Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cleveland’s Loews: From Bitters to Beer to Bevo




Although many whiskey men right up to the end dismissed the threat posed by prohibitionists, the Loew family of Cleveland, in the liquor trade for at least 38 years, closed out that business in 1912, four years before Ohio went “dry.” But the new enterprise they chose would prove almost as vulnerable to prohibition — manufacturing equipment for breweries.

The liquor house president and founder was John A. Loew.  He is credited with creating the firm in 1873, apparently as an adjunct to his saloon at 63 Willey Street.  As his sons Daniel and Charles matured he took them into the business and about 1883 called it J. A. Loew & Sons.  Daniel was vice president;  Charles was secretary.  At that time the company was located at 677 Lorain Road.

The company featured two proprietary brands, “American Club Rye” and its best seller, “Dr. Loew’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters,” the latter so named despite there being no evidence that any of the Loews had a medical degree.   Advertised as a “nerve tonic,” and sometimes as an “aromatic tonic,”  these stomach bitters were thirty percent alcohol, 60 proof, considerably stronger than a fortified wine.


Dr. Loew’s bitters featured an elaborate label of a individual riding a winged horse stabbing a lion with a long lance.   Beneath the label was a square bottle embossed with the the Loew name and other advertising.  Found in four different sizes, the bottles came in clear glass and several shades of olive. Dr. Loew’s  bottles are a favorite with bitters collectors.


The Loew company grew rapidly, moving to Woodland Avenue before settling at 392-398 Erie Street in a large three-story building, shown below in an artist’s rendering.   About the same time the Loews took a new partner named Fred Bomonti who became a vice president.


After at least 22 years at the helm of his liquor business, John Loew retired and died in January of 1897 at the age of 63. His mausoleum plaque is shown here. His sons continued the business, Charles became president and Daniel the secretary-treasurer.  They changed the name to The Loew & Sons Company, as shown above on a letterhead.  After 1903 they also moved their operations to several addresses on Cleveland’s Prospect Avenue. 

The liquor company remained in business until 1912 when it disappeared from city directories to be followed by the Loews’ brewery equipment company.  My guess is that pressures from prohibitionary forces in Ohio as well as heat from Food and Drug Act enforcement agents caused the Loews to shut their liquor house doors.  The family appear to have sold the rights to their stomach bitters to Henry Christy, a Cleveland wholesale grocer who specialized in alcoholic products. [See my post on Christy, Jan. 2013.]  As shown here, Christy’s name appears on a Dr. Loew’s bottle shaped and colored identically to the original.

Almost immediately the family created the Loew Manufacturing Company, a supplier to the brewing industry. Two of its inventions for assisting the brewmaster were the Loew “Blitz-Blank” beer filter and the Loew “Magic” filtermass washer.  The firm also made larger machinery, including a beer pasteurizer looming five stories high and a bottle filler and capper, both shown here.


With the 1916 imposition of prohibition in Ohio, the state’s breweries shut down, depriving the Loews of its most robust business, but beer-makers in other states were still going strong and in need of equipment.  With the imposition of National Prohibition in 1920, the Loews simply shifted their attention to bottling equipment for non-alcoholic beverages, like “Bevo,” a soft drink offering from Anheuser-Busch.


Note:  In the process of researching this vignette, I came across Ferd Meyer’s post on his Peachridge blog about the Loews’ bitters.  He features a number of excellent photos of the Dr. Loew's bitters bottles.  I have borrow several for this article and thank him for them.

  












Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Root & Midler’s Liquor Floated Their Boats


When Albert M. Root and Andrew J. Midler, buddies from Syracuse, New York, came to a booming Saginaw,  Michigan, about 1863, they started a liquor business aimed at slaking the thirst of the lumbermen thronging the city.  Their success provided them with the wealth to own and operate the largest fleet of steamboats plying the busy Saginaw River.


While the map of Saginaw in 1867 above may have exaggerated the amount of river traffic,  from the early days of steamboat navigation a regular river traffic of steamers ran between Saginaw and Bay City on Lake Michigan. It was lucrative business.   Root and Midler would find that maintaining their fleet, however, raised problems beyond those of running a whiskey business 

Albert Root was born in Madison County in upstate New York about 1838.  At some point in his youth he gravitated to the nearby city of Syracuse where he met Andrew Midler, who was five years older.  The son of a local coal dealer, Midler had been born in Syracuse.  The 1860 census found him working as a contractor.  How the partners came together is unknown but Root likely had some experience working in a liquor house.

