Pfeiffer & Schwartzel Family Family History
PFEIFFER FAMILY and the SPIRITS
Members of the Pfeiffer family have been involved in Spirits of one form or another for five generations. This connection with Spirits began in 1867 when Martin Pfeiffer and his brother Peter Pfeiffer purchased the Green Street Lager Beer Brewery[i]. The tradition continues today with the Pfeiffer Winery in Lanesville, Indiana, which is owned by Jim and Lara Pfeiffer, Martin’s great-great grandson.
According to Conrad Salle, author of “Louisville Breweries”, The Pfeiffer’s obtained the brewery as payment for debts owed to Martin and Peter Pfeiffer who were building contractors. The Green Street Brewery was located on the northeast corner of Green Street (Liberty) and Wenzel Avenue.[ii] In 1869 Martin purchased the remaining interest in the Brewery from his brother. An ad in the Louisville Anzeiger newspaper, March 1874, stated the Green Street Brewery offers “The True Bock”. Martin sold the brewery in 1875.
Newspaper ads from the Louisville Anzeiger paper.
"Green Street (Liberty) between
Campbell and Wenzel"
"? and Lager Beer"
"The True Bock"
"Green Street Brewery"
The ads from the Louisville Anzeiger show the change in ownership from Peter and Martin to Martin alone.
The interest in spirits continued in 1877 when Martin Pfeiffer opened a saloon at 335 - 337 2nd Street. By 1886, two of his sons, Cal (age 15) and Ed (age 23) were listed as barkeepers at the Martin Pfeiffer Saloon. Ed gave up bartending in 1888, and became a bookkeeper for J. Simon & Co. who was a whiskey distributor. Martin Pfeiffer Saloon may have closed in 1887. In 1890, Cal Pfeiffer was also listed as a bookkeeper at the J. Simons & Co.,[iii] a wholesale whiskey dealer and in 1895, Cal Pfeiffer was listed as a “Traveling Agent”, company unknown, but was probably working for the J. Simons & Co. As a traveling agent Cal sold whiskey throughout the South and Midwest. He sold brands such as Old Joe, Old Charter, Ashton, Ashton Rye and XXXXB. From January 10, 1894 to January 10, 1895 Cal sold 266 orders[iv] for whiskey that ranged from a few bottles to a number of barrels. By about May 12,1895 he had sold another 198 orders.
In 1896, after several years experience in the wholesale whiskey business, Cal and Ed Pfeiffer founded Pfeiffer Brothers Company as a whiskey company in Louisville, Kentucky. At first they ran their business from their home at 903 E. Jefferson where they lived with their sister Bertha (Betty) who had her own business as a dressmaker. Once the business was underway they opened an office at 733 E. Broadway. The company was a wholesale[v] [vi] company that sold whiskey under a number of the company’s own brand names in addition to other brands. Cal Pfeiffer worked as a traveling salesman before starting Pfeiffer Brothers, while Ed Pfeiffer worked as a bookkeeper. Cal probably continued as the salesman while Ed probably ran the day-to-day business.
On some of their stationary they were listed as distillers and wholesale liquor dealers but this did not necessarily mean that they owned a distillery. The term “distiller” often referred to those who were “rectifiers”, a term used for a company that buys whiskeys and blends them to form their own products[vii].
Pfeiffer Brothers business was started at a time when many whiskey businesses were folding and people in general getting out of the business. This stressful era of the whiskey business actually started shortly after the civil war ended when the federal government began to clamp down. This along with the temperance movement, i.e. Anti-Saloon League, and various groups trying to establish monopolies, such as, the Whiskey Trust, made it very difficult to make a profit. From the late 1800s to Prohibition, many states on their own when "Dry".
This letter from Joe Sarlo of Little Rock, Arkansas, 8/13/1900, I'm sure was just one of many asking for contributions to help fight off the the anti-liquor interest.
