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22 Nov 2021, last revised 11 Jul 2022

The number of bottles from the Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co., with some being common, indicates that this was the most successful soda/mineral water company in Hancock. The bottles bear the monogram of three different proprietors: P L, L J, and H L. When Old Copper Country Bottles was published in 1978, P L was known to be Peter Larsen based on an ad, but the other proprietors were unknown. It appears Peter Larsen started the company in Crystal Falls and then established the Hancock branch.

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

Peter Larsen was born on 11 Jan 1849 in Denmark (1) and immigrated to the U.S. in 1865 (3) or 1868 (2). The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded that he resided in Neenah, Wisconsin, was marred to Caroline, and had Henry Larsen as one of three children (3). In 1886, he was remarried to Elizabeth and had more children (2). The 1893 directory listed Peter Larsen as proprietor of Crystal Falls Mineral Spring Water and that he was a "bottler of all kinds of mineral and soda waters" (4). The ad from the directory indicates that the mineral water came from a spring in Crystal Falls.

State labor records specified 1897 as the start date of Peter Larsen's Hancock business (18), and the 1897 Houghton County Polk directory listed him as a soda water manufacturer in Hancock with his residence being in Hancock (7). However, the 1897 Michigan State Polk directory listed him as manager of Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co. in Crystal Falls (5). The Hancock branch was first located on the south side of Franklin St., two units east of Tezcuco St. (7). In Dec 1898, he purchased property on Hancock St. with plans to erect a residence (21). He then decided to also erect a factory building on the property (22). In Mar 1899, the building was expected to be completed in four weeks (23), and Peter planned on moving his family from Crystal Falls to Hancock in the spring (24). The 1899 directory located the bottling works on the north side of Hancock St., three units west of Mesnard St. (8) and the 1903 directory specified the address as 511 Hancock St. (9).

Sanborn map - Jun 1900
Sanborn map - Jun 1900
Sanborn map - Nov 1907
Sanborn map - Nov 1907

Peter Larsen continued as proprietor and his son, Henry Larsen was manager in 1903 (9) and teamster in 1905 (10). The business had four employees in 1904 (19) and eight in 1905 (18). Despite the name of the company, ads stated that they bottled more than just mineral water.

Polk directory ad - Houghton County Directory 1899-1900
Polk directory ad - 1899
Polk directory ad - Houghton County Directory 1901-02
Polk directory ad - 1901

The next directories documented the changes in proprietors. The 1907 directory listed Larsen & Johnson as proprietors, consisting of Peter Larsen and Hans M. Johnson (11). It also listed a branch in South Range managed by Henry Larsen (11). Hans Johnson may have been related to Peter's wife, Elizabeth, given her maiden name was Johnson. Peter Larsen and Hans Johnson were listed in the 1909 directory (12). Larsen & Johnson were listed in the 1910 directory, but now the Larsen was Henry Larsen (13). The company had 25 employees in 1911 (20). In 1912, only Henry Larsen was listed as proprietor (13).

Soda from Henry Larsen in Hancock were tested by the State of Michigan Dairy and Food Department in 1910 (16) and 1912 (17), which revealed the varieties he produced. These included Royal Brew, Ginger Ale, Lemon Soda, Orange Cider, Cream Soda, Cremo, Iron Brew, Pear Cider, and Root Beer.

The 1916 directory no longer listed the Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co., but it listed Henry Larsen at the same address (14), and Hancock had bottles bearing only Henry Larsen's name. We continue the history of this bottling works on Henry Larsen's page.

Based on the transitions in proprietors, we can date the bottles with the different monograms. P L monogram bottles date to 1897-c.1906. The L J monogram bottles date to c.1906-c.1911. The one H L monogram bottle dates to c.1912.

