Written by Allan C. Holden

Vol 13 No 6                                                                                Member Club F.O.H.B.C.                                                                        January 2016


Last Meeting

If you missed the last meeting, frankly I am shocked! For one of our infrequent pizza party meetings, the turnout was a little low! Was it something I said?

Well, the point is, we missed you, and we had the very pleasant task of eating your share of 5 giant pizzas!

It wasn't as if only a couple members showed up, it actually was a pretty good turnout. It is just that we look forward to seeing some of our long-distance members on free pizza night, without having to go to the post office rifling through boxes of wanted posters.

The following list of important dignitaries graced us with their presence:

Kevin Seigfried, Ron Smith, Bill Drake, Tim Hayes, Kelsey Ennis, Mary Hamilton & Linda, Charles Parker, Kelly Bobbit, Ed Nickerson, Scott Hendrichsen, and Al Holden.

One of the names missing from this list is Vince Grossi which can only mean the green house industry is going great guns!

Actually this was also a busy time for Scott Hendrichsen, when he wears his United Parcel Service hat. This guy has a very full hat rack! Like they say, "If I had his money, I'd burn mine!"

Scott didn't make it to the library, so he caught up with us down at Bimbo's Pizza.

When we all gathered at the library for a brief roll call and treasures report, we did have a small amount of show-and tell. With pizza being the theme for the night, I wasn't expecting to see too much to photograph.

Then Kevin pulled out a beautiful older photograph. I think photographers call this type of work a landscape. It was a very peaceful scene, overlooking a shoreline and out over a lake. You can see a small peninsula and a very distant shore. The beach looks like limestone, where it was taken I am sure will be a mystery forever, and those are the little issues which drive me nuts!

The photo has the artist's name on the back which reads "Jack Short Studios." Jack was one of the club's founding members and a dear friend to so many! Kevin gifted me that beautiful photo and I love it!

Tim Hayes brought in a half pint whiskey bottle that his granddaughter painted! It is a very cool Kalamazoo ½- pint cork-top, whiskey flask with a blown in the mold 'slug-plate' that reads; "ALBERT DOLL" 107 E. MAIN, KALAMAZOO, MICH.

Tim told us he had missed a chance to own it some time back. After it slipped through his fingers, he thought he would never get another chance. I think he spotted it on e-Bay and this time he gave it a new home! Being a grandfather myself, I am sure the paint-job adds to the value!

Not a great deal more to report from our time at the library, we regrouped down at Bimbo's Pizza. I didn't bring my cell phone into the library, I discovered later it would have been ringing! In fact, during the meeting, Santa's little helper, our resident U.P.S. driver, Scott Hendrichsen, managed to reach Eddy Nickerson. Scott was on his way, and he wondered if we were about to head down to the pizza party.

When we got to Bimbo's, Scott had already moved in with boxes of old dusty relics! It is just a good thing pizza isn't finger food! After we all handled the rusty gold, we enjoyed 5 large pizzas-- with the same dirty hands!

Scott picked up a big group of early cans and bottles and it was fun to explore! The cans were in great shape, but not old enough to be 1800's. Many of them had colorful labels! He also had some early 1900's patent medicine bottles with very nice labels!

One bottle with an interesting label was: DR. MILES' CACTUS COMPOUND

Dr. Miles Medical Company Laboratory, Elkhart Indiana.

An interesting story regarding the Dr. Miles company is that today it is known as Bayer Schering Pharmaceutical.

At the peak of Dr. Miles' success, they were marketing their products by selling "Modern Science." Before that, many of the patent medicines companies would sell products by linking to anything that would drive sales, including astrology. Many of the Miles' promotions would depict scholarly young men in lab coats gazing into a chemist's test jar.

During 1932, the Elkhart area was hard hit by an influenza outbreak, which basically shut down the entire town. The Miles' company had hoped to find a product that would be a true cure-all. In their labs they came up with an effervesant tablet that would ultimately be one of my favorites, Alka Seltzer! Hey! The stuff works for me! A little plop-plop-fizz-fizz will take the rattle out of your hubcaps!

Another neat bottle that Scott displayed was another Dr. Miles' product, DR. MILES NERVINE. Unlike the Cactus Compound, which was for heart disorders and contained 11 percent alcohol, NERVINE was non-alcohlic and was for nervousness, nervous headache as well as hysteric conditions. Sometimes I have historic, hysterical, hysteric conditions!

Here is another interesting product, ADLER-I-KA which was recommended as an "Intestinal Evacuant." The label promises "a quick and pleasant evacuant."

I think this product could go a long way toward shortening these presidential debates. You're right, that stinks. . sorry.