Their business lasted until the 18th Amendment (the Volstead Act) to the United States constitution was passed which prohibited the sale of alcohol. The Volstead Act was passed October 28, 1919 and the prohibition on the sale of alcohol across the United States started at12:01A.M. on January 20, 1920. Prohibition ended thirteen years later as a complete failure when the 21st Amendment was passed.
In 1900, the company moved from Broadway to 128 2nd Street and again moved in 1903 to 226 W. Main. The next move for the company was just down the street to 214 W. Main by 1916. They made a final move to 903 Liberty Bank Building where they were when the business closed in 1920.
Pfeiffer Brothers purchased their whiskey from one or more distilleries and had the whiskey bottled under their own private labels. The Tom Moore Distillery[viii] in Bardstown, Kentucky produced at least some of their whiskey and was probably their primary supplier. The Pfeiffer Brothers stationary shows a picture of a distillery with the following inscription below the picture “Registered Distillery No. 355, Fifty Dist KY.” Distillery No. 355 was the Tom Moore Distillery: today is the Barton Distilling Co. One of the Pfeiffer Brothers brands was “Tom Moore”. The history of the Tom Moore Distillery lists that Thomas S. Moore founded the distillery in 1889 and ran the company until the 1930's.
Their brands of whiskey:
Old Cork, 1896 Brand Pfeiffer Brothers started business in 1896 “Fragrant As A Rose”
Tom Moore Whiskey Named for the distillery that produced some of the whiskey
Tom Moore Bourbon Bottle-in-Bond
Silas Moore Whiskey A blend of straight whiskeys
Silas Moore Rye
Fifer’s Malt Rye Whiskey
Hayfield Whiskey Kentucky Bourbon, Bottled in Bond
Hayfield Whiskey-Blend The Hayfield name came from the name of the farm which Cal Pfeiffer’s father-in-law owned at the time of his marriage. On some labels, Lynndale Distillery Co. Distillery No. 470 Louisville 5th District of Kentucky
Buckroe Whiskey 7 Summers Old, Bottle-in-Bond, Buckroe was named for the Buckroe Beach, which is located at Hampton Road, Virginia.
Sherwood Rye “As a stimulant or tonic there is none superior, highly recommended as a beverage”, probably sold by but not produced by Pfeiffer Brothers, label has "Guaranteed by Tom Taylor, Ft. Smith, Ark."
Old J.B.T. Whiskey A blended whiskey, Fire copper - Double Distilled, Tom Moore Distillery listed on some labels
Old J.B.T. Rye
Nox All Whiskey Fire Copper - Double Distilled
Walter Taylor Whiskey A blended whiskey
Calvin Springs Whiskey Straight Kentucky Whiskey
Dixie Belle Whiskey Fire Copper - Double Distilled
P. B. Gin “It Makes Backbone”
P B Whiskey Fire Copper - Double Distilled
Pfeiffer Bros. Whiskey
Tom Hudson Whiskey
Old Cornelius Whiskey A blended whiskey, named for Cal (Cornelius) Pfeiffer. However, the name could be for Cornelius Moore, son of Tom Moore.
Rocky Brook Whiskey Straight Whiskey, Bottle-in-Bond
Lou Dale Whiskey A Blend Whiskey
Old Kentucky Favorite
The whiskeys produced by the Pfeiffer Bros. had colorful statements and descriptions on the labels, such as, JBT, Dixie Bell and Nox All as being double distilled - fire copper. PB Gin stated that “It makes backbone”; Sherwood Rye “The whiskey is guaranteed absolutely pure. Recommended by Physicians through the United States as a typical whiskey for medicinal purposes”. Dixie Bell “CAUTION: This whiskey being made from the finest selected grain, it is guaranteed to the consumer as a pure double distilled fire copper whiskey and is recommended for family and medicinal use”.