Seeking better opportunities than Syracuse provided, the partners looked westward and decided that the nationwide strong demand for lumber during the Civil War and the virgin pine forests of northern Michigan would create a boom town.  As trees were felled, the logs were float down tributaries to the Saginaw River, then to the multiple sawmills located in Saginaw.   The industry brought crowds of hard drinking men to the Michigan town.

In 1863, the pair pulled up stakes in Syracuse and headed for the Michigan wilderness.  Midler apparently was a lifelong bachelor but Root had married a New Yorker named Lucia about 1857 and they had a six-year-old girl at the time of the move.  Upon arrival, the partners wasted little time in establishing their wholesale and retail liquor and tobacco trade in a building at 121 Water Street, located at the foot of a bridge connecting Saginaw with East Saginaw.  From their storefront Root and Midler could see the constant movement of ships up and down the river, many of them built in Saginaw shipyards.


Over the next nine years as the firm of Root & Midler prospered, their wealth propelled them into shipping.  In 1872 the firm purchased the steamer L.G. Mason and the following year the Daniel Ball. The latter was a well-known vessel for having occasioned a 1871 U.S. Supreme Court decision.  A passenger ship, the Daniel Ball was specifically designed for the forty-mile river route it earlier had traveled on the Grand River between Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Grand Haven at the mouth of Lake Michigan.  Designed with a draft of only two feet, the steamboat was not considered capable of plying the Great Lakes.  Because the ship was never licensed or inspected for safety as required by U.S. law, the federal government took the owners to court.  The district court dismissed the suit, the feds appealed and a circuit court reversed the decision, a judgment upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Daniel Ball became licensed.

The partners’ final purchase was the Cora Locke, a side-wheeler used as an auxiliary ship on weekends when traveler demand was heavy.   As a result of their fleet, Root and Midler largely controlled the passenger business between Saginaw and Bay City, a monopoly the firm succeeded in maintaining for fifteen years.  Over time the they rebuilt entirely the L.G. Mason.  It was said to emerge “as fresh as a daisy” and remained a favorite river craft for many years, setting a record for Saginaw River trips.

Not everything on the waters went well.  In October 1876 the Daniel Ball caught fire while on the way down river and was run ashore.  The passengers escaped unhurt but the aging craft burned to the water’s edge and sank, a total lost.  Undaunted, Root and Midler commissioned a new steamer from a regional shipyard.  Launched in 1877, the ship was christened the Wellington R. Burt, named for a wealthy local lumberman.  A side-wheeler weighing in a 252 tons, the Burt, shown here, was licensed to carry 500 people.  A popular stop was Lookout Point Harbor near Bay City, below.

Although the Wellington R. Burt was said to be “a well patronized and popular boat” on the Saginaw River, it was the occasion of Root & Midler Co. being sued in 1885.  Apparently the custom of passengers was to jump on the boat as it approached the dock.  When a 48-year old Ms. Clinton made her jump to the gangway, she fell, broke her leg and sued the steamboat owners for negligence, asking damages.  After a lower court dismissed the suit, she appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.  That body ruled in her favor, indicating that officers had not taken reasonable precautions against “an obvious frequent danger.”

Meanwhile Midler had died, leaving Root to carry on the business, subsequently purchasing his partner’s share from the estate.  He moved the liquor house from the river bank to Genesee Avenue, the main commercial street of Saginaw, purchasing a building in the Everett Block, above, so called because it included the Everett House hotel.  

Under Root’s proprietorship the liquor business continued to prosper.  In 1880 one journal opined:  “In the house of Root & Midler we find the ‘spirit’ of enterprise still competing for a foremost position among our liquor houses.  We highly commend this house and and feel confident that their business operations will be fully as successful in the future as they have been in the past.” Said another observer about 1885:  “The business of the firm considerably exceeded $100,000, having an extent covering the entire north portion of the State.”  

A master Mason, Root also engaged in politics and was elected for one term as a representative of the Second Ward to the Saginaw Common Council, but declined to run a second time.   Like Midler, Root died relatively young, passing in June 1886 at only 48 years old.   The cause was given as “congestion of the lungs.”  Of Root, his newspaper obituary said:  “In the varied relations of life he was a useful and respected business man and citizen and his private life was as quiet and unostentatious as it was spotless.  Few citizens in this city had so wide a circle of warm personal friends and his death was a source of profound regret.”  

