Well, its been 3 weeks since I returned from Bardstown/Deatsville and what a great trip I had! The lady I got connected with (her father worked at the distillery for a time) was fantastic and set me up with a couple of people who had worked with my uncle at the distillery. One was John Mayer, who had purchased a large tract of land from my Uncle many years ago and also new him personally. He was a treasure trove of personal info on my Uncle as well as lots of info about the distillery. I visited the old homestead just up the road from the distillery and to my suprise, the foundation, fireplace and part of the chimney are still standing of my Uncle's old house! On that same piece of property stands the old spring house still standing and you could still here the spring gurgling inside. This spring supplied the distillery about 1/4 mile away, and later the Samuels Springs water company which was the final production at the distillery. I also had an enjoyable visit with a one James Allen Wiggs who worked at the distillery for 15 years before retiring from Jim Beam. He told me that the distillery in it's hey day was one of the largest in the country. I spent 3 days in the geneology room at the Bardstown library going through microfilm of the local newspaper. I had forgotten how much time it takes to look through microfilm! I only got through 3 years of the 30 years my uncle was involved. I did find one interesting article:
From the Oct. 28th. 1942 newspaper, there was an article about the "Sale of Distillery in Deatsville - Capital stock of Country Distillers' Products bought by Foster & Company". It mentions that Foster & Co. was a partnership out of New York and was formed on July 30th. The officers of the company at that time were: President - Stanhope Foster of Great Neck, Long Island, NY, Vice Presidents - S.L. Westerman (my great uncle) of Detroit and Martin R. Doane of Joplin, Mo.; It mentions Mr. Doane will be replacing T. Williams Samuels who is no longer with the company as VP in charge of operations in Deatsville. The article goes on the mention that the personnel at the plant (nearly 800 employees) will remain intact and then it lists the department heads: Charles R. DeSpain - General Manager; Lee G. Brown - bottling; A.D. Campbell - warehouse; Gordon A. Graves - engineering; E.J. Snellen - maintenance; Ballard N. Coates - stock room; Jacob Wommer - labratory; Charles L. Spalding - personnel director and M.G. Keeling - head of the guards. It also mentions C.J. Rittman as being in charge of the office personnel and L.A. Rickert as the purchasing agent. It mentions that the distillery was one of the largest in the area producing grain alchohol for the war effort. An interesting note on this article - I found out reading the following weeks paper that the warehouse foreman, A.D. Campbell, passed away the following week! There was one other article of interest I found from around the end of 1943. The distillery was sued for 5 million dollars by the OPA for selling liquor at more than the ceiling price. It says that this was the first such suit in Kentucky since price controls were started.
I was very fortunate to be able to tour the old distillery in Deatsville thanks to wku88 (Todd) and his cousin Jim for arranging this for me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk through many of the buidlings where my Uncle once walked! There still is a lot of original equipment in the buildings, especially in the bottlehouse and powerhouse - amazing that stuff is still there after so many years! I really can't thank those two gentleman enough for getting me inside the fence - it was fantastic! I have lots of pictures to remind me of my time there.
I managed to come away with a few items during my time there. I came across a couple of manilla folders with distillery paperwork that I haven't yet sorted through. I also came across a small box of T.W. Samuels labels which I was told were 1/2 pint labels and dated from the 1960's and 1970's. Here are the brands I've documented from those labels:
1. T.W. Samuels, no proof or age statement. The currentl label looks a lot like this one.
2. T.W. Samuels, back label to go with the above label, 86 proof, 4 years old, has a brief history on the distillery.
3. Samuels 1844, 86 proof, 4 years old
4. Kenbrook Deluxe Blended Whiskey, no proof or age.
5. Old Jordan, no proof, 6 years old, bottled by Old Jordan Distillery, Deatsville, Nelson County, Ky.
6. T.W. Samuels BIB, no age or proof, but I assume since it's BIB it would be 100 proof.
7. Samuels Ninety, no age or proof, but once again, I'm assuming it's probably 90 proof by looking at the name.
8. T.W. Samuels, 90 proof, no age, looks almost like the BIB label. Both this label and the BIB label are really nice looking.
Well, that's all for now. Soon, I will tell you about the special find I made and maybe I'll be able to sort through the papers I have by then and give you some additional info.