Dr. S. Griggs’ Aromatic Bitters – Detroit

GriggsSideGWA245rDr. S. Griggs’ Aromatic Bitters – Detroit

26 March 2015 (R•052615)

Apple-Touch-IconAWhile searching for information on the Prof. H.P. Lorman Tonic Bitters and Appetizer, I came across this cool advertisement below for Dr. S. Griggs’ Aromatic Bitters from Detroit, Michigan. I knew I had a recent bottle picture from Glass Works Auctions (pictured above) to create this post.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

Laboratory No. 15 Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
10 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 (7 7/8) 3/8
Rectangle, Amber, LTCR, Applied mouth, 3 sp, Extremely rare
Label: Nothing equals Dr. S. Griggs Aromatic Bitters as a sure and positive cure for chills & fevers, chronic diarrhea, cholera morbus, dysentery, neuralgia pains, dyspepsia, chronic catarrh and liver complaint, asthmatic affections, bleeding piles and in all cases of general debility. The most effective remedy ever used. Try them.
Detroit City Directories: 1856 S. Griggs worked at a family store (C. W. Griggs Furniture Store) 1857-68 S. Griggs is listed as a physician. 1868 he formed Griggs & Co., with L. M. Mason and listed as drugs and medicine work 15 Jefferson. The next year Griggs, Mott & Co. comprised of Griggs, John T. Mott and Thomas Donahue list their bitters or do so until his death 1877.

Dr. S. Griggs’ Aromatic Bitters advertisement – The Leavenworth Times, Tuesday, July 27, 1869

Dr. Stephen Griggs


Stephen Adelbert Griggs was born in Tolland, Connecticut on 10 January 1823. His father was Chauncey Griggs (1796-1866) and his mother was Hearty Dimock or Dimmock (1795-1880). He was first married to Lydia Lyekia Fuller on 06 August 1845 in Connecticut and then to Lucy Elizabeth Swift on 27 January 1848, also in Connecticut. His siblings were Frances Elizabeth Griggs, Herman Swift Griggs, Lucy Elliott Griggs and Louisa Griggs.

Dr. Stephen Griggs, at a young age of 26, first shows up as a ‘Physician’ in Florence, Ohio in 1850. His wife Lucy was 19 at the time according to a United States Federal Census. It is questionable where he obtained his medical degree, if there ever was one.

By 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, he registered for service in Detroit, Michigan. By 1866, Dr. Stephen Griggs is listed as a physician with his office at 158 Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. So far, so good. Unfortunately in 1866, Dr. Stephen Griggs is caught charged with smuggling $3,000 worth of whiskey from Canada to Cleveland. This is interesting because the advertising for his Griggs Aromatic Bitters says that it is purely vegetable. Uh huh. He does however go to court and is found “not guilty” as you can see from the second notice below.

Dr Stephen Griggs Detroit - on Newspapers.com

Dr. Stephen Griggs accused of Smuggling – Cleveland Daily Leader, Monday June 4, 1866

GriggsNotGuilty_ClevelandDailyLeader (Tue,Jun 19_1866

Dr. Stephen Griggs Not Guilty – Cleveland Daily Leader, Tuesday, ,June 19, 1866

In 1867, he takes on L. M. Mason as a partner and the concern is called Griggs & Company and they are selling drugs and medicines at 15 Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. In 1868 it is called S. Grigg’s & Co. with Stephen Griggs, Thomas S. Donahue and L. M. Mason as partners. They are listed as selling Griggs Aromatic Bitters, still at the 15 Jefferson Avenue address. In 1869, they are called Griggs, Mott & Co. with Stephen Griggs, John T. Mott and Thomas S. Donahue as partners, again manufacturing Griggs’ Aromatic Bitters at 15 Jefferson Avenue. So it appears that we have a very short life span for this bitters, maybe from 1868 to 1869.


From 1870 to about 1874, Stephen Griggs is listed as physician and surgeon with offices at 158 & 160 Jefferson Avenue. He is living at 66 Congress Way. Stephen Griggs dies on 30 August 1875 in Detroit, Michigan.


“DR S. GRIGGS. DETROIT – AROMATIC BITTERS”, America, 1865 – 1875. Golden amber with lighter honey tones in the shoulders, rectangular with beveled corners, applied tapered collar with bevel – smooth base, ht. 10 ½”, near mint; (a couple of small areas on the back label panel of ever-so-slight dullness, some spotty interior residue that would likely wash out). R/H #G117. An outstanding example, full of character, crudeness, and bubbles. Noted by Ring/Ham as “Extremely rare”, found in a house in Dundee, Mich. It appears that perhaps only one, or possibly two, other examples of this bottle has been offered at public auction since 1995. – American Glass Gallery – Auction 14


Lot of (2), “DR S. GRIGGS. DETROIT – AROMATIC BITTERS” (one with original front and back labels), America, 1865 – 1875. Bright golden amber, 2nd example is a honey color with a slight butterscotch tone, both rectangular with applied tapered collars – smooth bases, ht. 10 3/8″ and 10 ¾” respectively; (labeled ex. is badly cracked in the shoulder area, but with 90% front label, 75% rear label; the yellowish honey example is virtually attic mint!) R/H #G117. Note, these were blown in two different molds! – American Glass Gallery Auction 14

Select Timeline:

1823: Stephen Griggs Birth in Tolland, Connecticut on 10 January 1823. Father; Chauncey Griggs (1796-1866) and mother; Hearty Dimock or Dimmock (1795-1880)
1845: Marriage to Lydia Lyekia Fuller on 06 August 1845 in Connecticut.
1848: Marriage to Lucy Elizabeth Swift on 27 January 1848  in Connecticut.
1850: Stephen Griggs, age 26, Physician, born in Connecticut, living in Florence, Erie, Ohio, wife; Lucy E., age 19 – United States Federal Census
1862-1863: S. Griggs, Physician, 50 Congress w. – Detroit Michigan City Directory
1863: Stephen Griggs, age 39, residence 1st Ward, Michigan – U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records
1866: Stephen Griggs, physician, office 158 Jefferson Ave., h. 44 Congress w. – Detroit, Michigan City Directory
1867: Griggs & Co., (Stephen Griggs & L. M. Mason), drugs and medicines, 15 Jefferson ave – Detroit, Michigan City Directory
1868: S. Grigg’s & Co. (Stephen Griggs, T. S. Donahue and L. M. Mason), Grigg’s Aromatic Bitters, 15 Jefferson Ave. – Detroit Michigan City Directory
1869: Griggs, Mott & Co. (Stephen Griggs, John T. Mott and Thomas S. Donahue), manufacturers Grigg’s Aromatic Bitters, 15 Jefferson Ave. – Detroit, Michigan City Directory
1870: Stephen Griggs, age 46, Medical Doctor, born in Connecticut, living in Detroit Ward 1, WayneMichigan, wife; Lucy E., age 39, children; Stephen E. A., age 20, Francis E., age 18, Herman S., age 13, Lucy E., age 5 – United States Federal Census
1872-74: Stephen Griggs, physician and surgeon, office 158 & 160 Jefferson Ave., h. 66 Congress w. – Detroit Michigan City Directory
1875: Stephen Griggs, h. 66 Congress – Detroit Michigan City Directory
1875: Death Stephen Griggs, 30 August 1875 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan

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.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Bitters, History, Legal, Medicines & Cures, Whiskey and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply