Emerson, Isaac E. (Isaac Edward), 1859-1931

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Isaac Edward Emerson was born in Chatham County, N.C., in 1859. His family moved to Chapel Hill in 1868. Emerson was graduated from the University of North Carolina as a chemist in 1879. He worked out and patented the formula for Bromo-Seltzer, a headache remedy, upon which Emerson's immense wealth was based. Emerson organized the Emerson Drug Company; built the Emerson Hotel; was president of the Citro Chemical Works of America, Maywood N.J.; chair of the American Bromine Company; and controlling owner of the Maryland Glass Corporation.

During the Spanish-American War, he led his own naval force, earning the rank of captain. His daughter was Margaret Emerson McKim Vanderbilt Baker Amory, the Vanderbilt being Alfred G. Vanderbilt, who went down with the Lusitania in 1915. Margaret's daughter Gloria Baker was one of the nation's most popular and richest women when she made her 1938 society debut.

From the description of Isaac E. Emerson papers, 1894-1947 [manuscript]. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 32246259

Isaac Edward Emerson was born in Chatham County, N.C., in 1859. His family moved to Chapel Hill in 1868. Emerson was graduated from the University of North Carolina as a chemist in 1879. He came to Baltimore in 1880, and opened a small drug store. As a young chemist, he worked out and patented the formula for Bromo-Seltzer, a headache remedy, upon which Emerson's immense wealth was based. Bromo-Seltzer's great popularity was due, in part, to Emerson's early recognition of the importance of advertising to sales. Emerson undertook world-wide advertising campaigns for Bromo-Seltzer, Emerson's Ginger-Mint Julep drink, and other products. These efforts included newspaper, magazine, and store ads, as well as more adventurous strategies like sponsoring the Effervescent Hour, a program that aired on numerous radio stations in the 1930s.

Emerson organized the Emerson Drug Company, built the Emerson Hotel, and had large hotel and realty holdings in Narragansett, R.I., where he maintained a summer home. He was president of the Citro Chemical Works of America, Maywood, N.J.; chair of the American Bromine Company; and controlling owner of the Maryland Glass Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of the blue glass ware in which Bromo-Seltzer and other medications were packaged. He also sat on the boards of directors of many banking institutions. For many years, the flashing light atop his Emerson Tower was a guide to airplanes flying around Baltimore.

An avid yachtsman, Emerson formed the Maryland Naval Reserve in 1894. During the Spanish-American War, he led his own naval force. After the war, he received the rank of captain.

Emerson and his second wife Anne Preston McCormack Emerson were known as a lavish entertainers, maintaining two yachts for parties and around-the-world tours. His daughter was Margaret Emerson McKim Vanderbilt Baker Amory, the Vanderbilt being Alfred G. Vanderbilt, who went down with the Lusitania in 1915. Margaret's daughter Gloria Baker was one of the nation's most popular and richest women when she made her 1938 society debut in a $50,000 dress. Gloria, who one newspaper cited as having more suitors than her mother had husbands, married first tin heir Henry J. Topping, Jr., then Brigadier General Edward H. Alexander.

From the guide to the Isaac E. Emerson Papers, 1894-1947, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf [Isaac E. Emerson, biographical materials] University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Abram P. T. Elder Papers, 1890-1916, (bulk 1903-1916) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
creatorOf Isaac E. Emerson Papers, 1894-1947 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Elder, Abram P. T. (Abram Peter Turner). Abram P.T. Elder papers, 1890-1916 (bulk 1903-1916). Library of Congress
creatorOf Emerson, Isaac E. (Isaac Edward), 1859-1931. Isaac E. Emerson papers, 1894-1947 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Elder, Abram P. T. (Abram Peter Turner). Papers, 1890-1916 (bulk 1903-1916). Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bromo-Seltzer. corporateBody
associatedWith Elder, Abram P. T. (Abram Peter Turner) person
associatedWith Emerson family. family
associatedWith Vanderbilt family. family
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Maryland
Subject
Upper class--History--20th century
Yachts--History--20th century
Drugs--History
Women--Social life and customs
Pharmaceutical industry--History
Advertising--Drugs--History--20th century
Social classes--History--20th century
Industries--History
Drugs, Nonprescription--History
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1859

Death 1931

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