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13 Oct 2021, last revised 17 Feb 2024

Fichtel ran his own drug store in Calumet for about 8-10 years, but yet, he left us with only one known bottle in one size bearing his name. He clearly used mostly unembossed bottles, which was typical of most druggists.

Charles L. Fichtel was born in Hancock on 04 Sept 1863 (1) to immigrants from Prussia (2). After completing public school at the age of 16, he worked for druggist, Louis Deschamps in Lake Linden for a year (1). He then returned to Hancock and worked as a salesman and then druggist for A. J. Scott (1,3). After 12 years with Scott, Fichtel formed a partnership with Dr. J. E. Scallon, who had previously shared an address with Scott (3), but later moved to Hancock St. (4). They opened a new drug store in Hancock in Apr 1890 (20), and the 1891 Polk directory listed the firm as Scallon & Fichtel (17).

Fichtel then moved to Calumet (1) and the firm, Fichtel & Rupprecht opened a new drug store in Oct 1891 in the Jacka Block on 5th St. (21). The 1893 directory identified Rupprecht as Charles H. Rupprecht (18). Rupprecht was Fichtel's brother-in-law (22) who previously worked as assistant prescription clerk at A. J. Scott's drug store for more than a year and then worked in the dispensing room at the Calumet & Hecla Hospital (25). In 1893, Rupprecht was attending medical courses in Detroit (23), which explains why the 1895 directory listed Rupprecht as a resident of Detroit (4). The 1895 directory placed the drug store at 204 N 5th St., Calumet, which was on the east side between Oak St. and Portland St. The partnership probably dissolved in 1895, since only Fichtel was advertised for the drug store from Jan 1896 and Rupprecht became the doctor for Osceola in Nov 1896 (24). Fichtel was subsequently listed alone in the 1897 directory (5). He installed a new soda fountain in 1899 (19), which was common in Copper Country drug stores. By 1901, Fichtel's residence had moved from Calumet to Laurium (6). The 1903 directory listed the store at 202 5th St. (7), but the 1908 Sanborn map shows that the change in address was due to re-numbering of the street.

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

In Feb 1902, a blaze threatened the Jacka Block, which housed Fichtel's drug store and Ellis' jewelry store (26). When Ellis returned from the post office, he discovered smoke was entering his store from the cellar, where the furnace was located. He ran to sound the alarm and the fire department responded promptly. The drug store was so filled with smoke, Fichtel needed to don a smoke helmet to get papers out of the safe. There was no damage to the stock, but the cellar had two feet of water after the firemen extinguished the blaze. The cause of the fire was not known. After a few weeks of repairs and decorating, the store was formally re-opened on 19 Apr 1902 (43).

In Feb 1903, Axel Durckman became a new pharmacist at the drug store (27). He had recently arrived from Finland, and was fluent in Swedish, Norwegian, Russian and Finnish, but could not speak English (27).

Despite the lack of ads for Fichtel in the local newspaper, his drug store was often mentioned for its new attractions. Drug stores often featured special attractions or themed window displays and even seemed to compete with each other. In May 1901, Fichtel commissioned the largest graphophone in the Copper Country to furnish exquisite music to the patrons of his soda fountain (28). In Jul 1902, his store window exhibited three alligators "direct from the swamps of Florida" (29). In Nov 1903, his window featured a display of fancy tissue paper in many colors combined with electric lights creating "a very pleasant effect" (30). In Feb 1904, he constructed a display in the shape of a large Ferris wheel, which was kept in motion by a fan and belting (31). In Mar 1904, his heart decoration took third prize in the Ladies' Home Journal for the best design for Valentine's Day (32). In Jul 1904, his soda fountain design took fourth prize in the Ladies' Home Journal (33).

On 19 Sep 1904, fire broke out in the Jacka Block at 1:20 am (34). The Red Jacket fire department responded promptly and discovered fire in the basement of the drug store. The flames were forcing their way upward rapidly and soon the stairway leading to the offices on the second floor was ablaze. Flames broke through the skylight on the roof "with a roar that could be heard several blocks away". A second alarm was sounded and the Hecla fire department entered the scene. Four streams were on the building but they were inadequate. The Calumet fire department was called and six streams were on the building. The fire burned fiercely until 4 am. When it was finally under control, the building was gutted, leaving only the walls and parts of the floor intact. The stocks of the drug store and jewelry store were ruined by fire, smoke, or water. Fichtel had a loss of $5,500 and insurance for $3,500 (44). The fire marked the end of Fichtel's drug business.

