The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Rosebud Perfume Company

By Allen R. Smith, Jr. © 1991

Issue: September, 1991

Editor's Note... Recently, while at Cockram's General Store, in Floyd, Virginia, I noticed a display of Watkins Products and other items and came upon tins of Rosebud Salve. Immediately memories from childhood poured into my mind and I had to buy the little tin that prompted those memories. Inside it was the same pink, sweet smelling salve of my former days - I hadn't seen it or thought about it for years. It was like finding a treasure. If it was a treasure for me, then it probably would be for a lot of other people too, so I called the Rosebud Company and got in touch with Allen R. Smith, grandson of the man who invented the salve and current director of the company. The following is a reprint of a story he wrote for a book, "Woodsboro Remembers" by Fran Smith. If you would like a products ordering form, you may write: Rosebud Perfume Company, PO Box 44, 6 North Main Street, Woodsboro, Maryland 21798.

The Rosebud Perfume Company was founded by my grandfather, George F. Smith, during the year of 1895. Initially the business began in a small drug store located across the street from what is now known as The Rosebud Building. Many years ago friends of my grandfather suggested that he prepare for them a "family type" salve that could be used for various minor skin irritations. With this as a challenge, he formulated a product known as "Smith's Balsam of Rose Buds" which was later renamed "Smith's Rosebud Salve". Knowing how popular his product had been received locally he started advertising his product in country tabloids and within a few years he had organized one of the most unique mail order businesses in the United States.

Several years later grandfather bought the Smith Hotel, sold his drug store, and moved his business into the very imposing looking brick building which has served as the home of Rosebud products ever since.

Today the Rosebud Products are being sold on a door to door basis as well as in chain stores and specialty shops. They have sold at the Smithsonian, Vermont Country Store, Jack Daniel's Lynchburg Country Store, and through the Walter Drake firm of Colorado Springs. It is Rosebud's ambition to make their products a household word.

Their empty salve tins have become a real collector's item. Some of the originals have been appraised at $2,500 each. Naturally, there are very few of these tins left.

Dr. George F. Smith was born near Woodsboro, Maryland on the 25th of March, 1865, the son of Solomon and Adeline Locke Smith and the grandson of John and Susan Earnst Smith. He received his preliminary education at public schools in Woodsboro and attended the Shenandoah State Normal School, Harrisonburg, Virginia. He was married to Minnie F. Baer of Utica and subsequently taught school in Frederick County for five years. Later he entered the drug and proprietary medicine business and was registered by the Maryland Board of Pharmacy in 1902. Grandfather and grandmother had eight children: Mamie Irene, Lillian Mae, Raymond Lee, Henry Ward, Allen Reno, Alta La Rue, Mabel Pauline, and Mildred Naomi. Mamie, Henry, Allen and Alta are now deceased.

Dr. Smith was president of the Commercial State Bank, Frederick [Maryland] from 1925 to 1930, and from 1937 until the close of his life in 1952, he held an office in the Woodsboro Savings Bank, of which he was a charter member in 1902. He served as mayor of Woodsboro for nineteen years and president of the Mt. Hope Cemetery board for a number of years. The Woodsboro Concert Band was supported by him for several years and frequently concerts were held on the upper porch of his office building. Grandfather's principal recreational interests were bicycle riding and automobiles; during his lifetime he owned more than eighty cars and Packards were his favorite. He thoroughly enjoyed the Miss America Pageants at Atlantic City and seldom missed a judging.

Allen R. Smith, Sr. managed the Rosebud business for more than fifty years until his untimely death in 1971. The firm was then left in trust to Raymond L. Smith, and to Lillian Smith Bair, Mabel P. Smith, Mildred S. Huffman, Douglas Jones, Jr., Vivian S. Clipp and Allen R. Smith, Jr., as heirs.

It is interesting to note that grandfather's drug store was one of the first stores in the country to sell fountain-made Coca-Colas and at one time was visited by the originator of the beverage. For several years grandfather was an agent for Columbia Records and frequently gave musicals with an Edison Phonograph, the type with a brass horn and cylinders.

The Rosebud Building, constructed in 1886, is furnished with antiques and the atmosphere is still that of a hotel, however, there is an ever-present fragrance of perfumes. On the third floor of the building is located a room that was used by my grandmother where she and her friends had a quilting group known as the "Heidelburg Workers," an organization of local women who made quilts to raise funds for the Reformed Church. Grandmother made a quilt for each member of the family from discarded clothes.

Recently Dr. Smith's pharmacy is being restored and will soon be open to the public. It is preferred that a person call ahead and make a reservation using the number 301-845-8788 if they would like to see what a pharmacy looked like during the late 1890's.

During the Civil War, the Union Hotel, located on the same site as our building, was host to meetings to resolve the backing of Governor Hicks and to express the citizen's determination for remaining in the Union. I am very pleased to be informed that the Rosebud Building is being considered as a Maryland and possibly a National registered land site.

The Rosebud Company sells 31 different items. They no longer sell perfumes and their own private brand items are made especially for them using the original formulas. The company extends to the public an invitation to see their operations. The building is exciting and [you can] step back in time when living was at a more enjoyable pace.

We welcome you to Woodsboro and the Home of Rosebud Salve...