Labeled Calabash Bitters from Ogdensburg, New York


C a l a b a s h   B i t t e r s

Ogdensburg, New York

Labeled Calabash Bitters from Ogdensburg, New York

10 June 2013 (R•053014)

Apple-Touch-IconAOver at Bottle Collectors on facebook (celebrating 700 plus members) Milton Wrobleski posts “Has anyone heard of Calabash Bitters?. That prompts three quick questions in my mind, “What is a Calabash Bitters?”, “Who is Milton Wrobleski?” and “Where in the heck is Ogdensburg, New York?”

Nicholas Wrobleski

Well, I find out quickly after firing off a question to “Milton” that it is not Milton but his grandson “Nicholas” posting the question and pictures (included in this post). Huh? Where have I come across Nicholas Wrobleski before? A quick search on Peachridge reveals a previous post with Noel Tomas on the Museum of Connecticut Glass. Read: The latest from the The Museum of Connecticut Glass. There he is, Nicholas Wrobleski, grandson of Milton.

"…and , folks, I assigned Nick a job to present a half hour talk at our Museum Annual Meeting in January on the shards he has categorized, collected and sorted from our fields in Coventry. He should be an interesting speaker along with our regular quest speaker (to be named)”

Noel Tomas


New Museum Junior Board member Nickolas Wrobleski seeking another early bottle for his collection.

Ogdensburg, New York


[Wikipedia] Ogdensburg is a city in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 11,128 at the 2010 census. In the late 18th century, European-American settlers named the community after American land owner and developer Samuel Ogden.
The City of Ogdensburg is at the northern border of New York, at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River, on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River. It is the only formally designated city in Saint Lawrence County.

The Port of Ogdensburg is the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Ogdensburg International Airport is located south of the city. The Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge, northeast of the city, links the United States and Canada.

Read Historic Ogdensburg


Calabash Bitters

Calabash Bitters Company

George Hall, Henry F. James, James Marvin Wells

I asked Nicholas what the label reads and he responded:

4 Ounces of Calabash Bitters! (with a picture of a tree between the words)
Directions: Shake and take 20 to 30 drops, in wine glass of water, after meals and at bedtime. As all persons are not alike susceptible to medicine, enough should be taken to move the bowels gently, no more.



A quick search online finds this:

The Calabash Bitters Company, Ogdensburg, N.Y., 1890: We are Now Placing in the Hands of Our Agents a Powder for the Cure of Headaches and Neuralgia. It Has Been Thoroughly Tested for Over a Year, and Has Never Failed to Produce the Most Wonderful Results. … We Furnish the Powders at $2.00 Per Dozen Boxes and Pay Postage; Also Give Prizes for Sales as on Our Calabash Bitters and Pills. … by Calabash Bitters Co, George Hall, Henry F. James, James Marvin Wells, 1890


The Carlyn Ring and Bill Ham listing in Bitters Bottles Supplement is as follows:

C 5.4  OZ.OF / CALABASH / motif of a tree/ BITTERS // f // CALABASH BITTERS CO. / OGDENSBURG, N.Y. / SOLE PROPRIETORS // f //  b // W.T. & CO.
L…4 Ounces Calabash (tree ) Bitters, Calabash Bitters Company, Ogdensburg, N.Y., Sole Proprietors
Rectangular, Aqua, NSC, Tooled lip, Extremely Rare

A very late Calabash Bitters Co., receipt – Bitters Bottles Supplement

Strong Clues

George Hall is a big name in this story as he was Mayor of Ogdensburg, and was a board member of the St. Lawrence State Hospital. He also gave generously to the hospital and in many other areas according to found documentation. George Hall is linked to James M. Wells at the hospital. Henry F. James was one of the organizers of the George Hall Coal Company of Ogdensburg. I believe these are the same names associated with Calabash Bitters.



George Hall and James M. Wells – Annual Report of the Managers of the St. Lawrence State Hospital – By New York. St. Lawrence State Hospital, Ogdensburg – 1894

The Ogdensburg City Hospital and Orphan Asylum was opened in November 1885. Sister Mary Patrick came from Ottawa to be administrator of the intuition, and Sister St. Stephen was placed in charge of the hospital department. The number of patients grew so rapidly that a new building for the hospital became necessary. A generous donation from George Hall, mayor of Ogdensburg, helped the board to complete a 60 bed hospital by May of 1902. This was just across the street from the Grey Nun Convent and is the present location of the hospital.


St. Lawrence State Hospital – Annual Report of the Managers of the St. Lawrence State Hospital – By New York. St. Lawrence State Hospital, Ogdensburg – 1894

Robert C. McEwen United States Custom House (Ogdensburg, New York): The George Hall Corporation, a shipping company, owned the Parish Store from 1880 to 1936. Likely due to needs for additional space, in 1928, the U.S. Customs Service moved back into leased space in the Parish Store. In 1936, the Hall Corporation sold the building to the U.S. government for $65,000. The building was renamed the U.S. Custom House. Over the years, the building was used for customs offices, patrol assembly, radio, record, and customs files rooms, a dormitory for immigration officers, and detention facilities. The U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marines also maintained offices here. Listed in the National Register in 1974, the building was renamed in honor of the late Robert C. McEwen, a U.S. Congressman, in 1982.

Henry F. James, born September 23, 1863, died January 8, 1896; was one of the organizers of the George Hall Coal Company of Ogdensburg, with which he was identified at the time of his death. He married (first) May 11, 1887, Annie Ford Arnold, of Ogdensburg, who died May 7, 1891, leaving two daughters, Elizabeth Arnold and Bertha Ripley; married (second) Elfreda True, of New York City. 2. Annie Bailey, married October 3, 1888, Governor Edward Curtis Smith, of Saint Albans, Vermont. Children: James Gregory, Edward Fairchild, Curtis Ripley and Annie Dorothea Bradford. 3. Harriet Bertha, married, September 9, 1891, Isaac P. Wiser, son of J. P. Wiser, M. P., of Prescott, Ontario, and has sons: Henry James, John Philip and Paul Fairchild. – Genealogical & Family History of Northern, NY, Pages 436-443, William Richard Cutter, A. M., Editorial Supervisor



About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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