Fichtel theorized that burglars started the fire to cover their tracks (34). He stated that the building was left secured and no fire was lit in the furnace. He discovered that his safe was opened during the night and $74 in checks and money was taken. Near the safe he found a hammer and chisel, which apparently were used to pry open the cash drawers of the safe. In the morning, three checks belonging to Fichtel were found close to the Vertin Bros store. Alternatively, the burglars may have carelessly thrown away matches used to light Christmas candles for lighting and they started the fire (44).

The Jacka Block was deemed unsafe and the sideway in front of the building was fenced off out of fear that the building might collapse (35). In Oct 1904, the remains of the building were taken down and plans were underway to rebuild the block entirely out of Ripley brick with red sandstone ornamentation (36). The 1908 Sanborn map showed that a bank occupied the new building.

In Oct 1904, Fichtel accepted a position with Holman Bros. & Co. (37), who were stock brokers (38), and the 1905 Polk directory listed him as a bookkeeper (9). In Feb 1905, he was appointed manager of the Calumet baseball team (39), but was still a bookkeeper for Holman Bros. & Co. (10) until he resigned in Jul 1907 with plans to start his own business (40). Fichtel and Josiah Jeffery established the Laurium Brokerage Co. (41) and opened for business on 24 Mar 1908 (42). The 1910 directory listed him for the Laurium Brokerage Co. (11), but curiously, he was listed as a druggist again in the 1912 directory (12). The 1920 U.S. Federal Census placed him and his family in Buffalo, NY where he was a salesman of stationery (13), which he continued until the 1930 census (14). He had no occupation listed on the 1940 census (15). He then died on 12 Mar 1947 at the age of 83 in Kenmore, NY (16).

The one bottle from Fichtel has a maker's mark of A. M. F. & Co. for A. M. Foster & Co. (8). Lockhart et al. (8) dated this mark to 1893-c.1911, but based on the company history, we can narrow the range to 1895-1904.

References

  1. anonymous. 1895. Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  3. Holland, A. H. 1887. 1887-8 Hand-book and Guide to Hancock, Mich. Mining Journal Book and Job Print. Marquette, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  8. Lockhart, B., B. Schriever, B. Lindsey, C. Serr, and B. Brown. 2013, revised 2021. A.M. Foster & Co. In: Encyclopedia of Manufacturer's Marks on Historic Bottles. posted on Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/AMFoster.pdf
  9. R. L. Polk & Co. 1905. Houghton County Directory 1905-06. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Houghton County Directory 1907-08. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  11. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  12. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. 1912 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  13. U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  14. U.S. Census Bureau. 1930 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  15. U.S. Census Bureau. 1930 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  16. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. Charles L. Fichtel. findagrave.com/memorial/189738735/charles-l-fichtel
  17. R. L. Polk & Co. 1891. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1891-92. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  18. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  19. anonymous. (1899, Jun 22). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  20. anonymous. (1890, Apr 24). About Portage Lake. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  21. anonymous. (1891, Oct 16). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  22. anonymous. (1889, Dec 20). untitled. The Calumet and Red Jacket News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  23. anonymous. (1893, Sep 20). untitled. Semi-Weekly Copper Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 2.
  24. anonymous. (1896, Nov 04). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 2
  25. anonymous. (1888, Nov 08). Hancock Happenings. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  26. anonymous. (1902, Feb 10). Sunday Blaze. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  27. anonymous. (1903, Feb 04). The City. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  28. anonymous. (1901, May 06). A New Attraction. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  29. anonymous. (1902, Jul 16). Local-Personal. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  30. anonymous. (1903, Nov 24). The City. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  31. anonymous. (1904, Feb 24). The City. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  32. anonymous. (1904, Mar 05). The City. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  33. anonymous. (1904, Jul 15). Calumet Briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  34. anonymous. (1904, Sep 19). Bad Fire Last Night. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  35. anonymous. (1904, Sep 30). Jacka Block Unsafe. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  36. anonymous. (1904, Oct 04). Jacka Block Coming Down. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  37. anonymous. (1904, Oct 18). Calumet Briefs. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  38. anonymous. (1906, Jan 06). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 7.
  39. anonymous. (1905, Feb 04). Chas. Fichtel is Manager. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  40. anonymous. (1907, Jul 02). Brevities. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  41. anonymous. (1908, Feb 17). New Brokerage Company. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  42. anonymous. (1908, Mar 24). untitled. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  43. anonymous. (1902, Apr 19). Calumet-Laurium. Hancock Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 5.
  44. anonymous. (1904, Sep 19). Robbery and Fire in Red Jacket. The Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 1.

14
Fichtel's Pharmacy bottle
4 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape K
date: 1895-1904
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
4 oz - 14.4 x 5.3 cm - A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
  • maker's mark faint on this example
  • capacity not marked on bottle