The Park and Tilford Company was established in 1840 when Joseph Park and John Mason Tilford opened a retail store in New York City. The specialized in imported goods, perfumes and liquors. Park was a clergyman from Washington County, New York and Tilford was the son of a farmer from Westchester County, New York. They had $105 in cash and $500 in credit. The business took off and by1866, they started a second store. In 1873, they had grown to a third store.
In 1890, they incorporated the business with Park as President and Tilford as Vice President. Their sons were directors on the Board. By 1891, the founders had both died and Hobart Park sold his shares to Fran Tilford, who became the President of the company. The United Distillers Archive has several of their catalogs from the turn of the 20th century. Those catalogs, have an extensive collection of American whiskeys for sell, as well as many cigars brands that they had crested. The archive has the trademark registrations for about a dozen of those cigar brands. The whiskeys included S.C. Herbst’s Old Fitzgerald Pot Still Bourbon, James E. Pepper Bourbon and Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, to name a few of the brands still being produced today. The Mida’s Criteria financial Index from 1911 lists Park and Tilford as grocers and Foreign Agents for imported spirits, with a capital value of $750,000 to $1,000,000.
In 1923, Frank Tilford sold the company to David A. Schulte. In 1925, Sculte purchased the Old Overholt and Large distilleries in Pennsylvania, but quickly sold them in 1927 to National Distillers. Schulte decides at the end of Prohibition to focus the business as a spirits company, and eliminate the other products in their inventory. In 1938, Park and Tilford restarted their expansion by opening an office in Louisville, Kentucky to be near the source of whiskey. They also purchased the Bonnie Bros. Distillery in Louisville. In 1940, Park and Tilford expanded their distilling business by purchasing Hamburger Distillery in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. In 1941, they purchased the Krogman Distillery in Tell City, Indiana, and the Woodford County Distillery in Midway, Kentucky. In 1942, they acquired the Owings Mills Distillery in Gwyn Falls, Maryland. They were becoming a very large distilling company.
In 1949, David Schulte died and his sons took over the business. Arthur Schulte was President and John is Vice President. In 1954, Schenley Distilleries purchased a controlling interest in the company and it was merged into Schenley Distilleries as sales branch in 1958. The Shulte brothers were given positions as Vice Presidents in Schenley.
Unfortunately, Schenley overproduced whiskey in the early 1950s and started to close down distilleries and sell off the property in the late 1950s. All of the Park and Tilford distilleries were closed and sold off by the middle of the 1960s. By 1987, when Schenley Distilleries was sold to what became United Distillers, Park and Tilford was little more than a memory. Their distilleries were all closed and sold off. The brands were discontinued.
Park and Tilford was a major distilling company from the end of Prohibition until the 1950s. Overproduction by Schenley Distilleries sealed its fate as they became just another brand in the large company. The Schultes had become Vice Presidents in the Schenley Corporation, and played a role in the downfall of the company. The brothers would go on to make some investments in other distilleres, but they never achieved the success that their father had enjoyed. Today, the Park and Tilford company is just a footnote in the history of Schenley, but they could have been much more.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
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