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  1. #11
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    If you (Prof Veach or otherwise) clicked that second link and are scratching your head wondering where the Fitzgerald testimony is...I linked the wrong one. Same trial, though. The link I meant to put is http://books.google.com/books?id=2aE...page&q&f=false . Sorry about that!
    Last edited by shoshani; 11-26-2013 at 18:54.

  2. #12
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    That's really something, shoshani. Congratulations. An important find.

  3. #13
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    Thank you. I was a bit floored when I came across it; I was not expecting it at all. So, first thing I did was share it here.

  4. #14
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    Good find none the less, and interesting.

    I believe the reason we have different stories about Fitzgerald was due to marketing. Fitzgerald was known to pilfer from honey barrels and it became such a joke in the Herbst organization that good barrels were called "Fitzgeralds" and for that reason I believe Herbst choose to name his exclusive brand Fitzgerald, being as it was the best of breed. Of course marketing men eventually had to come up with a story and Fitzgerald alternatively became a Treasury Agent, a Security Guard, a warehouse manager or a distiller depending on who wrote the copy. As these stories circulated well meaning people repeated them and that's how the confusion over who was the real Fitzgerald came about.
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  5. #15
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    I believe the reason we have different stories about Fitzgerald was due to marketing. Fitzgerald was known to pilfer from honey barrels and it became such a joke in the Herbst organization that good barrels were called "Fitzgeralds" and for that reason I believe Herbst choose to name his exclusive brand Fitzgerald, being as it was the best of breed. Of course marketing men eventually had to come up with a story and Fitzgerald alternatively became a Treasury Agent, a Security Guard, a warehouse manager or a distiller depending on who wrote the copy. As these stories circulated well meaning people repeated them and that's how the confusion over who was the real Fitzgerald came about.
    This is the part that confuses me the most, now. Because with this trial testimony, John E. Fitzgerald becomes a shoe that doesn't fit. His trial record doesn't indicate warehouse access, only collection of taxes among various distillers and rectifiers, all of whom are named and none of whom are Herbst. Fitzgerald held his job as Treasury gauger from 1869 until 1875, when he was fired and indicted for playing a role in the Whiskey Ring scandal that rocked the administration of President Grant. This is at least nine years earlier than the first recorded use of his name as a whiskey brand, if I recall correctly.

    Whether he served any prison time, I've been unable to determine. But Old Fitz apparently also had a hand in banking at least, before he became a gauger. There is a John E. Fitzgerald who shows up in the 1880s as an Internal Revenue collector in Boston, a presidential appointment, but I have no idea if this is the same person. I would tend to doubt it, since Old Fitzgerald lost his gauger job in disgrace, yet on the other hand why would someone without any experience be appointed?

    Answer one question, five more come up. Why is research like this?

  6. #16
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    I believe Fitzgerald went to work for Herbst after leaving government service. The Old Fitzgerald brand was registered by Herbst in 1884, nine years after the 1875 trial. 1875 was also the year the Whiskey Ring was exposed in which 238 revenue agents nationwide were indicted and 110 convicted. The testimony in the link clearly show Fitzgerald probably had enough political connections to be reemployed.
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  7. #17
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    There's a part of me that thinks that naming a whiskey "Jno. E. Fitzgerald" so soon after the indictment seems kind of...well, brazen, in a "give the government the bird" sort of way. But yeah, his testimony shows political connections that impress even cynical modern Chicagoans like myself, and we've seen it all.

    I'm starting to consider the idea that maybe Herbst and Fitzgerald knew each other off-duty, or Herbst owed Fitz a favor or something, and so Herbst employed him, or named the whiskey for him, or both, after a respectable distance in time. It could be that Herbst made the warehouse-pilfering story up while keeping the grain of truth that Fitz had been a treasury gauger, because Fitzgerald's actual exploits in the Whiskey Ring would still have caused embarrassment to others in the trade.

    My understanding of gaugers (from Gerald Carson) is that they oversaw the weighing of the grain and adherence to the mashbill, observed the filling of barrels and executed the branding of information on the heads, and then when the barrels were pulled for sale or bottling they measured what was left inside. The warehouses themselves were under the charge of a government guard called the storekeeper, whose job it was to make sure no one, not even the distillery owner, got into the warehouse without the gauger being present. Theoretically at least, no gauger could get into the warehouse without the storekeeper's awareness. Or, if pilfering were taking place, collusion.

    The one certainty is that John E. Fitzgerald couldn't possibly have built a distillery in Kentucky in 1870 (the year the Jno. E. Fitzgerald distillery is said to have been established; conveniently also the year S. C. Herbst Importing Company was founded) while simultaneously serving a federal appointment as treasury gauger in Milwaukee from 1869 to 1875.

  8. #18
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    Re: Old Fitzgerald *before* S. C. Herbst

    That was actually the Old Judge distillery (owned by Herbst) and became known as the Fitzgerald distillery because that was it's most well known brand. For the same reason the Blanton distillery would be called the Ancient Age distillery after it's most well known brand.
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