INDULGE

A Gentleman Named Jack

A look at the history…

I needed to brush up on my Jack Daniel’s history, so before getting to the distillery, I called on Lynne Tolley, Great Grand Niece of Jack himself and related to 4 of the 7 master distillers, for some good old-fashioned folk lore. She runs Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House in town, a landmark establishment for over 100 years. Frequented by revenue agents and traveling salesmen in the old days, it is a fully restored boarding house using all the rooms for serving traditional southern fare, family style, to its hungry patrons. Parts of the house date back to the 1820’s. Miss Mary ran the house until she was 102 years old, which says something for the cooking, and Lynne says she plans on doing the same. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting this attractive, charming, southern lady, you will agree that they won’t need another innkeeper for a very long time. Don’t miss the chance to dine here before or after your next visit to JD; it’s as much a part of the history of the town as the distillery. As the conversation went on for an hour or so, I learned more and more…

 Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House established 1908. Renovated in 2006, parts of the building date back to the 1820’s. It was frequented by US Revenue Agents, traveling salesmen and single school teachers in the old days
Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House established 1908. Renovated in 2006, parts of the building date back to the 1820’s. It was frequented by US Revenue Agents, traveling salesmen and single school teachers in the old days

Jack Daniel was one of 13 children, born in or around 1850, nobody knows for sure due to the burning of the courthouse records and all. He was mentored by a Lutheran minister named Dan Call who taught him everything he knew about making whiskey. Mr. Call fell under increasing pressure from his ministry to concentrate his efforts on either religion or making whiskey. He chose religion and sold his still to Jack in 1863, who was 13 at the time. Thank God for that! Jack was taught and firmly believed in mellowing fresh whiskey through hard maple charcoal. He perfected this process in a few short years and it is still done at the distillery today giving Jack Daniel’s its distinctive flavor.

In 1904 the short-statured (he was only 5’2” tall), handsome (known as a ladies man) distiller entered his prized Old No. 7 Tennessee sippin’ whiskey into the World’s Fair Competition in St. Louis, Missouri. Of all the whiskies entered, he left with the only World’s Fair Gold Medal that made his the world’s best whiskey! The rest, they say, is history.

The somewhat sad ending goes like this, and to hear Goose Baxter tell it, you would think you were there (Goose being a historian, and quite a character in his own right, showed me around the property). Mr. Jack always liked the safe to be already open whenever he arrived at work. One day in 1905 Jack arrived early and his assistant was running late so the safe was still locked. Jack struggled to open the safe. Unable to remember the combination, he kicked the safe with an angry blow that broke his toe. Infection set in and throughout the next six years he endured many operations to remove parts of his foot. He eventually died from blood poisoning in 1911 at the age of 61. You can find his grave in the Lynchburg town cemetery, just look for the large headstone between two chairs. It is said the chairs were placed there to comfort the many local ladies who came to mourn his passing.