Distilleries used by the Pfeiffer Brothers:
Tom Moore Distillery RD #355, Bardstown, Ky.[ix] - Founded in1889 by Thomas S. Moore who once owned part of Mattingly & Moore Distilling Co. Their brands were “Tom Moore”, Dan’l Boone” and “Silas Jones”. They bottled private brands for a number of distributors such as the Hermann Bros. and Hilmar Ehrmann of Louisville and others. In 1944 the distillery was purchased by Oscar Getz who changed the name of the distillery to Barton. Amalgamated Dist. Products P.L.C. purchased the distillery in 1982 and changed the name to Barton Brands Ltd.
Lynndale Distillery Co. RD #470, Louisville, Ky.[x] - Hoffheimer Brothers, a wholesale firm in Cincinnati built the distillery sometime after 1890 next to the White Mils Distillery at 18th and Howard Streets. The distillery was sold in 1919 to G. Lee Redmon Co., which used the warehouses as concentration houses and the bottling house for bottling medicinal spirits. Bottling was done for Taylor & Williams (Yellowstone) and other distilleries.
Besides whiskey, the Pfeiffer Brothers sold other products particularly in the early years. They sold Port wine, Sherry, Peppermint Brandy, Apricot Brandt, Blackberry Brandy, Cognac and other liquors.
In 1904, the Pfeiffer Brothers exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis Worlds Fair as part of a Kentucky delegation. The Pfeiffer Brothers were awarded a Gold Medal for their Old J.B.T. blended whiskey by the Exposition’s Department of Agriculture as a Kentucky whiskey.[xi] [xii] [xiii] Jack Daniels won a similar award for Tennessee. There were several Grand Prize winners such as Brenhein Distilling Co. "Harper" whiskey, Sunny Brook Distillery and Old Time Distillery. Some of the Grand Prizes were awarded partly due to the company's display. Sonny Brook Distillery's exhibit, one of the fair's largest exhibits, consisted of an actual working distillery complete with all processing steps.
Jack Daniels made great use of this gold metal as well as other gold metals in promoting his whiskey. Today, the Jack Daniel’s label lists the 1904 gold metal as well as other gold metals won.[xiv]
Thomas Moore of Bardstown, owner of the Tom Moore distillery, was one of the jurors on the panel who judged the whiskey exhibit competition. Mr. Moore was a close associate of the Pfeiffer Brothers.
1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition - St. Louis - Gold Metal
|Whiskey Exhibit||Bernheim Distillery Exhibit|
"In the composition of the obverse of the metal are shown two figures, one which, Columbia, tall and stately, is about to envelop the youthful maiden by her side, typifying the Louisiana Territory, in the flag of the stars and stripes, thus receiving he into the sisterhood of States. The other figure is depicted in the act of divesting herself of the cloak of France, symbolized in the emblem of Napoleon, the busy bee, embroidered thereon. In the background is shown the rising sun, the dawn of a new era of progress to the nation.
Special production Worlds Fair Gold Metal bottle celebrating the winning of the award.
1904 in some ways was a good year for the Pfeiffer Brothers in that they won a gold metal but they were also sued in federal court. In an article in the Courier Journal, June 1904, a “suit for an injunction was filed yesterday in the United States District Court by the Kentucky Distilleries and Warehouse Company against Pfeiffer Brothers, distillers, to restrain them from using the name “Hayfield” on a brand of whiskey which is manufactured by them. It is claimed by the plaintiffs that the name is so much like the name “Mayfield,” which is a well-known brand manufactured by them, that the two whiskeys have been confused, to the detriment of the plaintiffs.” Apparently the suit was not successful as the Pfeiffer Brothers continued to sell Hayfield whiskey.
The price of whiskey hasn’t changes all that much since 1900. The 1896 Brand “Old Cork” has a price of $6.00 on one of the quart bottles. But that’s before you consider inflation. A $6.00 bottle in 1900 would cost $114.00 in today’s dollars. Prices of whiskey in that time ranged from about $3.00 per barrel to $1.00 per quart of 1 star Old Fitzgerald, $2.00 per quart of Old Private Stock – Old Fitzgerald, to “Old Cork” at $6.00.[xvi] Today, a quart of whiskey runs from about $10.00 to $40.00 for very high-grade whiskey. The price of a bottle of whiskey included Federal tax and from 1894 to1920 the Federal Liquor Excise Tax was $1.10[xvii] per proof gallon. Today the tax is $13.50 per proof gallon.
