Saturday, January 21, 2017

Five Peppers Stirred the Copper Pot

Among the best known Kentucky bourbons is “Old Oscar Pepper,” a brand that endured for more than 80 years and a tradition honored even today.  The story behind this whiskey is so long that this post deals only with the Pepper family, the five members, including two women, who guided the fortunes of the distillery until 1878 when it was sold.  My next post will describe what happened over the following 40 years.  But first we get to know the Peppers:

Elijah Pepper:  He was the founding father of the Pepper distilling dynasty, born about 1775 in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Pepper and Elizabeth Holton, accounted “an English lady.”  In 1794, not long out of his teens,  Elijah married Sarah O’Bannon, who the records indicate may have been only 13 or 14 at the time.  In 1797, with Sarah and her brother, John O’Bannon, this Pepper moved more than 500 miles west into Kentucky, settling near the town of Versailles, Woodford County.  There he established his first distillery.

After moving for several years to Bourbon County, Elijah returned to Woodford County and by 1812 was paying taxes on 200 acres along Glenn’s Creek. He had selected this location because a branch stream coursed through the property and three pristine springs gushed near the banks of the creek.  There he established a farm, a gristmill and a distillery.  Although  other nearby Kentucky farmer had been forced to give up distilling because of the federal taxes imposed, Elijah seemingly had deeper pockets, bought their grain and legally made it into whiskey.
By that time Elijah and Sarah had a family of seven children, four boys and three girls.  For them he built a two-story log house with a massive exterior limestone chimney.  The only part of the original Pepper settlement that remains, the house was enlarged by subsequent residents.  It is shown here as part of a Kentucky archeological project that has sought to restore and preserve the site.

All of Elijah’s structures were built of timbers on foundations of stone.  Land division maps indicate the grist mill was constructed high on the stream where the force of the water could turn a wheel and that his distillery was nearby.  The location of his slave quarters has not been identified, for — truth be told — the Peppers were slave owners.  Census records for 1810 indicate that the family had nine enslaved blacks,  With the prosperity of his holdings, Elijah was able over the next ten years to increase his slave holdings to twelve, seven males and five females.  Owning more hands for field work allowed Elijah to increase his land holdings to 350 acres.

The prosperity that followed in the next decade allowed him to buy even more slaves and the 1830 census recorded him holding thirteen males and twelve females in bondage.  An inventory taken at Elijah’s death in March 1831 provided other indications of his wealth.  His distillery included six copper kettle stills, similar to the one shown here, 74 mash tubs, a number of kegs and 41 barrels of aging whiskey, equivalent to 1,560 gallons.  His livestock counted 22 horses, 113 hogs, 125 sheep and lambs, and more than 30 head of cattle.  He also owned numerous implements for use in agriculture and timbering. 

Sarah O’Bannon Pepper: Only days before his death, Elijah Pepper made a will that left the distillery and other property to his wife.  Now about 50 years old, Sarah seems to have been fully up to the task.  The daughter of William O’Bannon and Annie Neville, she was the niece of General John Neville of Virginia, a prominent officer in the Civil War and a personal friend of George Washington.  The Nevilles were wealthy gentry in Virginia and may have assisted the Peppers financially at the start.

Although Sarah’s education may have been truncated by her early marriage, her husband entrusted Sarah with aspects of managing their large farm and associated businesses.  The inventory of Elijah’s possessions indicate that she had overseen purchases of farm and distillery equipment including, “stills and tubs, etc., in still house.”  She also likely was responsible for buying the carpeting, silver and other expensive furnishings that are said to have graced the Pepper home.

The presumption of an historian who researched the property for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is that after Elijah’s death Sarah was in charge of managing the family businesses, including the distillery and whiskey sales, for a period of about seven years, 1831 until 1838.  That year she sold her interest to her eldest son, Oscar Pepper, who had been assisting her. 

Oscar Neville Pepper:  Born in 1809, Oscar took the relatively small whiskey business his father had founded to a new level.  Thus 1838 is recognized as the founding year of the re-named Oscar Pepper Distillery and the origin of the “Old Oscar Pepper” brand.  After buying out the shares of his brothers and sisters,  Oscar began making major improvements on the property.  He replaced the log structures of his father’s milling and distilling businesses with stone buildings and put an addition on the house.  Indicative of the amount of construction going on was a record in the 1850 census that a stone mason from Ireland named Thomas Mayhall was living with the family.  