I have a hard time investing in antique paper items. They seem to disintegrate as quickly as I take possession! But I do love bright colorful artwork. That is just what one of Scott's bottles has! It is 'HEALTH-D' ALMOND BEAUTY LOTION, which claims to be a "delightfully perfumed creamy lotion." The best part was indeed the colorful label adorned with beautiful red roses and rose buds!

Another label only bottle was a cork top: PORTER'S PAIN KING

"To relieve colds, nervous headaches, rheumatic & neuralgic pains, toothache, backache, sprains, bruises and burns." Prepared only by the George H. Rundle Company, Piqua, Ohio. Price $1.00

Scott had some neat paper label cans with the group of items which included salmon cans, baking powder, evaporated milk and one company was AKANA and the product was CORN. Are you getting this; AKANA-CORN? My photo of this can did not turn out well. Could be corn meal? I did a quick online search and there is still a company named ACANA with a "C" They specialize in pet-food. Today everything is bagged, even the holy 'mackerel.'

One last item was a nice wooden shipping crate stenciled, POMEROY BOTTLING WORKS, MANISTEE, MICH.

Being in the metal detector business, I have learned how to figure out some very tricky manufacturer's date codes. Well, this wooden case built by the Durabilt company was an easy one! It was built in April of 1966. Durabilt made wood crates for most beverage companies.

Durabilt wood crates were manufactured as a branch of the Illinois Glass Company, known today as the Owen's Illinois Glass Company. In the early 1900's this company made everything you can imagine regarding glassware! Many of you are familiar with their "DIAMOND I" trademark. If you are a bottle collector, you have to know about the Illinois Glass Company!

If you are in the glass business, making everything, from every type bottle known to man, as well as glass bricks for building, and millions of glass insulators for the energy industry, you need good solid packaging! So, the Illinois Glass Company made wood shipping crates at their Durabilt division!

My grandfather turned to the Illinois Glass Company when the Michigan Cottage Cheese Company needed thousands of bottles to package Michigan Brand Horseradish.

I honestly try my best to keep the newsletter from becoming too boring and I know long lists can be just that. Here is just the start of the Diamond I products included in their 1926 catalog: Sterilized prescription bottles (cap or cork), graduated prescription, prescription capsules & vials, nursing bottles, iodine bottles, eye dropper bottles, wide-mouth pill bottles, oil bottles & vials, castor oil flasks, effervescent salts, acid bottles, extract bottles, peroxide bottles, serum bottles, corn cure and suppository bottles, embalming fluid bottles, toilet water bottles, perfume bottles, atomizers, cream jars, glass jugs, catsup bottles, salad dressing bottles, juice bottles, vinegar bottles, mayonnaise jars, mason jars, cardy jars, horse radish bottles, polish bottles, celery salts, spice bottles . . . . OK, enough already! I didn't even touch the different types of soft drink, beer and liquor bottles!

They also made several machines for cleaning and sterilizing, packing, sorting and shipping items! I'll see if I can somehow link to the 1926 catalog file source; it is fun to look at!

1926 Illinois Glass Work Catalog Page Links


I have been sending the bottle club newsletter to William Purkey, who does a special column in Western & Eastern Treasures. That is a national publication, that is I feel, the best magazine for treasure hunters going today. It favors the hobby of metal detecting, but at one time it also featured good antique bottle digging stories.

William is an old-school treasure hunter like me, who finds the bottle digging news interesting. William has featured the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club in his column in the past, and they are working on another story which will appear in a month or two. I'll keep you updated.

We didn't talk about a theme for our next meeting last month, so I called Chuck at the last minute and he suggested Poison Bottles. If you have aquired any neat antique items or collectables for Christmas, we would love to see them!

Wreck of the St. Clair

Some of you recall my purchasing boxes of Great Lakes Shipping collectables from the Tom Post estate. I am still poring through the boxes of literature and finding treasures beyond what I expected. The following is a true story down to the last detail. This is from the October 3rd, 1888 issue of the Port Huron Times.

"My name is Charles Ferris and I was born on a farm in southern Michigan and until taking a job with the Coast Guard I had never seen Lake Huron, or any other large body of water. I was twenty years of age when, in June of 1888 I signed their papers and was assigned to the Sand Beach (now Harbor Beach) Coast Guard Station. The station was, and still is, located sixty miles above the lower end of Lake Huron, on the western, or Michigan shore.

At that time lumbering was big business and the Saginaw, Au Sable and Thunder Bay Rivers carried hundreds of thousands of pine logs annually to the saw mill towns on the lake. Bay City, Saginaw, Tawas, Oscoda and Alpine were thriving lumber towns where they sawed and shipped millions of feet of lumber to the lower lakes. Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland were important ports receiving these shipments.

The barge St. Clair was engaged in that business. Owned and operated by Captain C. H. Jones of Bay City, she carried five sailors and a woman, or a total of seven including the Captain. The woman was cook for the crew.

