inc and Rider Dairy signed an agreement that Rider would assume control of the routes. The Hatch/ Rider agreement lasted 10 years. After the Rider deal ended in 1953, Chester Hatch leased the dairy to H. P. Hood and Sons (the company famous for Hood milk and ice cream) from Massachusetts. Soon after the Hood agreement, Chester retired.  In 1967 Chester died from prostate cancer he was 79 years old. He left behind three sons, two daughters and his wife, Evelyn.  The bottle pictured is an early milk ca 1920s with the embossing: “Beaver Brook Creamery.” To date, we are unsure if any of Chester’s milks were embossed “Hatch Dairy Inc” however Hat City Diggers recently dug a Hatch Dairy Inc that is ACL.


A 1930s add for The Hatch Dairy Inc. Hatch incorporated his business in the early 1930s.


Old Brookfield Rd, Danbury, as it looks today. In the early 1960s work began on the Danbury Bypass. The project took years to complete and more than 100 families were relocated. When finished the Danbury section of the bypass stretched from Sandyhook to the New York State line. The road is called I84 and it courses directly through Beaver Brook cutting off  Old Brookfield Rd from the rest of the district. The Beaver Brook Creamery aka Hatch Dairy Inc. was located on Old Brookfield Rd and to date, it is unknown if the dairy was razed to make way for the 84 expressway.







Rudolph F. Baker and  Adolph Malaspina were very different people Rudolph towered over little Adolph who stood 5 foot 3  and weighed in at just 125 pounds- Rudolph was 5′ 11″ and 170  pounds. Rudolph was also several years older than Adolph. Nevertheless, both men had experience in the bottling and liquor trade. So when Kronshage and Miller closed their bottling house at  22-24 Elm St in Danbury in the early 20s, Baker and Malaspina jumped at the chance to start a firm.  Two of their best sodas: Quaker root beer and Maltese ginger ale were bottled at the plant on Elm. Baker and Malaspina also bottled another favorite, Orange Crush, during the 1920s.  The flavor of soda this bottle contained is anybody’s guess. In the mid-1920s Baker and Malaspina dissolved their partnership and  Adolph Malaspina   moved to Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  The reason for his departure from the firm is a mystery. The enterprise then became known as the R. F. Baker Company.


Jean Hornig one of Danbury’s best-known bottlers immigrated to the United States from Landau Bavaria, Germany in 1865. Nothing is known of Jean’s early life. But hatcitydiggers.com has learned this much: In 1871 Jean moved to Danbury.  And  early in the decade, he started a bottling business. Jean didn’t work alone he had a partner, Valentine Lied, also a German immigrate. Together they built an establishment rivaled only by the firm of Michael McPhelemy.  Jean’s business was located on full half-acre of land at the corner of Main and Elm Steets.   Jean and Valentine sold a variety of beers, liquors, extracts, wines, sodas and bottled cider. Hornig and Lied had strong ties to Danbury with businesses throughout the city. Eventually, Lied started his own bottling company and both men  ran saloons. Hornig and Lied also managed Cosmopolitan Hall, a large ballroom at Cosmopolitan Park, a development located   between Main St and Townhill Ave.  Cosmopolitan Hall not only hosted dances but also large roller skating events.  Interestingly, Jean Hornig actually lived at Cosmopolitan Park.  Cosmopolitan Park evolved into Park Place a street that exists today in Danbury.  It appears Jean’s  business dealing were not always honest. In 1882 Jean’s business was raided. A complaint had been issued against Jean for storing and selling illegal liquor. In 1910 Jean was sued by Jacob Ruppert the famous brewer from New York and another bottler Christian Feiganspan. The suit alleged Ruppert and Feiganspan were cheated out of money after a deal was struck concerning the saloon vacated be Valintien Lied, Jean had to pay the two New York brewers $719. Jean’s bottling business extended beyond Danbury. Jean also had a bottle operation in Brewster, NY.  In the 1930s twenty years into retirement, Jean died of a heart attack at home. Pictured above are two gorgeous yellow-amber Jean Hornig Weiss beers from the turn of the century they explode with color as sunlight pours through the glass. We dug these handsome beers on September 20, 2016  from a dump we discovered over the weekend.  The one (left) is mint. The one to the right has delayed breakage in the “O” and the “R” in Hornig.