Root’s death appears to have spelled the end of both the liquor and steamship businesses.  Saginaw itself was declining. Having peaked about 1870 in timber production, the region faced both diminishing supply and demand.  Lumbering in the region virtually disappeared by 1900. The boom that brought Root and Midler to Saginaw was over.  Nevertheless, the two whiskey men from Syracuse had played an important role in the city’s heyday and its history.


























Saturday, February 10, 2018

Whiskey Men and Grover Cleveland


Foreword: Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, the only man ever to be elected to two non-contiguous terms.  While in American history he stands high in the mid-ranks of Chief Executives, it also should be noted that, while seldom taking an alcoholic drink, Cleveland was a favorite with whiskey men and a close friend of several.   This post examines some of those relationships. 

When Alexander, (“Sandy”) Wood died, his funeral was attended by former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, just one of the well known figures who were Wood’s buddies and fishing companions during his lifetime and who at his death came to pay tribute in Boston to the memory of this immigrant Scots whiskey man.  He is shown left.

Born in Kelso, Scotland, Wood emigrated first to Canada and then to the United States, settling in Boston.  About 1872, with a partner he established a liquor house at 100-102 Broadway, shown here, and began rectifying, that is, blending his own proprietary brands of whiskey, and met with considerable success at the trade and considerable wealth. 

Throughout this time Wood was returning regularly to Canada during summers to fish.   In 1873 he and friends purchased salmon fishing waters on the Southwest Miramichi River in New Brunswick.   A man with an engaging and outgoing personality,  Wood became acquainted with people of influence and would bring them fishing on his salmon-teeming river.   Among them was the governor of Massachusetts and through him Wood got to know President Grover Cleveland, an avid fisherman.  Cleveland often was in Wood’s distinguished group of anglers who would take meet in Boston and entrain together into Canada to fish.  

The liquor dealer continued his fishing parties to New Brunswick virtually the rest of his life, dying in June 1899.  Among those attending his memorial services was  Grover Cleveland.  In 1906 the former President wrote an essay “In Defense of Fishermen” in which he extolled “full-blooded fishermen whose title is clear and whose natural qualifications are undisputed.”   My guess is he had Sandy Wood in mind when he penned those lines.

Although Edward Smith and Christian Hanlen could not boast so close a relationship with Cleveland, they were part of his political advancement.  After leaving his native Ireland in his teens, Edward Smith, shown right, spent the rest of his life in Rhode Island.  He would find significant success there both in business and in politics.  Operating under the name “Edward Smith, Importer and Wholesale Dealer in Wines and Liquors,”  his most important spirits offerings were whiskeys. Some he sold under distiller labels;  others he blended in his own facilities and put his label on them.  Meanwhile Smith also was pursuing a career in politics.  When Pawtucket was chartered as a Rhode Island city, Smith was elected as an alderman on the Democratic ticket.  He held the office for six consecutive years,1886 to 1892, and was elected president of the aldermanic board in 1890.  A delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1884,  Smith helped secure the presidential nomination for Grover  Cleveland.


Christian Hanlen was the owner/ manager of a wholesale liquor business called Hanlen Bros., located at 330 Market St. in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hanlen advertised widely his rye whiskeys, brandies, gins, imported and domestic wine, ales and stouts.  His involvement in Democratic Party politics came at a particularly crucial period.  When Cleveland ran again in 1892, serious opposition to him erupted within the Democratic Party.  Hanlen, however, was cited by the New York Times as a particularly ardent Cleveland supporter and elected to the nominating convention in Chicago, shown here, where Grover was elected on the first ballot.  

Perhaps no distiller either before or since has surpassed the career that Charles Tracey, shown left, crafted as president and treasurer of the Columbia Distillery Co., in Albany, New York.  He was a four-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, aide to five governors of New York, and a key advisor to President Grover Cleveland.



Close to Cleveland when he was governor of New York, Tracey was a staunch defender of Eastern business interests during his eight years on the Hill, particularly of the whiskey industry.  He became known as the chief spokesman for the “Gold Democrats,” a conservative faction of the party who, with President Cleveland, upheld the gold standard for currency against “free silver” advocates.A cartoon of the time characterized them as “Gold Bugs” and accused Cleveland of selling out the country.  The bearded figure to the right of the President may well be Tracey.  

Joseph “Joe” Seelinger was well known in Norfolk, Virginia, as a saloonkeeper and restauranteur. But his real claim to fame around town was as a favorite duck hunting companion of Grover Cleveland.  Linked in life, the two almost were united in death as they narrowly escaped drowning in March, 1901, attempting to return from a day of shooting.

Joe was the proprietor of the Onyx Saloon, located in the heart of the city’s bustling commercial district.  The Onyx featured an equally elaborately decorated restaurant on the second floor that became a favorite dining spot for the rich and socially prominent of Norfolk and the Tidewater.  One writer said of the Onyx that it “became widely known throughout the city by fastidious diners with whom cost was not a factor.  In the gay days of Norfolk his [Seelinger’s] place was the center of fashionable gatherings, especially around the holiday season.”

Meanwhile, the Onyx Saloon was making Joe, the genial saloonkeeper, very rich indeed.  He was able to indulge his passion as a sportsman and duck hunter.  The marshlands east of Norfolk were a favorite wintering grounds of millions of ducks of a wide range of species and hunting clubs proliferated.  A prime location was held by the Back Bay Gunning Club of which Seelinger was president and treasurer.  Enter Cleveland, a hunter with a passion for shooting ducks.  Shown together in an illustration, he and Joe connected as frequent hunting partners in the waters off Norfolk.  

It was on one of those outings that the two almost lost their lives.  Papers across America like the San Francisco Chronicle of March 1, 1901 headlined:  “Grover Cleveland is Caught in Storm;  Former President Narrowly Escapes Drowning While Duck Shooting.”   Cleveland and Seelinger were far out on the water having shot 75 ducks and many geese and pigeons.  The weather threatened.  The former President refused to leave before nightfall and by then a full fledged storm had arisen. The boat was nearly swamped by high wind and waves.  Apparently through Seelinger’s skill at the helm, after considerable time and in full darkness, the two were able to make shore. 

The idea that these whiskey men all played greater or lesser roles in the life of Grover Cleveland should be no surprise.  Through their liquor enterprises all of them had become wealthy and able to afford such luxuries as owning salmon waters and hunting lodges, heading political factions, and attending National Conventions.










































Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jesse Moore’s Was a Tale of Two Cities


In Charles Dickens famous novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” the cities were London and Paris.  For Jesse Moore they were Louisville and San Francisco — two towns that were the springboards of a whiskey that became known from coast to coast and carried Moore’s name.

The label chosen apparently was meant to represent Moore himself.  Although I have been unable to find a photo of the distiller, Moore was a Kentucky entrepreneur not a pioneer toting a rifle on the frontier.  His story is told here in a series of dates that take his whiskey-making enterprises from 1838 until after his death.

1838: Jesse Moore (born in 1812) entered the distillery business at the age of 26 when his older brother George J Moore became the owner of the McFifan distillery in Mt. Vernon, Indiana.  George, a banker, took over the facility as a result of a bad debt, but the distillery burned (or been burned) to the ground before he could take possession. Jesse and George together rebuilt and called the plant the Phoenix Distillery. George and his family subsequently returned to Louisville, leaving Jesse in charge.


1848: Jesse sold his stake in the Phoenix and returned to Louisville, where for a time he ran a confectionary, wine and liquor store.


1853: Jesse with a partner bought a small distillery in Lebanon, KY.  Their brands included "Jesse Moore", "Jesse Moore's A.A.", "Kentucky Bedford", "P. Vollmer", and “Swan."  Jesse Moore Whiskey was the flagship brand, as indicated here on two company shot glasses.

1859-1875:  Moore’s company built at least two more distilleries.  Jesse was bottling his production in glass bottles that carried paper labels but were heavily embossed with a pair of antlers as a signature.  The containers ranged in size from quarts to flasks.  As shown here they came in a variety of colors from dark and light amber to green.


1875: Moore sold his stake in a distillery in Marion Co., Kentucky.   In partnership with his nephew George Henry Moore (born in 1835), Jesse built the Belmont, Astor, and Nutwood distilleries in Louisville. The Jesse Moore brand had become extremely popular throughout the West, and the distilleries were essential to supply an ever widening market. Moore’s company became noted nationwide for its giveaway advertising items to saloons and restaurants carrying its brands.  The company eventually  established outlets in a number of cities throughout America, with San Francisco as by far the most important because of its access to the entire West.

1876: Jesse and George Henry took Henry Browne Hunt as their California  partner.  Born in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania in 1936, Hunt had gone to San Francisco with his uncle when he was 13,  went East to finish his education and returned to California to work for several liquor firms.  Among them was a saloon owner who was the San Francisco agent for Moore’s whiskey but apparently not doing a good job.  The Moores sent a representative West who met Hunt and was impressed by his ability.  With Jesse’s blessing a new partnership was formed and called the Jesse Moore, Hunt Company.  Shown here are a number of artifacts bearing that name.  Under Hunt, the brand was distributed throughout the West and was said to enjoy “phenomenal” sales.

1880's: Max Selliger, a liquor salesman, was taken on by the Moores to help run their distilleries.  George Henry and Selliger later formed a separate liquor company, one listed in Louisville directories from at least 1884.

1890: Thos. Kirkpatrick, an immigrant from England, became manager of the San Francisco office, assisting Hunt.  The company was liberal in bestowing giveaway items such as shot glasses, back-of the bar bottles, and signs to saloons and restaurants

1892: Jesse Moore retired from business and sold his shares in Jesse Moore & Co. to a group of English investors headed by Nathan Hofheimer. Hofheimer had worked for Moore from 1879 to 1884, at which point he left for New York and became established in the international liquor trade.  Moore retired to his Louisville mansion home, shown here, and died in 1898.

1896: George Henry Moore died at the age of 61, the victim of a heart attack.  His widow sold most of his Moore stock to Max Selliger, although Sherley Moore, George Henry’s son, still held shares worth $100,000. The Louisville and San Francisco operations were then consolidated, with Thomas Kirkpatrick as President and Sherley Moore as Vice President of the Jesse Moore, Hunt Co. Inc.

1901-1933: Sherley Moore exited the liquor business, leaving Max Selliger to continue running the company until Prohibition. Upon repeal in 1933, Selliger sold the idled distilleries along with the Jesse Moore brand name to other interests, thus ending almost a full century that this tale of two cities was told.

Note:  This post has made use of the timetable provided by Robin Preston on his Pre-Pro website for the information about Jesse Moore and his whiskey.  Preston does not indicate his source or sources but the information is corroborated by other documents.  I have added other information that seemed important and all the images shown here.  For more information on Max Selliger see my post of May 2017 on his rise to prominence.  That post also provides additional information on George Henry Moore.
























Friday, February 2, 2018

Chas. Niccoli and Colorado Towns of Violence and Fear


If it be true that every bottle has a story behind it, then the
details behind the liquor jug shown right suggests enough material for a novel.   It would document an epic struggle between miners and mine owners in Colorado that involved armed intimidation, “stalag” conditions, shootings, and even murder.  Charles Niccoli, a saloonkeeper, was in the thick of it all.

Note the two Colorado addresses listed on the jug:  Hastings and Delagua, two adjacent settlements about 22 miles northwest of Trinidad.   A 1910 description of Hastings, shown below, set the population at 2,000 and described it as having a general store, meat market, saloon, and a good public school. Delagua, it was said, had a Catholic Church, a “substantial” general store, and a good public school.  Delagua was incorporated, boasted telephones, and had four-times-daily stage runs to nearby towns.


In effect, however, both towns were mining camps operated by the Victor-American Fuel Company.  In Hasting, Victor-American Fuel operated 190 coke ovens, with a daily output of 300 tons of coke and 2,300 tons of coal.  Details of the Delagua operation were not provided.  Left unsaid was that both settlements were surrounded by fences and that the road from Hastings to Delagua next door was blocked by a gate guarded by armed men.  Freedom of travel was sharply restricted.  Hasting is shown above with Niccoli’s saloon the building with the signboard, lower left.

Most Colorado miners lived in these company towns, renting company houses, buying food and supplies in company stories and drinking at saloons controlled by the company.  Law enforcement officials,  school teachers, doctors and even priests all were company employees.  Charles Niccoli likely was not an employee.  His ability to rent the saloon building shown here in detail was predicated, however, on his being on good terms with Victor-American Fuel.  This included not objecting to paying the coal company each month a per capita sum that might range from  25 to 40 cents for each person whose name appeared upon the company payroll.  This payoff allowed Niccoli to enjoy exclusive saloon business in the camps.


