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Harvey's Lake Bottling Company

Harvey's Lake Bottling Works

Row 1, left to right, Paul Shiner (with bowtie), not known, Fayette A. Williams. Row 2, left to right, not known, Lyman E. Williams, not know, Thomas Garrity (son of Pat Garrity). Circa early 1940s.

In July 1922 the business firm of Myron R. Williams and Sons was created at Alderson at the Lake. The firm secured from the State formal registration of the trade-name Harvey's Lake Bottling Works. His sons were Fayette A. Williams II and Lyman E. Williams. In 1918 during World War I Lyman E. Williams had served in the 311 the Machine Gun Battalion with the rank of Sergeant. Another member of the firm was Pat Garrity who married Bernadine Williams, a daughter of Myron Williams. Prior to forming the bottling works Myron Williams was a rural mail carrier from 1904 to 1915 and later an owner of a meat market from 1915 to 1917.

The Williams family were third and fourth generation descendants of Jonathan Williams (1806-1899), one of the original pioneer settlers of the Lake region. The original Williams was one of the first supervisors of Lake Township when it was formed in 1841. He was both a long-time teacher and justice of the peace and was popularly known as Squire Williams. He had eleven children including Fayette Allen Williams I (1833-1910), father of Myron R. Williams.

The company was formed as a soft drink bottling company. It had success with a line of bottled birch, root, cherry and other flavored drinks based on the company's own recipes. It later had great success with a franchise for Smile Orange Drink. The Orange Smile Syrup Company (1929-1964) was based in St. Louis, Missouri. It is likely the Orange Smile company sent batches of a concentrate mixed at the Lake plant to create the bottled drink. The State registration permitted the company to emboss the name Harvey's Lake Bottling Works on the soda bottles. Later, the company adopted an Indian head as the company insignia which was also embossed on the neck of the company's 7 fluid oz. bottles. The earliest bottles were blue followed by green and later clear glass. These bottles occasionally appear on Ebay as collectors' items.

Cone-Top Stegmaier can c. 1940

The bottom rear heel of the company's bottles also had raised lettering which read THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD. This was a common practice dating back to the last half of the eighteenth century when bottles were more costly to produce. In great part, patent medicine, drink and beer manufacturers hoped the lettering would encourage return of the bottles for reuse. Later, with mass production of cheaper bottles the lettering was continued to discourage reuse of bottles by other firms or home-based bottlers in violation of the original bottler's trademark.

In April 1930 Myron R. Williams passed away with his sons Fayette and Myron and son-in-law, Pat Garrity, continuing with the company. A decade later, with the advent of World War II, sugar was rationed and the company ceased production of its own sodas. The Lake company was able to secure a franchise as a distributor of Orange-Crush, another orange soda created in 1916 by the Orange-Crush Company in Los Angeles. The product is still produced and owned by The Pepsi Bottling Group.

HL Bottling Company crate and bottles, FCP Collection

On Thursday morning at 1:30 AM on December 7, 1935, the bottling works plant was badly damaged by a fire. The company rebuilt the plant with a stone material at the rear of Richards Lane.

The Lake company also became a regional distributor of Cheer-Up and Moxie. Cheer-Up was also a product of the Orange Smile Syrup Company. It contained Lithia, now known as Lithium, currently used as an anti-depressant prescription drug. Moxie was once a nationally famous bitter- root based soda originally created in 1876 as a patent medicine but became a more traditional soda by 1884. It is still produced in New Hampshire but sales are largely in New England and Pennsylvania. Moxie is now owned by Coca-Cola.

Pat Garrity passed away in late 1944. Fayette A. Williams II passed away on Christmas Day 1945. He had no children to assume his interest in the bottling company. After World War II the company did not resume production of its own sodas. It continued solely as a distributor of other soda and beer brands.

Left, Lyman E. Williams; Right, Fayete A. Williams (WWII era).

