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 James Vernor, Sr

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James Vernor, Sr

Detroit florist and pharmacist. Creator of Vernor’s Ginger Ale that was introduced to the public in 1866 from his Woodward Avenue drug store. Shortly after moving to Detroit with his parents, he got a job at the Higby and Stern’s Drug Store in 1858, where he learned the business and became a pharmacist. Enlisted in the Fourth Michigan Cavalry as a Union Army Hospital Steward in 1862. Proving to be adept at military sciences, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and served to the end of the Civil War. His unit is credited with the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Before going to war though, he had experimented with different mixtures of ‘fizz water’ in the pharmacy and placed the contents in a wooden keg and stored it in the basement. Shortly after the end of the war, he opened his own pharmacy at 235 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Also opened, was his mixture that had been sitting in the wooden keg for four years. The mixture proved to be ‘deliciously different’ and ginger ale was born. Married Emily Walker Smith in 1873 and in 1877, James II was born. In 1896, he and his son closed the drug store to pursue the soft drink industry full time. Served on the Detroit City Council for 25 years and on many civic and philanthropic organizations. President of the Vernor Company until his death at 84 from bronchial pneumonia and influenza.

Bio by: Dave


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Dave
  • Added: 26 Feb 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13440272
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Vernor, Sr (11 Apr 1843–29 Oct 1927), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13440272, citing Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .