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03 Oct 2021, last revised 01 Jun 2024

Pharmacy bottle #25 curiously has the names of both Sorsen and Sodergren, suggesting a possible link between bottles embossed with SORSEN and bottles embossed with SODERGREN & SODERGREN. It also lists two locations: CALUMET, MICH and VIRGINIA, MINN. We can now confirm that bottles bearing C. J. SORSEN & CO, Chas. J. Sorsen, SORSEN & SODERGREN, and SODERGREN & SODERGREN reflect a succession of proprietors for one drug store, the City Drug Store. We have also uncovered why a local bottle had ties to Virginia, MN.

Charles J. Sorsen was born in Finland on 12 Mar 1870 (1). He assisted his father in the tailor trade when not in school (1). After completing public school at the age of 14, he learned the drug business and received the proper credentials (1). He worked for five years as a pharmacist in Uleaborg, Finland (19), and then immigrated to the U.S. on 12 May 1889 (15), which would have been at the age of 19, with scarcely a cent to his name (13). He first located in Ishpeming and worked in the tailoring trade (1), and then moved to Calumet on 21 May 1889 (15). In Jul 1889, he accepted a position at Macdonald's drug store (19). At some point, he also worked at M. Printz's drug store (20). The True Northerner newspaper announced on 27 Aug 1890 that Charles Sorsen of Red Jacket was licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy after an examination in Marquette (2).

Sorsen then started his own drug store in partnership with "Z. Nikander" (1). This Nikander was Werner Nikander, since according to his baptism record, his full name was Zachris Werner Nikander (16). They started the "City Drug Store" in the newly-constructed Ruppe Block and announced in Nov 1890 that they were open for business (20,21). Like with other drug stores, they had a soda fountain (25). The bottle embossed with C. J. SORSEN & CO. (#26) corresponds to this period, with "& CO" referring to Nikander.

In Aug 1891, the newspaper announced that Nikander, formerly engaged with "C. J. Sorsen & Co.", acquired the Eagle Drug Store from George Ramsell (22). Subsequent advertisements correspondingly featured only Sorsen's name (23), and the same is true for bottle #27. During this period, Sorsen started a bottling works, and thus, not only dispensed soda with a soda fountain, but also manufactured and bottled soda (see Upper Peninsula Bottling Works). He also offered hot soda in the following flavors: ginger, ginger tonic, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, beef tea, nerve tonic, etc. (24).

Sorsen then partnered with his cousin forming the firm Sorsen & Sodergren (1), and they were first listed in the 1893 Polk directory (18). The 1895 directory specified that the Sodergren was Henry A. Sodergren, a resident of Virginia, MN (3). Now we see the connection between Sorsen and Sodergren, and between Calumet, MI and Virginia, MN. Sorsen managed the Calumet store and Sodergren managed the Virginia store (1). Both were called the City Drug Store.

Newspaper ad - <i>The Calumet and Red Jacket News</i>, 05 Jun 1891
Newspaper ad - Jun 1891
Newspaper ad - <i>The Virginia Enterprise</i>, 07 Dec 1894
Newspaper ad - Dec 1894

The 1895 Polk directory stated that the Sorsen & Sodergren store was located at 216 N. 5th St., Calumet (3). The 1893, 1897, and 1900 Sanborn maps do not show this address, but they show a drug store at 212 5th St., which was on the east side between Oak St. and Portland St. This was probably the location of the store since the re-numbered address shown on the 1908 map matches the change in address for Sodergren & Sodergren in the 1903 directory (12).

Sanborn map, North 5th St., Red Jacket - Sep 1893
Sanborn map - Sep 1893

In May 1896, Sorsen, "formerly in the drug business in this city," arrived in town to spend summer vacation after completing his first year at the Rush Medical College in Chicago (5). This means Sorsen likely ended his partnership with Henry Sodergren in the fall of 1895. The firm Sodergren & Sodergren then appeared in Jan 1896 issues of The Copper Country Evening News.

The one bottle (#25) bearing the Sorsen & Sodergren name also bears the maker's mark of S-F G Co. for Sheldon-Foster Glass Co. This mark dates from 1894-c.1897 (11), and given Sorsen's history, we can narrow this range to 1894-1895.

In May 1898, Sorsen was about to graduate (6); and then in Jul 1898, he was soon to open an office over the Sodergren & Sodergren drug store (7). Dr. C. J. Sorsen continued to practice medicine and advocate for Finns. He raised funds and built the Northern Michigan General Hospital in Laurium (13), which opened in Apr 1903 (46). He managed the hospital (46) and served as surgeon-in-chief (8). There were efforts in May 1905 to make the hospital public if purchased from Sorsen (47), but it remained private (48). He was president of the Finnish Central Relief Committee of America that, in Feb 1903, sought aid for famine sufferers in Finland (8,9). On 11 Aug 1907 he left for London where he married Jeski Lange of Finland on 25 Aug 1907 (10). They became acquainted when Sorsen was traveling through Finland several years prior (49). It was planned that they would make Calumet their future home (13), but he died seven days later, on 01 Sep 1907 (17) in London at the age of 37 (10). He suffered from heart weakness for a number of years (14) and his deceased physician file stated that he died from "heart disease" (71). However, London newspapers that reached Calumet stated that Sorsen committed suicide by cutting his throat and asphyxiating himself with gas (69). His bride was "too much affected by the experience" to come to Calumet with his body; instead, she accompanied her father back to Finland (70). Sorsen was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Calumet (17). A newspaper article announcing his death declared that he "was one of the most prominent Finns in the Copper Country." (10). The hospital was then supervised by Dr. A. L. Lawbaugh of the Tamarack hospital (48). In Oct 1907, the hospital was sold to the Bollmann estate with plans to enlarge the property and make it a public hospital (62).

The 1897 directory listed Sodergren & Sodergren consisting of Henry A. Sodergren with residence in Virginia, MN and Uno Sodergren with residence in Calumet, MI (4). The 1897, 1899, and 1901 directories listed them as proprietors of "City Drug Store" (4,37,38). In May 1897, they installed a new soda fountain, claimed to be the largest in the Upper Peninsula (39). It dispensed 16 different syrups, and a new worker from Grand Rapids was skilled in making a dozen or more special drinks in addition to the regular syrups (39).

Sodergren & Sodergren's City Drug Store c.1900<br>Courtesy of National Park Service, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Curto Collection, Box 3, Folder 005, #002
Sodergren & Sodergren c.1900

Henrik A. Sodergren (26) was born in Finland in Nov 1859 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1890 (27). Oscar Uno Sodergren (28) was born in Finland in Mar 1871 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1893 (27). They were brothers (63). Despite the distance, they seemed to have maintained a cooperative business, with Uno visiting the Virginia store (29,30,31) and Henry visiting the Calumet store (32,33,34). Henry manned the Calumet store when Uno took a business trip to Chicago (35), and a worker transferred from the Virginia store to the Calumet store (36). In Feb 1898, they established a wholesale drug store in Minneapolis to supply Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians of the northwest (64). The Virginia store was destroyed with town fires in 1893 and 1900 (42,65,66), but it was rebuilt (43).

Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i>, 12 Sep 1903
Newspaper ad - Sep 1903
Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i>, 28 Sep 1903
Newspaper ad - Sep 1903
Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i>, 10 Nov 1903
Newspaper ad - Nov 1903

Henry moved to Minneapolis by the 1899 directory (37). Uno transferred to the Minneapolis drug store in Feb 1904 where he took charge of the laboratory department (50). Uno and his wife then moved to Minneapolis in Jan 1905 (51), and he was listed as a resident of Minneapolis in the 1905 directory (40). Henry made periodic visits to Calumet (52,53), but obviously other people needed to be running the store. They employed a number of druggists over the years, including Abraham Jackala (listed in 1901) and Frank R. Vastbinder (listed in 1903), and this practice continued. Pharmacist Bert Carmichael was manager for 18 months but left on 01 Jun 1904 for Ann Arbor where he planned to take preparatory courses for studying medicine (54,55). P. C. Brooks was then manager and pharmacist (56,57), but he resigned in Aug 1905 to enter a drug business with Dr. Fischer of Hubbell (58). E. R. Hunt then succeeded Percy Brooks as manager (59). In Oct 1905, Axel Laphman, a pharmacist and graduate of the University of Finland, joined the drug store (60). In Nov 1906, Uno returned to Calumet to dispose of the store (44) with the reason being that they could not give it their direct attention (67). The store was closed in Dec and the stock was moved to Minneapolis (45,68).

Uno died on 21 Oct 1908 in Minneapolis at the age of 37 (28) after an extended illness (61). Henry continued in the druggist business in Virginia by forming Sodergren Drug Co. with David W. Elmquist, while continuing to reside in Minneapolis (41). Henry died on 01 Jan 1935 at the age of 75 (26).

The 1903 and 1905 directories listed the store at a different address: 210 5th St. (12,40). It may seem that the store moved locations, but the 1908 Sanborn map shows that the addresses on the street were re-numbered, and thus the store remained in the same location, but by then, it was a clothing store. The previous 216 5th St. address did not exist on the 1893, 1897, and 1900 Sanborn maps, but it presumably referred to the 212 5th St. location on the maps.

Sanborn map, North 5th St., Red Jacket - Dec 1897
Sanborn map - Dec 1897
Sanborn map, North 5th St., Red Jacket - May 1908
Sanborn map - May 1908

Based on their history, Sodergren & Sodergren started in 1895 or 1896 and ended in 1906. Maker's marks do not help to narrow down the date ranges for specific bottles since their date ranges encompass the firm's date range. Given that they had several types of bottles, with one being common, they probably used embossed bottles for most of their existence. One of the more interesting bottles is the nursing bottle #17, which is the only known embossed nursing bottle from the Copper Country.

References

  1. anonymous. 1895. Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL.
  2. anonymous. (1890, Aug 27). Michigan happenings. The True Northerner (Paw Paw, MI). p. 3.
  3. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. anonymous. (1896, May 27). News about town. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  6. anonymous. (1898, May 16). Portage Lake news. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  7. anonymous. (1898, July 27). Portage Lake news. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  8. anonymous. (1903, Feb 17). Help for Finland. Ottumwa Tri-Weekly Courier (Ottumwa, IA). p. 9.
  9. anonymous. (1903, Feb 02). Food for hungry. The Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, MN). p. 11.
  10. anonymous. (1907, Sept 06). Michigan brevities. Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI). p. 7.
  11. Lockhart, B., B. Schriever, B. Lindsey, and C. Serr. 2019. The Sheldon-Foster Glass Co. and related companies. In: Encyclopedia of Manufacturer's Marks on Historic Bottles. posted on Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/Sheldon-FosterGlass.pdf
  12. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  13. anonymous. (1907, Sep 03). A great shock. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p.5.
  14. anonymous. (1907, Sep 03). Death of Dr. C. J. Sorsen. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p.6.
  15. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 682; Volume #: Roll 682 - 06 Jun 1905-11 Jun 1905 (accessed on ancestry.com).
  16. Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Elk Grove Village, IL, USA; Swedish American Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths, and Burials; ELCA Film Number: A235; SSIRC Film Number: A235 (accessed on ancestry.com).
  17. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. Dr Charles John Sorsen. findagrave.com/memorial/219007568/charles-john-sorsen
  18. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  19. anonymous. (1889, Jul 26). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  20. anonymous. (1890, Sep 05). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  21. anonymous. (1890, Nov 07). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  22. anonymous. (1891, Aug 28). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  23. anonymous. (1891, Oct 16). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  24. anonymous. (1891, Nov 20). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News. (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  25. anonymous. (1891, May 29). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  26. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. Henrik A Sodergren. findagrave.com/memorial/127867405/henrik-a-sodergren
  27. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  28. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. Oscar Uno Sodergren. findagrave.com/memorial/127867527/oscar-uno-sodergren
  29. anonymous. (1897, Dec 01). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  30. anonymous. (1898, Apr 18). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  31. anonymous. (1898, Nov 17). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  32. anonymous. (1897, Dec 30). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  33. anonymous. (1897, Oct 27). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  34. anonymous. (1899, Jan 16). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  35. anonymous. (1897, Sept 14). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  36. anonymous. (1896, Oct 01). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  37. R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  38. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  39. anonymous. (1897, May 19). Fine New Soda Fountain. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  40. R. L. Polk & Co. 1905. Houghton County Directory 1905-06. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  41. R. L. Polk & Co. 1909. City Directory of Hibbing, Virginia, Eveleth, Chisholm, Biwabik and Gilbert 1909-1901. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Duluth, MN.
  42. anonymous. (1900, Jun 09). Virginia city hall. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  43. anonymous. (1900, Jun 20). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  44. anonymous. (1906, Nov 16). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  45. anonymous. (1906, Dec 06). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  46. anonymous. (1903, Apr 03). The new hospital. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  47. anonymous. (1905, May 27). To be private. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  48. anonymous. (1907, Sep 04). Lawbaugh in charge. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  49. anonymous. (1907, Aug 28). Dr. Sorsen weds abroad. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  50. anonymous. (1904, Feb 12). The city. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  51. anonymous. (1905, Jan 07). Calumet briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  52. anonymous. (1905, Jun 16). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  53. anonymous. (1905, Aug 29). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  54. anonymous. (1904, May 10). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  55. anonymous. (1904, Jun 01). Bert Carmichael. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  56. anonymous. (1904, Oct 06). Calumet briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  57. anonymous. (1904, Oct 14). Calumet briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  58. anonymous. (1905, Aug 16). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  59. anonymous. (1905, Sep 07). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  60. anonymous. (1905, Oct 17). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  61. anonymous. (1908, Oct 21). Uno Sodergren is dead. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  62. anonymous. (1907, Oct 07). Hospital sold. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  63. anonymous. (1903, Jul 02). Local briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  64. anonymous. (1898, Feb 14). Establish a northwestern branch. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  65. anonymous. (1900, Jun 09). Drug store destroyed. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  66. anonymous. (1900, Jun 14). Calumet-Laurium Briefs. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  67. anonymous. (1906, Nov 16). Will dispose of business. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 4.
  68. anonymous. (1906, Dec 06). Calumet brevities. The Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 6.
  69. anonymous. (1907, Oct 01). Took his own life. The Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 6.
  70. anonymous. (1907, Sep 16). Sorsen body shipped. The Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 6.
  71. United States Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-1968, Entry for Charles John Sorsen, 1 Sep 1907 (on familysearch.org).

