Category Archives: Primary Sources Unplugged

Photos of John Matthew’s grave

John Matthews is the Brit who brought to New York the secrets of mass producing seltzer, inaugurating the industrial age of carbonated water.
I had heard that he was buried in Brooklyn’s famous Greenwood Cemetery and that the site was decorated with some etchings related to seltzer production.
This fall I finally made a visit and learned two things:
– his tomb is tremendous!
– I could not identify anything remotely resembling seltzer manufacturing (if you can, please let me know)
It was immensely fascinating for a tomb, even if I was not already interested in the man, and I had a great time checking it out.
Check out the photos by clicking on the one below:

Great Seltzer History from the Forward

The Forward – the 100+ Jewish newspaper – has a wonderful column in which an interepid researcher goes back into their archives, translates some Yiddish, and reports on what happened 100, 75, and 50 years ago. This year some FANTASTIC reports on seltzer have emerged in the 100 category. Here are two:

    November 3, 2006
    Despite hunger, exhaustion and beatings of employees at the hands of gangs hired by their bosses, the ongoing strike of the Union of Mineral Water Workers is holding fast and is as strong as iron. As of yet, not one worker has broken ranks with the strikers. The strike could be settled in a matter of days, if the bosses and shops would simply accept the union and allow their workers to join it. Until then, the Forward requests that its readers not drink any seltzer unless it has the union label on the bottle. Without the union label, you’ll be drinking bloody seltzer!


    Sep 15, 2006
    100 Years Ago in the forward East Broadway seltzer vendor Henry Mittleman was blown to bits last week after a seltzer tank exploded in the basement of his store. Mittleman, who was working just a few feet from the tank, was thrown more than 20 feet by the blast. After he arrived at the hospital, it was determined that both his legs were broken in a number of places and that he suffered severe internal injuries. He died just an hour after admittance. Ironically, Mittleman had just completed a deal with the Mineral Water Workers Union and had an appointment to meet with them this week.

The Jew in the Bottling Business, Editorial, 1903

I look forward to writing more about the generous offices of Beverage World, the oldest continuous publication related to the bottling industry. Founded as the National Bottlers’ Gazette at the end of the 19th century, its creator was a charismatic and effusive writer, whose editorials are often a gas to read. However, neither the content of its editorials or the magazine ever referred to anyone by religion or race, at least not in the few decades of issues I thumbed through. That is, except for this editorial, published in July, 1903, which I learned of from a former Beverage World Executive Editor, Greg Prince (to whom I will now always be in debt).

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