The White Rock Collectors Association


 

The White Rock That Helped Save Chicago Lives

The history of Gale & Blocki in Chicago.

Bob Beckerer - June 30, 2011

On May 25, 1835 the Gale family arrived in Chicago on the brig Illinois, including brothers Edwin and William who being an infant was the “youngest” pilgrim. According to Edwin Oscare Gale, in 1835 there was a Chicago land sale by the government. His father bought a section of 320 acres in the sale and built a farm house, probably a condition of purchase that the land had to be developed. But the Gale family never lived there, living instead in Chicago’s Oak Park. Gale’s plot was later developed and called Galewood.

Chicago was mostly a swamp with Lake Michigan on one side and the Chicago River on the other. Unlike the major historical cities of Europe, where engineers designed and built tunnels for water supply and sewerage waste before the buildings were built Chicago was founded without a provision for either. The Chicago River became a sewerage dump. Wells were contaminated with ground water. The waters of Lake Michigan were contaminated by the Chicago River. Chicago had no safe water supply. Drinking water and even milk needed to be boiled to be safe but as this was before Pasteur (who lost three daughters to Typhoid) proved the concept that heat killed bacteria and long before the concept was accepted in America. Chicago water was not chlorinated for another 75 years and American doctors were still debating the need to pasteurize milk a hundred years later.”

According to Gale, household water came from snow, rainwater, wells, and the lake often in barrels on two wheeled hand carts but drinking water was purchased in drug stores. All sources were considered contaminated. In 1836 James Long incorporated a water company to bury cedar pipes three feet underground around the inner city to many homes and businesses. The water intake was 320 feet off shore in Lake Michigan and the pipes were made from cedar trees, each had a 3.5 inch diameter hole bored through one foot diameter logs uniformly cut to ten feet in length. The system began operating in 1842. The open Lake inlet allowed in “small fishes undergoing putrefaction (which) made the water offensive to taste and smell and detrimental to health.” Chicago water and milk were dangerous without pasteurizing but no-one knew it. Beer, wine, and whisky were much safer, a number of Chicagoans soon concluded.

Eventually the City of Chicago began providing city water, but it was still unsafe for drinking as Chicago’s sewer systems interacted with its water supply in Lake Michigan. The drainage canal into which city sewerage emptied, allowed some 300,000 to 600,000 cubic feet of waste water per minute to flow into Lake Michigan. Typhoid, dysentery, and cholera were rampant. The average per capita per year consumption of drinking water in Chicago was 54 gallons, a good market base to be tapped by bottled water suppliers.

1849 – The Gales apprenticed to Henry Bowman, Druggist, at 133 Lake St for three years at $75, 125 & 175 respectively per year. After the first year Bowman had a breakdown and released Gale who the worked for his brother-in-law, B. C. Welch, in Welch’s carriage factory.

1850 – Tainted milk most likely is the cause of death of President Zachary Taylor. Ninety three years later, Edsel Ford will die of Undulant fever from contaminated unpasteurized milk from his father’s farm.

1852 – Gale apprenticed to J. H. Reed & Co at 144 Lake for three years at $100, 200 & 300 per annum.

1854 – Reed changes company name to Stebbins & Reed at 159 Lake St. Gale notes that in his training to become a druggist, he works 14-17 hours a day often seven days a week. He notes his boss never knew how many hours he was working.

1856 – Brothers Will and Edwin Gale buy out the drug store from George Bormann and open their first drugstore at 159 Lake St.

1859 – William Blocki joins the Gale brothers in the wholesale and retail of drugs, including water which was often prescribed by doctors. Blocki will become one of the founders of River Forest.

1863 - Captain Franklin True Huntoon of the First Vermont Cavalry, captured in Aldie, VA by the Confederate Mosby, imprisoned in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond but paroled because of his injuries, and discharged by the Union Army in Annapolis, arrives in Chicago and enlists there in the Navy.

