Saturday, July 02, 2005

You Don’t Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack. This is an interesting history article from Modern Drunkard Magazine. I have to admit that there have been several interesting history essays (relating to alcohol of course) at this site. I haven't attempted to fact check any of them but they are good reads.

This article provides a biography of whiskey maker Jack Daniels. He lived an interesting life. For example, his famous appearance was a result of his height. The author wrote, "Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel was born in 1849 in the small town of Lynchburg, TN, the youngest of ten children. He was also the smallest, only reaching a height of 5 feet 1 inch. Well into adulthood, people regularly mistook him for a teenager, prompting him to grow his trademark black goatee and long, drooping, mustache."

Jack Daniels was forced to live off of the kindness of neighbors and strangers because as a teenager his family was devastated by the Civil War. One of these helpful families taught him to make whiskey. The author wrote, "The last family he’d live with, however, the Calls, managed to teach Jack not only a valuable skill, but one he actually enjoyed. Down in the hollow of the aptly named Stillhouse Creek, Dan Call taught Jack Daniel how to make sour mash."

During reconstruction, Jack Daniels often had to bribe Union officials and ex-confederate gangs to get his product to market. The Klan was the biggest obstacle though. The author wrote, "These guerrillas were bellicose and bloody-minded, but couldn’t hold a candle to yet another group skittering around the backwaters of the South in those days—the Ku Klux Klan. This gaggle of buffoons wanted to control all of the liquor in the South because they had gotten it into their heads that liquor made black men chase white women. On more than one occasion, Jack was forced at rifle-point to hand over his entire shipment to placate a Klansmen."

The amusing writing style continues and explores the rest of the main events in Jack Daniels life including the growth of his business into a world renowned name. The article itself begins and ends with a campaign against current Jack Daniels management for diluting the alcohol content of the current product but the rest of the article is an interesting history read.


SpanishHistory said...


Could you please contact me at

I have a Spanish History Article you may use on your Blog If you wish.

Miland said...

Please feel free to post the link to the Spanish history article here in the comments. I'll take a look at it and include it as a future entry if I like it.

I don't consider history related links spamming in the comment section of this blog. (Viagra or gambling though and I delete!)

Dymphna said...

Synchronicity: I was just reading the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and came across an entry for "Jack D" as a word for whiskey...

Here's part of the lyrics of a song from the Hogwaller Ramblers about same:

She Held That Bottle

Three guys guys named Dickel, Evan Williams and J.D.
Filling her up with lies, Lord, and stealing her away from me…

She won’t hear me cryin’
For what she done to me
I’m just a Virginia boy
She loved the boys from Kentucky and Tennessee.
They held on to her like a poet holds his misery.
She held that bottle tighter than she held me…

My friends said she’s no good son, she’ll never be your wife
A drinkin’ woman’s trouble, best cut her on out of your life.
And though it like to killed me I did just like they said
If old Jack Daniels was alive, I swear I’d shoot him dead...

One of the good country songs...

Miland said...

Dymphna, thanks for the post and the lyrics.

Jack D. seems to have lived an interesting life and I plan on doing some more research. Folk songs help with this.