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Early Columbia Bottlers (1910 - c. 1920)

Jim has done some powerful research and come up with the answers to questions about the Early Columbia Bottlers: Mr. W.T. Ottley, Mr. Guy Nell, Walter E. McCandless, Mr. Edgar Reed, Mr. Chelcie Barger (near Eubank Springs), and new information about the Parfay line of drinks and a chance Columbians had to get the rights to sell the Campbellsville drink: Coca-Cola
By "Jim"

Adair County News, February 9, 1910

Columbia is to have a bottling factory. Mr. [William Tanner] Ottley, who has been operating a plant at Campbellsville, in partnership with a Mr. Hobson, has purchased the entire outfit and will remove it to this place [Columbia]. It will be located near the roller mill. (This was the first mention found in the News of a bottling plant in Columbia. Before becoming involved with the above-named concerns, Mr. Ottley had briefly operated a plant in Burkesville bottling a drink called Koka Nola. The firm of Ottley & Hobson, Campbellsville, indirectly mentioned above, had manufactured a product called Dope Cola as well as "a number of summer drinks." Mr W.H. Wilson was the Columbia representative for Ottley & Hobson.)


March 16, 1910
The attention of our readers is called to the "ad" of the Columbia Bottling Company. Mr. W.T. Ottley, who is the manager, is making a number of fine soft drinks. His My-Cola (sic) has become quite popular, all the grocery stores handling it. Try a bottle. It is harmless and refreshing.

In the July 6, 1910 News there appeared a list of premiums to be offered at the upcoming fair. Among the sponsors listed was Ottley Bottling Company, "manufacturer of My Coca and leading soft drinks, Columbia." (This apparently was a passing "dba" for the Columbia Bottling Company. A piece in the June 29, 1910 paper had referred to it as the Columbia Bottling Works Co.)

February 15, 1911
The Columbia Bottling Company will move its place of business. A new manufacturing house is going up on Water Street, in the corner of Mr. Wilson's yard, near the sulphur well. Mr. Ottley will put in new machinery, hence in a few weeks a first-class plant in every particular will be established. The location will be more convenient to the business men who handle the goods, and the water is pure and healthy. The growing increase of business necessitates the enlargement of the plant. (The Mr. Wilson mentioned quite possibly was Columbia business man W.H. Wilson, "Dealer in Staples and Fancy Groceries.")

January 10, 1912
After a brief hiatus, Mr. Ottley returned to Columbia in the opening days of 1912. A rather large ad (for the times) in the edition noted above read, in part: "Mr. Ottley is back to stay and will assume the active management of the Columbia Bottling Co. This is a distinctive home enterprise and should receive the support of the "dry" contingent of the community. My-Coca is made from the Coca Cola formula with the addition of Columbia water, made in the cleanest and brightest plant in the State...It cost Mr. Ottley $2,500 to say 'My-Coca.' You can say it for 5c. Say it now, not eventually." A few months later, another ad noted that the bottling plant also produced cherry, strawberry, lemon and peach flavored drinks," and in early July, yet another ad called My Coca "a popular, innocent drink."

The May 12, 1915 paper, in announcing the marriage of Mr. Guy Nell (son of Geo. H. Nell) to Miss Mabel Atkins, noted that the groom "is at present the manager of the Columbia Bottling Works."

January 5, 1916 (two articles):
By mutual consent Nell & McCandless sold the Columbia Bottling Works last Monday, to the highest bidder. It brought eleven hundred dollars and was bought by W.E. McCandless.

Mr. W.E. McCandless, who bought the Bottling Plant Monday, will continue to operate it here. He will also install a plant at Lebanon, but his residence will be in Columbia.

(Walter E. McCandless and Geo. H. Nell were partners in a Columbia grocery concern for slightly over two years -- from January, 1913 until the latter part of March, 1915 -- before amicably going their separate ways. Mr. McCandless' reason for breaking the partnership was that he intended to "embark in another line of business." McCandless & Reed sold the Lebanon plant in August, 1916. No mention was found of Mr. Ottley's departure from the bottling enterprise. In 1913, he ran for County Judge on the Democratic ticket and easily won the primary race, but lost the general election by twenty-one votes. There were irregularities in the recount, and after two hung juries, Mr. Ottley in the third trial was found guilty of vote tampering.)

March 8, 1916
Mr. Edgar Reed has purchased a one-half interest in W.E. McCandless' bottling plant, this place, and the firm is now McCandless & Reed. The firm will also put in a plant at Lebanon...

April 19, 1916 (two articles)
Nell & Son's bottling plant was started last week. It is an interesting sight to see the machinery, all new, in motion. The art of bottling the drink is surprising, so rapidly is it done...Mr. Guy Nell is the manufacturer.

