D. T. Boozer and his Smyrna Bitters
Smyrna Bitters Company – Dayton, Ohio
17 April 2015 (R•041815) (R•092018)
Bitters trade card and ephemera collector Joe Gourd, sent in the above image from his immense collection saying, “Saw your updated wagon post and thought of this “real photo” postcard. Let us not forget that bitters too, were delivered by horse and cart. This is the S 134 Smyrna Bitters. The post card is undated. Hope you are having a good day. Joe”
Spelling Mistake #1
How would you like it if you had a little extra advertising money set aside for marketing your bitters, so you type up an ad, or maybe scribble it out on a piece of paper, then you send it to a handful of regional newspapers only to find out that they print your name wrong! How could they all be wrong as there were no copy machines? This happened to D. T. Boozer, who was the proprietor and president of the Smyrna Bitters Company in Dayton, Ohio. Notice that the advertisement above says B.T. Boozer instead of D.T. Boozer.
Spelling Mistake #2
According to the article below, the initials, “D. T.” is a common abbreviation for “Snakes”. I didn’t get that one until Marianne Dow contacted me and said, “Here is our spelling mistake #2″, “Another typo – sHakes, not sNakes. D.T. stands for delirium tremens (“got the DT’s”) – alcohol withdrawal symptom.”
“D. T.” had a son named Thomas T. Boozer according to a 1912 directory listing. T.T. Boozer. Betcha’ he was picked on! He helped his father sell the bitters.
I wondered about the word ‘boozer’ and come to find out that the origin of the word “booze” is often mistakenly credited to E. C. Booz, who was a distiller in the United States in the 19th century. But the first references to the word “booze,” meaning “alcoholic drink,” appear in the English language around the 14th century as “bouse.” The spelling we use today didn’t appear until the 17th century.
The word “booze” itself appears to have Germanic origins, though which specific word it came from is still a little bit of a mystery. The three main words often cited are more or less cousins of each other, and are very similar in meaning and spelling. One of the words came from the Old High German “bausen,” which meant “bulge or billow.” This, in turn, was a cousin of the Dutch word “búsen,” which meant “to drink excessively” or “to get drunk.” The Old Dutch language also has a similar word, “buise,” which translates to “drinking vessel.” It is thought that the English word “bouse,” which later became “booze,” has its origins in one or more of those three words, with most scholars leaning towards it coming from the Dutch word “búsen.” [Today I Find Out]
D. T. Boozer first operated a saloon in Dayton, Ohio in 1902 at the Hotel Cooper according to directory listings. He was apparently from Georgia which is probably the origin of the Smyrna Bitters name. D. T. was a well-known liquor dealer and in 1909 or so, he starts marketing his Smyrna Stomach Bitters. He called his bitters a “Life Tonic” and would give open air concerts to attract crowds so he could sell his bitters. He said that his bitters “Prolongs Life” as this was also embossed on the bottle.
D. T. Boozers’ partners were Roscoe Stauter and J.P. Montgomery and they were addressed at 506 S. Wayne Avenue in Dayton. Apparently they ousted Boozer in 1911 for some shady dealings and running off to get hitched. Boozer must have been hitting his booze and bitters too much. See article above.
It looks like he had agents selling the bitters because Joe’s photograph shows a David McCormack from Indianapolis, Indiana, with a horse and wagon. It says “Smyrna Bitters, Rock Honey and Horehound” on the photograph.
Spelling Mistake #3
The latest listing for Smyrna Bitters was around 1916. Note that “bitters” is spelled ‘BITTIRS’ on the fluted neck sample below.
I am away from my Ring and Ham books. I will add the S 134 listings when I return to Houston. It looks like there were two variants of the bottles.
The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows: