The Beggs’ and their Dandelion Bitters


The Beggs’ and their Dandelion Bitters

18 November 2014 (R•010315) (R•120317) (R•032019) (081019)

Apple-Touch-IconAAs a follow-up to both of the DeWitts Stomach Bitters posts, I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on Beggs Dandelion Bitters. Beggs and DeWitt were partners at one time.

Read: Braille Dots on a DeWitts Stomach Bitters

Read: An Unknown Millionaire Found In New York

“BEGGS’ / DANDELION / BITTERS” (with virtually complete original label), America, 1890 – 1900. Honey amber, rectangular with strap sides, tooled sloping collar – smooth base, ht. 7 5/8″, sparkling attic mint. R/H #B51. Label reads in part, “Beggs’ / Dandelion / Bitters / Purely A / Strengthening Tonic & Appetizer / Restores Activity & Vigor To The Body”. Very scarce with virtually complete original label. – American Glass Gallery

The various Beggs Dandelion Bitters listings in the Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham Bitters Bottles book is as follows:


BEGGS’ / DANDELION / BITTERS // f // f // f //
7 5/8 x 3 x 1 1/2 (5 1/4) 1/2
Rectangular, Amber, Yellow-olive, and Clear, LTC, Applied mouth and Tooled lip, Rare
Lettering reads base to shoulder.
Slightly raised panels on wide side.
Slightly, raised 3/4 inch bevel on narrow sides.
Older variant has beveled corners, new variant has rounded corners and slightly smaller embossing pattern.


9 1/4 x 2 3/4 (6 5/8) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth and Tooled lip, Scarce


9 1/4 x 2 3/4 (6 5/8) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth and Tooled lip, Scarce
On this variant, the B starts over the L, and on the B 52, the B starts over the E.
9 1/2 x 2 7/8 (6 1/2) 3/8
Square, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth and Tooled lip, Rare
Drug Catalog: 1896-7 and 1901-2 JP&K Co.
Sioux City Directory: 1871-72 Beggs, George W. physician
Iowa State Gazetteer: 1882-90 list George W. Beggs, physician and from 1884 Charles W. Beggs as healer in proprietary medicines in partnership with Cora E. DeWitt.

This bitters below was submitted by Greg Price and will be included in Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.

BEGGS / DANDELION / BITTERS // f // f // f //
7 ½ x 3 1/8 x 1 ½ (5 ¼) 1/2
Rectangular strap side flask, Amber, LTC, Tooled lip, Extremely rare
Embossing is block letters and runs shoulder to base
Similar to B 51 except block letters

Here is another listing in Bitters Bottles that is supposed to be related to John H. Sheehan and his Dandelion Bitters in Utica, New York. I believe this bottle should not be attributed to John H. Sheehan but should be attributed with the XXX Begg’s Dandelion Bitters of Chicago.


XXX / DANDELION / BITTERS // f // f // f //
Manufactured by John H. Sheehan & Co. 155 Genesee St. Utica, New York
7 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 1 1/2 (5 1/4)
Rectangular – strap side, Amber and Clear, LTC, Tooled lip, Scarce
Lettering reads base to shoulder.
Trade card has art work by Kate Greenway. Directory of Utica 1906.

D 12: XXX Dandelion Bitters (This bottle should not be attributed to John H. Sheehan but should be attributed with the XXX Begg’s Dandelion Bitters of Chicago) – Meyer Collection

“BEGG’S / DANDELION BITTERS – SIOUX CITY / IOWA”, America, probably 1884 – 1890. Light yellowish honey, almost a honey yellow coloration, square with beveled corners, tooled sloping collar – smooth base, ht. 9″, near mint; (just a touch of faint interior milkiness, otherwise perfect). R/H #B53. The mold is noted as “Rare” by Ring-Ham, and not listed in this color. Provenance: Ex. Carlyn Ring collection. – American Glass Gallery | Auction #22

The Beggs

The Beggs family can be traced back some six or seven generations or so to James Beggs who was a native of Ireland. He emigrated to the Colonies in the early part of the eighteenth century. His son Thomas Beggs was born in New Jersey, where he married Sarah Barnes. He emigrated later to Virginia and lived in Rockingham County until the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, when he became an officer in the commissary department. He died of camp fever in 1879 or 1780.

