Vol. 21, No. 4                                         KALAMAZOO ANTIQUE BOTTLE CLUB NEWS                                         December 2023
                                                                                  Merry Christmas Ye Olde Antique Bottle Club!
                                           Written By  Allan C. Holden

Great Encouragement!
           Yes indeed! With everything in this world looking so bleak, it did my heart good to see so many friendly faces! Honestly, between the blessings I get from Sunday Services at  Church, the bottle club meetings are a great boost for my morale!

        Here is a list of the friendly faces at our Thanksgiving meeting: Dave Wilkins, Gary Dean, Rick Mayhew, Ed Nickerson, Kelly Bobbitt, Juli Sheaffer, Len Sheaffer, Ron Smith, Vincent Grossi, Kevin Siegfried, Rob Knolle, Scott Hendrichsen and your meek and humble servant, Allan Holden.

    At our  meeting we enjoyed a nice presentation from our very own Son-of-the Union, Len Sheaffer. Dressed in his period correct Union Army uniform, he shared the story of a extremely rare United States, Union Army War Flag.

  A rare Civil-War era American flag was donated to the Otsego Area Historical Society and Museum just days before our meeting.
    If you treasure our rich historic past, as much as I do, this was an amazing treat.
Dating back to 1863, this rare version of Old Glory was the only flag variant produced during the Civil War. How so? It  symbolizes a star for the state of  West Virginia the 35th state in the Union.
    However, the flag was only in use for two years before Nevada entered the Union on July 4, 1865.

     As I write this, it just occurred to me that when I was in elementary school, we pledged allegiance to a 48 star flag!
     This nearly 160-year-old 35 star flag was gifted to the museum by a family member of, William J. Carroll, an Otsego-area Civil War soldier. William J.Carroll, was 19 when he joined up with Company “I” of the 13th Michigan Infantry. 
    William J. Carroll also brought back his rifle, a battle flag remnant, and his diary from the first six months of 1865.

    Carroll's great grandson was the keeper of these treasures  and he felt that they should come back to our local Otsego community!

    Michigan, overall, supplied some of the largest numbers of soldiers during the Civil War, and Allegan County,  Otsego and Plainwell in particular, saw many of her young men march off to that bloody war.  

       At our 50th, Otsego High School Class of 1970 Reunion,  (delayed by two years because of Covid,) I had the privilege of being the event’s MC. It was  held out at the beautiful, Lynx’s Golf Course, just west of Otsego.

     As we were gathered in the beautiful club house lounge, looking out at the picturesque  green rolling hills, I mentioned that, as soon as the war had become a matter of ending slavery, my 3 ancestral great grandfathers joined the cause.

     One of them, Martin Harter, set aside his plow and picked up his rifle. The very farm land that he walked away from . . . heading off  to war, is today that same Lynx Golf Course.

    William J. Carroll is buried next to my mother’s property, just off Jefferson Road at Pine Creek Cemetery, west of Otsego. Actually, that cemetery is a short canoe paddle down- stream from the Lynx Golf Course!

     Let me also add, this was the main travel route heading north during that time. And, we have more recently discovered that it was plainly marked (in code at the time) as a travel route north . . . for the underground railroad!

    I know this is the bottle club newsletter, and not the Al Holden fan club news, but please bear with me.

    It was our Antique Bottle Club founders, Ernie Lawson, and Jack Short, who presented the bottle club with information helpful in researching public records to help find if you have Civil War soldiers in your family tree.

    Up until that bottle club meeting, I had no clue of any family link!

       When I found out I had, not one, but three Civil War Vets and one Revolutionary War vet, I asked my Grandmother why she never told me? She said, “I didn’t think it was important.”

    The basic information to start with is: first, starting with  the name of your ancestor, such as a great, great, great grandfather.
1. The soldier's name
2. Whether he served for the Union or Confederate army
3. The state from which the soldier served.

    The National Park Service has a search engine at    https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm
    Where you can get a jump start in your search.
    That wasn’t available when Jack and Ernie was presenting this information.
    You  not only can find your Civil War Ancestor, you can also obtain copies of their service records! In the case of my great, great, great grandfather, Martin Harter, I received several copies of letters in his own handwriting! He, and his local doctor were seeking disability benefits for him. . . which he eventually received.

