Featured Bottler: Sarver Brothers - Dayton, Michigan

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Posted: May 1, 2013

We are very pleased to present this in-depth article authored by Jeff Scharnowske.  "Scharno" is a long-time bottle collector and one of several Michigan Hutchinson Specialists who have been making major contributions to the Hutchinson Bottle Directory initiative for several years.  His Hutchinson special areas of interest are Berrien and Shiawassee Counties in Michigan.  As you read the article and enjoy the information about the Sarver Brothers, also note the detailed research process and documentation of sources.  Our thanks for sharing your well-done article!


There are many different ways to collect bottles.  Some people collect just one type of bottle, such as figural bitters or cures or milk bottles, etc.  Others collect across many categories and end up with a great “type” collection.  Still others collect bottles from their local area (city/county/state).  I am Jeff Scharnowske, a collector of Early American Milk Bottles and good bottles of all types from the State of Michigan, in particular from Berrien County, Michigan (southwestern corner of the state) where I was born and lived for over 20 years.  I started collecting antique bottles when I was 9 years old, when I met a digger at an antique show.   I started attending bottle shows in Michigan with my Dad when I was in college.  One of the first shows in Michigan that I attended with Dad was the West Michigan Bottle Club show in Grandville, Michigan.  There we met Ron Binek of Royal Oak, Michigan, from whom Dad acquired a Hutchinson soda bottle from Sarver Bros., Dayton, Michigan.  He told me that Dayton was a small community in Berrien County; I had never heard of the town before.  Dad died in 1996.  I dedicate this article to his memory – the man who found me my first Dayton, Michigan bottle.




When I got home from the show, I started researching the community of Dayton and discovered that there was more than one community in Michigan with that name!  According to the book, Michigan Place Names by Walter Romig, L.H.D., there was a Dayton in Berrien County, and one in Tuscola County.  Further research also showed a Dayton in Newaygo County.  So, was this little Hutch something that would fit into my Berrien County collection, or did Dad just pay $60 for a bottle that we would have to take to the next bottle show and try to get our money out of it?

Bertrand Township, Berrien County, Michigan

Dayton Township, Tuscola County, Michigan

Dayton Township, Newaygo County, Michigan

The first clue was that the bottle was embossed Dayton, Mich. and not Dayton Township.  So, Berrien County seemed to be a good bet, as the other two Daytons were Townships, and research showed there were no incorporated or unincorporated communities in those two townships with the name Dayton.  First I checked Paul A. Cunningham’s book, Michigan Trade Tokens: there were no listings for Dayton, Michigan.  This was a time before the Internet, so it was now up to Dad to do the research the hard way.


Dad knew a lot of people in Berrien County, having been born, raised, and living there all of his life.  He made a number of calls to friends and acquaintances and was directed to a Mr. & Mrs. Bob Benke who at that time still lived in Dayton, Michigan.  Here is the information Dad extracted from interviewing the Benke's on September 11, 1993: 

Bob Benke, who was 80 years old at the time of this interview, was a heating and plumbing contractor and lived in Dayton all of his life.  Bob’s wife’s mother was a Sarver.  His wife’s mother had two brothers, Shoeman and Austin Sarver, who started a bottling works in 1900 which lasted until 1909.  The bottling works was located on Depot Street, a dead end street, in back of the grocery store.  The Sarver’s likely just sold their concoction in the grocery store.  The town also had a school, Catholic and Methodist churches, a post office, a lodge building, a grist mill, and a creamery which sent their milk and cream to a creamery in Chicago for processing. 

Here are aerial photos of Depot Street in Dayton, Michigan:

Aerial picture of the town of Dayton, Michigan.  Note Depot Street which dead ends nearly on Dayton Lake in the center of the photo.

Aerial picture of a close up of the dead end of Depot Street in Dayton, Michigan.  Note the building to the left at the end of Dayton Street.  This was the location of the Sarver grocery / bottling works.

So, the mystery was solved (I wish they were all this easy).  The Sarver Bros. Hutch was definitely from Berrien County and was proudly added to my collection!  The timing was right, as Hutchinson soda bottles were used from 1879 thru World War I (per and Mrs. Benke said that her uncles were in the bottling business from 1900 to 1909. 

In 1909 a fire burned one side of the town to the ground and effectively put an early end to the bottling careers of Shoeman and Austin Sarver.  Or so I thought for years.  Some years later a machine-made, circa 1916, crown top bottle embossed A.C. SARVER / DAYTON, / MICH. was found and now resides in my collection.  Evidently some seven years after the Sarver brothers stopped bottling in Hutchinson bottles, Austin went back into the bottling business for a short time without his brother.  (See the Sarver Bottles section below.) 


Dayton wasn’t always called Dayton.  It was originally Terré Coupe or Terra Coupée, then renamed Redding’s Mills, and finally Dayton.  From Wikipedia we find that Dayton is an unincorporated community in the western part of township at 41°47′54″N 86°26′22″W / 41.79833°N 86.43944°W / 41.79833; -86.43944.  It is on Dayton Lake off  U.S. Highway 12 about midway between Niles and Three Oaks, just a few miles north of the Indiana state border.

The settlement was founded in 1830 by Benjamin M. Redding and was initially called "Terré Coupe," as documented on Burr’s 1839 Map of Michigan (see photo below).  When the Michigan Central Railroad was built through the area in 1848, the depot was named Terre Coupe (and also spelled Terra Coupée).  The community finally got a post office June 17, 1850.  The post office was named "Terré Coupe" with Benjamin Redding serving as its first postmaster. The post office was renamed "Dayton" April 11, 1851, after Dayton, Ohio, from where many early settlers had originated.  The name of the depot was also changed to Dayton after the post office was renamed.  There was a second fire (year unknown) and the town was never rebuilt, leaving just a store with a post office in it for years.  The post office was discontinued on September 22, 1967.

