Powers-Weightman-Rosengarten Co.

Digger Odell Publications 2007


As the present Powers-Weightman-Rosengarten Co. has grown from two roots it is necessary to trace each of them back to their origin. That of the Rosengarten firm was so admirably given by Wm. McIntyre in the American Journal of Pharmacy (July, 1904) that we have made free use of it, for which use we return ow thanks to the author. The manufacturing business of the firm of Rosengarten & Sons was established in 1822. The original partners were Seitler & Zeitler; the former a Swiss from one of the French Cantons, the latter a German from Wurzburg. George. D. Rosengarten was at that time engaged in the wool business and, being a competent accountant and having the confidence of this chemical firm, was engaged to settle the accounts. Being conversant with the French language as well as his native German he was able to do this to the firm's evident satisfaction. On December 1, 1823, he became a partner of Carl Zeitler, under the firm name of Zeitler & Rosengarten. From this time on nearly all the books of this firm and its various successors are still in a state of preservation, and the history can be followed with some exactness. .

Quinine sulphate, sulphuric ether. spirit of nitre, aqua ammonia, acetic ether, and Hoffman's anodyne were made at this time. The first sale of quinine by the firm of Zeitler & Rosengarten was made in December. 1823. On October 13, 1824, Carl Zeitler withdrew and the receipt showing that his interest was bought by Geo. D. Rosengarten still exists. From this time the business gradually increased, and later Mr. Rosengarten's cousins, Samuel and Hermann Rosengarten, were employed.

In 1832 morphine sulphate and acetate were first manufactured in this country, by this firm, the opium being bought from the local wholesale druggists. Piperine was made in 1833, mercurials and strychnine in 183x. Veratrine had considerable sale, and was made in 183s and iodide of lead, deuto- and protoiodide of mercury, iodide of iron and iodide of sulphur, codeine, bismuth and silver salts were made in 1836.

On February I5. 1836, the firm name became Geo. D. & S. Rosengarten, but continued only until March to of the same year. In 1835 N. F. H. Denis, a young Frenchman, a pupil of the great chemist Robiquet. was employed as chemist and on January 1. 1840, became a partner. the name of the firm becoming Rosengarten & Denis, and which continued as such until 1853, when Mr. Denis withdrew. Samuel G. and Mitchell G., sons of G. D. Rosengarten, were then admitted to partnership and the firm name changed to Rosengarten & Sons. In 1860 H. B. Rosengarten and Adolph C. Were admitted to partnership. The latter enlisted in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Anderson Troop), rose to rank of major, U. S. V., and was killed in a cavalry charge at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tenn.. on December 29, 1863, the twenty-fourth anniversary of birth. George D. Rosengarten retired in 1879. fifty-six years of active business life. He was a director of the Mechanics bank for more than fifty years an the Pennsylvania railroad for a number of years. his retirement from business he declined re-election the boards of both these corporations. He died M 18, 1890, at the age of eighty-nine.

Frank H. Rosengarten was admitted to the firm is 1879. Mitchell G. died in 1898. and Samuel G. and Frank H. Rosengarten retired from the business in-it same year. The firm was then continued by H. B. Rosengarten and his sons, George D, and Adolph G. In 1901 the business was incorporated in Pennsylvania under the title of Rosengarten & Sons, incorporated. .

B. Rosengarten was president, George D., vice-president, and Adolph G., secretary and treasurer and these together with Joseph G.. Jr.. and Frederick Rosengarten, constituted the board of directors, all of whom took an active part in the management of the business. From this sketch of Rosengarten & Sons it will be seen that George- D. Rosengarten, who was really the founder of the house of Rosengarten. was a man of great ability in the business world and, in addition, a most cultivated gentleman who was most highly thought of. 'Mr. Denis, from all accounts, must have been quite a character. It is said that when he was asked by Mr. Rosengarten to become his partner he said to him, in broken English, " Do you know that if I become your partner I shall be part owner of all these buildings, machinery and ground?" Mr. Rosengarten said he knew it and was willing, so the partnership was formed. Mr. Denis is said to have been quite a chef, and fond of the good things of this life; he always insisted on cooking the Sunday dinner. .

Powers & Weightman were the successors in business of the firm of Farr & Kunzi. established in Philadelphia. in 1818. Their first laboratory was on the North side of Arch street, west of 12th, but in 1820 they moved to the south side of Coates street (now Fairount avenue), above Fourth. In 1821 or 1822 they purchased the property afterwards occupied by their Successors. Powers & Weightman, then fairly on the outskirts of the city, for the manufacture of some of the same class of articles which are now made at the Its of Schuylkill, the apparatus from Coates street .ng moved to 9th and Parrish streets in 1839. Mr. Kunzi retired from business in 1836. On January 11, :. Mr. Farr took into partnership with him Thomas Powers and William Weightman, under the firm name of John Farr & Co. Three years afterwards e name was changed to Farr, Powers, & Weightman, and on the decease of Mr. Farr in 1847, the firm became known throughout the civilized world as Powers & Weightman. .

The works at the Falls of Schuylkill were commenced about this time. At the laboratory at Ninth and Parrish streets were manufactured the opium and cinchona alkaloids, also the mercurials and a general line of medicinal and photographic chemicals. The price of quinine is a matter of some interest. In 1822 it sold for $20 per oz.; at one time after the war the price was $5.00 per oz. The high price in the latter instance was caused by the scarcity of the raw material. .

Mr. Powers, for so many years the head of the house Powers & Weightman, was a man of ability and force. It is related of him that by his orders large sums of money were kept on deposit with several banks. The orders to the cashier were that the balance the Tradesman's bank should never be allowed to 11 below $ioo,ooo, but on one occasion it was allowed go down to some $99,000, and as a result the cashier was severely reprimanded. Mr. Powers was also most charitable man, giving away large sums of money in fact it has been said that if there had been no M Powers there would have been no Reformed Episcopal: Church, for he was its principal financial cornerstone, The family of Mr. Powers still maintains his reputation for charity, giving freely to many worthy object! After Mr. Powers' death, in 1878, Mr. Weightman put chased his former partner's interest and continued the business under the same firm name. .

Three years after Mr. Weightman's death these two celebrated firms became united under the name of the Powers-Weightman-Rosengarten Co., thus continuing in existence these three names which for so many year had been favorably known to the drug trade of sever. continents. .

Four immense plants are operated by the present firm: That at Ninth and Jarrish street: the original P. & W. laboratory; that at Falls c Schuylkill, where heavy chemicals are made; that a 17th and Fitzwater street, the Rosengarten establishment; and their quinine works at Thirty-fifth an Moore streets. With such a history behind it. and such: possibilities before it. this firm ought easily to become the first in its line on this continent.