Jean Hornig didn’t just bottle beer he was in the soda business also. An example is this rare 1880s, Hutchinson, with tombstone slug plate, the Hutchinson stopper clearly is visible at the bottom of the bottle.


One soda Jean Hornig was famous for was his Quaker Root Beer. Treated more as a patent medicine than a soft drink, Quaker Root Beer was touted as being invigorating, healthy, pure and wholesome. Other businessmen, like T. H. Bard, made arrangements with the Hornig Company to sell the famous root beer. Bard not only sold Quaker Root Beer in bottles but also straight from the draught.  The bottle pictured is a typical Hornig Quaker Root Beer and probably dates to the 1890s or 1900s.


Jean Hornig as he looked ca 1890. He must have been quite a sight during his time with his wild muttonchops. (Photo courtesy Danbury Museum)


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Jean Hornig sold several kinds of beer the bottle pictured contained weiss beer.  It dates to the 1880s. Hornig ran his liquor business for years and his saloon was a cornerstone on Elm St in Danbury. Hornig, who came from Germany, brought with him not only his keen business sense but also a bit of his culture: next to his saloon on Elm St, he built a beer garden which appears to have lasted years.








Valentine  Lied was one of Danbury’s best known German American citizens so when he wandered off in an apparent stupor one night it stood to reason the event would make the paper. Lied was a longtime saloon keeper.  He bought his first saloon at 88 White St in Danbury from his friend and business partner Jean Hornig.   Valentine also ran his own bottling company and in later years a cafe (saloon) on Elm St. From all accounts, Lied prospered in the 19th and early 20th century.  Like other bottlers who ran saloons Lied had a fair amount of business doubtlessly from the population of hatters that lived and worked in the area. His clientele were hard drinkers and lied’s establishment wasn’t above making headlines in the local papers. In the winter of 1902 Lied’s saloon was center stage for a tragedy. According to The Danbury News a man wandered into Lied’s saloon feeling ill. As the day progressed customers began to notice the man, Baltzer Schwartz, a German immigrant trembling even as he sat next to the hot stove. People inquired about his condition but Schwartz would not eat or leave his seat by the fire.  At closing time Schwartz,  begged Valentine to let him stay the night.  A sympathetic Lied allowed Schwartz to sleep by the stove. Lied then closed up shop. The next day two of Lied’s employees found Baltzer Schwartz hanging from the rafters in the back of the saloon.   Schwartz had committed suicide.  One of the employees was William Sperb who Lied would help start a bottling firm. ( for more on Sperb click here) Police said Schwartz had taken poison prior to the hanging (this is what caused the  trembling.) When the poison failed, Schwartz,, who police said brought a rope with him, hanged himself.

The same year as the suicide Valentine’s wife, Anna,  died. In 1904 Valentine remarried. Sometime later records suggest Valentine retired from saloon keeping  when he sold his saloon to bottlers, Louis Dick and, Abraham Vogal.  In later years, Lied’s health began to fail. According to The Danbury Evening News, February 8, 1910, he was “suffering from a mental illness,” (probably dementia) when he wandered from his house on White St on a cold February morning.  The police were notified and a search ensued.  After a time, friends found him miles away in Redding. Lied died that same year. He was in his mid-60s.  The bottle pictured is a typical Lied blob top. The manganese in the glass is turning the bottle purple as it reacts to sunlight.




