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What can you tell me about the Haar & Tienken Bottling Co.?

Ben Steelman
Haar and Tienken beer bottle

A Haar & Tienken Bottling Co. beer bottle found by Richard D. Beacham along Interstate 40 during its construction in Pender County. (Contributed photo by Richard D. Beacham)

Very little is known about the Haar & Tienken Bottling Co. The business appears in the 1885 Wilmington City Directory as a partnership between John Haar Jr. and J.H. Tienken. Haar and Tienken also were identified as agents of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. of Cincinnati, a highly regarded beer producer of the pre-Prohibition era. The bottling company’s address was listed as 420 Nutt St., Wilmington [Map this].

It in unclear, but it seems probable that Haar and Tienken did not brew their own beer but repackaged a Moerlein product under a local label.

The company disappears from the 1887 city directory. A probable cause was a major fire on Feb. 21, 1886, which destroyed a flour mill and a number of other businesses on Nutt Street. A clipping from the Wilmington Star notes that Haar & Tienken lost beer stocks valued at more than $1,000 in the blaze.

Haar seems to have switched to the insurance business soon after the fire, but J.H. Tienken apparently soldiered on for a while alone. Another item in the Star, dated July 29, 1887, noted that the New Hanover County Commissioners had given J.H. Tienken Co. permission to move its “retail malt liquor establishment” from Federal Point to Harnett Township.

The questioner mentioned finding a bottle embossed with Haar & Tienken Bottling Co. in this area. Such bottles — described as “Citron yellow” with a ” pony blob top,” appear to be rare and generate comment on antique bottler collectors’ websites and message boards.

John Haar Jr. (1844-1921), a native of Hannover, Germany, was proprietor of  the Mozart Saloon, 16 S. Front St., Wilmington [Map this], for a number of years in the 1870s and 1880s. (He kept the saloon while partnering in Haar & Tienken.) An 1874 ad for the Mozart describes it as purveyor of “the best and purest Wines, Liquors, Cigars, Ale and Lager Beer in the city.” An 1878 ad describes it as “that old reliable saloon,” featuring beer at 5 cents per glass. An 1880 item in the Star comments that the Mozart, under Haar’s management “now presents a greatly improved appearance.”

The Mozart must have enjoyed a high reputation. While working as a saloon keeper (and volunteering with a Wilmington fire company) Haar also was an officer with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  A Dec. 28, 1882, newspaper item reported that St. Paul’s members had given Haar “a handsome present” as a token of thanks for his service to the congregation.

Haar went on to serve a total of 18 years as New Hanover County register of deeds (1890-1896, 1906-1918). In 1872, he married Margaret Catherine Tienken (1855-1934). The couple are buried in Oakdale Cemetery.

User-contributed question by:
Richard D. Beacham

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