The move from timber to stone was not a difficult one since the hillsides that surrounded the Pepper property were a rich source of limestone, a mineral important to the farmer-distiller families.  The limestone bedrock was good for growing corn and the waters of limestone-filtered springs helped produce whiskey with a distinct flavor.  Working with limestone for construction, however, took the kind of expertise that Mayhall brought.  To form building blocks the bedrock had to be quarried and shaped.  To create mortar the limestone had to be fired, ground and slaked.  As indicated by land records, the resulting distillery building was a one-and-a half story rectangle structure with an asymmetrical gable roof about 60 by 75 feet in area.   Shown below is a picture of Pepper’s stone distillery.
Oscar’s most important decision was to hire as his master distiller the now-famous Dr. James Crow, a Scottish chemist.  Crow has been hailed as the  individual who single-handed enhanced the bourbon-making process by improving and codifying sour-mash fermentation, pot still distillation, and the process of aging in wooden barrels.  

Crow also insisted that no more than two and one-half gallons of whiskey should be produced from a bushel of grain.  Shown here is a device that may have been invented by Crow.  It is a single chamber where the alcoholic content of distilled bourbon could be tested.  This example included hydrometers for checking both the first and second distillations.

Crow worked for the Peppers from 1833 until 1855, with exceptions being 1837 and 1838, possibly because Oscar’s stone construction was proceeding.  Crow’s deal was that that he would be compensated by being given one-tenth of the production.  In 1855 the distillery produced 80 barrels from which Crow presumably drew ten.  In his admiration for the Scotsman, Oscar named one whiskey “Old Crow” and gave the distiller a house of his own on the property.

Meanwhile, Oscar Pepper was having a personal life.  In June 1845 he married Nancy Ann (also given as Annette) “Nannie” Edwards, a woman born and raised in Woodford County who was 18 years old when they wed and about 17 years younger than her husband.  In subsequent years under Oscar’s leadership the farm and distillery flourished and his family increased to seven children.  The 1860 census indicated real estate valued at $31,000, the equivalent of some $770,000 today.  His personal property that included such extravagances as a piano, an icebox, and law books was valued at $36,000. 

Oscar’s wealth also included twelve male and eleven female slaves, some of them obviously inherited from Elijah.  They would have been tending the crops on his large farm as well as working in the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery along side Dr. Crow.  A record of births in Woodford County for 1859 lists Oscar and Nannie having a baby on April 10 to whom no name yet had been given, but data suggests later was christened Mary.  The same year two of the Peppers’ slave women had given birth in August, a girl named Maria and a boy named Willie.  Oscar Pepper is recorded in the column for the father’s name.  My guess is that because slaves were considered property not persons, he appears there as the owner not the progenitor.  

Oscar Pepper died in June 1865 at the age 56 and with his family and friends mourning by his graveside was interred in the Lexington Cemetery in Fayette County.  Shown here is his gravestone. 

Nannie Edwards Pepper:   The inventory of Oscar’s possessions taken after his death indicate how much he had expanded the Pepper estate.  It included 400 barrels of corn, 400 bushes of rye, 40 bushels of barley malt and 30 barrels of barley, a large copper still and a boiler, all part of the distilling operation.  The alcohol on hand included 120 gallons of whiskey.  This Pepper owned 829 acres of land and livestock that included 21 horses and mares, 7 mules, 25 milk cows, 30 yearlings and steers, 56 sheep and more than 100 hogs.

Unlike his father Oscar left no will.  A court settlement in 1869 divided his property in seven unequal lots for his seven children.  Presley O’Bannon Pepper, the youngest, only seven years old, received the largest share, including 160 acres of land, the distillery, the grist mill and the family home.  This was the court’s way carefully of providing for Nannie Pepper.   Since P. O’Bannon was a minor and would remain so for another 14 years, it put most of the financially productive property in her hands.

