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Hosmer delivery wagon.

William Clark's daughter sits atop the Hosmer delivery wagon in this 1912 photograph. .


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History of the Soda Water Industry
in eastern Connecticut :

by: Tom Beardsley:

 John F. Hennessey, an early eastern
 Connecticut soda water manufacturer.
John F. Hennessey.

A Jewitt City native, John F. Hennessey, organized a grocery store in 1880, opposite Recreation Park, at 187 Main Street. In 1884 he became a distributor for wines, ale and beer, and in 1892 he opened a bottling and carbonated beverage plant on Valley Street. Hennessey claimed to be a pioneer in the use of "liquefied gas" to "charge the waters," and produce a "purer, more tasteful and refreshing beverage." Hennessey died in 1901, and the soda company ceased production. Michael Sullivan began bottling soda the following year. He formed the Willimantic Bottling Company, located at 623 Main Street, and supplied eastern Connecticut with spring and soda water until 1916. Sullivan retired that year, and left the field open for William Clark's Hosmer Mountain Bottling Company.

Willimantic's well-known Irish-American entrepreneur, Dennis Shea operated a soda bottling works in a large brick building located at the old junction of Main and Union streets. Shea dealt in ale, wines, lager and mineral waters from the late 19th century until 1905. The building was demolished in 1973. Soda manufacturing continued in Willimantic in the 1920s when the proprietors of the new Nathan Hale Hotel, unable to sell alcohol because of prohibition, formed the Nathan Hale Bottling Company in the newly built hotel in 1927. It boasted of its "high grade mineral sodas" and Nathan Hale brand beverages, but it became a victim of the Depression, and ceased operation in 1931.

The Nathan Hale Hotel. The Nathan Hale Hotel, pictured in 1931, was the home of the Nathan Hale Bottling Company during the years of prohibition.

In 1884, E. A Frink began utilizing spring water to manufacture " temperance drinks" at Quinebaug, Connecticut. He moved his bottling plant from Quinebaug to the " Crystal Spring" at Chaplin in the early 1890s. The spring was referred to as " boiling" with " exceptionally pure, crystal-like water bubbling over a rocky ledge." Frink's Crystal Spring Bottling Company boasted " modern facilities" producing many " carbonated beverages." " His preparations are evenly excellent, and his famous specialty, Frink's Root Beer, has attained a widespread reputation. His transactions are at wholesale, supplying retailers throughout a large amount of territory. And though most of his shipments are made by rail, he has two teams in constant attendance on near-by trade"

The Shea Block. Dennis Shea's bottling works on
Union Street, and delivery wagon,
are captured in this 1891 photograph.

Frink's Crystal Spring Bottling Company stopped trading in 1900, but reformed in 1913, producing root and birch beer, hop beers, sodas and spring water, operating from the rear of 443 Jackson Street, Willimantic. The proprietor was N. L. Frink, but this operation moved to North Windham in 1915 and 1916. John Latusek also dealt in soda water at 27 Ash Street, Willimantic, and Timothy Sullivan manufactured root beer at 190 Jackson Street, Willimantic.



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