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WOOLNER BROS.
Peoria, IL.
1875-1919
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"Morris H Woolner, Secretary" (1881-1882), "Samuel Woolner, Manager" (1893-1902).

The Woolner Distilling Co. was founded by Hungarian emigres, Adolph Woolner, Samuel Woolner and Ignatius Woolner. Their father had been a distiller back in The Old Country, so they naturally gravitated to the industry.

Adolph Woolner was the first to arrive in the US, around 1864. He initially made his way through selling housewares in Ohio, but later joined a partnership in a PA distillery. In 1871, he was joined by his brothers and together they purchased the Grove Distillery from Richard Gregg. This was the first of many distilleries (plus a brewery) that the brothers controlled, including The Atlas, aided by brothers Jacob and Morris Woolner who arrived in the US some years after the other three.

The Woolners were founding members of the Whiskey Trust, with Adolph serving as its Vice President until his death in 1891. When Prohibition was enacted, the company was sold to US Food Products, a company formed from the remnants of the trust and that ultimately became the National Distillers products Co.

The Grove distillery suffered a major explosion in 1901, as shown in the photo below.


The company used the brand names:
"Better Times", "Canterbury Rye", "Cronies", "Donnybrook", "Eastland", "Eureka Gin", "Gilt Edge", "Leetsdale Rye", "Measure", "Mosswoods", "Old Cronies Rye", "Old Grove Pure Rye", "Old Measure", "Rock Cave", "Rock Cave", "Satin Finish Spirits", "Sparland", "W. B. Bourbon", "Woolner's Dry Gin", "Woolner's Excelsior", "Woolner's Monarch Gin", "Woolner's Pure Grain Alcohol", "Woolner's S. M.", and "Woolner's Satin Finish."

Business name timeline:
Woolner Bros. (1875-1879), A & S Woolner (1880), Woolner Brothers' Distilling Co. (1881-1889), Woolner Distillery (1890-1901), Woolner & Co. (1902-1903), Woolner Distilling Co. (1906-1919), Woolner & Co. (1917-1919)

Address timeline:
(Grove, also Union), office 122 Main (1875-1877), nd (1879), River bank, betw. South & Morgan (1880-1881), Foot of Elm (1882-1883), & River bank nr South (1884), Foot of Oak & foot of Apple (1886-1887), Foot Elm & foot Junction (1888), Foot Apple (1890-1903), Foot Spellman (1906-1919)

Business category timeline (abbreviations decoded below):
D


Years that company appeared in directories
Years directories were consulted
Peoria directory notes

Appearance in directories:
1875, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919

Directories consulted:
1844, 1856, 1857, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1863, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1875, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919

Peoria directory notes:
D = Distilleries, L = Liquor Merchants (1856), W = Liquors, Wholesale, S = Saloons (1881). In the early years (ca 1863-1867) , addresses were often omitted (indicated by "nd"). There was a street renumbering, perhaps city-wide but evident in Washington addresses, in 1872/1873, with both old and new numbers indicated in the 1873 directories. The 1881 directory shows that Water St. has been renumbered. Directires are missing Liquor wholesalers for 1901, no distillers for 1904 or 1905. Several years are missing copies. There are no liquor-related entries for 1920. My directory copies include partial listings for Saloons for 1881-1886: they were not included here.

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