Tennessee, Jack Daniels, Sherry discussed on Household Name
Family of nearest green and along the way brief honor findings in total. She estimates they've collected more than ten thousand documents and other items about nearest and his family. As well as Jack Daniel Lynchburg and distilleries in Tennessee. The irony of it all and I think this is a part of how I know that the story was just to be told no one ever build me to this day. No one has ever build me on the work that they did to help. This story beyond covered with that information font has been able to piece together more details about nearest Greens. Life including where she believes he was born in the eighteen. Seventy census. There's one page where every single person T in Tennessee for their answer to the question. Where were you born except nearest green? Next to his name it's marked. Md from Maryland. Font also thinks she's narrow down the year he was born eighteen. Twenty however you have to remember. African Americans were property not people until the eighteen sixty five so you have these census takers in eighteen. Seventy that are showing up at the doors and now all of a sudden they're counting African Americans not as property but as people and they're looking at them and saying what's your name and they're telling them their name. How do you spell it? I don't know I don't read right. Okay well how old are you? I don't know I don't have a birth certificate and so there literally looking the senses when it comes to. African Americans is so inaccurate. Because there literally looking at you and trying to tell how old you are. I don't know if you've ever heard the saying the black don't crack but when I look at it and I see an eighteen eighty. They said he sixty I'm thinking he's closer to so I don't know I don't know his age. We WanNA think we know his age but we don't. It's one of several examples that demonstrates how hard it can be to learn about people who had been enslaved. There's often little documentation but when nearest became a freeman there were more records. And that's refund made perhaps her biggest discovery one that even. Jack Daniels did not know nearest was more than teacher. He was Jackson. I Master Distiller and that makes nearest green. The first African American one on record in the United States being the first African American master distiller. I don't think that we should or can take that lightly because there are only so many things that we can give African American credit for during a period of time where we couldn't trademark. We couldn't patent. We have our own inventions and so to find out that there was someone who left this legacy of excellence behind is not small and the least bit font shared her findings with the leadership of Jack Daniels and pretty quickly installed a large display at the visitor center about nearest and his family and it started talking about a more frequently during tours most important in two thousand seventeen. The company officially acknowledged that nearest green was the first master distiller at Jack Daniels. Thanks to tax records fond knows nearest kept making whisky until eighteen. Eighty four but after that. There's a sixteen year gap that she's still trying to piece together. What is a burning question that you have about nearest green? You were still trying to answer whereas Barend got no clue so we believe that we know where he is and his entire family as around the tombstone that we believe is his but the original cemetery records were lost and we're still digging to figure out. Is that him if she can confirm where he's buried. She hopes that will give her another thread to follow about nearest. It's those small details that can lead to big discoveries and it makes a better story to if you know how it ends. It's important here to put the work that Fawn and her team are doing in a broader context because as much as it is about one person nearest green. It's about something bigger giving credit to the contributions by people who've been left out of history. Whatever the reason we have a history and which even though it's filled with words it's not necessarily filled with truth for example the method of making whisky nearest taught. Jack filtering through charcoal. It's now believed came from West Africa. Were charcoal is still used today to purify food and water in other words. The very process that defines Jack Daniels whiskey and Tennessee whiskey. Broadly speaking most likely originated with the people forcibly brought to this country as slaves Tennessee. Whiskey is your first American like truly all American spirit because you are taking what West Africans brought with them. And you're putting it with whites that are here and you're creating a product that is uniquely indigenous to both and I don't know of any other that has done that. This is particularly alive moment in terms of looking at African American history. Jessica Harris is a professor and author and a Food Historian. Who's been studying the food of Africa and what happened to it after it left that continent and arrived in places like the. Us people are being reclaimed. In many ways people are being discovered in many ways. It's a real kind of unearthing and a repositioning of things. I think that's a good thing you can see that legacy here in foods like Okra and watermelon and possibly even seed rice. There are also genetic traces of Africa in Texas longhorn cattle. There's also cooking techniques and the people themselves like Thomas Jefferson Chef and enslave man. Named James Hemmings. Yes that hemmings Sally's brother. James trained as a chef in Paris when Jefferson was the ambassador to France and he returned with Jefferson to the US and kept cooking for