By May 1939 the Harvey's Lake Bottling Works was one of the twelve principal distributors in Northeastern Pennsylvania of Stegmaier beer brands. In addition to traditional bottled beer Stegmaier was now selling beer in 'cap sealed cans' in 12 oz and quart cans. Canned beer was first marketed in the United States in January 1935 and swept the industry. The Stegmaier company had its founding in central Wilkes-Barre as the George C. Baer and Charles Stegmaier Brewery in 1857. In 1897 it was recast as the Stegmaier Brewing Company. In 1974 the Stegmaier brand was sold to Lion Brewery, Inc., based in the Brookside section of Wilkes-Barre, which still brews Stegmaier beer and other beverages. The Stegmaier beer brand sponsored the 1951-52 radio series Bold Venture. An adventure- mystery series set in Cuba it featured Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The radio series only lasted 12 months running initially on WBRE on Wednesday evenings at 10:30 PM and Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on Scranton's WGBI before it moved to WNBC, a New York City radio station with broadcast power to reach the Wyoming Valley. Stegmaier's sponsorship included newspaper advertising in the Dallas Post noting the Harvey's Lake Bottling Works as Stegmaier's Back Mountain distributor.

Dallas Post, April 6, 1951

The Lake company also was the distributor of Rams Head Ale, a product of the Adam Scheidt Brewing Company in Norristown, Pennsylvania, which brewed the ale until 1960. The Scheidt company was sold to C. Schmidt and Sons in Philadelphia in 1966. Lyman E. Williams passed away in September 1951. His interest in the company was assumed by his widow Rebecca Stroh Williams. A graduate of the Bloomsburg Normal School and a former school teacher, Rebecca Williams led the company until her 1959 passing, with her sons Richard E. Williams I and Myron J. Williams (1926-1995). In time a third son Fayette A Williams (1933-2001) would also join the company.

The bottling company was also a distributor of nationally famous soda brands Seven-Up, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Royal Cola, and Ma's. Based in Wilkes-Barre The Old Fashion Ma's Root Beer Bottling Company (1945-1986) was a popular regional soda brand. Another regional brand sold by the Williams firm was Bubble-Up from the Crystal Bottling Company.

Bottling Company Ice-Cutting, 1951

The Lake's bottling company trucked soda and beer products from the manufacturers' facilities to the Lake warehouse. The company cut natural ice from the lake during the winter into the early 1950s and stored the ice in a company ice house on site. Ice was needed to store beer kegs which had to be kept cold prior to sale. The company distributed products to Hanson's Amusement Park and to Fernbrook Park in Dallas. Other distribution points were Shavertown, Trucksville and other Back Mountain bars and customers. Sales were also at Lake Silkworth, Noxen, Red Rock, Dushore and Colley during a twice-weekly delivery schedule. There were also home customers along the delivery routes.

The principals in the Lake business in later years were Richard E. Williams I and his brothers, Myron J. Williams and Fayette A. Williams. Richard Williams II was the fourth generation active in the company along with Daniel and Timothy Williams, sons of Fayette A. Williams, and Thomas Williams, a son of Myron J. Williams.

Left: Delivery at Hanson's Park
Right: Richard E. Williams

In his time Richard E. Williams I (1922-2005) was truly Mr. Harvey's Lake. A World War II veteran in the European Theatre, Williams was a Chief of the Daniel C. Roberts Fire Company; President of the Harvey's Lake Lions Club and Lions Zone Chairman; Vice-President of the Lake's Tourist Promotion Agency; and recipient of the American Legion's Man of the Year award in 1968. He was also the first chair of the Harvey's Lake Borough Planning and Zoning Committee and President of the Luzerne County Fair. His wife Ruth Rodgers Williams was President of the Harvey's Lake Woman's Service Club.

Richard Williams I was the surviving partner in the bottling business. His brothers Myron J. Williams and Fayette A. Williams had predeceased him. In 1984-85 the assets, good will and licenses for the company were transferred to an area business investor who incorporated the Harveys Lake Bottling Works, Inc., and moved it to a Sunset location behind the Grotto but it was not successful and it closed by 1990. The 1936 era Harvey's Lake Bottling Works building still stands at the rear of Richards Lane and now serves the Linsinbigler Construction Company.


This article is based in part from a company profile in the newspaper Country Impressions, September 27, 1978. The 1940s era photograph of company employees is courtesy of Sarah Endemann, grand-daughter of Peter Shiner. All other photographs are courtesy of Richard Williams II, Harveys Lake, who contributed valuable content to the company story.


Copyright September 2018 F. Charles Petrillo