1865 – Will Gale is unable to continue in business due to complications from his service in the Civil War and the firm now becomes Gale & Blocki. Captain Will Gale had been shot several times in the battle at Mufreesboro, was transferred to Chicago as a recruiter due to his weakened condition but he soon requested active duty. He is best remembered as a quartermaster who let nothing keep him from supplying his troops in the 44th Illinois. Being a pharmacist, Gale had orders written to permit him to leave Murfreesboro to procure the following anti-scorbutics (preventive of scurvy) from Louisville, Kentucky: One hundred barrels of beer, Twenty five barrels of sauerkraut, and Two boxes of groceries. William Gale’s impaired health causes him to semi retire on the family farm in Galewood and he makes a most valuable contribution the Chicago in the capacity of Historiographer of Chicago pioneers’ sons and daughters, preserving verbal descriptions and sketches of the early days..

With the end of the Civil War ends and Franklin Huntoon also returns to Chicago, marries but is soon off to become a hotel man and man about town in New York City.

1868 - Colonel Richard Dunbar discovers and starts selling Waukesha Bethesna spring water.

In Chicago, Sarah T Colver dies. She is the wife of the famous Baptist Reverend Nathaniel Colver, D.D. and mother of the New York City teacher, inventor and lawyer Hiram Wallace Colver . Hiram Colver and his wife Mary often travel from NYC to Chicago to care for his father.

1870 - Charles A Welch moves to Chicago. Gale & Blocki tear down their two stores to build a new large store.

The Rev. Colver dies and is buried in Chicago Oakwoods Cemetary next to his wife. Hiram and Mary Colver move to Waukesha.

1871 - Hiram Colver names White Rock spring in Waukesha and starts selling White Rock Medicinal Spring Water. The development of White Rock Spring looks like a bad decision. Being a mile from the center of town, all other developed springs were closer for residents. Colver did the only thing he could think of to compete locally, he gave the water away free. Later he opened a park and provided steamboat service from the center of town to the park. From its inception, Colver decided to use railroads to deliver his water. This was not a cheap endeavor. The freight on five gallons of water to Deer Lodge, Montana was $23.75 (present value $345). The use of railroads enabled the later shipping of huge weights of water both in bulk, barrels, tin cans, and in bottles in amounts that his competitors could not handle.

The great Chicago fire destroys central Chicago. Destroyed businesses are doubly injured as most insurance companies are also destroyed. The brand new Palmer Hotel, owned by Potter Palmer, was burnt to the ground. Potter Palmer was a partner with Marshall Field in a retail store but left the store in 1867 and rented the building to Fields for $50,000 per year. Potter owned of a mile of State Street including the new Palmer House Hotel. Palmer lost all his properties in the fire. Potter Palmer borrowed $2,000,000 from an insurance company, the largest loan ever to a private citizen, and rebuilt his properties including a new Palmer House. He marries Berta Honore who becomes the social queen of Chicago.

The new Gale & Blocki store is destroyed but they rent an empty store front at 57 West Randolph Street (outside the burn zone), and arrange to carry in supplies. Gayle and Blocki are one of the first businesses opened within days of the fire. Records were later discovered unburned in their safe which fell into the basement of their former drugstore.

Recognizing the need of Chicagoans for fresh drinking water, Gale & Blocki becomes the first to import Waukesha’s new “Bethesna Water”. They are to distribute this water for the next ten years.

1873 – A great national wide recession causes the failure of almost ninety RR companies and slows the redevelopment of Chicago, the RR hub of the northern states. Unemployment hits 14%.

1880 – Most likely first year White Rock began carbonating its water. White Rock claims to be the first in the area to carbonize water. George J Schmitt begins working in a drug store at the age of 14.

1882 – Hiram Clover sells White Rock to Chicago Druggists Edwin O. Gale and William F. Blocki. Gale and Blocki stop selling Bethesna Spring Water in favor of White Rock. Gale and Blocki also hire Mr D. L. Sterling, manager for Bethesna operations to superintend White Rock operations, and hire Bethesna’s top traveling salesman, Samuel G. Curtis. The Gale & Blocki stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

After going bankrupt in Philadelphia, Milton S. Hershey opens a candy store on State Street for the now 500,000 Chicagoans. Hershey had not yet thought of making chocolate, and Chicagoans let him know what they thought of his caramels. Hershey closed shop within a few months and moved on to NYC and then Lancaster, PA. According to Michael D’Antonio in his book “Hershey”, “no big city in North America was more rough and dangerous than Chicago. Rudyard Kipling described it as a place where the ‘air is dirt’ that is inhabited by ‘a collection of miserables’”.

Gale and Blocki Drug Stores are located at; 81 South Clark Street, 126 North Clark Street, and 42-46 Monroe Street.

1883 - Gale & Blocki start using a new label for the White Rock bottled water (trademarked 1884) calling it “White Rock Natural Mineral Water”, “Pure, Sparkling, & Healthful,” “Gale & Blocki, Chicago, ILL., Sole Proprietors”.

Around this time Gale and Blocki appointed Chicago businessman, Charles A. Welch, the new manager of White Rock. Mr Welch is the nephew of Edwin Gale. Gale and Blocki were absentee owners of White Rock and apparently knew that to make the business successful they would need someone who would make it a personal endeavor, devoting his working life to making this business a industry leader.

1884 – Dale & Hinckley, 135 Wabush, have their first listing as water distributors. Gale and Blocki are never listed in the Chicago City Directory as water distributors. Dale is unknown and Hinckley is Otis W. Hinckley.

1885 - Chicago typhoid epidemic, 80-90,000 people die from the contaminated public water supply that was contaminated after 6.2 inches of rain.

1887 – Dale and Hinckley disappears and O. W. Hinckley is now listed at 76 Market. Meanwhile Gale and Blocki have sold part of the White Rock partnership to Mr Welch and he proceeded to incorporate White Rock. A new bottle label is produced listing “Gale & Blocki, Druggists, Chicago, & Chas. A. Welch, Proprietors”. Mr Welch comes up with the name Coronnis (named after Welch’s daughter, Corrine) and also sells White Rock water under the Coronnis name.

While White Rock was bottled as a sparkling table water, Coronnis was a still water (just plain water).

1888 – George J Schmitt, a graduate of Chicago’s College of Pharmacy, begins working as a pharmacist’s assistant in the Gale & Blocki Drug Store located in the re-built Palmer House Hotel on State Street. The hotel was owned by Potter and Berta Palmer, the most famous citizens of Chicago.

1890 – O.W. Hinckley advertises as the mineral water agent for Arcadian Waukesha water which he is selling at 74 Market street 10 gallons for $1.00. and sole agent for Thompson’s Bromine Arsenic Spring Water. He lives at 811 Washington Boulevard.

1891 – White Rock Mineral Spring opens an office in Chicago. The first general manager is Walter Butz, located at 36 River St. George J Schmitt trademarks an insecticide for bedbugs “Ancient Red Oil”.

1892 – E O Gale is listed as President of White Rock, W F Blocki is Vice President and Welch is listed as manager in the Waukesha City Directory while other listings have Charles Welch as Secretary and Treasurer. The White Rock Chicago is moved to 55 Meagher and Otis W. Hinckley is haired as the White Rock Chicago Manager. George J Schmitt is registered as a pharmacist for Gale & Blocki in the Palmer House Hotel.

The Columbian Exposition was supposed to be held this year in honor of Columbus’s voyage of 1492 but construction delays put the Fair off to next year.

1893 – The Chicago World’s Fair … Columbian Exposition. The city of Chicago advertised that the World’s Fair would be supplying “Waukesha” water to counteract Chicago’s reputation as “Typhoid City”. Historically, Chicago streets were paved with horse manure mud in the spring and fall and manure dust from the streets in the summer permeated every building. Flies were everywhere and as screens had not yet been invented it meant that animals, people and food were invested with flying disease carrying bugs. Chicago was considered the worst city in America but the “White City” at the World’s Fair is reported to be the most beautiful city in the United States.

In addition to White Rock, other Waukesha waters available in Chicago were Bethesna, Silurian, Arcadian, Acme, Chenequa and Hygeia.