Still a relatively young woman at 36, Nannie, unlike her mother-in-law Sarah, seems to have had no interest in operating the distiller by herself.  Moreover, since the end of the Civil War all the Pepper slaves were gone.  As guardian of P. O’Bannon’s inheritance, she soon leased the property to Gaines, Berry & Company of Frankfort, Kentucky, a firm where the famous Col. E. H. Taylor Jr. was a partner.  The agreement gave the Frankfort group control over the distillery and all its equipment, the distiller’s house, and two stone warehouses.  The two-year agreement also included the grist mill and a pen near the distillery where the hogs were fed the spent mash.

Born in 1850, Nannie’s eldest son, James, 15 years old at the time of his father’s death, appears to have be given a role in the running of the distillery by Gaines, Berry & Co.  They appended the name “Old Crow Distillery” to the Pepper property and made “Old Crow” their flagship brand.

James Pepper:   Possibly egged on by the ambitious Col. Taylor [see my post of Jan. 2015], James Pepper apparently grew tired of playing second fiddle to his mother and in 1872 successfully sued to gain control of the distillery.  The result apparently did not cause a serious mother-son breach as Nannie is recorded giving a deposition for James later in a court case.

The next few years for the Pepper distillery are somewhat muddled.  After taking control, James apparently teamed with Col. Taylor, who had broken with Gaines, Berry and the two made improvements in the plant and increased operations.  Gaines, Berry, however, apparently retained sufficient financial interest that the “Old Crow” trademark was transferred to them, leaving James with the Old Oscar Pepper brand.
After five years of operating the distillery, James experienced severe financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1877.  The Peppers’ loss was Col. Taylor’s temporary gain as he took sole ownership of the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.  But Taylor — who had other distillery interests — shortly after met with his own financial downfall.  That led to the transfer of the Pepper distillery briefly to George T. Stagg, another well-known Kentucky whiskey man, and finally in 1878 to Leopold Labrot and James Graham of Frankfort.  Shown above is an illustration of the distillery at the time of their purchase.  Never again would a Pepper family member own the property founded by Elijah, nurtured by Sarah, expanded by Oscar, protected by Nannie, and lost by James.

Afterword:  Although the Old Oscar Pepper distillery was in other hands, the Pepper name continued for years in the trade when James later founded his own distillery in Lexington, [see my post of September 2012].  When James died in 1906, he was interred near his father and Nannie, who had passed in 1899.  A large monument, three Doric pillars on a three step base, marks the spot where the Pepper clan is buried in Lexington Cemetery. 
Now came the turn of Labrot & Graham to run the historic distillery.  Their names are combined with the Peppers in a mill wheel below, Their story and its outcome will be the subject of my next post. 

Note:  Much of the information for this post came from an undated National Park Service document associated with the listing of the Pepper properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Oelkers’ Barrel House & Sounds of New Orleans


We all swing high, swing low,
Ev'rybody rockin' to and fro
It ain't fast or slow, but oh, that glory halleluyah.
Swing that thing
Make the river bottom ring and sing
Hush ma mouth, that's the South Rampart Street Parade!

This is a post about music — the music of New Orleans — and saloons.  John Henry Oelkers would have been familiar with the sounds emanating from his drinking establishment on South Rampart Street, but he likely was unaware that those sounds would captivate audiences in America and, indeed, all over the world for a very long time.

Although New Orleans was known for its tolerance, Oelkers ran the kind of saloon that was anathema to many in the city.  The New Orleans Times-Picayune in a page one story on Thursday, September 27, 1883, informed its readers that: John H. Oelkers, the keeper of a negro barrel house …is a young German, who sells whisky to negroes at his barrel house.”  Put plainly Oelkers’ place served African Americans when many other saloons would not and at a time when such trade in parts of the South could result in fines and even jail time. 

Oelkers was born in Germany in 1850.  He arrived in the United States in 1869 at the age of 19, likely without any preconceived notions about people of color.  When he settled in New Orleans is uncertain, but 1879 he was listed in city directories as a saloonkeeper, with his first location at 16 Annunciation Street.  Within two years he had moved his establishment to South Rampart Street.