    On my father’s side of my family tree, my great, great, great grandfather was
William Witherall, from  Martin, Mich. He was one of the older men to join at age 38.
Witherall Lake, which is west of Martin, is named for his family.
     William served in
1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.  COMPANY- D

    My first thought was, by being in a unit that builds things, that is a great way to keep out of the gun fire.

     I happened to find a book about his outfit and I learned this was a bunch of tough amazing men! They laid rail tracks right to the enemies door! They were working in snake and gator infested swamps and often they were sniper targets. For which cause they had their own sharp-shooters. These guys were the key to many victories!

    Martin Harter, was my great, great, great grandfather on my mother’s side. From Otsego, Mich,  Martin enlisted for 3 years service at the age of 31. Martin served in the 13th Mich. Company A.  He served the balance of the war in the 13th, and was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, on July 25, 1865.

         From the local Kalamazoo paper October 12, 1917 

                                               OTSEGO PIONEER DIES SUDDENLY

          "One of Allegan County's Oldest Settlers and An Honored Soldier and Respected
Citizen. Martin Harter, 85 years of age, one of the oldest pioneers of this county, and a veteran of the Civil war, dropped dead on the street in front of the Majestic theatre, Kalamazoo, where he had been visiting a daughter, last Saturday."

    He came from a long line of freedom fighters! His great, grandfather, also Martin Harter, fought under General Washington in the Revolutionary War as a Sargent in the 2nd Battalion of the Northampton County Militia. He was paid for his service with land in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania! He was born in Germany in 1740, he died in 1804.

    This one is interesting; My great, great, great grandfather on my mother’s side, Cornelius Engles, was a good friend of Martin Harter, both from Otsego.  Cornelius’ daughter married Martin’s son after the war! Ah, War and Peace!

    Cornelius Engles joined at age 27 in Company L, 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.  Cornelius enlisted as a Sergeant on January 3, 1863, for 3 years service at the age of 27. He served the remainder of the war in that capacity and was mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee, on September 22, 1865. He died on March 12, 1900, at Otsego and is buried there.

    Another interesting thing that I learned, my great, great Grandfather, Charles Harter, Martin Harter’s son, was a antique bottle collector!
    OK, enough about me! Thanks for sharing with us the story behind the rare Civil War flag, Len!
    That rare 35 star flag is on permanent display at the Otsego Area Historical Society Museum! Yes that is where we have our meetings, come check it out!   

Antique Bottles at the meeting!

            And, as you would expect, no bottle club meeting could be great without a sparkling assortment of steaming freshly-dug landfill treasures!

          Dave Wilkins had some beautiful bottles at our November meeting! One was a bottle he recently picked up at a sale. . . and it is a heart stopper! It is a very beautiful reproduction of GII-55 flask known as “Eagle / Bunch of Grapes” flask in a deep rich wine color!
The original ‘real-deal’ genuine flasks of this type were made by the Coffin & Hay Glass Works, Hammonton, New Jersey, ca. 1825 - 1835.
          Dave brought it over to my shop looking for an expert opinion! Of course my response was, “Let me get some pictures . . . I know a few experts!”  (Taint me!)

           Whenever I see a bottle like this one, I am on the alert for reproductions. Usually if someone is going to make a copy . . . it won’t be a catsup bottle! It will be of these great historic flasks! I have a couple examples in my collection . . . . that were gifted to me.

          Usually, even a dummy like me can spot tell-tale
red-flags that will tip you off. One give-away is when the bottle looks too perfect!
    On Dave’s bottle some of the embossing was very light which could point to the bottle being real. Another item you don’t usually see on the fakes is zero base wear, which Dave’s bottle has the look of old base wear. . .
a good sign!
    Several other crudities like bubbles and whittle marks and a very distinct open pontil mark! They were all there!
Everything looked right!
     But, in another way . . . it looked too good. The one thing that made Dave and I both wonder about, was the rich beautiful color!
    I went onto the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors web site (F.O.H.B.C) and accessed the Auction Price Report which is a great perk for Federation members! The real GII-55 is reported selling over the last several years in aqua, medium-blue, amber, dark- amber,  Bright medium amethyst, Blue- Green, yellow-olive . . . . but no record of an original in a deep rich wine color.
    The price range on these real/deal flasks (since 2010 to date) was from $120.00 low to $6,500.00 high! The big dollar color was deep tobacco-amber and it sold in 2014.