Owners of White Rock see Paul Thumann’s “Psyche at Nature’s Mirror”. Psyche was taken from “The Story of Cupid and Psyche” in the book, “Metamorphoses”, as related by Apuleius, a Roman writer of the second century, A. D. White Rock obtains the rights to use it as the trademark for their “Pure” water, creates a new label and registers the trademark immediately. The use of a topless woman on a product label was very important to producers who wanted the public to know that their guaranteed the purity of their products. The country was infested with unregulated adulterated products that threatened the health and even lives of unsuspecting users. Stores kept there interiors dark and cluttered so customers couldn’t see poor workmanship and contaminated products. Not until Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book “The Jungle” enlightened Americans about the dangerous practices in the meatpacking industry, Chicago’s lifeblood.

At this time illiterate Americans and Immigrants from foreign language countries couldn’t read labels so companies, offering “guaranteed pure products” on one hand or poisons on the other hand, need a visual image to communicate with those unable to read English. The bare breast on a label internationally symbolized “purity” as the skull and crossbones indicated poison.

Many companies faced the same problem. Companies like Proctor and Gamble (Ivory Soap), Underwood’s Deviled Ham, Heinz 57, Bull Durham, Walter Baker & Co Cocoa, Cream of Wheat, and other manufacturers experimenting with the new idea of marketing items individually labeled and packaged in an attempt to reach the consumers with the idea that they would be buying a product whose purity was guaranteed by the maker but with the major problem of making a graphic trademark that could be understood by customers who couldn’t read English.

Gale & Blocki advertise White Rock Ozonate LITHIA WATER with an image of Psyche. “Ask for it at your club.” “By all Druggists” “Gale & Blocki, 44 Monroe St, Palmer House, 34 Washington St, Venetian Bldg.”

Milton Hershey, leaves his candy factory in Lancaster, PA to visit the Fair. Here he sees and, despite the Panic of 1873 that started just after the Fair opened in May, purchases the Lehmann Chocolate making machinery for delivery to Lancaster after the Fair ended in October. He paid over $20,000 for over ten tons of equipment that could produce 5,000 pounds of chocolate a day. For Hershey caramels were soon to be out and chocolate would be in.

1894 – White Rock uses Chicago lithographers Charles W. Shonk to produce metal signs, serving trays and tip trays with the new “Psyche” logo.

1895 - Around this time, White Rock’s traveling salesman Mr Westveer from Chicago meets Franklin T Huntoon on a train from the West traveling to Chicago. Mr Huntoon is suffering from stomach complaints and Westveer gives him several bottles of White Rock. Months later White Rock receives and order from Huntoon in NYC for three boxcars full of White Rock. Huntoon proceeds to market White Rock not as a medicinal water but a table water and mixer to bars, hotels, dining cars and restaurants. He sells so much water that White Rock grants Huntoon a fifty year east coast distributorship gratis.

1896 – White Rock Mineral Springs warehouse moves to 570 Loomis with Otis Hinckley still as manager. George Schmitt, leaves Gale & Blocki’s Parker House Hotel to work for White Rock.

Thomas Edison first demonstrates patented motion pictures in NYC using Eastman film, giving rapid rise to nickelodeons. Nickelodeons became popular because people who couldn’t afford a quarter for a vaudeville show could see projected films for five cents.

1897 – Bertha Palmer, the Queen of Chicago high society, frequently entertains President William McKinley with White Rock water (also served at his inauguration) which was the only water served at the Palmer Hotel. McKinley names his presidential yacht “SYLPH” (a popular contraction of SLYvan and nymPH) possibly after “Psyche” on the White Rock label.

1898 – White Rock Ginger Ale wins the Gold Metal at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition Omaha. The gold plated silver medal is made by S. D. Childs in Chicago.

Gale & Blocki now have seven drug stores in Chicago including 202 Randolph, 111 Randolph and 85 Clark Street. White Rock is judged the “Purest ginger ale” at the Paris Exposition.

1899 – “White Rock is the only water served at the National Hotel Keeper’s Banquet in Chicago” says an ad by F. C. Schramm, prescription druggist, in the McCormick Building.