That famous avenue gets its name from the wall that was built on the north side of the thoroughfare in the early years of New Orleans as a means of fortify the then French colonial city.  Rampart Street on either side of Canal Street over time became the center of an important African American commercial and entertainment district.  Oeklers’ initial location there was at 239 South Rampart (1879-1895), later moving to 730 South Rampart (1896-1914).
As indicated by the Times-Picayune story, Oelkers was running a barrel house.  That was the name given to a particular type of New Orleans drinking establishment.  As  shown above, the wooden structure often was shed-like with a low ceiling and walls lined with barrels of whiskey and beer. Typically a piano stood on a raised platform in a corner of the room and much of the floor was open for dancing or other activities.  Often at the back of a barrel house were rooms where prostitutes to plied their trade.  

At his establishment Oelkers sold liquor by the drink to in-house clientele and by the bottle and jug to take-away customers.   Both pint and mini-jug containers exist that memorialize his barrel house.

Oelkers would not have stood high in New Orleans society, even as permissive as was the city’s reputation.  The barrel house was considered a low rung on the drinking ladder and his saloon, serving as it did the black populace, would have placed him at the bottom.  The stigma seems not to have mattered to Louise Theresa Robie, a native of New Orleans, who married him in 1893 when she was 31 and he was 43.
The 1900 Census found John and Louise Theresa living in Ward Three of New Orleans with their six children.  Their eldest was a son, John D., 19 years old.  Then came Pearl B., 12; Lucille M., 5; Nina T., 4, and Robie J., 2.  Also living with them was John’s’ 74-year-old father.   Their home at 4001 Magnolia Street, still standing and shown above, was a modest one.

Even if Oeklers’ business was not building mansions for his family, it was contributing to the music scene.  The vigorous and unpolished sounds coming from such saloons was making its mark on New Orleans.  Pounded out on a piano the music was characterized by an accented two-beat rhythm and became known as “barrelhouse” jazz.  In his famous poem “The Congo,” the American poet Vachel Lindsay caught the beat:

Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room
Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable, 
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table, 
Pounded on the table, 
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom, 
Hard as they were able, 
Boom, boom, BOOM, 
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom, 
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.

Through the “miracle” of recordings the music that began in barrel houses like Oaklers’ soon was being heard not just in New Orleans but across America.  Ma Rainey (1882-1936), shown here, was one of the first generation of blues singers to be heard on record.  Billed as “Mother of the Blues,” Rainey caught the barrel house wave, writing and recording “Barrel House Blues:”

Got the barrel house blues, feeling awfully dry, 
Got the barrel house blues, feeling awfully dry, 
I can't drink moonshine 'cause I'm afraid I'd die.

As the barrelhouse sound began to be appreciated nationwide, Oelkers took his eldest son, John D., into his business.  The son, like his father, demonstrated a real affinity for running the drinking establishment with its black clientele.  When the elder Oelkers reached the age of 63 after 34 years running a saloon, he felt comfortable turning the business over to the young man.  In 1913, accordingly, ownership passed to John D. Oelkers who continued for several years to run the barrel house under his own name.  
The elder Oelkers died in 1924 at the age of 74 and was buried in one of the above  ground crypts in New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery.  His wife, Louise Theresa, followed him there five years later.  Meanwhile, South Rampart street had been widened and became part of the New Orleans central business district.  Many barrel houses were torn down and some hallowed music halls like the “Eagle” shown here were allowed to deteriorate. 

Although the barrel houses disappeared, the music that emerged from them remained vibrant and alive, even spreading worldwide in its appeal as contemporary audiences continued to value its rhythm and vigor.  Among musicians providing the sound were “Barrelhouse Chuck” Goering, an American Chicago blue pianist, keyboard player, singer and songwriter, who died in December of last year.  Another has been the internationally traveling and recording Barrelhouse Jazz Band, an outfit that calls Frankfort, Germany, its home.