The Pfeiffer brothers, particularly Cal Pfeiffer, traveled the south and mid-west to sell their whiskey. It appears that they had a number of customers throughout the State of Missouri, towns such as, St. Joseph, Jefferson City, Springfield, Sedalia, Chillicothe, Fayette, Carterville, Rich Hill, Wentzville, Lamar, Oronogo, Joplin and Louisiana are typed on a letterhead. Their travels around the turn of the century were a little more dangerous than today. Cal and probably his brother carried pistols during their travels. Cal Pfeiffer carried one of the two pistols pictured below; the other belonged to his sister Betty.
Cal Pfeiffer was concerned about leaving his wife alone at home as he traveled, so he gave her the police whistle pictured below, to summons help in the event of an emergency.
Sales books used by Cal Pfeiffer
The notebooks pictured above were used by Cal Pfeiffer to record sales. The open book has his name in the cover. The book on the left list orders starting with order number 298 on 4/29/1897 and goes to order 347 on 6/19/1897. The book then picks up at order number 1 on 7/27/1897 and ends at order number 365 on 6/14/1898. It picks up again at order number 1 on 7/18/1898 and ends at order number 102 on 10/29/1898.
The middle book was from before Pfeiffer Brothers existed when Cal Pfeiffer worked for J. Simons & Co. as a traveling agent. The book starts on 1/10/1894 with order number 1 and goes to order 266 in 12/1894 followed by order number 1, 1/1895 and ending on order number 198 in 12/1895.
Since the first book starts over with order number 1 in July 1897 with order number 347 on 6/17/1897 Pfeiffer Brothers probably started in business on July 1, 1896.
The third book is later in the company’s history. The book starts with order number72 on 6/17/1918 and goes to order number 148 on 12/4/1918. The book picks up again on January 13, 1919 with order number 1 and ends at order number 47 on 5/6/1919. This date could be the end of the business for Pfeiffer Brothers. Even though the Volstead Act (Prohibition) did not become effective until January 1920, many states had already initiated their own prohibition. It was evident from the number of sales that sales were considerable less than earlier years.
Orders from sales books:
Order No. 320
½ Barrel Port Wine @ $.75/gal.
1 Barrel J.B.T., 1892, $1.95/gal.
1 Dozen Cork Screws
1 Fancy Bottle (Decanter)
Order No. 125
2 Barrels Bourbon 70°, $1.00/gal
1 Barrel Noxall 90°, $1.50/gal
½ Barrel Gin, $1.75/gal
10 Gal Peach Brandy $2.25/gal
½ Barrel Blackberry $.90/gal
1 Case Maraschino, $7.50/case
1 Case Cognac, $10.00/case
Webb City, MO
8 Cases Tom Moore Blend 4/5 Qt $32.00/case
8 Cases Tom Moore Blend Pints, $32.50/case
9 cases Tom Moore Blend ½ Pints, $33.00/case
1 Thermometer & 2 Glass Signs
Order No. 48
New Orleans, LA
2 Barrels Silas Moore Rye, 1890, $8.75/gal.
1 Barrel Gin 90°, $9.10/gal
As the Pfeiffer Brothers traveled to make sales calls the often brought samples to their clients and carried a sales catalog.