1900 – White Rock water is declared “PERFECT” by the judges at the Paris Exposition and awarded the only gold metal.

The Chicago River is reversed in one of the great engineering feats of the period. All Chicago sewerage is diverted into the Chicago River instead of Lake Michigan and flushed thru with lake water. Some people of that time period claim the typhoid death rate of 174 per 100,000 (some 5,250 people per year) dropped to 1/100,000. However, statistics published in 1915 showed the death rate for Chicago was 15.0 per 1,000 for the three years before 1900 and 14.5 per 1,000 for the three subsequent years. In 1913 it was 15.1. The typhoid rate dropped from 32.4 per 100,000 to 31.1 but in the epidemic of 1902 it rose to 44.5. The average from 1901 to 1913 was 10.4 / 100,000. The death rate for infants from diarrhea and enteritis fell 19% from 257.4 to 209.4. The Chicago death rate was 80 times that of the Hague in Holland and 9.5 times that of polluted London where “even the instincts of hygiene are unknown”. Sewerage flowing into Lake Michigan from surrounding communities, open stockyards, and swamps surrounding Chicago continued to cause epidemics in Chicago and drinking water continued to be purchased in Drug Stores.

1901 – White Rock is used at the coronation banquet of King Edward VII. A British newspaper later writes that the King always used White Rock to dilute his wine.

The Welch family was in the “chips” and Mr Welch’s three sons were friendly with schoolmates Roy and Harry Aitken, also of Waukesha. Mr Welch had one of the first automobiles in Waukesha, a Northern, made in Detroit, Michigan. Which sold for todays equivalent of about $20,000. Roy “borrowed” Mr Welch’s treasured automobile and crashed it. Rather than face the music the brothers, Roy and Harry Aitken fled to Chicago and Roy started a Nickelodeon business. He later distributed movies and began producing his own. The Aitkens fled Chicago to avoid agents collecting royalties for Edison and settled in Santa Barbara so they could flee into Mexico if agents showed up there. The brother hired Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson and Douglas Fairbanks. Soon the brothers companies were larger then Edison’s. They then hired D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett, and Charlie Chaplin. The ever expanding costs caused them to create the “syndicate system” and later the “fantasy syndicate system” where in more than 100% of the shares in the show “Mickey” were sold for an excess of over $3,000,000 (the basis of the play and movie “The Producers”) and it became the model for modern corporate fraud. . Eventually the courts declared Edison’s patent invalid so fleeing Chicago was all for naught.

The Aitkens used surplus money to bribe Poncho Villa to me able to film his battles in Mexico when the Aitkens had to flee Edison’s agents. HBO made a movie about this called “And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself”.

Movies in those days were one to three reels, about 12-36 minutes. The Atkins wanted to make a real movie, one of 12 reels about two hours, unheard of at the time. They produced and owned “The Birth of a Nation”. Harry eventually returned to Chicago to manage a movie theater and died in 1956. Roy went back to Waukesha and died in 1970 still owning the rights to “Birth of a Nation”.

1902 – Hinckley moves the White Rock Chicago office to 132 North Jefferson. Schmitt realizes that White Rock water was a product that could be delivered directly to customers both at home and at work. He already knew Hinckley as White Rock’s business man in Chicago. Hinckley and Schmitt form a partnership for home and office water delivery. This was obviously with the approval of Gale, Blocki, and Welch as Hinckley and Schmitt were using the White Rock warehouse as their new office.

While Gale & Blocki specialized in selling White Rock Lithia Sparkling water, Schmitt felt that providing pure drinking water to Chicagoans would be a solid business plan and not interfere with G & B’s sale of White Rock bottled sparkling water and soda (ginger ale and phosphates … now called colas) in drug stores and White Rock’s direct sale of bottled sparkling table water to bars, hotels, and retailers. The fact that White Rock only shipped by rail enabled Schmitt to think in terms of a supply of water that could always exceed his sales.

