Library Catalog - Kentucky Historical Society

Object Record

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Object Name Bottle
Catalog Number 2006.24
Maker W.H. Head Distilling Company
Date 1925
Material(s) glass; bourbon; paper; cork;
Dimensions H-8.5 W-4 D-2 inches
Description This is a bottle of "William Berkele" bourbon. The bottle is made of brown molded glass and has embossing on it. There are paper labels on the front and the back. There is a cork bottle stopper and an unbroken tax seal over the stopper. The bottle is 3/4 full of bourbon (up to the shoulder of the bottle).
Notes John Carter Stewart of Louisville was a shareholder in the General Warehouse Company in the 1920s. General Warehouse bottled this W.H. Head Distillery product in 1925, during the heart of Prohibition (hence the "medicinal purposes only" on the label.) Stewart's daughter, Margaret, married the donor, Martin Schmidt.

William Berkele was born January 1, 1826 in Hesse Darmstadt and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1838 (New Haven, Connecticut). In 1863 Berkele came west with Gen. Burnside and was appontied to Camp Nelson where he remained to the end of the war. In March of 1865 Berkele moved to Bryantsville, Garrard County, Kentucky. William Berkele was married twice, first to Rebecca Alling of Orange, CT, with whom he had three children (Louisa, Nettie M., and William A.). In 1867, he married again to Mrs. Mary Campbell of Garrard County and had twins (Daisey and Eugene). Starting in 1868 Berkele began distilling whisky in Garrard and Boyle Counties. These whiskies were hand-made sour mash whiskies that were sold under the Berkele and E.H. Chase & Co. brands. In 1883, Berkele erected a distillery on the Lexington and Danville Pike, at Rocky Springs, three miles from Danville in Boyle County. Berkele is also a farmer and had 325 acres of farmland where he raised cattle and sheep. Berkele was a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1872 and an alternate delegate in 1880. He served as a commissioner of the Deaf and Dumb Institution of the Atate and as the treasurer of the Danville, Lancaster, and Nicholasville Turnpike. Berkele was elected as a magistrate in Garrard County four times and served in the state legislature. There is no mention of when the Berkele brand name was sold to the W. H. Head Distilling Company.
Collection Martin F. Schmidt Collection
People Berkele, William
W.H. Head Distilling Company
Stewart, John Carter
Subjects Bourbon
Alcoholic beverage industry
Alcoholic beverages
Whiskey
Distilleries
Distilling industries
Prohibition
Search Terms Louisville (Ky.)
Kentucky
Physical Holder Kentucky Historical Society - KHS