for facts... A history of the Barq Bottling Works
by DOUGLAS BREMENKAMP
Enclosed you will find an article I've written, an
account of the history of the Barq's Root Beer Co. which was submitted by me as
a requirement of my Mississippi history class at the University of Southern
Mississippi. By the way, I did get an "A" on the paper and
Following the report, I've included an account of a dig
that Chic Jordan and myself went on at the old Barq Plant.
Chic is presently a member of the Biloxi Police
Department and is an investigator, while I'm a social studies teacher and
varsity basketball coach at St. John High School in Gulfport, Miss. We've both
been digging for years and have recently become real active excavating on the
Gulf Coast. We're both members of the South Mississippi Historical Bottle
Association and New Orleans Antique Bottle Club.
We both enjoy your magazine very much and just thought
we'd like to contribute a little something back to it and to our hobby.
The story of Barq's begins in the 1880s. Edward Barq Sr. is
in Paris and enrolled in a university, studying chemistry. While it is not
actually known when Barq immigrated to the United States and to Biloxi, Miss.,
it was sometime in the mid‑1890s. This was a flush time for small
businesses and enterprising young men. Edward Barq settled on a bottling works
as the business enterprise he wanted to undertake.
In 1898 the business he founded was known as the Biloxi
Artesian Bottling Works. This was embossed on his bottles as well as "E.
Barq, Prop." and "Biloxi, Miss."
Business was good in Biloxi as there were no competitors in
this coastal town. It is interesting to note that in future expansion moves, he
chose to move to the west, towards Gulfport, never east toward Pascagoula, Mr.
Jagel and Mr. Hudson and in Scanton, Mr. Valverde.
Barq's bottling works began bottling fruit drinks and soda.
Recent advertising claims for the Barq's root beer product state that the
present day root beer was first bottled in 1898. This, however, is not the case.
Barq did not actually start bottling root beer until he was joined in business
by a Mr. Court in either 1900 or 1901.
The reason why this is unclear is the fact that Barq did
not speak much English and could not write it, so what records there were, were
Shortly after Court joined the company, the root beer
formula was developed. They marketed this product and it became very successful
in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, and Gulfport.
It was so successful, in fact, that the company was able to
expand from its plant on Keller Avenue in Biloxi to another plant in Gulfport in
April, 1902. These bottles can be identified by the embossing of "Barq's
Bottling Works, E. Barq, Gulfport, Miss."
The business thrived for a while and Barq was joined in
partnership about 1907 by a Mr. Hartner. Bottles of this period have both Barq
and Hartner embossed on them. Something went wrong, and
about 1910 Barq had control of the company again; however,
he was forced to close down the operation in Gulfport and bottle his product out
of his Biloxi plant.
Ifis business went along steadily until about the
mid‑20s. Edward Barq had a man working for him by the name of Jamison.
Jamison had been with Barq from the beginning of the plant in Biloxi. Jamison
moved to New Orleans in the late 1920s to go into the bottling business for
himself. Barq gave Jamison verbal permission to bottle a drink with the Barq
name as the logo. This arrangement worked out fine.
When Barq died in the late 1940s, control of the company
was passed to his two sons. They ran the plant operation from Biloxi until the
1970s. It was then purchased by the sons of a couple oil men from Oklahoma. They
had plans to go national with the product, but have hit a stumbling block. It
the descendants of Jamison also have the same idea. They
claim that they can bottle the same drink with the same name and in fact are the
legitimate Barq's Co, so in fact now there are two Barq's: Barq's of Biloxi and
Barq's of Louisiana.
The legal fight for control of the Barq's logo is presently
being waged in the court system. The outcome will be interesting to see which
company is the legitimate Barq's and has the rights to manufacture and
distribute the product that so many people know today.