Bessemer Taverns and the Liquor Tax in 1910

Bessemer Taverns and the Liquor Tax in 1910

Written by Richard Steiger

In 1910 the Gogebic Range mines were a picture of economic wonder.  Five mines were operating within the City of Bessemer boundary… the Colby, Yale, Ironton, Tilden, and Palms mines. In 1910 these five mines produced over 500,000 gross tons of soft red hematite ore for America’s steel mills. The average miner worked ten hours a day. Working six days a week was common. The miner’s annual income was $200 to $400, depending upon his skill and the state of the mining industry in relation to the steel industry, and the overall market price of a gross ton of ore.  Their work was demanding, hard and dangerous.

With these intense working conditions the need for a time of relaxation was apparent. Taverns served as a place to satisfy many a miner’s thirst. Loggers, sawmill workers, and railroad workers were patrons also. The taverns served many a workman at the end of their long and tiring workday.

The City of Bessemer had a population of 4,583 in 1910.  There were 26 licensed taverns within the Bessemer city limits. The tavern owners operated mostly as a sole proprietor or as a partnership. Three taverns operated as a corporate company. Each tavern had to pay an annual liquor tax of $500.00 to the Gogebic County government. Operators having two taverns paid another $500.00 for the second tavern. The tax assessment was for one year beginning December 1, 1910.

The following is a list of the tavern owners in Bessemer in 1910, as recorded at the Gogebic County treasurer’s office and published in the Bessemer Herald newspaper:

  • Scavarda & Michelli
  • Adolph Johnson
  • Michelli & Scavarda
  • Joseph Krombetti
  • Sam Lampi
  • Matt Grandiak
  • Joseph Wozniak
  • Rice & Wroblewski
  • John Silverman
  • A. Ceno & J. Ceno
  • Dominic Masnaghetti
  • William Kulaszewicz
  • Sam Jarvempaa
  • Joseph Crenna
  • Peter Gotta
  • Joe Scavarda
  • Mike Donich
  • Stephen Wozniak
  • John Peterson
  • Andrew Contratto
  • Maki, Helman & Mustapaa
  • Citizen Brewing Co. (Wholesale and Retail)
  • Alfred O. Johnson
  • Val. Blatz Brewing Co. (Wholesale and Retail)
  • Otto B. Olson
  • Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. (Wholesale and Retail)

The above tavern owners paid $13,000 in total to the Gogebic County government coffers in support of county services.  It is unknown if any of the liquor tax collected was shared with the City of Bessemer government.