Burr Map 1839


Three different Sarver bottles


I still have that first Dayton, Michigan Hutchinson soda bottle that Dad bought for me.  It is aqua, 6.5 inches tall, 2.375 inches in diameter at base and is embossed in a round plate mould: SARVER BROS. / DAYTON, MICH.  Embossed in light letters on the reverse heel is ROOT 290 which means that this bottle was manufactured by the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Per David Whitten's site:

Root Glass Company, Terre Haute, Indiana (1901-1932).  Mark is often embossed very lightly along the lower heel, and sometimes is almost illegible.  Root produced a huge variety of soda, mineral water and beer bottles...There were two separate factories in the early years, one for fruit jars and the other for bottles.  The fruit jar factory was purchased by Ball Bros. in 1908, and operated by Ball until it was closed in 1912 or 1913.  Root Glass Co. was bought by Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1932.  Later the plant became part of the American-Wheaton Glass Corporation, in 1962 it was sold to the American Can Company, and then sold again to Midland Glass Company in 1968.  After being purchased by the Anchor Glass Container Corporation, the property was closed down in 1984.


The second Hutchinson is also aqua, 6.5 inches tall, 2.375 inches in diameter at base and is embossed in a round plate mould: SARVER BROS. / DAYTON, / MICH. / THIS BOTTLE MUST BE RETURNED.  I can find no maker's mark on this bottle. 

I believe this was the second Hutchinson soda bottle ordered by the Sarver Brothers because of the addition of the “THIS BOTTLE MUST BE RETURNED” wording.  It is likely that they were having trouble getting their customers to return the bottles to the grocery store, and thought this addition might help.


The third bottle is a machine made (ABM), crown top, aqua glass, 7.75 inches tall, approx 7-8 ounce size, circa 1916, and embossed in a round plate mould: A.C. SARVER / DAYTON, / MICH.   Embossed on rear heel: 16 S 3 which means that this bottle was likely manufactured in 1916 by the American Bottle Company at their Streator, Illinois plant location (an N rather than an S would have indicated their Newark, Ohio plant).  Per David Whitten's site: 

American Bottle Company (1905-1929). Chicago, Illinois (office – 1905-1916); Toledo, Ohio (office – 1916-1929).  Glass plants were located at Streator, Illinois; Newark, Ohio; Belleville, Illinois; Massillon, Ohio & Wooster, Ohio.  The American Bottle Company was purchased by Owens Bottle Machine Company in 1916 (with some of the plants being closed soon afterwards) but the Streator and Newark plants continued to operate under the American Bottle Co. name until 1929, when they became part of the merger that resulted in Owens-Illinois Glass Company...Most, if not all, of the “AB,” “AB CO.” and “A.B.CO.” marked bottles are believed to date between 1905 and 1916.  However, it is possible that some bottles with these markings might date between 1916 and 1929, but, if so, could only have been made at either the Streator or Newark plants.

The bottles themselves are all fairly scarce with the earliest Sarver Hutchinson being the harder of the two Hutchs to find.  Both Hutchs bring about $60 to $100 when found.  The crown top bottle is the only one known to this collector to date, but given it is a crown top it has just nominal value except to a Berrien County collector such as myself.


So, I have 3 different bottles from this small  bottler.  Are there other Dayton, Michigan bottles out there - different sizes, embossing, colors?  Are there any pharmacy bottles or milk bottles?  It is unlikely, but the search continues; that is half the fun of the hobby. 

I have tried to locate the gravesites of the Sarver Brothers without any success to date.  The nearest cemetery that I have found to the community of Dayton is Mt. Zion Cemetery located on the corner of Dayton Road and Buffalo Road, just south of US12 and Dayton Lake.  There are a large number of Reddings buried there, including Benjamin M. Redding’s wife, Permelia, who died in 1836 at the age of 39 as well as at least four of their children.  Benjamin M. died in 1877 in Niles, Michigan but his headstone cannot be found in this cemetery, although there are numerous headstones that are so worn as to be unreadable.  However, there are no Sarver’s buried in this cemetery (unless they are all in the worn/unreadable category).  So the search continues.  A headstone rubbing of one of the Sarver brothers would be an interesting, if macabre, addition to the collection.  An amber Hutchinson would be much better, but likely does not exist.

         Mt. Zion Cemetery, Dayton, Michigan (photo by Munpho).


Ellis, David M. Michigan Postal History, The Post Offices 1805-1986. 12-Dec-1993.

U.S. Geological Survey. Geographic Names Phase I data compilation (1976-1981). 31-Dec-1981.

Romig, Walter (1986) [1973]. Michigan Place Names. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1838-X.

Cunningham, Paul A. Michigan Trade Tokens Tecumseh, Michigan: Michigan Exonumia Publishers.  ISBN 0-945008-00—7.

Fowler, Ron:

Map of Michigan & Part Of Wisconsin Territory, Exhibiting the Post Offices, Post Roads, Canals, Rail Roads, &c. By David H. Burr. (Late Topographer to the Post Office.) Geographer to the House of Representatives of the U.S. John Arrowsmith. Entered ... July 10th, 1839, by David H. Burr ... District of Columbia.

Whitten, David: