Ancestors Hometown Connected to Coca-Cola

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

While learning about the community surrounding my ancestors' hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, I learned that the town has a historical connection to the Coca-Cola Company. In 1915 the Coca-Cola Company sent out a challenge to glass companies across the U.S. to design a bottle so distinct that people would recognize it when reaching for the bottle in the dark or if it was found lying broken on the ground people knew it was a bottle of Coca-Cola.

The founder of The Root Glass Company, Chapman J Root, along with T. Clyde Edwards, Earl R Dean, and Alexander Samuelson, all took on the challenge to create a design for the competition. They worked together to incorporate a design modeled after the plant that inspired the soda. Even though they made a mistake and based the design on the cocoa plant rather than the coca plant it still was a successful idea. The mistake would not hinder the bottle's instant recognition around the world. The classic green color of the bottle was a result of the copper and mineral that is found in sand.

The Root Glass Company submitted the bottle design and won the National Coke Bottle design competition. This placed Terre Haute in history as the birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle.

The success of winning the competition aided owner Chapman Root to acquired several bottling franchises that formed the Associated Coca-Cola Bottlers in 1939. The growth of the company became the country's largest independent Coke bottler for the next 30 years. Growing beyond what I am sure that Chapman Root could have ever imagined when he first opened The Root Glass Company. The Root family relocated its operations to Daytona Beach in 1949 and sold its ownership interest to the Coca-Cola Company in 1982.

The pride in Coca-Cola bottle design from The Root Glass Company is still felt within the community of Terre Haute today. A historical marker on the corner of 3rd Street and East Voorhees in Terre Haute where the Root Glass Company once stood marks its location where the business once stood. Terre Haute continues to embrace and remember their town as the birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle. Today 6' Bottle sculptures now dot the city's landscape with giant Coca-Cola Bottles sculptures.

Within my family research, I have not placed any of my ancestors to working at The Root Glass Company they may have walked by the business or even knew people who worked for the company. I felt it is extremely cool that I can connect my ancestors' hometown to an event that took place in history. You never know what you might learn by simply learning about historical events that took place in your ancestors' communities.

Until next time, take care.