Hot on the trail of the elusive O.O.S.B.
31 January 2014
Yet more information on Our Own Southern Bitters from James Viguerie. As you know, Eric McGuire provided information yesterday on this bitters. Yes, this post is abtly named, “Hot on the trail of the elusive O.O.S.B.”. Man-o-man, is it fun to be a (bitters) bottle collector!
Read: Our Own Southern Bitters – Memphis (Original Post)
Read: More on C.H. Ebbert & Co’s OUR OWN SOUTHERN BITTERS (Eric McGuire)
Hello again. I hope all has been well with you. I have meant to write you sooner. Over the last few months I have started doing some further research related to various posting you have had, but my work always seems to eat up my time, and I never finish them. I have some unlisted Bitters to report to you once I get caught up. In the meantime here is some information on a recent post.
For a picture of an O.O.S.B. (Our Own Southern Bitters) bottle I had to dig around. I found an old FOHBC 2004 Expo article “EXPO 2004 – Memphis, Tennessee” by Ralph Van Brocklin!
There is an article about the 2004 Expo that was held in Memphis. At the bottom of the left most column of page 5 (see above) they refer to some rare Memphis bitters that were on display at the Expo, including an O.O.S.B. There is a photo on page 6 (see below), but it is not clearly identified which is the O.O.S.B. My guess is it is the second from the right. Maybe someone who attended has a better photo.
I also found a website with genealogical information (see image below) on Mr. Ebbert.
I also found some books that discussed how images of the Civil War became popular for advertising in the South after the war. The use of Confederate Generals was quite popular. One book, “The South During Reconstruction 1865-1877, Volume 8” has a mention of Our Own Southern Bitters, “With Yankee shrewdness Southern businesses began to capitalize on the Confederate tradition. There were Bull Run saloons, Bob Lee cigars, Queen of the South pipe tobacco, Georgia Rebel snuff, “Our Own Southern Bitters” carrying the picture of Stonewall Jackson “and used throughout the Southern armies with magic effect,” and Dr. Tutt’s Hair Dye dedicated to the “Boys in Grey” but guaranteed to change grey hair and whiskers to any color desired.”
With Yankee shrewdness Southern businesses began to capitalize on the Confederate tradition. There were Bull Run saloons, Bob Lee cigars, Queen of the South pipe tobacco, Georgia Rebel snuff, “Our Own Southern Bitters” carrying the picture of Stonewall Jackson “and used throughout the Southern armies with magic effect,” and Dr. Tutt’s Hair Dye dedicated to the “Boys in Grey” but guaranteed to change grey hair and whiskers to any color desired.”
The most interesting reference I came across for the bitters claims to have a quote from Mr. Ebbert himself! The 1880 book “A Year of Wreck: A True Story, by a Victim” was written about a druggist George Chittenden Benham’s travels in the South following the war in 1867-8. He also went into how Civil War icons and imagery were used everywhere in the South for advertising. He recounts of meeting the maker of the Our Own Southern Bitters. “I met him at Memphis as we came down, and he told me, with a wink, what he was up to. ‘My picture (Stonewall Jackson) suits the Southern people,’ he said; ‘any thing to make money, you know.’ (see more below)
Note to diggers: They served O.O.S.B. on the steamboat… better get a wetsuite.
Many rebel soldiers claimed they were able to combat summer lassitude and fight like “wildcats” thanks to Our Own Southern Bitters.
Sarsaparilla Soldiers (1861-1865) “How Patent Medicine Saved the Army
Finally, one website referred to Our Own Southern Bitters being used by soldiers DURING the Civil War. I am not sure what their source for such a claim was. Read: “Sarsaparilla Soldiers (1861-1865) “How Patent Medicine Saved the Army“. That seems to go against what George Benham wrote that Mr. Ebbert came down South after the war. They make another questionable statement as well – “Many of these nostrums were actually effective, and thousands of lives were saved.”