References

  1. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1910 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau. 1880 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1897. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  8. R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  9. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1905. Houghton County Directory 1905-06. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  11. R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Houghton County Directory 1907-08. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  12. R. L. Polk & Co. 1909. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1909. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  13. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  14. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. 1912 Calumet, Hancock, Houghton and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  15. R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  16. State of Michigan Department of Dairy and Food Department. 1910. Bulletin No. 173-178, Jan-June 1910. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., State Printers. Lansing, MI.
  17. State of Michigan. 1912. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Dairy and Food Commissioner of the State of Michigan for the year ending June 30, 1912. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., State Printers. Lansing, MI.
  18. Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics. 1906. State of Michigan Twenty-Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics Including the Thirteenth Annual Report of State Inspection of Factories. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., State Printers. Lansing, MI.
  19. Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics. 1905. State of Michigan Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics Including the Twelfth Annual Report of State Inspection of Factories. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., State Printers. Lansing, MI.
  20. Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics. 1912. Twenty-Ninth Annual Report of the Department of Labor of the State of Michigan. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., State Printers. Lansing, MI.
  21. anonymous. (1898, Dec 09). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  22. anonymous. (1899, Feb 09). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  23. anonymous. (1899. Mar 03). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  24. anonymous. (1899, Mar 25). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.

42
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
date: late 1890s
rarity: common
42a
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: rare
  • different plate from 42
  • L in MINERAL slightly to the left of G in STERLING
  • different maker's mark
  • same plate for 42a and 42c
  • this variant was pictured in the book
42b
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
color: pale aqua
maker's mark: N. B. B. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: (base)
rarity: extremely rare
  • different plate from other varieties
  • L in MINERAL under I in STERLING
  • different maker's mark
42c
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
color: pale aqua
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: ?
  • same plate for 42a and 42c
  • does not have a maker's mark

43
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: common
  • different plate design
43a
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: N. B. B. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: (none)
rarity: scarce
  • different plate from 43
  • W in WATER over N in HANCOCK
  • different maker's mark
43b
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: ?
  • different plate from 43 and 43a
  • plate almost identical to 44 but without misspelling
  • no maker's mark

44
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: scarce
  • different plate from 43 and 43a
  • smaller PL monogram
  • SPRING is misspelled
  • plate higher on mold

s22
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare
  • differenet plate design
  • P L monogram links this bottle to Hancock

47
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: Baltimore loop seal - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare
  • same plate for 47 and s44

s44
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Baltimore loop seal - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare
  • same plate for 47 and s44
  • different color

48
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: Baltimore loop seal - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: rare
  • different embossing from 47
  • same plate for 48, 48a, and 50

s70
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: I G Co (back heel)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare
  • same plate for 48, 48a, and 50
  • different top from 48
  • contains basemark

50
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: scarce
  • same plate for 48, 48a, and 50
  • different color and top

49
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: crown top
maker's mark: N B B G Co. (?)
other marks: (?)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: scarce
  • larger plate than 48/50
49a
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: N B B G CO (back heel)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: (?)
  • different plate from other varieties
  • W in WATER over A in HANCOCK
  • slightly shorter body
49b
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: (?)
  • different plate from other varieties
  • W in WATER slightly to the right of A in HANCOCK
  • G in STERLING over R in MINERAL
  • no maker's mark
  • same-sized body as 49
  • this variant was not listed in the book
49c
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: P L monogram (base)
rarity: (?)
  • different plate from other varieties
  • O in CO slightly to the left of C in MICH

165
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: colorless
top: siphon top
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare

s62
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: colorless
top: siphon top
maker's mark: monogram (base)
other marks: MADE IN AUSTRIA (base)
date: 1900-1906
rarity: extremely rare

45
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (stamped out, back heel)
other marks: L J monogram (base)
date: 1906-1911
rarity: rare
  • different initials
45a
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
maker's mark: ROOT (back heel)
other marks: L J monogram (base)
rarity: rare
  • different plate from 45
  • G in STERLING to the right of E in MINERAL
  • different maker's mark
  • lacks a date code

51
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: N B B G CO (back heel)
other marks: L J (base)
date: 1906-1911
rarity: rare

s47
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: I. G. CO. (back heel)
other marks: L J (base)
date: 1906-1911
rarity: extremely rare

52
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: ROOT (back heel)
other marks: L J (base)
date: 1906-1911
rarity: rare
  • full mold plate
  • this example has date code: 1170 ROOT 10

46
Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: light green
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: ROOT (back heel)
other marks: H L monogram (base)
date: c.1912
rarity: rare
  • different plate design
  • different initials
  • lacks a date code