Want to learn about Hannibal’s dairies in days gone by?

Want to learn about Hannibal’s dairies in days gone by?

Attend a meeting of the Mississippi Valley Bottle and Jar Club, which collects glass bottles from numerous local dairies.

The collectors met and traded milk bottles on Wednesday, March 19, during their regular bimonthly meeting at Mike Wojick’s Hannibal home, 107 Earl St.

Wojick invited anyone interested in this hobby to join the club, which meets from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the odd months. The next meeting will be May 21. “There are no dues or fees,” he said.

Bob Overfield of Hannibal, who brought milk bottles to trade, has been collecting “all kinds of glass bottles” since he was in high school in the 1970s. That was when he joined his granddad, Carl Overfield, in collecting bottles.

His Bluff City Dairy bottles have different pictures for advertising on the bottles. One has ice cream and another a boy drinking milk.

The earlier milk bottles had embossed names, prior to the painted labels, Overfield explained.

One embossed Bluff City bottle had the dairy’s phone number, 851.

Another bottle’s painted message was: “Only pasteurized milk is positively safe. Be sure it’s Bluff City Dairy’s.”


Bluff City Dairy

history reported

in Hagoods’ book


According to the “The Story of Hannibal,” by J. Hurley and Roberta (Roland) Hagood, Bluff City Dairy was a home-owned operation that was formed in 1948 with the merger of Bier’s Creamery and Bluff City Dairy. Co-owners were William C. Garnett and H.R. Ellerman. The book states that during the 1950s the company introduced the use of cellophane hoods on bottles, refrigerated trucks to distribute milk and the use of bulk tanks on farm routes to pick up milk from producers. The company employed 50 workers.

One bottle at the club meeting was from Bier’s Dairy, 408 Mark Twain Ave., and featured a picture of Mark Twain. It described milk as “Nature’s Finest Food.”

Raw and pasteurized milk was advertised on a Houck & Secker bottle, which included the dairy's Hannibal phone number, 132.

A report on local prices in “The Story of Hannibal” states that in 1938 the 23 Hannibal firms selling dairy products  increased prices when G.B. Secker, secretary of the Hannibal Dairy Council, announced rising prices, including a 12-cents-a -quart price for milk.

Some milk bottles had a smaller section at the top, which was for the cream to rise and be poured off, according to the club members.

One of these unusual bottles was from Weber's Quality Dairy of Hannibal

Its label advertised Grade A pasteurized dairy products.

Numerous Quality Dairy bottles were displayed.

Bob Rhinberger of Quincy, Ill., has been collecting bottles and jars since 1964. One is from Horstmeyer Dairy of Quincy, which he believes is one of the few not kept by the Horstmeyer family.


One dairy sold

2 percent milk


Rhinberger also has bottles from Willer’s Dairy in Quincy, as well as Deeters and Modern Dairy, among his nearly 400 milk bottles.

One of his Willer’s Dairy bottles advertised Vita-Trim, which Rhinberger said was 2 percent milk. It did not sell well and was discontinued, he added.

The label on this brown bottle described it as a dairy product high in energy and low in calories, stating it contained 4,000 U.S.P. units of Vitamin A, 400 U.S.P. units of Vitamin D, 1 M.G.M. of B (thiamin), 2 M.G.M of B (riboflavin), 10 M.G.M of niacin, 10 M.G.M. of iron and 0.1 M.G.M. of iodine.

Some collectors have a lot of knowledge and like to share it, Rhinberger said, however, the Quincy collectors are “closet collectors.”

Overfield explained that bottles of various sizes were used at Hannibal drug stores and food companies as well as dairies.

Some had paper labels, but finding one with a label is rare, he said.

Wojick co-founded the club three years ago with Wayne Lake of New London, after collecting glass jars for several years. He was reared “with all sisters,” he said, and they canned. Later he bought a box of old canning jars, “and next thing you know I am collecting jars.”

The club members collect all sizes and shapes of milk bottles, along with insulators, weather vanes and old jars, he said.

Although Wojick works at General Mills and cannot always travel to the shows, some members go to six or seven shows a year, he said.

“They swap and trade a lot, he said. “They are wheeling and dealing.”

The club also has a newsletter that it distributes at auctions.

For more pictures, see photo gallery.