Prohibition may have ended the Pfeiffer Brothers’ wholesale whiskey business but not the family’s involvement with Spirits. Cal Pfeiffer’s son; Raymond Lee Pfeiffer soon picked up the connection with spirits spending the majority of his working life in the whiskey business,. Ray’s connection with whiskey was not planned but was more an accident. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1932 with a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering. Before graduating he obtained employment with a major telephone company, but due to the depression, his job was canceled before he was able to start work. Ray returned to Louisville, taught school at St. Xavier High School and went to Jefferson School of Law. In 1933, he was employed by the Frankfort Distilleries in Louisville, which produced Four Roses whiskey as well as other brands. The Frankfort Distilleries was founded in 1869 in Frankfort, Kentucky, reorganized and relocated to Louisville in1928, by T.W. Hinde, S. C. Miller and William. H. Veeneman. In 1943 Joseph E. Seagram Co. purchased the distillery. From 1934 to 1944 Ray Pfeiffer formed the Legal Sales Department and handled various sales and export functions, primarily worked with Four Roses brand. By June 1944, Ray Pfeiffer was requested to move to New York City, but he declined the offer for family reasons and was also endeavoring to enlist in the Navy.
June 1944, Ray Pfeiffer became the Vice Present of Sales for the Cummins-Collins Distilleries in Louisville. The Cummins-Collins Distillery was located in Athertonville, Larue County and was originally J.M. Atherton Distillery built in 1879. During prohibition the plant was shutdown. In 1933 Arthur J Cummins and Hunt Collins rebuilt the distillery. Their brand was A. J. Cummins. In 1946 the Joseph E. Seagrams Co. bought Commins-Collins Distillery and the company was dissolved. That year Ray Pfeiffer became the Vice President and Director of Louisville Distilleries, Inc. that was owner by Arthur Cummins and George Collins. This distillery was also sold to Seagrams in 1946.
September of 1947 Ray Pfeiffer was employed as Vice President by Yellowstone Inc., a subsidiary of Glenmore Distilleries Company to establish Yellowstone on a nationwide basis. Yellowstone was not sold between 1944 and 1947. Yellowstone Distillery was build by J. Bernard Dant shortly after the repeal of prohibition. Glenmore Distilleries purchased the plant in 1944. Ray Pfeiffer was Vice President of Yellowstone until 1952 when Yellowstone was merged with Glenmore Distilleries. At that time he was Vice President and Sales Manager of Glenmore Distilleries.
Yellowstone whiskey was made from a very old formula which dated back to 1836 and who’s name originated in 1872. In the later years Yellowstone was known as a “Mellow-Mash” bourbon and had a slogan of “That’s right no bite”.
While working for Glenmore, Ray Pfeiffer was contacted by Harry Harrison Kroll who was working on a book about the whiskey industry in Kentucky. Mr. Kroll described Ray in his book as, “He was less than seven feet and more than six, and his long legs supported an ample torso, topped by a bland face and bourbon blue eyes, a chin or two, and he gave me a handclasp that he must have practiced over the years of selling ...”[xviii] He was also mentioned in a second book , “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” and wrote a small book titled “The Spirit of Old Kentucky”. Although Co. Frank Thompson is listed as the author, the bottom back cover lists R.P. Litho in USA. That was Ray’s method of identifying his authorship.
While Ray Pfeiffer managed the sales at Yellowstone, he built the brand to one of Glenmore’s top sellers. He promoted the brand using a number of standard advertising techniques as well as a few non-standard techniques. As part of his sales campaigns, he used large teddy bears and featured in his ads several of the west’s largest cattle ranchers. Since Kentucky had many “dry” counties, that also had a number of bootleggers, he packaged regular pint bottles in boxes without labels and shipped them to wholesalers near the “dry” counties. This made a hit with the bootleggers as it helped to disguise the contents of the boxes. Another technique he used in areas where he was introducing Yellowstone, he would provide the wholesalers with empty bottles and instructed them to place the bottles in alleys and in the gutter of busy streets. His idea was that as people saw the empties, they would assume that a number of people drank Yellowstone and thus would give it a try. Not the best idea for the environment but it was effective. As a means of generating attention Ray had a company take a large quantity of rocks and painted them yellow. He then shipped the rocks to San Francisco where he scattered the yellow stones on the street and even the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, it created quite a lot of attention and free publicity in the newspaper. Ray did business all over the country, which resulted in a lot of travel. He had many types of distributors and some of his best were members of the mafia. Their word was their bond and they expected the same from Ray. They also paid their bills on time.