Niccoli was born in 1858 in Poings, Italy.  Christened “Pasquale,” he became Charles (or “Charley”) upon arrival about 1884 in the United States.  A number of the Niccoli family had immigrated from Italy to Colorado, working both as miners and in other trades in the vicinity of Trinidad.   One Niccoli, for example, was proprietor of the Grand Eagle Saloon, above.  According to census data, in 1885 Charles married a woman named Theresa (“Treza”) from the same region of Italy he had come from.  They would have five children, four of them living to maturity.   Nicolli surfaced about 1907 operating the Niccoli Brothers’ store front saloon in the Trinidad Hotel, shown above, a three-story brick building on North Commercial Street.  

When Niccoli came to Hastings and Delagua is also unknown, but he likely arrived before the unrest that gripped Colorado mines in the early 20th Century.  The Victor-American Fuel Co. had a reputation for paying low wages and a lack of attention to mine safety.  The death rate for miners in Colorado was over twice the national average.  Shown here is a photo of a draped corpse from a 1901 disaster at Delagua that killed a number of miners.  The political power of Victor-American and other coal companies allowed them to hand-pick coroner’s juries that virtually always absolved them from blame.

In 1913 those working conditions triggered a strike among the miners, many of them members of the United Mine Workers (UMW).  As the strikers set up a camp outside the mine perimeters, Victor-American Fuel imported strikebreakers, largely immigrant labor from Southern and Eastern Europe, many of them Italian.  As the months progressed, violence between the strikers and the company’s militia, sometimes known as “death squads,” escalated.  As shown here, the hired guns were well armed and drove armored vehicles.  

The 1913-1914 Colorado Coal War was one of the most violent events in American history.  The strike resulted in 66 deaths and a number of wounded.  The UMW lost the battle but in a broader sense, it was a victory for the union.  The strike helped to galvanize American opinion and led to reforms in labor relations, ultimately assisting the miners at Victor-American’s facilities and other Colorado mines.  

The Coal War caught the attention of the U.S. Congress whose Subcommittee on Mines and Mining held a series of hearings on what had occurred.  The counsel for the hearings was Edward P. Costigan, Virginia-born who had moved with his family to Colorado as a child in 1877.  Shown here, a Harvard graduate, Costigan studied law and eventually became a U.S. Senator from Colorado.  At that point, however, he was a House staff member directing an important investigation.

Among those testifying was a individual whose name was kept anonymous.  He was an Italian miner brought in as a strike-breaker in 1913.  Through a translator he told of being privy to a killing, apparently by guards, at the Hastings mine.  When he tried to accompany the body of the dead miner, he was told to “go home and go to sleep.”  Thoroughly frightened, instead he went to Charles Niccoli’s saloon.  Niccoli was there and the Italian miner asked him who the victim was.  He testified that the saloonkeeper told him:  “Nobody got shot…You can work—you go out—and you believe nobody got shot.”  Niccoli clearly was in the pocket of Victor-American Fuel.

The violence later spilled over into Niccoli’s own family.  In October 1915, seven coal miners, armed with guns and knives, stormed into his Delagua saloon.  A pitched battle ensued in which one man was killed and Charles’ brother, Frank Niccoli was stabbed with a butcher knife.  According to a newspaper account:  “His assailant after inflicting three wounds left the weapon in Niccoli’s back.”  When Charles removed it, Frank fainted.  Two years later Charles would lose a Niccoli kinsman, a miner at Hastings, in a April fire that would claim 121 lives.  The monument shown here memorializes the event.

By that time, Colorado had adopted a ban on the sale of alcohol of any kind throughout the state.  Niccoli was forced to shut down his saloons in Hasting and Delaqua and seek other employment.  He had accumulated considerable wealth and owned substantial real estate in Colorado.  In the 1920 census he was recorded as owner/operator of a stock ranch and by 1930 as retired.  Charles died in April of that year and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery of Trinidad, where other Niccoli family members, including his wife Theresa, also are interred.


Over time the coal seams at both the Hastings and Delagua mines begin to give out.  By 1969 both mines were shut, the buildings abandoned and the villages became Colorado “ghost towns.”  Above is Hastings as it looks today.  Locals say that sometimes at night the cries of the miners can be heard through the hills. While we can fault Charles Niccoli for his willingness to help cover up a crime, we can thank him for creating a whiskey jug that holds so riveting, if troubling, a story.