Birch beer and it’s year ~ 1891


~ 1891 ~

Creamy red

birch beer, mild,

light and refreshing,

a very interesting year.

Sad occurrences:

Jewish people are “expelled”

from Moscow, Russia.

British ship, “Utopia,”

sinks with 574 lives lost.

3000 died in West Sudan 

during French invasion.

109 coal miners killed in

Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

200 people and 6000 animals

died in the Blizzard of 1891.

Happy and artsy events include

Oscar Wilde’s theatre debut

of “Duchess of Padua.” 

Henrik Ibsen’s premiere 

of “Hedda Gabler” in Oslo.

Artist painter Gauguin leaves

Marseille to live in Tahiti.

Natural wonders of firsts:

Asparagus transported to

San Francisco from Sacramento.

First Buffalo purchased for the

Golden Gate Park.

Governmental changes:

Nebraska adopts concept 

of an 8 hour workday.

U.S. Congress creates both

Treasury Department and

the Courts of Appeals.

Last Hawaiian monarch,

Queen Liliuokalani crowned.

Sports news:

Oscar Grunden makes

World record in ice skating,

500 meters in 50.8 seconds.

The “Penalty Spot Kick” comes

into consideration, but is put

into effect the following 

football season.

First worldwide heavyweight

championship held.

Connections in telephone

between Britain and Europe +

Paris, France to England.

The Wrigley Company is

founded in Chicago, Illinois.

If you’d like to read more about 

the Toronto W.M.Wrigley Jr. building

which now has business offices

within a fascinating industrial

setting which kept original

features, please check out 

Joanne Sisco’s post,

“More To Chew On,” at:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My Dad’s favorite fair beverage,

Birch Beer, a delicious natural 

soda which was invented by a

New Jersey pharmacist,

William Boylan. His

creation of “elixir” selling 

from wagon carried a big barrel.

Boylan Bottling Company

still uses the recipe, restoring 

this fascinating year in history.

Hope you enjoyed the 

“trip” through 1891.


50 responses »

  1. wow, what a big year of momentous changes. i’ve never heard of birch beer and wonder if you can describe the taste. is it at all like root beer?

    • The year, 1891, was sure packed with drama and some fun, Beth!
      It is like a sweet vanilla, lighter root beer. 🙂 They sell it at our state Fair and sometimes county fair, plus this came from a bottled pop store. Thanks for asking!

  2. Your post reminds me that I have always longed to live in the 18th or 19th century. When I was a kid I would have chosen to live in the future to see what it would bring. Now that I know, I would gladly opt for the past. l think Dickens offered the most timeless and insightful words in modern literature with his opening line in A Tale of Two Cities – ‘They were the best of times. They were the worst of times.’ That may be true for every period in history. – Mike

    • It was a brilliant comment, Mike, including Charles Dickens and wishing to live in the past. I agree there were fascinating inventions and changes going on during this century or so. . .
      It would be interesting to Visit, but no thanks for staying in the 18th or 19th century for Me! 😀

      • It’s true that pre-20th century society was not amenable to lifestyle options, especially for women. Life was generally harder for everyone compared to the conveniences we enjoy today. Being an outdoors kind of guy, I just wish I could have seen this country when everything west of the Appalachians was wilderness.

      • Mike, this sounds like the Explorer in you that I know! I like nature, camping and wish we could be less careless towards our natural resources. Wonderful topic to bring up, thanks for including the difference in treatment of women during the “olden days.”

  3. I just looked up when my grandfather’s were born because I thought one was 1891, but it was 1892. Not a good time to be a Jew in Russia. Thank you for the fun facts, Robin. I remember having birch beer when I was a kid. There were many such “elixirs” in the past. 😉

    • Yes, it was a horrible time for Jews in Russia. 😦 tears. . .
      The French takeover in West Sudan was horrible, too. 😦 Disasters of nature and failure in carefulness (ship sinking; miners dying)

      Countries were even less civilized and more cruel in the past. Some conquerors and conquests were far worse than those today. Can you imagine? Arggh.

      At least there were a few bright spots and thank you for looking up your grandfathers’ birthdays, Merril. It gives you an approximate state of affairs for the time period. . . Ian glad you have tried birch beer before. 🙂

    • Diana, I ran down (in my car) to Columbus to eat dinner with youngest daughter. I appreciate your finding this to be interesting.
      This is a kind comment and so glad you enjoy birch beer! I find it quite delicious! 🙂

    • Jan! So glad you mentioned sassafras. Also, thank you for adding the gold rush days. This means sassafras beverage preceded the bottling of birch beer. They are both trees and root beer also has similar taste. I find birch beer to be not as strong as root beer. I have had sassafras tea before, at a colonial site, historical restoration out East. 🙂

    • Jan, thank you for getting my interest “peaked” and I looked this up. A Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer website has this comparison: sarsaparilla is more like birch beer. Sassafras is “more sweeter,” “cloying” it says and so I thought I would add that birch beer came to be bottled during the prohibition age, according to this article.
      The actual bark of a black birch is boiled to come up with the elixir. 🙂 More than we may have needed to know but always good to know “the rest of the story,” as dear Paul Harvey used to say on the radio. 🙂

    • We used to get this at the Ohio State Fair and possibly other county fairs in the Midwest. I am not sure if I could find a concession stand photograph in the archives of the internet, Kirt (!?) 😉 Thank for reading this, keep your eyes open when you see Boylan creme soda, you may just see other old style beverages. 🙂

    • So happy you didn’t mind a little bit of history of a bygone era! It really had a lot of dramatic events packed into it.
      It isn’t alcoholic which means it may be sold in small town sandwich places or diners, Deborah. We used to buy it by the glass or “to go” cup at the Ohio State Fair and other county fairs in the Midwest. 🙂
      Thanks for the sweet wish! Hope you have a terrific week ahead, too! xo

    • Well, no alcohol in birch beer. It is a sweetened soda or carbonated pop. If you want it less sweet, there may be a diet birch beer or just drink diet root beer. 🙂 Thanks Jonathan for saying I am a beauty and not a beast. 🙂

      • No–I was going to accept that latter moniker myself….! The old bottle reminded me of a goal of mine—to, in some form—have a non-alcoholic bottling company on the ole layout—doing independent brands of birch beer (which at one time was clear), MOXIE (of course) and at least one variety of ginger beer….using the n scale rail equivalent of boxcars, tank cars of sweeteners and the occasional hopper of broken bottle glass! Dream on, kid—and so I do! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the mention, Robin. I’ve never heard of Birch Beer, but now I’m going to keep my eyes open for it. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and find some here 🙂

    I always find these summaries of a particular year very interesting. One more fact for 1891 – my paternal grandfather was born in Grimaldi, Italy in the province of Calabria 🙂

    • Aww, this makes my post extra special, Joanne. I’m glad your Italian grandfather was born this year which did have quite a disparity of events in contrasts. Hope you had a chance to get to know him. ❤ Thank you for sharing the area he was born there. 🙂

      • Fortunately I did have him in my life for a short while. He died when I was 10, but whenever I see pansies, I think of him. It is one of those overwhelming memories I have of him always in his garden in the summertime and the patch of pansies 🙂

  5. Isn’t that neat? I love when you read about points in history in different places! It really enhances perspective. Great post, Robin! 🙂

  6. This is fascinating Robin. I wasn’t at all familiar with Birch beer but I would love to try it. I love the way you researched this post! So interesting!

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