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  1. #1
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    Andrew Jackson 1805

    A newspaper clipping from an 1805 newspaper (sorry no title on the clipping) is about a slave that eloped (ran away) from Andrew Jackson's plantation in Nashville. George is about 35 years old and "is a good distiller, sawyer and farmer, and can play upon the violin." An interesting example of an early whiskey distiller.
    Mike Veach

  2. #2
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    Both the Beam "Old Tub" label and some early advertising for Early Times show African-Americans stirring the mash, which probably was the more laborious part of the process in the days before mechanical cookers. You'll also see discussions of distilleries in which the distiller is referred to as "Uncle so-and-so." Part of the Southern racist code was never to refer to a black man as "mister," so "uncle" was often used instead and I believe was intended to offer a modicum of respect within the limitations of the culture.

  3. #3
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    Chuck,
    The Filson also has a ledger for a distillery from the 1840's. The interesting thing about the ledger is most entries are for money gained from renting slaves to other people for various distilling processes (coopers, woodcutters, etc..). I think that if we had accurate records you might find that many of the early "distillers" in Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina were actually people who owned talented slaves.
    Mike Veach

  4. #4
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    Isn't that interesting? And I don't think I've ever seen a an African-American distiller in the US these days? Imoya brandy from South Africa is made by a young Black man, but that's the only distiller of color I've found.

  5. #5
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    If that's true, the mister/uncle "titles" is a facinating fact that I had not heard, before! Thanks for the posting.

  6. #6
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    I know that what I said is true. What I don't know is whether or not it was universal. I know that even in the 1930s and 1940s, white men (usually northerners) who made the mistake in the South of referring to an African-American man as "mister" or "sir" were beaten or worse for their indiscretion. This is part of the blues lore.

  7. #7
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    In Kentucky, and I presume in the rest of the slave states, slaves were often the craftsmen with the valued skills such as cooper, carpenter, distiller, stonemason, etc... It is only after 1865 that African-Americans were regulated to only labor intensive jobs of little skill.
    The Jack Daniels history that has been out for 20 years or so states that he learned to distill from a black man (I don't recall if he was free or not). There are probably other antebellum "distillers" who simply owners of talented slaves, but I have yet to find much on the subject. There simply are not a lot of records from distilleries of the period in public holdings.
    Mike Veach

  8. #8
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    In Sam Cecil's book, photos are shown of distillery workers dating from the later 1800's until recent times. In many of these, the black employees are shown, holding often, as do the white staff, the implements or products of their trade, e.g., barrels or wood staves, shovels and other mashing implements, bottles, and so forth. Sam Cecil (whose work was clearly a labour of love and contains many historical nuggets) records often the names of the staff, black and white alike, and clearly these must have been written on the photos he used or in the records they were taken from.. Interestingly, almost none of the pictures show women although one would think some must have worked in distilleries from earliest times. The only exception I can think of is a photo from around 1945 which shows women standing along an outside staircase in front of a large group of the male employees. Maybe this distillery employed women, or more than was normal for the time, because of wartime employment shortages.

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    Gary,

    Before it's posted incorrect again, I will accurately state the facts from my family archives.

    This post makes reference to Mary Dowling (Distiller?)...Did she move and distill in Mexico as stated in this post Dowling...

    No, No, NO...My Grandfather Harry M. Beam and my Greatgrandfather Joseph L. Beam
    dismantled a entire distillery, during prohibition, put it together piece by piece and distilled for Mary Dowling. Was she the "distiller" who did that?..."No she was not"...She could have possibly done it "later" but she did not do it at the start.

    Bettye Jo

  10. #10
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    Re: Andrew Jackson 1805

    Interesting and many thanks. But it shows women were involved at least in ownership and I'm sure in many capacities at the time not adequately recorded perhaps in sources such as Sam Cecil found. I do now recall a nice picture from the late 1930's showing Bill Samuels, Sr. and some women, one whose first name was Millie I think, who may have been involved in ownership of the Samuels distillery of the time (T.P. Samuels Distillery, I think was the name). And like all whiskey historians Cecil bemoans the lack of full extant records due to various issues that beset the industry as we know such as disfavor of the "dry" elements and the ambiguous social status distilling had in general until after Volstead ended (so that families or outside chroniclers were less likely to record fully distillation activities. It is easy now to forget, but more than once, for example, Cecil records how a newly established distillery was burned down by neighbors who did not want the alcohol business implanted locally..). I am sure that in this industry as others, women likely played a much larger role in the past than is realised but their contribution was not fully documented due to social mores of the day.

    Gary

 

 

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