C. F. Riley Soda Works (Embossed Eagle)
C. F. Riley Soda Works
This Bottle is Never Sold Must be Returned
Charles Frederick Riley (Father & Son)
Provenance: Lou Pelligrini Collection
Our gallery display represents three Hutchinson bottles embossed with C. F. Riley. Charles F. Riley and his son, named the same, were pioneer soda water manufacturers and bottlers. At one time or another, the Rileys operated soda works in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, Eureka, San Bernadino and San Jose, California, and Seattle, Washington Territory.
Charles G. Hutchinson invented and patented the Hutchinson Patent Stopper in 1879 as a replacement for cork bottle stoppers which were commonly being used as stoppers on soda water or pop bottles. His invention employed a wire spring attached to a rubber seal. Production of these stoppers was discontinued after 1912.
See the museum example of a “J. C. Buffum & Co. City Bottling House Pittsburgh, Pa.” Hutchinson.
Our feature bottle is a pale green aqua Hutchinson embossed on the face ‘C. F. RILEY’ in an arch over an embossed eagle looking left. Beneath the eagle, in a straight horizontal line, is embossed copy reading ‘SODA WORKS.’ The base of the bottle is embossed with a large ‘R’ surrounded by embossed copy reading ‘THIS BOTTLE IS NEVER SOLD MUST BE RETURNED’ in an engaging convex and concave arc, creating a circle. The stopper rests inside the 6 1/2-tall by 2 1/4-inch diameter bottle.
Our second gallery bottle is a medium cobalt blue Hutchinson embossed on the face ‘C. F. RILEY’ in an arch. The stopper is still in the mouth of the bottle.
Our third gallery bottle is a pale blue aqua Hutchinson embossed on the face ‘C. F. RILEY’ in a convex arch over an embossed eagle looking right. Beneath the eagle, in a concave arch, is embossed ‘SODA WORKS.’ The base of the bottle is embossed with a large ‘R.’
Charles Frederick Riley was born in Calais, Maine, in 1849. The 1850 United States Federal Census Records show his parents, Charles F. Riley and Harriett A. (Scott) Riley, living in Buffalo, New York. They would promptly move to Michigan, where young Charles would spend his boyhood. He attended school with Thomas A. Edison and Harry F. Gage, who would become the California Governor. He would maintain this friendship for many years, according to his obituary.
The Riley’s would move many times, so records are scarce. We can track them through census records.
The 1870 United States Federal Census Report places C. F. Riley and his parents in Saginaw, Michigan. Now 21 years old, Charles was a laborer doing odd jobs like posting bills around town. The records also note that he had a brother named Lewis Leon Riley, who was eight years old. His father was listed as a brewer.
The 1880 United States Federal Census Report places C. F. Riley and his parents in Portland, Oregon. Now 32 years old, Charles was listed as a “Soda Water Maker,” as was his father.
1882 voting records place C. F. Riley in Tombstone, Cochise, Arizona Territory, where he was also in the Soda Water business.
In 1886, C. F. Riley moved to San Bernadino, California, to establish a soda bottling works. His plant was located on Arrowhead Avenue and called the Cloverleaf Soda Co., an outgrowth of his original soda works business. An 1891 city directory listed “Charles F. Riley, proprietor San Bernadino Bottling Works, Winklers Alley.” The Winkler name is represented on the bottle below.
Saloonkeeper August Winkler operated the City Brewery and Bath House on West Third Street in San Bernadino. He also ran a saloon adjacent to his brewery, touting the “very best wines, liquors and cigars,” and served lunch “all day or evening hours.” Winkler would purchase a soda-making apparatus and started selling soda water and sarsaparilla. In 1880, Winkler erected an ornate building of stone, brick, and wrought iron at 368 W. Third Street. He opened a beer garden in the basement, a soda pop works and saloon on the main floor, and a bathhouse in the rear. Unfortunately, August Winkler didn’t enjoy the profits of his new venture, as he died a short time later on February 18, 1886. This date corresponds with C. F. Riley opening his business, probably purchased from Winkler.
C. F. Riley was elected to the San Bernadino city council in 1899 and served up to when he was elected mayor of the city from 1905 to 1907. Riley was also one of the signers of the Charter of San Bernadino. He would wed his wife Mary that year.
The 1900 and 1910 United States Federal Census Reports maintain C. F. Riley as the “Proprietor of a Soda Works.” The 1920 report omits this business listing as his health was deteriorating. Charles F. Riley died on February 8, 1928, in San Bernadino. He was survived by his wife Mary, two children, C. F. Riley, Jr. and Mrs. John Anderson Jr. (Frances E. Riley), and his brother Lewis. Charles F. Riley (Sr.) died in San Jose in 1903, where he was working with his son Lewis, the proprietor of Crown Soda Works.
Primary and Secondary Images: C. F. Riley bottles imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum west coast studio led by Gina Pellegrini.
Support Image: Aug. Winkler S. B. Soda Works bottle. – Eric McGuire collection
Support: Reference to The history of San Bernardino’s first brewery by Nick Cataldo, The Sun, 2017
Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow
Support: Reference to The American Pontiled Soda Database Project, Tod von Mechow
Support: Reference to Hutchbook.com, Hutchinson’s Patent Spring Stopper
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