Nothing will do, of course, but to end this vignette about John Oeklers and his barrel house by paying homage one more time to Rampart Street and New Orleans:

On Rampart Street in New Orleans,
Somebody's callin' for me,
I can hear that gang of mine
Singin' sweet harmony.
How my heart does beat
To get to Rampart Street!
New Orleans, New Orleans, I'm comin' home to you,
New Orleans, New Orleans, ain't nothin' else to do.
I'm gonna tell you true -
I'm not bluffin' - there ain't nothin'
I love like I love you!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lovisa McCullough, for Women’s Rights — and Liquor

The photo above from the New York Times in 1888 shows attendees to the first International Conference of Women in Washington, D.C., a meeting devoted to political rights for women.  Among them could well be a delegate named Lovisa Candace McCullough whose occupation might have startled her sister attendees.  She was Pittsburgh’s only female running a wholesale liquor business.

Lovisa (often mistakenly given as “Louisa”) was a true blue American, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), as the grand-daughter of William Munks (1762-1841) a Irish-born immigrant who saw service in the Revolutionary War as a private in the Pennsylvania militia.  Born Lovisa C. Meredith, she married an immigrant from Northern Ireland whose name was John McCullough.

McCullough had his own pedigree. He was a relative of John Edward McCullough, a well-known Shakespearean actor, and his uncle had been an invitee to the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  Why McCullough chose Pittsburgh and the liquor trade is not recorded but he claimed to have established his business well in advance of the Civil War. He was recorded in the 1860 Census as “merchant.”

Although I have been unable to pinpoint the date and place of their wedding, it appears that John and Lovisa married after he was well established in the liquor trade. The couple would go on to have five children, including a son, J. W. McCullough, who upon attaining maturity went to work in the liquor house.  Although busy as a housewife and mother, Lovisa seems early have shown some aptitude for business and was kept abreast of her husband’s enterprise.

John McCullough wisely chose a busy thoroughfare, Liberty Avenue, shown here, to locate his liquor house.  The street was the center for Pittsburgh’s wholesale produce market, often a scene of chaotic traffic as numerous horse-drawn vehicles carrying people and produce moved haphazardly and vied for parking space.  Union and West End street cars passed McCullough’s doors. Over its reputed half-century in operation, the John McCullough Company, “Dealer in Old Monongahela and Pure Rye Whiskies, Foreign and Domestic Wines and Liquors,”  never moved from Liberty Avenue, although it changed addresses from 165 Liberty (up to 1873), to 127 Liberty (1876-1877), and ultimately to 139 Liberty (1879-1883).  When Pittsburgh renumbered its streets about 1883, the last became the “new” 523 Liberty Avenue, the address on the jug shown here.  
The McCullough building at 523 Liberty was a four story structure 20 by 150 feet.  According an 1889 volume on the history of the the region,  the liquor house was on “…Historic ground, being near Cecil Alley, a point occupied by one of the earliest settlers of the city, a prominent old French family, who lived here before the Revolutionary War, and the building utilized by this business was formerly his residence.”

The building also allowed McCullough not only to stock an extensive lines of whiskeys and wines but also to rectify, that is, blend and bottle his own proprietary brands.  Widely known as a “Anglophile,”  John named two of his brands “Prince Regent” and “Windsor Castle” in honor of Queen Victoria.  In time the company established a large wholesale business throughout Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, maintaining a sizable staff of salesmen and clerks.

In 1886, John McCullough, about the age of 56 and enjoying considerable business success, died and was buried in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery, Section 10, Lot 175, Grave 1.  His will named Lovisa as the administrator of his estate and left the liquor house to her.  He had made a wise decision.  One Pittsburgh historian said of her:  “She is an exceedingly intelligent and well-informed woman, and efficiently manages the affairs of the house in a manner which testifies to her superior business qualifications…”  A 1888 Pittsburgh directory under the heading “Liquors, Wholesale,” lists forty-nine such establishments in the city.  All of them save one are readily identifiable as male-run companies.  The exception is “McCullough, Louisa C.,523 Liberty Av.”  

That same year Lovisa became a delegate from Pittsburgh to the historic founding meeting of the International Council of Women (ICW).  The idea for such an organization grew from earlier meetings of U.S. suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton, right, and Susan B. Anthony, left, with women activists in Europe.  Upon their return the two planned a large meeting to be held in Washington, D.C.  They reached out to a broad constituency, one that included: “…All women of light and learning, to all associations of women in trades, professions and reforms, as well as to those advocating political rights.” 

