Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More on Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, more than 15,400 bottlers operated throughout North America.  According to one expert on antique soda and beer bottles, these 15,400 firms produced more than 29,950 different types of soda and beer bottles with more than 34,725 variants of such bottles.  See von Mechow, Tod, Soda & Beer Bottles of North America (visited Mar. 19, 2016).  The vast majority of such firms were "Mom and Pop" shops in localities like the tiny litte settlement of Pelhamville, New York.  Thus, researching small bottlers can be like researching a local country grocery store or a local drug store that existed for only a few years at a time when records for such businesses were scant and are nearly impossible to find today.

Bottler David Lyon and the Vernon Bottling Works

I have written before about Pelham bottlers.  See Fri., Jul. 11, 2014:  Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries.  Among the bottlers about whom I wrote in that article was David Lyon.  Regarding Lyon, I wrote:  

"David Lyon was a Civil War veteran who lived in Pelham on Third Avenue between Second and Third Streets.  He established the first carbonated beverage establishment in Pelham and named it the "Vernon Bottling Works".  His establishment was in the rear of his residence and was instituted before 1898. It is not now known if this "Vernon Bottling Works" later became the "Vernon Bottling Works" of Mount Vernon or if the Mount Vernon business later used the same name. 

The Lyon family was quite prominent in Pelham in the late 19th century. One Lyon homestead stood at Colonial Avenue and Wolfs Lane.  It stood on the site of the old First Church of Christ which became today's Pelham Public Library.  The first butcher in what is today's Village of Pelham was Frank M. Lyon whose father -- David Lyon of "Vernon Bottling Works" fame -- built a butcher shop adjoining his home on Third Avenue.  See Souvenir Program - Golden Jubilee Celebration of Village of North Pelham Westchester County, New York, p. 17 (Village of North Pelham, Aug. 29, 1946)."

Recently I was able to acquire from an eBay seller for $10 an example of a so-called "Blob Top" soda bottle manufactured by, or for, David Lyon of Pelhamville.  An image of the bottle appears immediately below.

Aquamarine Embossed Blob-Top Soda Bottle.  Embossed
Center Medallion Reads:  "DAVID LYON  REGISTERED
1889  PELHAMVILLE"  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

The bottle, on its face, suggests that David Lyon was a bottler operating in Pelhamville earlier than previously believed.  Although the "REGISTERED 1889" reference does not necessarily establish with certainty that Lyon was operating as a bottler as early as 1889, it certainly is strong circumstantial evidence to that effect.  The bottle further suggests that Lyon operated as a bottler for some period of time before he established the "Vernon Bottling Works" at some time prior to 1898.  

Henry Straehle and Straehle's Bottling Works in the Old Wolf Homestead

As I previously have written, in about 1898, Henry Straehle bought the old Anthony Wolf homestead located at Fifth Avenue and Third Street.  (Wolfs Lane is named after Anthony Wolf and his farm).  Straehle opened a competing bottling business in the old Wolf homestead that he initially named the "Straehle Bottling Co." (occasionally referenced as "Straehle Bottling Works").

The company was billed as "soft drink dispensers."  The office and plant of the firm were in the Wolf homestead with the bottling equipment in the basement of the home.  For some period of time around 1909-1910, Henry Straehle and his wife operated a hotel / boarding house in the structure as well.  Once Straehle opened his competing bottling business, David Lyon apparently threw in the towel and liquidated his business.  It is possible that he sold his bottling business to Mr. Straehle, although that is still somewhat unclear and has not been established.  The only evidence to support this presumption is the reported existence of bottles marked "Straehle & Lyon."

Anthony Wolf Farmhouse in an Undated Photograph, Site of
Straehle's Bottling Works Operated by Henry Straehle in the
Basement of the Home.  Photograph Courtesy of The Office
of the Historian of the Town of Pelham.  NOTE:  Click on
Image to Enlarge.

Recently I located an advertisement for "Straehle's Bottling Works" that sheds interesting new light on Henry Straehle and his bottling business.  An image of the advertisement appears immediately below, followed by a transcription of its text to facilitate search and, thereafter, a discussion of its significance.

1911 Advertisement for "Straehle's Bottling Works, North Pelham, N.Y."
Source:  Straehle's Bottling Works [Advertisement], The Pelham Sun,
Sep. 30, 1911, Vol. 2, No. 26, p. 8, col. 2.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

To facilitate search, the text of the advertisement immediately above reads as follows:

"Straehle's Bottling Works
North Pelham, N.Y.
Dealer in and Manufacturer of
David Mayer Brewing Co.  High Grade Lager Beer, Ale and Porter.
Tel. Call 1647-R Pelham
Works:  6th Ave. and 3rd Street, 
North Pelham."

The Straehle advertisement is significant in several respects.  By 1911, Straehle and his wife had moved the old Wolf homestead from its original site around the corner to 210 Sixth Avenue near Third Street.  (The home was moved to make way for the Fifth Avenue Station and the tracks of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway built in 1910 through the Town of Pelham.)  The 1911 advertisement provides the address of "Straehle's Bottling Works" as "6th Ave. and 3rd St.," thus establishing that Henry Straehle continued to operate his basement bottling works in the old Wolf homestead even after the home was moved from its original location at Fifth Avenue and 3rd Street around the corner to 210 Sixth venue.  

Secondly, the advertisement reaffirms that Henry Straehle was both a dealer and a manufacturer of mineral and carbonated beverages and that he also delivered lager beer, ale, and porter brewed by the David Mayer Brewing Company.  (The David Myer Brewing Company operated from 1882 until 1920.  The brewery was in New York City at 1650 Third Avenue at 168th Street.)


Though researching small 19th century bottles like David Lyon and Henry Straehle is difficult, it is not impossible.  The historic record likely will continue to divulge more of its secrets regarding these two local businesses that once operated in the tiny settlement of Pelhamville and, later, the Village of North Pelham.  

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