    It was John Pastor who put us on the right path. Thank you John!
    Here was what John said:
“The pictured flask is unfortunately a reproduction. It was produced by the Clevenger Brothers in NJ, possibly as early as the 1930's. It is a reproduction of a GII-55 Eagle - Bunch of Grapes flask.    The earliest mention by Clevenger Bros. of this flask was in a wholesale price list of 1935. However, this flask was produced and pictured in Clevenger catalogs in the 1940's, 1950, and late 50's to even the 1990's.  The bottles after 1966 display a sharper design than those made in earlier years."
    Dave continued on with his research and was able to pin it down to the late 1930's Clevenger variant.
     Hey, beware guys-and- gals! These are not at all worthless! There are folks who collect the Clevenger bottles! The market is out there! If this bottle sold for a hundred or two won’t surprise me!

    Dave also has some of my personal favorites, pepper sauce bottles! One was a horizontal ribbed pattern Pepper Sauce. I call this variant a “chimney” pepper sauce. He also has a beautiful Durkee “Bee Hive” pepper sauce from New York. And, an attic mint fluted cologne bottle in sparkling condition!
    We all admired this lovely bottle at the meeting, but nobody could say for sure about its original purpose. I did a google photo search on this bottle and I was only able to fine one! It was on e-Bay listed as a vase. I feel certain it was a product container and perhaps something like a toiletry or hair dressing bottle. Whatever it is, it sure is a beauty!

    Kelly Bobbitt  had some nice bottles to display, and one of them was also a real head scratcher! It didn’t turn up in a google photo search that I made. The one similar bottle I found was an art-deco bottle with a long neck by Mohawk Liqueurs in the shape of a  Skyscraper shaped bottle. Kelly’s bottle had fluid measurement markings and was likely a barber or hair dressing bottle?
    Kelly also has a highly embossed, machine-made honey-amber 1-pint whiskey bottle decorated with spider webs and a large spider! If my wife was still editing the newsletter, we  won’t even be discussing it. . . for real! When businesses have Halloween decorations up, she doesn’t leave the house.
    Kelly also has a milk glass VELVETINA  SKIN  BEAUTIFIER,  GOODRICH DRUG COMPANY, OMAHA, U.S.A.", circa 1885 - 1910, in opaque milk glass.
    This is one of those really cool bottles, one which really hits the mark in so many ways. This originally was one of those rare bottles, where, they were both richly embossed, but also were adorned with a lovely-lady pictured on a paper label!
    Did I also mention, it is done in milk-glass, with a tooled top from the 1880s?  Very cool! 
    Goodrich Drug Company products were carried in the finest downtown drug stores! Their products included Velvetina Skin Beautifier Lotion, Velvetina Face Powder, Tooth Power, Hair Tonic, Nail Tint . . . My goodness! Any woman back then had no-reason-on-earth not to snag a man like me! No excuse at all!

