Object Record

Object Name Bottle
Catalog Number 2014.016.001
Description One bottle of Cedar Bluff rye whiskey by the J.W. Kelly Company. The J.W. Kelly Company had a distillery that produced Deep Spring Whiskey which was well known. The J.W. Kelly and Company's number 7 distillery, which distilled Deep Spring Whiskey, was established in 1866, and spent the majority of its existence (1883-1915) at 13-15 West 9th Street. There is not a lot of information about this specific type of whiskey, but there was quite a bit on the owner and company (see below). The label indicates that this bottle was "guaranteed under the National Pure Food Law" referring to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which basically banned the mislabeling of food and drug products. This was one of many acts passed by the federal government after Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" was released.

J.W. Kelly was born and raised in New York State and was one of the many northern entrepreneurs looking to make money in southern enterprise (he would have been referred to as a 'carpetbagger'). In 1866 he started a business that began as a retail liquor store and as that business grew he moved into the wholesale liquor business. Like most wholesalers, Kelly also engaged in “rectifying” whiskey, which means blending raw whiskeys to taste, bottling it, and applying his own labels. "In 1876, Kelly merged his efforts with George W. Davenport, a native of Alabama, who had come to Chattanooga about 1874 to work as a clerk in a whiskey and cigars wholesaler and eventually had taken over the business. The new company was called Kelly & Davenport and originally had two locations, 63-65 Ninth Street and 253 Market Street. The company grew steadily, as one contemporary said, “building up a large and profitable business. The trade of the house in the Southern States is an extensive one.” About 1883, apparently as a result of its growth, the firm moved to 13-15 West Ninth.
"After 14 years in business, the partners split. Kelly maintained the existing business under the name J.W. Kelly & Company while Davenport, with a brother, went on to establish a dry goods and furnishing store. About this time Kelly made two important decisions. First, he hired Carl White as his manager although the Louisiana native was a considerably younger man. White came with a reputation as an able merchandiser and promoter. Second, Kelly started his own distillery. Called the Deep Spring Distillery, it was located in Chattanooga on East Missionary Avenue. Many wholesalers/rectifiers eventually took similar steps as a means of insuring themselves of a steady flow of whiskey. . . Kelly’s business continued to expand, advertised with a wide array of liquor labels. Among them were "Belmont,” "Golden Age,” "Mountain City Corn Shuck," "Old Milford,” "Old Tenn. Sugar Corn," "Pine Split Gin,” "Silver Spring,” "Silver Spring Corn,” “Lincoln County,” and "Deep Spring." " Kelly registered the most of these brands with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1905.
"Deep Spring Tennessee Whiskey was Kelly’s flagship label. He advertised it using slogans such as “The Whiskey Without an Unkind Thought,” and “Made on Honor, Sold on Merit.” " He was a founder of Lookout Rolling Mills and may have been a member of the masons. "In 1909 the Tennessee legislature passed a law that completely banned all liquor sales within its borders. Many saloons and liquor retailers were forced out of business. J.W. Kelly & Co. and the Deep Spring Distillery continued to operate as a result of substantial mail order sales in other states. Tennessee’s Attorney General was not blind to this trade. In 1910 he hauled Kelly into court for selling a shipment of whiskey to a customer in New York. The state’s argument was that such sales opened the door for fraudulent reshipment of liquor to Tennessee customers. In “State vs. J.W. Kelly & Co.,” the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed that argument and ruled that Kelly’s shipment was within the protection of the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution. The company rolled on until about 1915 or 1916, closing for good when the Webb-Kenyon Act, in effect, forbid interstate liquor sales into dry areas." More information:Source.
Date 1906-1915
Dimensions H-12 Dia-3 inches
Accession number 2014.016