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Another history mystery unfolds: The case of the mysterious grape juice and bottle

Buzzings from BeeLines

August 16, 2011
By Marybelle Beigh, Current Westfield Historian
In November of 2010, I received a letter from a local grape farmer who had been given a bottle of grape juice that was Barber Grape Juice in a Julep Bottling Works Westfield N.Y. bottle.

After several days of research, no information about either Barber Grape Juice or Julep Bottling Works in Westfield was located. Next, a request for information was posted online and one email was received from an antique bottle expert who requested a photo. Several months later, I received the actual bottle to photograph it. At that time, some other historians were present and one of them researched the county archives unsuccessfully for businesses and corporations of those names between 1900 and 2011 in Westfield and the surrounding area.

Another historian photographed the bottle with his high resolution camera — please refer to the photo with this story. This photo was sent to the antique bottle expert about a month ago, but, as of this writing, there has been no response.

When the original letter about the bottle was first received, it suggested a 1930s time frame for the bottle and juice. But the photographer/historian pointed out that the juice contains artificial flavor, which would more likely date the companies in the 1950s.

At the same time the photo was emailed to the antique bottle expert, the websites where the original queries had been posted seven months before were rechecked, and one site contained a suggestion to contact Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass. So, an email was sent describing the information noted above, and a copy of the photo of the bottle was attached, to which the following reply was received, “Thanks. We’ll contact you after researching.”

Last week, the following email arrived from Rakow Library:

“Dear Ms. Beigh, We regret, after searching the relevant historical archive in The Rakow Library, that we are unable to provide any information about the Barber Grape Juice Company and the Julep Bottling Works.”

Although this was somewhat disappointing information, they did find a couple of possible leads for Herb Barber and Sons in Westfield, N.Y. and for Julep Bottling Company, 1931-1940, in

Kingsport, Tennessee. These leads are presently being followed.

Meanwhile, if any readers have additional information about either the Barber Grape Juice Company or the Julep Bottling Works in Westfield, N.Y., please contact Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Historian — contact info at the end of this story. Thanks.

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.

Beigh can be reached at or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of John Slater
A mystery bottle of Barber Grape Juice in a Julep Bottling Works Westfield, N.Y. bottle.



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