In Pittsburgh, Lovisa McCullough, already having achieved recognition in the utterly male-dominated liquor trade, answered Stanton and Anthony’s call.  Although she is not recorded as having spoken to the gathering, Lovisa appeared three times in the minutes of the meeting representing Pittsburgh and  contributing cash to the women’s cause.  It is a safe bet that she was the only liquor dealer at the convention.  How she may have interacted with women attending from prohibitionist organizations goes unrecorded.
Obviously a woman of great energy, Lovisa McCullough threw herself into other causes.  A lover of animals, she was a longtime member of the Humane Society and for a time on the board of the Pittsburgh chapter.  She also was among women who worked toward buying up and preserving the grounds and structures at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where Gen. George Washington and his troops passed the winter.  Lovisa’s grandfather may have been among those soldiers.

Other evidence of Lovisa’s participation in the causes of her day was her involvement with the Chautauqua Movement, an adult education organization that specialized in speeches and seminars on topics and issues of current interest.  Headquartered on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in New York State, the outfit leased land for 100 years to adherents to build cottages on the lake.  Among them was Lovisa McCullough in 1901.  Her cottage is shown here.  

Meanwhile the McCulloughs' liquor business was flourishing.  Although Lovisa was given much of the credit, her son, J. W. McCullough also received favorable mention as “a young man of excellent business ability,”  who was taking “an active part in the management of the business, giving special attention to the wholesale trade and finance.”   Shown here is an 1891 ad extolling McCullough’s as “an old reliable house” with a reputation for filling orders promptly and with care.  The ad extolled a McCullough whiskey that was sent to Berlin in the early 1870s (often done as a dodge to escape taxes), had been stored there for years, and recently returned to Pittsburgh to be bottled.  “It is rich and mellow and very fine, and is being disposed of at a reasonable price.”

Two years later, after more than a half century of operation, the McCullough liquor dealership disappeared from Pittsburgh business directories.  Its demise cannot be explained by National Prohibition that still was years away and Pennsylvania was “wet” until the end.  Lovisa may have found her passion for feminist and other causes eclipsed her keeping alive her husband’s enterprise.  Or it may have been her advancing age.  Lovisa died in 1917, about 82 years old, and was buried beside her late husband, John, in Allegheny Cemetery.  Their gravestones are shown below.

Lovisa McCullough did not live quite long enough to see the cause in which she fervently believed — women’s suffrage — become a reality.  That would occur three years later.   Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote.  Earlier, however, the 18th Amendment had abolished the liquor business that Lovisa had sustained so admirably and for so long.

Note:  Much of the biographical information on both Lovisa and John McCullough has been gleaned from the “Pittsburgh and Allegheny Illustrated Review:  Historical, Biographical and Commercial,” published in 1889 by J. M. Elstner & Co., Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

John Duffy’s Little Piggies Have a Market

The anatomically correct male hog shown left is one of a group of avidly collected swine mini-bottles that come in clear, aquamarine, cobalt and light and dark amber.  Shown scattered throughout this post, all were issued by John Duffy, a Louisville, Kentucky, saloonkeeper.   Lots of attention have been paid to the pigs by collectors, very little to the identity of Duffy.  This post is aimed at correcting that imbalance.  

John Duffy was born in Ireland, the exact location unknown, about 1838, according to census records.  The date of his birth would put him as a small child trying to survive in the midst of Ireland’s 1845 Great Potato Blight and devastating famine.  Starvation killed one million Irish over the next five years and half a million left the island for the United States, many on so-called “famine ships.”
Duffy’s immigration date is recorded in one census document as 1854 which indicates that he was 16 at the time of his passage.  He might have come alone since he would have been considered “of age” in that time.  Although his whereabouts immediately upon arrival go unrecorded, he surfaced in 1857 in Temple Hill, an unincorporated community in Jones County, Iowa, married to Margaret O’Connor (aka “O’Connors) , a girl still in her teens who also had emigrated from Ireland.  A daughter, Margaret Ida, would be born to the couple the same year at Temple Hill.  A son, William J., would be born in 1875.
In 1856 a John Duffy was listed in a Louisville directory working as a bartender at the Theatre Inn, a downtown saloon, and living at 972 Goss Avenue.  It is likely that while pursuing this occupation, he met William Kagle, a fellow barkeep, who worked at Delmonico’s Restaurant and boarded there.  About 1867 they determined to throw in their lot together and opened a saloon.

