Capt. Isaac Edward Emerson

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Capt. Isaac Edward Emerson

Birthplace: Chapel Hill, Orange County, North Carolina, United States
Death: January 23, 1931 (71)
Brookland Estate, Green Spring Valley, Baltimore, MD, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Pvt. Robert Jehu Emerson, CSA and Cornelia Lewis Emerson
Husband of Anne Rebecca Emerson
Ex-husband of Emily Basshor
Father of Margaret Amory and Daisy Emerson
Brother of John W. Emerson

Occupation: Chemist, manufacturer, sportsman, philanthropist, merchant, inventor, U.S. Naval Capt.
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Capt. Isaac Edward Emerson

Inventor of Bromo-Seltzer.

Issac Edward Emerson was born in 1859 in Chatham County, North Carolina, the son of a farmer. When his mother died prematurely, he went to live with his aunt and uncle. He later graduated as a chemist from the University of North Carolina in 1879.


In 1880, he moved to Baltimore and opened a small drug store where he developed a formula for a headache remedy. He patented the formula, named it Bromo-Seltzer and began marketing it. In 1887, he formed the Emerson Drug Company and, recognizing the importance of advertising in selling products, undertook worldwide ad campaigns in newspaper, magazine, in-store ads and on radio which rocketed the sales of Bromo-Seltzer and other products producing his great wealth.

In 1911, Emerson built the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, a well-known landmark in Baltimore, Maryland. The tower originally featured a 51-foot revolving Bromo-Seltzer bottle on top and was the tallest building in Baltimore until 1923. He built the Emerson Hotel. He was controlling owner of the Maryland Glass Corporation, which made the blue glass bottles for his Bromo-Seltzer medication.

Captain Ike

In 1884, he earned the title of "captain" when he organized the Maryland Naval Reserves, which he commanded until 1901. He was thereafter known as "Captain Emerson" or "Captain Ike." He also personally financed an entire Naval Squadron during the Spanish–American War and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Emerson later owned several yachts, including the Susquelanna, the Margaret, and the Queen Anne. These were used for extensive world travel as well as for social entertaining and hunting expeditions.

Personal life

Isaac Edward Emerson as depicted in Distinguished men of Baltimore and of Maryland (1914) In 1880, just after graduating college, he married Emelie Askew Dunn, the eldest daughter of Colonel William Franklin Askew of Raleigh, North Carolina. They had one child:

Margaret Emerson (1884–1960), who married Dr. Smith Hollins McKim in 1902. They divorced in 1910 and in 1911 she married Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I. She was widowed in 1915 when he died aboard the RMS Lusitania. In 1918, she married Raymond T. Baker, divorcing in 1928. Her last marriage was to Charles Minot Amory in 1928. Emerson also adopted his wife's daughter by her first marriage:

Margaret "Daisy" Dunn (1875–1944) who married T. Mitchell Horner and later James McVickar.[4] The Emersons divorced in 1911, and she married Charles Hazeltine Basshor the following year; he committed suicide in 1914, and Emelie Basshor died in 1921.

In 1911, he married his second wife, Anne McCormack (née Preston). From this marriage, he gained a stepson and a stepdaughter:

Frederick C. McCormack

Ethel Preston McCormack, who married Francis Huger McAdoo, Walter Winchester Keith and Matthew James Looram.

Captain Emerson and his wife, Anne, were widely known in American society and in the capitals of Europe. When Emerson's step-daughter married the son of William Gibbs McAdoo, then Secretary of the U. S. Treasury, President Woodrow Wilson attended the reception at the Emerson estate in Brooklandwood, Maryland. They were also known as lavish entertainers, maintaining two yachts for parties and world tours. They maintained estates at Brooklandwood and their villa Whitehall at Narragansett Pier in Rhode Island as well as in North and South Carolina where they entertained many social leaders of the Atlantic seaboard cities.

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Capt. Isaac Edward Emerson's Timeline

July 24, 1859
Chapel Hill, Orange County, North Carolina, United States
North Carolina
June 17, 1884
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Age 30
127 Madison avenue extended, Baltimore, MD
Age 30
127 Madison avenue extended, Baltimore, MD