Thomas Beggs had four sons and one daughter; John, one of his elder sons, had a large family consisting of one son, James and eight daughters; James had four sons, Charles, John, Stephen and Thomas. All married and settled in Clark County, Indiana and all served their fellow citizens in various honorable capacities. John was a Judge of Court, James was a State Senator for nine years, Charles was a member of the Legislature for several years ands served as captain of a light horse Calvary company during the Indian war, and participated in the battle of Tippecanoe. Reverend Stephen R. Beggs was the father of four sons, two of which play a role in the development of the Beggs business in patent medicines.

The first son to discuss is George W. Beggs, M.D who was born in Peoria, Illinois on 17 May 1837. He graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1862 and was a pioneer physician of Sioux City, Iowa. He was a surgeon of the One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and a member of the local and state medical societies and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. He was also surgeon general of the Union Veteran Army of the United States in 1885 and for many years local surgeon for the Illinois Central and Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroads and president of the Sioux City College of Medicine for ten tears. Quite an accomplished career.

The second son was Charles Waugh Beggs who was born in Plainfield, Illinoison 31 July 1840. One historical passage reads, “One name stands out as worthy of more than mere mention in early Elk Point business enterprise. Charles W. Beggs established a general mercantile business in 1868. He was a man of unexcelled energy, probity and executive ability. Promoters of any plan that seemed to be in the interest of Elk Point, Union County or Dakota Territory always found a sympathetic ally in Mr. Beggs.” So at some point, Charles Waugh Beggs heads west while his brother goes off to medical school.


Elk Point South Dakota – Jeffrey Kraus Antique Photographics

Elk Point, Dakota Territory was settled in 1800, and was the county seat of Union county, in the southern portion of which it is situated, 1/2 miles from the Missouri river and 35 miles from Yankton. It was a station on the S. C. & D. division of the C. M. & St. Paul Railroad. The usual features of a village of its size were found there. A bank, newspaper, the Courier, 3 flour mills, a brickyard, 3 hotels, 5 churches, public schools, and a number of general and special stores, shops, etc. The exports were wheat, oats, barley and live stock. Farming land in the vicinity was finding a ready sale at from $4 to $15 per acre. A good court house is one of the attractions of the place. Here Beggs was involved in livestock as Beggs & Brace, grain with Beggs & Caton and he ran a general store.

It is in Elk Point, Dakota Territory that Charles first put out the Beggs Dandelion Bitters with Elden C. DeWitt and his wife Cora. In 1882, Beggs & DeWitt were listed as manufacturers of patent medicines. Possible the B 51 flask variant made an appearance here. I also believe Charles was influenced from his brother George. In 1884, the Beggs & Dewitt business moves to Sioux City, Iowa. The square B 53 variant is produced here. In 1886, Beggs & Dewitt move to Chicago, Illinois. The 52 Chicago squares were made here. By 1890, DeWitt has moved on and Beggs Manufacturing Company is formed in Chicago, Illinois. By 1900, Beggs Manufacturing Company changes names to C. W. Beggs, Sons & Co., Inc. of which Charles Waugh Beggs is president, Charles Walter Beggs, Jr. is Vice President and Stephen J. Beggs is Treasurer. They are officed at 1744-1746 N. Richmond Street, Chicago, Illinois. They are listed as late as 1916 in Chicago, possibly later.

The Beggs Manufacturing Company put out a wide variety of Beggs Family Medicines and Remedies such as Beggs Hair Renewer, Beggs Blood Purifier & Blood Maker, Beggs Soothing Syrup, Beggs Cherry Cough Syrup, Beggs Tropical Oil, Beggs Vegetable Liver Pills, Beggs German Salve, Beggs Diarrhea Balsam, Beggs Royal Tooth Soap, and of course their big seller, Beggs Dandelion Bitters. A few collateral pieces are below.


