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Subject: It was years ago I lost a very dear friend, whose death is still felt today, by many. ...

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Date Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 10:27:25am

American distiller and businessman, best known as the founder of the Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey distillery. ...

Jack" Daniel
[ Jasper Newton Daniel ]
( September 1850 October 9, 1911)

Daniel was the youngest of ten children born to Calaway and Lucinda Matilda (ne Cook) Daniel. He was of Scots-Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent; his grandfather, Joseph "Job" Daniel, was born in Wales, while his grandmother, Elizabeth Calaway, was born in Scotland. His paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in the late 18th century.

Daniel's date of birth is unknown. According to one source, he was born in January 1849, in or around Lynchburg, Tennessee. A town fire had destroyed the courthouse records, and, because his mother died shortly after his birth, most likely due to complications from childbirth, conflicting dates on his and his mother's tombstones have left Daniel's date of birth in question. On June 26, 1851, his father remarried and had another three children with Matilda Vanzant.

Daniel was raised in the Primitive Baptist church. The company that now owns the distillery claims that Jack Daniel's was first licensed in 1866. However, in the 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel author Peter Krass maintains that land and deed records show that the distillery was actually not founded until 1875.

According to company histories, sometime in the 1850s, when Daniel was a boy, he went to work for a preacher, grocer, and distiller named Dan Call. The preacher, as the stories went, was a busy man, and when he saw promise in young Jack, he taught him how to run his whiskey still. However, on June 25, 2016, The New York Times reported the company's view that Daniel did not learn distilling from Call, but from a man named Nearest Green (misspelled as "Nearis" in the 1880 census)one of Call's slaves.

Daniel never married and did not have children. However, he took his nephews under his wing, one of whom was Lemuel "Lem" Motlow. Motlow, a son of Jack's sister, Finetta, was skilled with numbers and was soon doing all of the distillery's bookkeeping.

In 1907, due to failing health, Daniel gave the distillery over to Motlow and another one of his nephews. Motlow soon bought the other out and went on to operate the distillery for about 40 years (interrupted between 1942 and 1946 when the U.S. government banned the manufacture of whiskey due to World War II). Motlow died in 1947.

Daniel died from blood poisoning in Lynchburg on October 10, 1911. An oft-told tall tale is that the infection began in one of his toes, which Daniel injured one morning at work by kicking his safe in anger when he could not get it open (he was said to always have had trouble remembering the combination). However, Daniel's modern biographer has asserted that the story is not true.


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