While it would seem that H & S would compete with Gale & Blocki’s sale of water it is interesting to note that Gale & Blocki never advertised White Rock so they probably felt that H & S marketing still water in bulk to homes and offices would increase total White Rock sales in Chicago. Besides anything Gale and Blocki lost in store sales would be made up by their ownership of White Rock. This was a true win – win decision.

At auction, Hinckley and Schmitt bid $10,750 for the assets of the American Water Company, a Chicago competitor, but lose by $250.

1904 - Hinckley and Schmitt partnership becomes the Hinckley & Schmitt Company, incorporates with Capital of $1,000,000 at 132 North Jefferson as distributors for White Rock water. Third incorporator is W. E. Henderson.

For $31,425 H & S buys the assets of the newly formed American Spring Water Supply Company that they had failed to buy at the 1902 auction: 37 horses; 20 wagons; 20 fly nets; 2 buggies; barn & office equipment; 1,800 coolers; 25,000 ten gallon cans; 2,500 five gallon cans; 1,800 five gallon carboys (glass); 1,700 cooler stands; 11,500 faucets and certain tools, machinery, stock in trade and book accounts.

1904 – Hinckley and Schmitt move to 420 West Ontario Street and begin using the trade names “H&S” and “HASCO” (Hinckley And Schmitt CO.). They also start marketing “White Rock” and “Corinnis” with Hinckley & Schmitt on the label. Over the last twenty five years Gale and Blocki abandoned bulk water service in the form of barrels, half barrels, and galvanized cans using instead mostly quarts, bottles and half bottles.

Over the years Hinckley and Schmitt will push the idea of supplying demi-johns (5 gallon bottles along with water dispenser stands) to office buildings. H & S built a large bottling operation to fill demi-johns, gallons, half gallons with White Rock water or Corinnis Water and regular bottles with White Rock water and ginger ale or Hasco ginger ale. All the Chicago bottle labels bear the name Hinckley & Schmitt along with either; White Rock, Corinnis, or Hasco. H & S is the only bottling operation to which White Rock ships water in RR tank cars to be bottled under the White Rock or Corinnis name.

1906 – White Rock is sold to Wilson Distilling of Baltimore & NYC and is incorporated as the National Water Company. It is sold for $1.5 million cash, the largest cash transaction ever made to that time in Waukesha County. Welch stays on with the National Water Company as a director but opens a automobile dealership in Milwaukee. Huntoon is reported to receive one million dollars for his distributorship rights.

National retains the White Rock trade name and Psyche label. The Psyche image has become so popular that it is being reproduced by artists all over the country. The “Psyche knot” hairdo is so popular with women that the term is included in dictionaries of the time despite being a proper name.

Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 puts many bottled water companies out of business due to contamination in samples bought by FDA agents.

1908 – Chicago resident William H Walter applies for a patent on an “Apparatus for Cooling and Dispensing Liquids”. This would be recognizable today as a normal office dispenser stand with a five gallon water bottle on top. Walter includes a cooling chamber for ice to deliver cold water. This is the grand daddy of office coolers and probably resulted in the loss of millions of hours of productivity while the social break was conducted in offices around the country. Walters water cooler is labeled “Corinnis – Waukesha – Water” so it is clear that it does not deliver Chicago water.

1911 – Walter’s gets his patent on the water cooler and assigns it to Otis W Hinckley and George J Schmitt, both of Chicago. White Rock is shipping two RR tank cars to H & S every day. Upon return a White Rock employee had to enter each tank and scrub it down and rinse it before refilling. Water Tank cars held about 12,600 gallons so this was about 6,500,000 gallons per year.

H & S moves into its new large bottling plant at 420 West Ontario St.where they remain until 1968

1912 – Chicago begins to chlorinate its public waters. Over the last 40 years it cannot be calculated how many lives of Chicagoans were saved by the White Rock company’s distribution of “Pure” water to the citizens of Chicago by Clover and later through Gale and Blocki, Hinckley & Schmitt, and the White Rock Mineral Springs Company’s Chicago office who made drinking water safe in Chicago bars, businesses, homes and offices.