What Ella Kahn did with the Trunk Brothers’ bottles after she dissolved the brother’s business is anybody’s guess. One thing is for certain, she had no idea Trunk sodas would be considered one of the rarest and sought after pieces of Danbury glass out there- and Hat City Diggers has two. Like their bottles, the Trunk brothers’ history is elusive but with a little digging (pun intended) we uncovered a bit of information about the brothers and their elusive firm. In 1910 the Trunk brothers moved to Danbury from parts unknown and set up residence at the Arlington Hotel at 89 White St. In the winter of 1910, Israel and Wolf Trunk,  put together their small soda water business.  The operation was located in a barn Israel leased in the back of a house at 5 Ellsworth Ave, for $8 a month which increased to $9 a year later. In the meantime, the Trunk brothers moved to 14 Maple Ave taking up residence with Ella and William Kahn. The Kahns may have been relatives of the Trunks.  Israel and Wolf labored at their firm for two years but their soda never caught on and the business folded. The Trunks sold everything related to their enterprise which according to Danbury Land Records included the following: two fountains, a crowning machine, all the remaining bottles, their wagon and their horse, Nellie to their roommate  Ella Kahn. Ella restarted the soda works in 1912. She kept the business breathing about a year then it folded. In 1913 Trunk Brothers’ soda works closed for good. In a seemingly unrelated piece of news that same year a small fire broke out at the Trunk/Kahn residents. No one was injured and there was little damage but Shortly after the fire, Ella, William Kahn and Wolf Trunk moved to Michigan. The fate of Israel is unknown. The house at  5 Ellsworth Ave and the barn in the rear where the Trucks’ and Mrs Kahn bottled their soda is long gone replaced by a modern townhouse. A final note: Wolf or Israel represented himself as “William” Trunk at the soda works’ sale. The reason for the name change is unknown but interestingly, “William” is the first name of Mrs Kahn’s husband.  Finally, history would have overlooked the Trunks if not for the finds Hat City Diggers made.  Of the bottles connected to the Trunks’ firm Hat City Diggers know of only three that survive today. The eagle (which looks a little like a vulture preached on a sprig) makes it one of the most desirable Danbury bottles out there.





At the height of his career, John Blake dropped dead in front of astonished friends and colleagues ending the life of a man The Danbury Evening News called one of most “honest, hardworking and straightforward,” men in Danbury.  John was born in Danbury just after the Civil War. At age two he and his parents moved to Wilton, Ct. John lived there for 17 years.  When he was 19, he returned to Danbury and, after learning the hatting trade, becoming a hat finisher. He worked at several hat factories but left hatting to work as  a bartender. Later John went to work for liquor dealer W. E. Henebry. In the fall of 1901 after learning the ropes with Henebry, John began the process of starting his own business. Land records indicate he purchased a lunch counter from Ellis Wood Working Company in Bethel and a bar, beer pump and ice cellar house from the Henry Zeltner Company of New York. In 1902 he opened his saloon and restaurant in Danbury’s Wooster Square. John advertised heavily in the local newspaper to promote his restaurant business, “Blake’s” a.k.a. “Wooster Square Lunchbar.” His dinner menu varied from day to day but a typical Tuesday choice consisted of the following: mock turtle soup, fried oysters, escalloped veal, beef braise, smothered red cabbage, potatoes au gratin, orange fritters, tea and coffee. Next door to Blake’s was John’s saloon which was probably a popular destination for hatters and other working-class clientele.  In 1905 John expanded his business to include the White House Cafe a lunch wagon he bought from a local businessman.  In 1907 John ednmade his biggest purchase when he acquired The Walmac Hotel once owned by W. H. Leonard.  John called his new purchase The Hotel Blake.  Six years later John remodeled the five-story building adding 16 more rooms and moving his saloon and package room into the store at the hotel.  Rooms at the Hotel Blake were furnished and cost 75¢ a night. Interestingly only men could room at the hotel.  In January 1917 John attended a meeting of the local liquor dealers association at 276 Main St. While in the building’s hall John suffered a heart attack and died suddenly. His untimely death shocked his friends and colleagues. He was only 51. The blob top (above) is ca 1905 and contained John Blake’s own brew (Blake bottled beer). a case of Extra Light sold for $1 John’s Extra Dark went for $1.25 a case.

John Blake’s “Quick Lunch Room” ca 1905.




The site of Blake’s restaurant and saloon at the corner of Elm and Main Streets today.

The building pictured in Wooster Square appears to be the original Blake building just heavily renovated over the past hundred-plus years. To the left is the old Danbury News’ building. To the right of the Blake building is the site of the old Capitol Theater, now a parking lot.

A 1905 ad from The Danbury Evening News for Blake’s breakfast specials. Note that breakfast runs from 5 to 9 not 5 to 11 as it does nowadays.

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