Ray Pfeiffer left the whiskey business in 1963 and formed Ray Pfeiffer Associates, an advertising specialty company. Although Ray Pfeiffer was no longer working for a distillery his connections continued for the rest of his working life as he sold advertising materials to Glenmore, Stitzel-Weller, Brown Forman and Willett Distilling Co. Ray also became a consultant to the Willett Distilling Co., Bardstown, Ky. for several years. Their brand was Old Bardstown.
The fourth generation of Pfeiffer's was only slightly involved in spirits but it began at an early age. Ray and Cal Pfeiffer both set up small whiskey stills as science projects for school. Cal Pfeiffer worked with his father in the advertising specialties business selling advertising to the various distilleries. He also organized and ran rebate programs for Glenmore Distillery. The making of spirits for this generation was limited to making cordials and wine, as well as, helping the next generation with building a winery.
The fifth generation has picked up the tradition. Jim and Laura Pfeiffer purchased a 74-acre farm in Lanesville, Indiana in1997 and began planting vines the following spring. They began with planting four acres. After three years of planting vines resulting in 4,750 vines covering 10.5 acres, they began to build their winery by constructing a 2500-foot square metal-sided building containing winery, lab, warehouse and tasting room. Plans are to expand to 30,000 vines spread over 65 acres. The winery officially opened for business March 24, 2001. The year 2000 harvest produced 2,000 cases or 24,000 bottles of wine. The 2001 harvest produced 16 tons of grapes, which resulted in 3,000 cases of wine.
The winery was incorporated under the name of Pfeiffer Winery and markets most of their wine under the label, Turtle Run Winery.
[i] “Louisville Breweries”, 1995, by Peter R. Guetig & Conrad D. Selle
[ii] The 1867-68 Edwards City Directory, Filson Club, listed P&M Pfeiffer, Lager Beer Brewery, Washington St. between Wenzel and Cambell
[iii] A newspaper article about Cal Pfeiffer, as a member to the Louisville Cycle Club, 1892 listed him as a traveling representative of the large liquor house of Laz. Simons.& Co. The City Directory listed the company as J. Simon & Co. and on a corkscrew J. Simon & Co. listed along with Ashton Distillery. A sales ledger book list Ashton whiskey. Thus,
[iv] Sales information from sales books belonging to Cal Pfeiffer
[v] The Louisville City Directory, Filson Club, in 1902, 1903, 1916 & 1920 listed Pfeiffer Brothers as a wholesale whiskey company. 1902, 1903 & 1916 listed all the distilleries in Louisville - no Pfeiffer Distillery was listed.
[vi] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil, 1999. - No record of a Pfeiffer distillery in Kentucky
[vii] “The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys” by Gary Regan and Mardee Haidin Regan
[viii] The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown, Ky. has a bottle of Tom Moore Whiskey which indicated that is was produced by the Tom Moore Distillery, Nelson County, Bardstown, Ky. On the bottom of the label the following was listed “Made for Pfeiffer Bros. Controllers, Louisville, KY.” Also listed on the label was Dist. 355, 5th dist. Ky.
[ix] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil
[x] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” page 84
[xi] Award listed by the Missouri Historical Society
[xii] “Kentucky at the World’s Fair, St. Louis, 1904” A report on the State of Kentucky’s activities at the World’s Fair.
[xiii] Old J.B.T. blended whiskey is pictured in old catalog with a neck label designated that brand as a gold metal winner.
[xiv] “The Book of Classic American Whiskeys” by Mark H. Waymark & James F. Harris
[xv] Description included with the metal
[xvi] Price List, S.C. Herbst Importing Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
[xvii] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil, 1999
[xviii] “Bluegrass, Belles, and Bourbon” by Harry Harrison Kroll