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07 Oct 2021, 08 Oct 2021

J. C. Riddle and John Riddle Jr. had the only embossed bottles from Greenland and Rockland, towns located near the southern end of the Copper Country. These bottles pose several questions. How was J. C. and John Jr. related? Who started the bottling works and why did it change hands? Did the bottling works start in Greenland or in Rockland?

James Constantine Riddle was born in Greenland on 24 Aug 1854 (1). According to his death certificate, John Riddle Jr. was born in Greenland on 02 Dec 1864 (2), but this date does not match early census records (3,4). They were brothers, and their parents were immigrants from Ireland (3,4). James moved from Greenland to Ironwood in 1893 and resided in the household of his brother-in-law, James W. Oxnam (1). In Dec 1895, he purchased the Union Bottling Works in Ironwood from Gust Nord (1).

Polk directory ad - Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94
Polk directory ad - 1893
Polk directory ad - Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1897
Polk directory ad - 1897

From the bottles, we know that James also established a bottling works in Rockland and Greenland. We could not find him listed in the Michigan State Polk directory (5,6), but we do not have access to the 1889 and 1901 volumes. Luckily, The Ontonagon Herald featured his ad for Rockland from 16 Sep 1899 to 22 Jun 1901. Thus, he likely started the Rockland branch sometime between 1897 and 1899. We found no ads that specified Greenland as the location.

Newspaper ad - The Ontonagon Herald, 30 Aug 1899
Newspaper ad - Aug 1899
Newspaper ad - The Ontonagon Herald, 01 May 1901
Newspaper ad - May 1901

Ill health forced James to retire in 1903 (1), and then he died in Ironwood on 01 Jan 1904 at the age of 49 (2). His brother-in-law, James W. Oxnam took over the bottling works in Ironwood (1). Evidently, his brother, John Jr. took over his other bottling works, which was now in Greenland, based on the bottles and an ad in The Ontonagon Herald.

Newspaper ad - The Ontonagon Herald, 20 May 1905
Newspaper ad - May 1905

John Jr. was listed as proprietor of Union Bottling Works in the 1907 directory (7). He died on 02 Dec 1909 at the age of 45 due to acute alcoholism and his death certificate noted that he was a bottler (2). Thus, it appears he continued to operate the bottling works until his death.

Questions still remain about the Union Bottling Works in Greenland/Rockland. Who managed it given James lived in Ironwood? When did it move from Rockland to Greenland? Why were only quart-size bottles used? Why has only one bottle bearing John Jr.'s name been discovered given he operated the bottling works for five years?

References

  1. Cox, B. K. 1996. Bottles and Bottlers of the Gogebic Range. Agogeebic Press. Wakefield, MI.
  2. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1860 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1897. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1903-1904. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1907-1908. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.

13
J. C. Riddle bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1897-1900
rarity: extremely rare
  • different embossing from 12

14
J. C. Riddle bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1903
rarity: extremely rare
  • different embossing from 13

12
John Riddle Jr bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1903-1909
rarity: extremely rare