    Scott Hendrichsen had some cool bottles to show us! The first was a little glass boot, which, online, everyone wants to call a cowboy boot shot-glass . . . but they can’t fool me! I remember these! They were used as novelty candy containers! There is a whole vast assortment of 1940 and 50's glass figural candy containers! I have seen planes, trains and automobiles. There are: pistols, Army Tanks, Dogs, Cats, Nesting Chickens, Battle Ships, Submarines and Covered Wagons!
     I haven’t even scratched the   surface!   
    Well, the J.H. MILLSTEIN CANDY COMPANY made, and filled these Santa Claus Boots with hard pebble candy, since from right after WW-II, starting in 1945 to 1956. Originally, right around the top of the boot, was a decal with Santa’s Face and above Santa, was a band saying “Merry Christmas.”
    The Millstein Company started in the early 1900's as Fort Pitt Bottle & Novelty Co. at Jeannette, Pennsylvania.
    Like so many, they fell victim of the great depression. The company reorganized with new owners in 1937 as Victory Glass, and later it became Millstein Candy Company . . . It is not a shot- glass company!
    Scott displayed several other treasures.
     One, a clear druggist liquid prescription  bottle embossed C.A. Fuhrman Druggist, Lawton, Mich.
    Another prescription bottle is a rare Mesicks, New Drug Store, Plainwell, Mich.
    One that I especially like was a stubby honey-amber colored,
Ely’s Cream Balm, Ely Brothers, Owego, NY.
    Also, a Druggist bottle from Ypsilanti, Mich from Dillon’s Drugstore.
    Another cool flask Scott showed us at the meeting is a light greenish aqua 1-pint Summer Winter Flask! "SUMMER" /with tree in foliage on the summer side,  "WINTER" / showing a bare tree on reverse side. It is a Pictorial Flask, possibly from Baltimore Glass Works, Baltimore, MD, 1855 - 1865

Scott also has an amazing Civil War Soldiers Photograph!

     I know a little about what collectors look for, and this photo has it all! It shows 15 armed soldiers with long rifles with bayonets! They are a motley crew and I wouldn’t want to mess with them!
    I know that to the  Civil War Photo collectors this piece has everything going for it! A photo from this era, with several fully armed men is hard to find!  Plus, my guess is this may be a Confederate Unit!
     Kevin Siegfried showed up with a 1 gallon machine-made juice drink jug with a bright colorful full paper label, HIGLEY’S HOMEMADE BLACK RASPBERRY DRINK straight from Michigan’s fruitbelt, Mattawan, MI.  Label says, “Made from raspberries and sweetened with honey!” Man, I want some!
    Kevin also has a stoneware bottle from LONDON, ARNOLD’S CHEMICAL WRITING FLUID, “Will not mould!” Instructions say, “It Goes on blue- green, dries to black.” It has a Full 99% perfect paper label. The little 1 pint Stoneware bottle has a pour spout.
    Kevin also showed us  two cobalt blue, iron pontiled paneled beer or water bottles? Each  with heavy tapered tooled tops! I can’t wait to find out what he learned! This cash is burning a hole in my pocket! Each bottle is simply  embossed “J. Lay” I love them!

    Well, I finished the new frame on my 2002 Toyota Pickup. We purchased the truck new (Dealer Demo) and it was my wife’s daily driver when she was working at Bronson  Hospital. We took perfect care of it with scheduled maintenance like clockwork. With 140,000 miles she runs like the day we purchased her. She was just too nice not to fix!
    I had to take the pickup’s box off, the gas tank out, exhaust system off, spring mounts off,  remove all the lines and wiring, some cross members off . . . all in my driveway! On several days it was in the 20's to 30 degree, out all day working under the truck on my back! I figure I had around 30 hours of welding! 
    But, it is finally done! The truck runs and feels better than ever! After this, I know, that the original frame was entirely inadequate. From day-one I could feel the frame slightly flexing on certain wavy roads. Being the crew cab 4 door pickup, the frame is longer,  and the wheelbase is longer. I think the same weight frame may have worked in the two door version.
    When you consider the stress a truck frame is under from the engine torque, stopping and starting and cornering especially when loaded!
    Well, I couldn’t be happier with the results. The truck feels like it always should have only better! 

Christmas Treasure
                   By Allan Holden 

           Some of you older members can recite this, but, we have some new friends! I wrote this for our Christmas Newsletter about 30 years ago. When the idea came to me, it was on a snowy Christmas Eve, returning from a Church Service, with beautiful goose feather-size flakes of snow falling with a full moon that was my inspiration . .
Very Merry Christmas! May you come to Love that wonderful Christ Jesus as I have!