26
C. J. Sorsen & Co bottle
2 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape M
date: 1890-1891
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
2 oz - 10.5 x 4.4 cm - W. T. & CO. / H / U. S. A. - extremely rare
4 oz - ? x 5.0 cm - W T & CO / D   U S A - extremely rare
  • capacity not marked on bottle

27
Chas. J. Sorsen bottle
2 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape H
date: 1891-1892
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
1 oz - 9.2 x 3.1 cm - Q C - extremely rare
2 oz - 11.0 x 4.0 cm - (none) - extremely rare
3 oz - 12.7 x 4.8 cm - Q. C. - extremely rare
  • change in proprietorship
  • capacity not marked on bottle

25
Sorsen & Sodergren bottle
2 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape V
date: 1894-1895
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
2 oz - 14.4 x 4.4 cm - S-F. G. CO. - extremely rare
  • change in proprietorship
  • extract-shaped bottle
  • capacity not marked on bottle

18
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
6 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape V
date: 1895-1897
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
2 oz - 14.3 x 4.4 cm - (none) - extremely rare
6 oz - 20.4 x 6.1 cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • change in proprietorship
  • extract-shaped bottle
  • only Sodergren & Sodergren bottle that states PHARMACISTS & CHEMISTS
  • capacity not marked on bottle

17
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
8 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape B
date: 1895-1906
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
8 oz - 17 x 8 cm - DEAN FOSTER & CO - extremely rare
  • nursing bottle
  • graduated on back

19
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
4 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape J
date: 1900-1906
capacity - base mark - rarity:
2 oz - A. M. F. & CO. - common
3 oz - A. M. F & CO. - common
4 oz - A. M. F & CO - common
6 oz - A. M. F & CO. - common
  • capacity marked above plate
19a
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
6 oz
capacity - base mark - rarity:
1 oz - (none) - common
2 oz - (none) - common
3 oz - (none) - common
4 oz - (none) - common
6 oz - (none) - common
8 oz - (none) - common
16 oz - (none) - ?
  • no maker's mark
  • capacity marked above plate

s25
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
2 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape I
date: 1900-1906
capacity - base mark - rarity:
2 oz - w in diamond logo - extremely rare
  • different bottle shape from 19
  • capacity marked above plate

s39
Sodergren & Sodergren bottle
1 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape N
date: 1900-1906
capacity - base mark - rarity:
1 oz - A M F & CO - extremely rare
  • different bottle shape from 19 and s25
  • lacks the monogram
  • capacity marked above plate