The tale which I am about to relate began on the morning of Monday, October 1st 1888. The wind had gone to the northeast, and by noon had become a gale. By mid-afternoon the storm had increased tremendously and huge seas were battering the harbor walls. Several ships had already sought shelter in the harbor.

That afternoon I was standing watch in the lookout. I spotted a ship a mile or two to the southeast apparently in trouble. She later proved to be the barge, St. Clair, northbound, and loaded with 350 tons of coal for Bay City. Unable to reach the harbor, the captain had ordered both anchors to be dropped and they were attempting to ride out the storm. She was being badly punished by the seas and she appeared to be in trouble.

We launched a lifeboat and went to her before dark. Captain Plough, our commanding officer tried his best to persuade the men on the St. Clair to board the lifeboat and be taken ashore. Both anchors were holding and Captain Jones was disposed to stay with his vessel. He said that all he had was tied up in her and he would stick with her to the last.

After we saw that it was impossible to get the Captain or any member of the crew to go ashore, Captain Plough asked for the girl, but for some reason she wouldn't come with us. He then informed Captain Jones that if they needed us, to burn a torch as a signal.

We started on our return trip to the shelter of the harbor. After a long and backbreaking pull into the teeth of the gale we reached the harbor entrance. Tremendous cross seas made it difficult to get through the gap but almost by superhuman effort by the entire crew we finally reached shelter, drenched and thoroughly exhausted. There were several tugs and steam barges inside the harbor and we asked several of them to go out and attempt to tow the St. Clair in, but all refused.

So we went to our station and now it was blowing a living gale and increasing by the minute. It was my watch down at the end of the pier. In going to my post, I had to run between the madly rushing seas which were sweeping over the breakwater. I had not been at my post long when I saw that a torch had been lighted on the St. Clair.

I worked myself back to the station and reported to Captain Plough. Every man was called for action. Some gave their money or valuables to Mrs. Plough. Then we manned the lifeboat in the worst storm any of us were ever to encounter. As we pulled across the harbor the sky was pitch black and the wind whistled through the rigging of the boats lying in shelter.

After passing through the gap we hit the storm in all its fury. The seas were coming from all directions and it was a difficult task to keep the lifeboat headed in the right direction. We finally reached the St. Clair and endeavored to pull up under the stern in order to remove her crew to the lifeboat. We had to get close enough to take them off one by one and still keep far enough off so our boat wouldn't be stove in by the larger boat. One minute we would be riding high above her and the next she would rise on a huge wave and be high above us. Several times we narrowly missed disaster when her stern came down, just missing us it seemed by inches. This was a very dangerous assignment and required the united effort of the entire crew. We were all comparatively fresh at the time, otherwise we could not have accomplished what we did.

The girl jumped first, and then the men, with Captain Jones being the last to come aboard. We had left the harbor at seven o'clock and it was eleven when we were ready to pull away from the St. Clair.

The seas were now so high and the wind so strong that it was impossible for us to pull back to the harbor. There was only one thing to do, and that was to run with the storm and let the wind carry us south toward the shelter of the St. Clair River. That would mean a run of sixty miles but there was no other way . . . perhaps by morning the gale would lessen.

As we squared away and headed down the lake our job was to keep the lifeboat on a true course, running with the seas. To allow her to get crosswise into the seas would allow her to broach and throw us all into the water.

Our rudder was soon struck by a huge sea and carried away! Captain Plough shouted orders to the crew that we would have to steer the boat by port and starboard oarsmen, such as give way or hold water to combat the tremendous seas which we were encountering.

We shipped many of them and our boat filled with water five or six times but she was a self-bailer and emptied herself each time. She behaved very well while running with the seas.

One big sea caught us and put out our light, and Captain Plough couldn't see to read the compass. He called for matches, and one man had a few in a watertight container. After some trouble we got the lantern lighted again.

To get off course was to court disaster. To get too far off to the port would get us into the trough of the mountainous seas and no doubt capsize the boat, and to veer too far to the starboard would bring us too close to the rocky shore.

The wind kept blowing with unabated fury and it seemed like all the demons of hell had been let loose. All of us were drenched many times as the seas and spray continued to sweep over the boat. We were all nearing exhastion and suffering from the cold. It seemed that the night would never end

Keeping the light going so the Captain could read the compass also became quite a chore. Two or three of the men were given a chance to hold the lantern but in turn they gave up as their hands got so cold and numb they could no longer grasp it. Then the girl took it and didn't give it up until daylight. All through the night she kept the lantern safe and sheltered the light from the wind and seas. Never once did she complain of the cold.