Mr. W.E. McCandless, of the firm McCandless & Reed, bottlers, was here from Lebanon last week. He stated that the Lebanon plant, as well as the one at Columbia, was doing an extensive business, large sales being made daily.The News carried a series of ads in August, 1916 and again in the spring of 1917, from the Coco-Cola (sic) Bottling Works of Campbellsville which urged consumers to "drink Coco-Cola" and to "Call for it by full name and avoid substitutes." (Coca-Cola was never bottled in Adair County, but by March, 1917, Bennett & Smith were the agents [held the franchise] for the sale of this product. in late 1922, Mr. R.P. Marshall, of Columbia's Royal Cafe -- Phone No. 56 -- advised readers via a front page classified ad that he had "the agency for Adair and adjoining counties for the Bottle Coca Cola.")

January 10, 1917
An ad from J.F. Patteson made reference both to Nell & Son, Bottlers and Columbia Bottling Works, as did a notice of price advancement in mid-March, 1917. (The big increase was five cents on the case, wholesale. A front page notice from Nell & Son, Bottlers, in the January 9, 1918 News informed readers that "All bottles from our plant will be charged to our customers at 4c apiece, and no credit given until same are returned. These bottles cost us at the factory 6c...")

April 11, 1917
An ad for Columbia Bottling Co. (W.E. McCandless, Prop.) touted Mint Cola, and solemnly assured readers that bottles were sterilized before use, a new machine for that purpose having just been purchased: "Our bottles are boiled in a strong solution of Alkali, and then thoroughly renched (sic) before filling, which makes them absolutely sanitary."

(September 19, 1917)
McCandless Bottling Plant Burns
The Bottling Plant owned by Mr. W.E. McCandless was consumed by fire last Monday morning between four and five o'clock. The loss was about two thousand dollars, insurance $1,200. Not a thing in the building was saved. The building caught from the back end and Mr. McCandless has no idea how the fire originated. He loaded a wagon with goods at 3 o'clock in the morning and only one match was lit, and he is satisfied it could not have caught from a match lighted by him. (Mr. Reed's departure from the business wasn't noted in the News. It's likely, however, he sold his interest in the bottling plant in 1917, about the same time did the same with his interest in the Paramount Theater, not long after he answered his country's call to the colors.)

February 20, 1918 (Advertisement)
We make and sell MY-COCA For all Seasons. (From a large ad for Geo. H. Nell & Son, "The Up-To-Date Sanitary Grocery House of Columbia.")

April 17, 1918 (Advertisement)
Drink "Mint Cola." The old reliable Colombia Bottling Works is now ready for business. Located at G.M. Stevenson's Garage. Pops 55c [per case], Mint-Cola 60c., F.O.B plant. Terms: Cash. Elsewhere in this edition, "Nell & Son, Bottling Works" was mentioned in a full page ad for Liberty Bonds.

August 14, 1918
At the old soldier's picnic at Weed, last week, Nell & Son, of this place, sold 195 cases of dope...

January 8, 1919
Mr. Whit Coomer has sold the building, on Water Street, where he has been running a grist mill and blacksmithing, to Nell & Son. The latter will remodel the building and in the spring will remove their bottling plant to it.

November 19, 1919
A concrete bridge is now being built across the branch, on Jamestown street, this side of the Nell Bottling Plant...

March 17, 1920
W.E. Harris has bought an auto truck which he uses in his bottling business, In a few minutes he can fill orders at other points.

April 6, 1921 (two items)
Notice to Merchants
if you have any of my cases, please send the empties in, as I am trying to get them all painted before the busy season. -- W.E. Harris.

If you have any of my bottles around your premises please notify me and I will collect them up. -- W.E. Harris.

January 3, 1922
Mr. W.E. Harris has sold his bottling plant, located on Water Street, to Mr. Chelcie Barger. The price has not been given. Mr. Barger will continue the business at the same stand. (By the latter part of February, Mr. Harris was managing a bottling firm in Indianapolis.)

Feb, 14 1922
(Do you remember) When the public pool was between the bottling plant at the old rock springhouse, on Jamestown Street, and all the horses in Columbia were carried there to water? (From a column titled "Do you remember?")

April 11, 1922 (Advertisement)
Thirsty? Drink Parfay (trademarked)) -- Most Perfect of all Kolas. You will also find our Limonette, Orange Julip, Grape Whip, Strawberry, Ginger Ale, Cream Soda and Cherry. Quality products. If you want drinks for a picnic or any occasion, call or phone. Columbia Bottling Works, Columbia, Ky. C.R. Barger, Mgr. (One undocumented source states that the Parfay Co. was started in Louisville in 1913 and at one time had "plants from Florida to Massachusetts.")

August 22, 1922 (Advertisement)
For Sale-Coca Cola rights for Adair and Russell Counties. Apply Coca Cola Bottling Wks., Campbellsville, Ky. (In the summer of 1922, this firm was heavily promoting a drink called Orange Squeeze, "the true to nature orange drink!")

Compiled by "Jim"


This story was posted on 2011-06-07 10:24:35
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