Caldwell’s Rum

Newburyport’s history is filled with signature industries that have simply disappeared.      Can you imagine Seattle suddenly being without Boeing or Microsoft?    It has happened time and again in our City.

We were leaders in the following:

Ship Building

and Rum

According to official records, in 1790, there were 70 rum distilleries in Newburyport and the greatest and the longest lasting was Caldwell.       These were all barrel-aged which gives off a butterscotch aroma.     Today, if you want to get a hint of what this rum was like, you would have to go to Ryan & Wood Distilleries in Gloucester.    You can buy their special rum, Folly Cove, in town at New England Wine & Spirits.

So, it struck me that Bossy Gillis himself, after starting up the gas station at the corner of Kent & Merrimac; would do such a professional job linking this historic area to his place of business.    A very nice touch!

Most visitors will have no idea the importance of rum so Bossy has shown the sailing ship so famous to Newburyport and the accouterments of the rum industry.

It will at least get visitors to ask questions.

If you want to know more about the rum industry in Newburyport, access the Newburyport History section on this site that tells the entire story.

It unfortunately depended on the Triangle Trade that involved slavery which is why our City though abhorring the practice of such sympathized with the South as their greatest source of wealth: cotton and molasses.       Cotton for the mills and molasses for the rum.

I, for one, will be personally boycotting this business.      I will, simply due to the antics of the owner.     I won’t ask anyone else; most people have no idea who Bossy Gillis was, is and have no idea of their antics.      

Putting up this nice picture reminds me of the actions of those who gut their historic home and then put an historically accurate brick sidewalk outside.     Sorry, things are not all well now.      You are not forgiven.

-P. Preservationist

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8 Responses to Caldwell’s Rum

  1. Cam caldwell says:

    My name is Cameron Harris Caldwell of Denver Colorado area…during some moving I have found (two ) pint bottles (empty) of Caldwell’s Rum…thanks for the knowledge and trivia for my collection.

  2. Judy Carriveau says:

    My grandfather was W. Earle Caldwell. He was born in Sommerville, and when his parents died of TB in their early 30’s he was raised by his Caldwell relatives in Newburyport. My brother has some wonderful Caldwell Rum memorabilia, some of which are mugs that have a whistle on them. When you wanted another, you just had to whistle.

    • indyjerry77 says:

      Dear Judy,

      Caldwell the comapany still exists. Do you know anything about who owns them or any information as to their connection with the former business?

      Thank you for sharing this and make sure your brother doesn’t get rid of those precious things!

      -P. Preservationist

    • Bill Boardman says:

      Are any Caldwell rum memorabilia for sale, such as the mugs with whistles on them? I live in Newburyport and I am a relative of Captain, Offin Boardman of Newburyport who lived here in the 1700’s. He was probably involved with the the rum trade so may have a connection with Caldwell Rum.

      • indyjerry77 says:

        I have seen some memorabilia available through EBay and you can ask at Leary’s if they have anything – they sometimes out the old bottles out for display. Also check at the Historical Society and see what has been given them.

  3. Pingback: Newburyport Rum Withstands the Test of Time - Almost - New England Historical Society

  4. Penelope Kullaway says:

    Have two empty pint bottles of Caldwell’s Old Newburyport Rum found on our property at
    49 Water Street, Newburyport when we lived there from 1993 to 2003. Would like to pass them along to a collector or historical organization as at the downsizing phase of life. Any suggestions?
    Penelope Kullaway,

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