Ask Doc Knox:

The Lotspeich Bottle

Dear Doctor Knox:

In our yard we found a medicine bottle that reads:
 
Lotspeich
The Prescription Store
Knoxville, Tenn
 
Was wondering how old it is?
 
Kathi Hollander


My Dear Mme. Hollander:

Your bottle might puzzle Knoxvillians of a certain age. The unusual name Lotspeich is a prominent one in 20th-century Knoxville history. Roy Lotspeich (1882-1951), originally from Greeneville, was the Republican underwear-mill capitalist who bought the daily Knoxville Journal in 1936 and gave the morning paper its distinctly conservative cast. He's the only Lotspeich who shows up in most local history books. Why his name would appear on an ancient medicine bottle isn't a quick read. 

However, research does turn up one Lotspeich more likely to have his name printed on a medicine bottle. Charles Lotspeich was a pharmacist or, as we called them in his day (and as the British still do) a chemist. He grew up in Knoxville, but the fact that his father, V.S. Lotspeich, originally came from Greene County suggests he and Roy might have been cousins. As a young man, Charles worked at several well-known local pharmacies, including the biggest mortar and pestle of them all, Sanford, Chamberlain and Albers---before opening his own Lotspeich Pharmacy at 324 N. Central, at the intersection of Park (later Magnolia) around 1909. It probably seemed an ideal location for a drugstore, just around the corner from the busy Southern passenger terminal, near big, busy White Lily Flour and brand-new Knoxville High School, and on the popular streetcar line to Chilhowee Park. 

He ran his own store only until about 1930, which as you may recall was a hard time for many small businesses. Thereafter he stayed employed, working for other drugstores, but not under his own name. So it's probably safe to assume that your bottle dates from ca. 1909 to 1930. 

The building has long since been torn down; its corner is now the site of the Greyhound bus station. 

An interesting note: When Lotspeich opened his pharmacy in 1909, it was in a building that had housed pharmacies at least since the 1890s. And I suspect it was in fact the same space formerly known as DePue's, site of the most dramatic pharmaceutical event in Knoxville's political history. 

In 1891, venerable Union veteran and U.S. Congressman Leonidas Houk walked into DePue's on North Central and, while waiting for a prescription, took a swig of some solution he found on the counter, seems to have contained a fatal solution of arsenic. What a glass of lethal poison was doing on a pharmacist's counter isn't obvious in the records, but the famous Republican legislator was dead the next day. 

I doubt that your particular bottle was involved in that unfortunate development--but it's interesting to contemplate that Lotspeich may have dispensed this bottle on the selfsame counter. 

Yr. Obt. Svt.

Z. Heraclitus Knox, E.I.E. Io. 


Come one, come all! Dr. Knox answers your questions regarding the history of the Knoxville metropolis. Send all your queries, big or small, to editorATmetropulseDOTcom.

Comments » 2

  • October 20, 2010
  • 10:24 PM
Bob Lotspeich writes:

I am one of the Lotspeich historians and I have two bottles that read Greever-Lotspeich MFG, Co Knoxville, Tenn U.S.A.
I did some research on this and found the following article that might be of interest:

From the Book Tennessee the Volunteer State Vol 4. pages 694 & 695


JOHN MITCHELL LOTSPEICH.

John Mitchell Lotspeich, secretary and treasurer of the Greever-Lotspeich Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of flavoring extracts of Knoxville, was born in Greeneville, Tennessee, October 26, 1867. His grandfather was James Lotspeich, a native of Greene county and a farmer by occupation. His son, Valentine Servier Lotspeich, was born in Greene county, Tennessee, in 1823, and devoted his early life to farming, while later he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits, his death occurring in the year 1904. He married Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, who was born in Greeneville, a daughter of John Mitchell, a native of East Tennessee, who devoted his life to the undertaking business and cabinetmaking. The death of Mrs. Lotspeich occurred December 5, 1919.

In the public schools of Knoxville, John Mitchell Lotspeich pursued his education and in early life he became a messenger for the Western Union Telegraph Company, while later he was employed by the Bell Telephone Company. Subsequently he engaged in the wholesale and retail drug business with Rodgers, Tedford & Company and subsequently conducted the business successfully under the firm style of Lotspeich Brothers. In 1899 he entered into active connection with his present business, forming a parTennesseeership with William Greever. Their interests were incorporated in 1905 and their attention is devoted exclusively to the manufacture of flavoring extracts. They make the Blue Ribbon brand and their output is sold extensively throughout the southeastern section of the United States. Steadily the
business has grown until the trade is one of large proportions and success in substantial measure is now theirs. Mr. Lotspeich is a member of the Flavoring Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States.

On the 12th of June, 1895, was celebrated the marriage of John Mitchell Lotspeich to Miss Addie C. Greever, who was born in Hawkins county, Tennessee, a daughter of Addison W. Greever, a native of Smith county, Virginia, who devoted his life to educational work and to farming. He served in the Confederate army and was captured by the Union troops. His father was William Greever, also a native of Virginia and a hero of the Revolutionary war. The family is of German lineage and was established in Pennsylvania in the early part of the eighteenth century. Later a removal was made to Virginia and there William Greever was living when he joined the American forces in the effort to win independence for the nation. He participated in the battle of King's Mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Lotspeich have become parents of two daughters: Martha G. and Mary Elizabeth.

Politically Mr. Lotspeich is a democrat but has never been active as a party worker, nor as an aspirant for office. He belongs to the Board of Commerce of Knoxville and to the Travelers Protective Association. He is essentially a home man, finding his greatest happiness at his own fireside and he has always been a lover of literature, reading largely, particularly along historical lines. In business his close application, his thoroughness and his progressive spirit have won him success and he is now active in the management of one of the important productive enterprises of the city.

  • October 20, 2010
  • 10:24 PM
Bob Lotspeich writes:

I am one of the Lotspeich historians and I have two bottles that read Greever-Lotspeich MFG, Co Knoxville, Tenn U.S.A.
I did some research on this and found the following article that might be of interest:

From the Book Tennessee the Volunteer State Vol 4. pages 694 & 695


JOHN MITCHELL LOTSPEICH.

John Mitchell Lotspeich, secretary and treasurer of the Greever-Lotspeich Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of flavoring extracts of Knoxville, was born in Greeneville, Tennessee, October 26, 1867. His grandfather was James Lotspeich, a native of Greene county and a farmer by occupation. His son, Valentine Servier Lotspeich, was born in Greene county, Tennessee, in 1823, and devoted his early life to farming, while later he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits, his death occurring in the year 1904. He married Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, who was born in Greeneville, a daughter of John Mitchell, a native of East Tennessee, who devoted his life to the undertaking business and cabinetmaking. The death of Mrs. Lotspeich occurred December 5, 1919.

In the public schools of Knoxville, John Mitchell Lotspeich pursued his education and in early life he became a messenger for the Western Union Telegraph Company, while later he was employed by the Bell Telephone Company. Subsequently he engaged in the wholesale and retail drug business with Rodgers, Tedford & Company and subsequently conducted the business successfully under the firm style of Lotspeich Brothers. In 1899 he entered into active connection with his present business, forming a parTennesseeership with William Greever. Their interests were incorporated in 1905 and their attention is devoted exclusively to the manufacture of flavoring extracts. They make the Blue Ribbon brand and their output is sold extensively throughout the southeastern section of the United States. Steadily the
business has grown until the trade is one of large proportions and success in substantial measure is now theirs. Mr. Lotspeich is a member of the Flavoring Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States.

On the 12th of June, 1895, was celebrated the marriage of John Mitchell Lotspeich to Miss Addie C. Greever, who was born in Hawkins county, Tennessee, a daughter of Addison W. Greever, a native of Smith county, Virginia, who devoted his life to educational work and to farming. He served in the Confederate army and was captured by the Union troops. His father was William Greever, also a native of Virginia and a hero of the Revolutionary war. The family is of German lineage and was established in Pennsylvania in the early part of the eighteenth century. Later a removal was made to Virginia and there William Greever was living when he joined the American forces in the effort to win independence for the nation. He participated in the battle of King's Mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Lotspeich have become parents of two daughters: Martha G. and Mary Elizabeth.

Politically Mr. Lotspeich is a democrat but has never been active as a party worker, nor as an aspirant for office. He belongs to the Board of Commerce of Knoxville and to the Travelers Protective Association. He is essentially a home man, finding his greatest happiness at his own fireside and he has always been a lover of literature, reading largely, particularly along historical lines. In business his close application, his thoroughness and his progressive spirit have won him success and he is now active in the management of one of the important productive enterprises of the city.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Remember personal info?



About This Blog


Come one, come all! Dr. Knox answers your questions regarding the history of the Knoxville metropolis.