Beggs Manufacturing Company advertising envelope, 1900 – eBay


Beggs Soothing Syrup – National Museum of American History


Beggs Manufacturing Co. bank draft, July 11, 1891 – eBay

Beggs Advertising Trade Cards | Joe Gourd

I put in a call to bitters trade card authority Joe Gourd from Chicago asking for any material he may have on the brand. I was certain I would get a treasure trove since Beggs was based out of Chicago at one time. I was not mistaken. Joe’s response: Ferd: The windy city has become the frozen city. Got lots of Beggs stuff (never enough though). Here’s a sampling. These are incomplete sets of cards. I am always striving to complete them. Something like completing color runs. I like the card that shows the cat being bombarded by all kinds of things including a perfectly good Hoc Wine maybe? I choose the winter scenes because it looks like what’s going on here in Chicago right now. The Fireman cards are just a  just a cool set. Too bad I only have two of the 6. Have fun with your selections. I don’t want to hog the post. Have a great day……….Joe



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Select Listings

1801: Birth Stephen R. Beggs (father of George W. Beggs and Charles W. Beggs), Rockingham, Virginia. Reverend S.R. Beggs.
1837: Birth George West Beggs, Peoria, Illinois, 17 May 1837.
1840: Birth Charles Waugh Beggs, Plainfield, Illinois, 31 July 1840.
1862: George W. Beggs, Rush Medical College, Chicago, 1862 – Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929
1871-1872: George W. Beggs, physicians and surgeons, w s Douglas bet 4th and 5th – Sioux City Directory
1875: Charles Walter Beggs, birth Dakota Territory, father and mother both from same – United States Federal Census
1882-1883: Beggs Charles W., general store – Minnesota State, Dakota Territorial Gazetteer Business Directory
1882: Charles Waugh Beggs and Elden C. DeWitt as Beggs & DeWitt manufacturer of patent medicines in Elk Point, Dakota Territory.
1882-1890: George W. Beggs, physician and from 1884 Charles W. Beggs as healer in proprietary medicines in partnership with Cora E. DeWitt – Iowa State Gazetteer
1884: Beggs & Dewitt business moves to Sioux City, Iowa.
1886: Beggs & Dewitt business moves to Chicago, Illinois.
1887-1888: Beggs and DeWitt, medicines, Charles W. Beggs and Elmer C. DeWitt, 179 Michigan – Chicago City Directory
1890: Beggs Manufacturing Company formed in Chicago, Illinois.
1891-1896: Beggs Manufacturing Company, patent medicines, Milton R. Wood, pres., Charles W. Beggs, Sec., 141 Ontario – Chicago City Directory
1892: E. C. DeWitt & Co., patent medicines, Elden C. DeWitt, 253 Kinzie – Chicago City Directory
1900: Charles W. Beggs, salesman, patent medicines, wife Gertrude, Milwaukee Ward 18, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – United States Federal Census
1900: Beggs Manufacturing Company, medicines, Author E. Havens, pres., C. J. Nudelman, Sec., 118 Michigan st. – Chicago City Directory
1900: C.W. Beggs Sons & Co., printers, (Charles W., Charles W. Jr. and S. Jay Beggs) 161 Superior – Chicago City Directory
1900: Beggs Manufacturing Company changes names to C. W. Beggs, Sons & Co., Inc. of which C. W. Beggs is president, Charles W. Beggs, Jr. is Vice President, Stephen J. Beggs, Treasurer. Office 1744-1746 N. Richmond Street, Chicago
1907: C.W. Beggs Sons & Co., patent medicines, (Charles W. and S. Jay Beggs) 36 and 38 Union Park ct. – Chicago City Directory
1906: Death (April 10 1906) George W. Beggs, Sioux City Iowa, Allopath – Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929
1916: Miss Nina Beggs married. Doughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Beggs, patent medicine firm of C.W. Beggs Sons & Co., 1744 North Richmond Avenue. – The Chicago Tribune, 19 January 1916
1931: Death Charles W. Beggs, Plainfield, Illinois, 1 March 1931.


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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