him. We all know. Jefferson brought back ice cream. Jefferson brought back macaroni and cheese. What the question is was Jefferson cooking? And that's where James hemmings comes in because of her extensive research and writing harasses the lead curator of an exhibit in New York called African slash American making the nation's table with the Museum of food and drink. It explores the history of African American contributions to agriculture hospitality entrepreneurship and beverages. Hello near screen. It also presents a more complete picture of our nation's history because as Harris puts it African American food is American food and that started with slavery basically African Americans grew the food harvested. The Food Process the Food Cook. The Food Serve. The food cleared the table and emptied the chamber pots. That's about is totally involved in the American food chain as you can be merit is as important as it is to uncover these histories and confronts sometimes difficult truths that does not always mean people will remember Fawn. Weaver worried about that. She feared that simply documenting. The facts about nearest green might not be enough for people to know his story. We have so much history. But how does he get out there? What is the medium so she decided to do with nearest? Did Not do open a whisky distillery. She called it uncle. Nearest a new brand could write an historical wrong by keeping his name on. People's lips for generations to come that story after the break. Welcome back thanks to fond inner team to understand the story of nearest green. You now go to the place where it's being told. Shelbyville Tennessee so I went. We've taken this Hay Barn and we're making First Bottling House. My Guide is Sherry more. The operations manager for uncle nearest premium. Whisky located about an hour. South East of Nashville. So what does this in here? This will be a where we store barrels for single barrel. The distillery is being built on the site of a Tennessee. Walking horse farm spread out over nearly three hundred acres of green pastures are several whitewash stables with green roofs renovating these existing structures and building. New Ones will cost an estimated. Fifty million dollars and be completed in about two years already finished temporary visitor center and the corporate offices. These are four styles so this one was son still lot so I'm trying to get pictures of him but on my wall since that was his home and now it's become a office. Sherry has a long history with whiskey. She's the cousin of the oldest living relative of Jack Daniel. She spent thirty one years working at Jack Daniels including directing whiskey operations. When she retired she became a real estate agent. In fact Sheri's the one who sold that farm to Fawn and her husband. The One were nearest tot jack how to make whisky by the way a picture of that farm houses on the uncle nearest label. Typically when you're in real estate in your showing property to somebody from California they do not buy the farm they get back to California and decide that was a bad idea but they actually bought the farm and great piece of history and they purchase it so I met on their second day. When Fon arrived in Tennessee she was not thinking about selling whiskey. Let alone building a multi-million dollar distillery. She was thinking more along the lines of writing a book about near a screen. And that's still on her to do list but a couple of things happened. That changed her mind as she got to know the people in the community like Sherry and members of the green family. She kept hearing the same thing about making a whiskey with nearest name. On it from Sherry. It was if I ever decided to honor nearest with a bottle she would come out of retirement to make sure I got it right and then learning what come out of retirement mint. Which is. She's the best in the business. Okay so that was in the back of fons mind and then when she spoke to some of nearest descendants and I said what is that one thing you think should happen in order to honor nearest to honor your ancestor. And they said we think his name should be on a bottle then. One day she went to see the movie hidden figures with a few of those family members. I cannot do my work. Effectively acting not have all of the data and all of the information. As soon as it's available I need to be in that room here. What you if you don't know the movie. It's based on the true story of three African American women who played key roles in the Space Program. Font family loved the movie and they saw parallels to the story of nearest green and his relationship with Jack Daniel but about three weeks later when fon was thinking about the movie and what people had been saying to her. It all connected. I realized I could not tell you the name of one person who was a hidden figure. I could tell you Octavia Spencer. I could tell you. Janelle Monet terrar- GP Hinson. I could tell you who played the characters but I could not actually tell you who the people were whose legacy that entire movie was built to tell. And that's when we realized hundred years from now nobody's going to know nearest his name unless it's on a bottle with that realization. She decided to go into the Whiskey business i. She found a source of Tennessee whiskey. She thought good enough to bear the name uncle nearest then in July two thousand seventeen. She launched the brand since then. She's raised the money to finish building the new distillery and has already started making whisky. That will be sold once it finishes aging it's almost as if the entire universe conspired to make sure the story was told and for whatever reason. I was chosen to tell the story I felt very oepration saying it that way.