Captain Plough directed us to keep looking for a light, either from a boat or from shore. But we saw nothing from the time we left the St. Clair until just about daylight. Then, at about seven in the morning, the captain sighted the Port Sanilac light. He wanted to get the crew ashore as soon as possible as he feared they would perish from cold and exhaustion, so he decided to attempt a landing at once.

It had been eight hours since leaving the St. Clair and we had made 30 miles, just half the distance to the shelter of the river. But to continue on was impossible. There is a limit to human endurance, and we had reached that point. After twelve hours of continually fighting the storm we knew that we had approached the end. We couldn't go much further.

At Port Sanilac there was very little shelter from the seas; just a dock about five hundred feet in length where the steamers landed, built partly of log cribs and partly of piling. The captain decided to round the dock and attempt a landing on the south, or leeward side and take advantage of what little shelter there was.

The residents of Port Sanilac had been informed during the night of the rescue operation and knew the lifeboat was headed down the lake and would sooner or later arrive at this point. Scores of people were on the dock to witness what happened, and as many were prepared to be of assistance if needed. It was lucky for me that they were, or I would not be here to tell this tale.

We headed for the light . The dock and all the people came plainly into view. We were pushed forward by the madly rushing breakers which became more wicked as we approached shore. Captain Plough ordered the oil tank opened and if it helped in any way I cannot say. Our lifeboat was about thirty feet long, and time after time those breakers would start astern and coil clear over the boat and never wet the crew. I looked up and it was just like a falls. I expected to see the lifeboat go end-over-end but we came through all this.

However, just as we were rounding the dock the boat was struck by a tremendous breaker and she rolled down on her beam ends. I did not realize what had happened until I found myself in the water under the boat. I put my hands up against something and pushed myself down. I bobbed up quickly and found myself some distance from the boat. I could see that she was on her side and some men were clinging to her, but I had to go where the breakers, back-wash and undertow were throwing me. I was completely exhausted and it seemed at times that the breakers would smother me. I got in close to shore and thought I might touch bottom with one foot, just for a rest, but when I tried it, a huge wave completly covered me. I was becoming very weak.

I saw a man coming toward me with a rope tied around his waist and the other end held by people on shore. He shouted to me and said there was a channel between us and he couldn't get out any farther, but he thought he could reach me after another breaker would send me in. I soon got it . . . another breaker came roaring in and was the last I remember.

When I was revived I was in the lighthouse. Afterwards they told me they had worked on me for four hours. Then they told me the name of the man who pulled me from the water. He was Colin C. McGregor, the dock agent. I have never seen him since. Several others of the life boat crew were helped ashore by townspeople. Chris Oldfield and Robert Williams were two who assisted in the rescue.

As the lifeboat rolled over, all but three surfmen and two seamen were thrown out. Everyone expected the boat to right itself immediately but it failed to do so. It beached itself south of the dock, and those clinging to it were saved. The remaining five surfmen and Captain Plough were also rescued as they were wearing life jackets.

Captain Jones, three crewmen, and the girl were drowned. Their bodies came ashore later in the day about two miles south of where the tragedy took place. They were recovered and laid out in the township hall in Port Sanilac. The following day Captain Jones and Lewis Fertaw were sent to Bay City for burial. George McFarland, Henry Anderson and the girl, Julia Gravereatte were buried in potters field in the Port Sanilac cemetery.

The survivors were cared for overnight by the people of the village. On the following day, Wednesday October 3rd , all the members of the Coast Guard crew left on the steamer R. G. Stewart to return to Sand Beach. She took the lifeboat in tow and they arrived at their distination at five in the afternoon.

There was a large gathering of people awaiting us upon arrival. And we were welcomed with open arms, many saying they never expected to see us again. Some said they could not sleep that night, thinking of us in that storm. We learned the St Clair had foundered during the night. Large sections of the breakwater were carried away and the water had run farther into town than had ever been known before. Boathouses were wrecked and boats driven ashore. It was one of those storms that come only once in a lifetime.

This adventure has been a nightmare to me all these years. In my dreams I can hear and feel the high watery walls in the stygian darkness come rushing at our tiny craft each one threatening to engulf us. And again in that merky dawn I will see that high, green mountain of water which overwhelmed us in the end.

The leadership of Captain Plough had been superb and each crew member had done is job. You could ask no more. I don't consider it judgement that our boat was overturned. It was just bad luck. It was the only thing we could do . . . to attempt the landing when and where we did.

In closing I must mention the courage of the girl, Julia Gravereatte. The fortitude she displayed that night on Lake Huron most surely set an example to the others. She deserved much more that a grave in potters field."

The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club
meets at the main downtown

Kalamazoo Library,

315 South Rose Street.

We meet on the third floor in the conference room.
  This meeting is, Tuesday January 5th
  Meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

For questions

e-mail: prostock@net-link.net

Or call 269-685-1776