Stephen F. Austin State University

Simon Rhone, Entrepreneur (April 2017)

Simon Rhone, Entrepreneur

by Jonnie Miller

Circa 1920, Simon Rhone, an African-American, opened the Newton Bottling Works just off Highway 190 West in Newton, Texas. His bottles were custom made by companies outside of Texas, probably Illinois, Ohio or Indiana, and shipped by rail to Newton. There were no super highways or even semi-trucks then. The label was embossed by a special oval plate called a slug plate. The bottle was mouth-blown on a blowpipe and the top was hand-shaped with a special tool, a practice that was beginning to be phased out after 1905. It had a pink or light purple tint caused by adding manganese (imported) to the glass mixture. Manganese was imported after 1914.

Mr. Rhone bottled Strawberry, Peach, Crème Soda, Orange Soda, plus several others unnamed. The bottles had to be brought back for refills because the only way to buy the bottles was by the train car load. Mr. Rhone delivered to African-American cafes and concession stands in the black sections of Wiergate, a thriving logging community at the time, until he wrecked his truck when he ran off Quicksand Bridge into the creek.