    Silas Harter, his wife and two young daughters had just returned home from Christmas Eve services at the small country church where they attend. Each year the Sunday School classes treats the congregation to a Christmas play. This was always followed by a joyous evening of singing Christmas hymns.
    It was 1898, that winter the Farmers Almanac had warned would be harsh! Harsh it was! The sleigh ride to church was through falling snow- snow flakes as big as goose down. It came down so hard that even the warm backs of the horses were covered!
    For the ride back home, the sky had cleared. In place of the clouds there was a full Christmas moon, and, what looked to the girls like a million twinkling stars! Their delightful singing went on the whole way home. It was the perfect Christmas Eve, and all thoughts were on the birth of the Christ Child.
    After tucking the girls into bed, mother adjusted the oil lamp wick, then curled up under the blanket that she was knitting.
     "I will see to the horses and bring in more wood for the stove," whispered Silas to his wife as he lifted his hat from the nail near the door.
    As he wandered back out into the night the full moon made the snow look like a sea of diamonds, and the bitter cold made the snow squeak under each step. Yes it was the perfect night for a Christmas Eve. Silas was feeling very good about his family, the farm, and his plans for both.
    That night before entering church, one of this neighbors paid Silas in gold coins for his team of the finest plow horses in the county. A farmer was nothing without his team, and anyone else would have felt unsettled about selling, but it was all part of a plan, or you could say a dream that Silas had.
    The dream started only a few short months ago at the Allegan County Fair. A dealer from the Kalamazoo area was there displaying one of the most beautiful pieces of machinery Silas had ever seen -- an engine powered by steam!
    It was an iron horse that could do the work of six teams of horses! The best part is, all you fed it is wood! Wood is something Silas would never run out of, so it seemed. And best of all, you don't have to feed this iron horse during the winter months! The salesman demonstrated how the steam engine could be used to saw wood, plow the field, and even power a machine shop!
    "To be a successful farmer in the 1900's you must have a steam engine," warned the salesman.
    "Makes a lot of sense," thought Silas.
    As he reached inside the barn door, he felt for the lantern. As the lamp sputtered to life the darkness turned into the familiar barn he and his neighbors worked so hard to build. This was his kingdom; a retreat where he could get alone with just his thoughts as he repaired the equipment or cared for the animals.
    Silas walked to the far corner of the barn where he hooked the lamp over a long peg on an overhead beam. At his feet stood a large empty wooden barrel which he rolled to one side. Behind the barrel was a stack of burlap bags. He stooped and lifted them from the ground and placed them onto the barrel. With the manure shovel, Silas dug into the soft dirt floor until he heard a familiar clunk.
     Setting the shovel against a wall which hid him from view of the door, he crouched down and felt for the wire bail handle on the buried container . Sitting the can on a nearby work bench he emptied out its contents.
    Laying before him, was a large pile of gold and silver coins; over three thousand dollars to be exact and tonight he would add another $160.00---all in twenty-dollar gold pieces. After checking the total count, Silas returned the coins to the hidden underground safe and again covered the can with dirt.
    The little family had a wonderful Christmas -- a Christmas they would never forget!

Before the spring frost broke and the steam tractor was purchased, the Lord called his servant, Silas, to be with him. The farm changed hands many times and eventually became rental property. Sadly, the landlord let it run down to the point of no return. All that is left today is a small pit that was the basement of the once cozy little farm house. There is no sign of the old barn. After it collapsed, the aged silver wood was sold and hauled away. The bank of dreams? It's held firmly by the roots of a beautiful oak tree just waiting to be found.
  One of the best places to treasure hunt is often overlooked. The barn served as the a perfect hiding place, shielded by prying eyes! A cache could be buried, witnessed by only the animals who are too smart to value money.
    The dirt floor could also hide coins that fell from the farmer's pockets as he lay beneath the tractor or wagon for repairs. The barn roof would protect anything buried in the floor from moisture. Antique tools, pocket watches and knives, even handguns and ammo were often hidden in the barn's floor.
Our theme this month is
"Christmas Collectibles
 Bottles, Lights, Candles, Advertising Items, Santa Items!

The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club
Meets At the
 Otsego Historic Society
Meeting date is
  December 12th 
 at 7:00 pm
The Museum is located at
 218 N. Farmer St. Otsego, MI 49078
Meeting starts at 7:00

Phone 269-685-1776
    Web Address