The Whiskey Merchant’s Diary

thumbnail of bookA bevy of books arrived today at the library, including such compelling titles as The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a Europa Edition and When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson.  One very interesting addition to the collection, thanks to a tip-off from local historian and library volunteer Bob Vitz, is The Whiskey Merchant’s Diary–An Urban Life in the Emerging Midwest edited by Linda A. Fisher (Ohio University Press.  2007), the diary of John J. Mersman, a German American immigrant, beginning in 1847, living in Cincinnati and later St. Louis.  Mersman was a whiskey rectifier–he re-distilled and reprocessed spirits, then resold them–a profession that the pure food law of 1906 eliminated.  He recounts the travails of business, weather, and disease, studies French, smokes, drinks, plays cards, complains about the weather, contracts syphilis, goes to the theatre, complains about the acting, complains about the weather.  But seriously, this is a very interesting look into the business and social life of a merchant similar to those who founded the Mercantile.  It is lavishly illustrated and foot noted, and even includes recipes for many of his wares.  Whiskey appears to be a common ingredient. -Ed Scripsi

Monday March 6th 1848

The Morning dawned with a transplendant brilliancy upon “Porkopolis.”  every thing look gay and animated throughout the City.  Business kept pace with the lively scene and Compelled me to move about the whole day in a very lively measure in order to do justice to it.

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Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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