The partners called their establishment “The Asteroid Saloon,” located at 108 Fifth Street at the corner of Court Place, a center of city government activities.  They advertised vigorously in Louisville daily papers.  On October 21, 1867, for example, they announced that oysters could be had in their saloon, any style, for forty cents a dozen.  An ad a week later declared that “fine Fiddle Rock Oysters” could be had at the Asteriod;  fifty cents bought twelve.

The partnership appears to have been short-lived.  Kagle &     Duffy disappeared from Louisville directories after 1868.  William Kagle is recorded as having gone back to bartending, this time at the H. S. McNutt Saloon, and he later became proprietor of the Delmonico Hotel.  Meanwhile Duffy continued to run a saloon at 108 Fifth Street.  He may have renamed it “Duffy’s Saloon,” the designation to be found on an Albany Slip stoneware jug with a “scratch” label shown here. Duffy remained at that location until about 1873 when he moved to 214 Jefferson Street, a major Louisville commercial thoroughfare. shown below.  He called this new watering hole, the “Crescent Saloon.”
It was from this location that Duffy issued his miniature glass pigs.  He is believed to have handed them out full of whiskey at Christmas to favored customers.  Thereby is rendered a puzzle.  While some of them have the address as 214 Jefferson, others, like the one shown right seem to be designated “204 Jefferson.”  Yet there is no evidence that Duffy ever operated at that address.  My own conclusion is that what looks like a “zero” was actually meant to be a “one,” either a mistake by the glassworks or an attempt to be fancy by Duffy.  
Whether the problem originated with Duffy or in the manufacture is unclear.  Two glass factories have been identified as the likely source.  The pigs do not carry a mark to identify where they were produced but according to the experts the approximate years — mid-1870s to early 1880s — point to either the Kentucky Glass Works of Louisville, one of whose marks is shown here, or the Southern Glass Works.

Another mystery is why Duffy included the embossing of a rooster on the back of his pigs.  The chanticleer appears to be crowing from the curve of a moon with the word “Crescent” inside.  One answer that occurs to me is that at the time the rooster, not the donkey, was the symbol of the Democratic Party and that Duffy may have been making a political statement.
In 1882, without moving, Duffy’s address changed.  As a result of a wholesale renumbering of Louisville streets that year, the address of the Crescent Saloon became 544 West Jefferson Street.  Because none of the pig bottles bear that address it can assumed that they were distributed at the holidays sometime between 1873 and 1881.

Given what must have been his expense for both bottle and contents, what occasioned Duffy to provide these giveaway items?  Louisville was full of saloons in that era and the competition for customer loyalty was fierce.  The custom among their proprietors was to reward frequent faces along the bar with some token of appreciation.  Duffy chose this fairly unusual method of expressing his gratitude. 

Collectors today are glad he did.  Despite the idea of having to drink liquor from their butt ends, these porkers have become a favorite of collectors throughout the country.  Given their excellent shapes, the rich hues of the colored ones, and their scarcity, these bottles command several hundred dollars on the market.  The cobalt bottle, being particularly rare, fetches considerably more.
Although John Duffy can be tracked through Louisville directories doing business for more than two decades, listings for him and the Crescent Saloon cease after 1890.  By that time he would have been only 52 years old, too young to retire under normal circumstances.  National Prohibition eventually shut Louisville’ saloons but that still was thirty years in the future. 

The 1900 census recorded a John Duffy, a widower, boarding in a Louisville hotel and working as a laborer.  Although the dates of birth and immigration are similar, I have been unable to confirm that identity, nor have I been unable to find any further record, including his burial place.  John Duffy seems to have disappeared into the mists of time, leaving only an array of small glass pig bottles by which to be remembered.