1915 – White Rock starts Christmas advertising with a happy, jolly Santa. National Water Company dissolves and the new formal name is White Rock Mineral Springs Company. White Rock normally receives three RR boxcars full of new bottles every day and ships 4-5 carloads every day.

On December 20 White Rock sends 35 RR refrigerator cars to New York City to fill Christmas orders for 750,000 bottles. It took 100 men and women a week to fill the cars. Until the invention of refrigerated cars (insulated RR freight cars) water in bottles couldn’t be shipped in freezing weather.

1917 - Hinckley & Schmitt moves to 420 West Ontario. At its peek, White Rock is sending four even larger RR tank cars (up to 28,500 gallons) to H & S a day which would max out at 28 million gallons per year. Remember this was just the water for home and office delivery. White Rock was directly selling the wholesale & retail store, bar, and restaurant business in Chicago. Chicago’s typhoid rate has fallen to the lowest of any major city in the nation.

1920 – Prohibition starts. White Rock becomes the term to use when asking for sparkling water or club soda or as a mixer. Since White Rock Sparkling water was a popular mixer, during prohibition the term “White Rock”, particularly in Chicago, will be an innocent sounding way of asking for a mixed drink (White Rock and alcohol).

1924 – Otis Hinckley dies ending his family’s ties to Hinckley & Schmitt. Gloria Vanderbilt is christened with White Rock Sparkling Water.

1927 – Charles A. Lindbergh christens his plane “The Spirit of St. Louis” with a bottle of White Rock before making his trans-Atlantic flight. According to Printers Ink, the White Rock “Psyche” logo is one of the top seven recognized trademarks in the United States and in the top ten in recognized in the world.

1930 - According to Time magazine, White Rock has over 90% of the sparkling water business in the United States.

1931 – George Schmitt dies but his son Victor takes over Hinckley & Schmitt.

1936 – Victor Schmitt dies and H & S corporate lawyer James A Peterson directs the company until grandson George Schmitt can take over in 1965

1942 – White Rock got three boxcars of new bottles every day from Owens-Illinois.

1952 – Jack Reynolds is running the Chicago office. While Hinckley & Schmitt mostly serviced offices and homes, White Rock had the restaurant, hotel and store business in Chicago. A new driver for White Rock felt that no-one would lower himself to count bottle returns (at one cent each) so he shorted return bottle slips and kept the return bottle deposit money for himself. He was unprepared for the diligence of hotel managers trained to watch everything and the driver was soon given the opportunity to drive for someone else.

Unions begin to organize all the bottlers in Waukesha. White Rock paid higher than the other businesses in Waukesha so when White Rock workers joined the union the company stopped paying bonuses. Community service dropped off because you couldn’t get union workers to do anything.

1957 – The White Rock union members were happy with their compensation and didn’t want to join the strike against other Waukesha companies but were forced into joining a sympathy strike. White Rock production was shut down. The company had to shift production to other franchises to insure a consistent supply of product in the future. This was the beginning of the end for White Rock Waukesha.

1968 - White Rock Chicago office is moved to 2705 South Wabash. White Rock deliveries to H & S in Chicago are down to two RR tank cars per day but the later tank cars were about 34,500 gallons in capacity giving about 18,000,000 gallons per year.

1969 – White Rock shuts the Waukesha White Rock plant but continues sending two RR tank cars per week to Hinckley & Schmitt to ease the switch over to other suppliers.

1970 – Chicago water treatment became improved to the point where Lake Michigan water could be satisfactorily processed to the satisfaction of the general public so H & S no longer supplies White Rock Waukesha water. The sending of regularly scheduled tank cars of White Rock water to Hinckley & Schmitt was discontinued. Chicago is thus the last customer to receive White Rock Spring Water for drinking from the original well. The well continued to be used to provide pool water delivered by tank truck.

1987 – Hinckley & Schmitt is sold to a French company.

1996 - Hinckley & Schmitt is sold to a Japanese company.

2005 – Atlanta based Kelso & Co becomes the new owner. Now called Hinckley Springs (George Schmitt left in 1996), its water originates in Rock Springs, Wisconsin.



© Copyright 2000,2015 White Rock Collectors Association Contact us