Tennessee is full of history. Even if you’ve lived in Tennessee your whole life, you may not know these 10 interesting facts.
1. Jack Daniel’s
The creator of the world famous Tennessee Whiskey died after angrily kicking a safe and hurting his toe, leading to the blood infection that would be his demise.
Jasper Newton Daniel was born on a Moore County farm in September 1850. When he was around the age of 10, his father decided it was time for his son to learn a trade.
Jasper was hired out to the local Lutheran Minister, who also ran a dry goods store in Lynchburg. He received an education in the store keeper’s trade from Rev. Dan Call and soon proved himself to be a quick learner with a shrewd head for business. One of Rev. Call’s best known products, however, stemmed from a whiskey still he operated on the Louse River near his store.
Call had been developing a system of distillation that was unique to his own brand. Reverend Call used the traditional “sour mash” method of leaving a little of the mash from earlier brews in the storage vat to speed up the fermentation of subsequent mixes.
He taught Jasper the system along with his other working theories gained by experimenting and years of experience. Jasper, who was becoming known by his nickname “Jack”, soon proved he was an able brewmaster and capable of rivaling his teacher.
In 1863, a lady evangelist delivered a fiery sermon that inspired Call’s wife and congregation to demand the minister make some hard choices. They told him to get rid of his distillery operation or to resign his ministry. Rev. Call decided to sell the business to his young associate.
Jack, who was 13 at the time and mourning the recent death of his father, began to concentrate his time on the business and was a one-man show for a while
When the World’s Fair came to America, Jack entered the competition. He was up against some of the world’s best distilleries in Europe and had never been put to that kind of test. Of the 20 such whiskeys entered in the competition from around the world, Jack Daniel’s Whiskey was awarded the World’s Fair’s Gold Medal and honored as the world’s best whiskey. In those days, that meant something and soon Jack Daniel’s whiskey began picking up a notable amount of business from Europe. In 1905, Jack Daniel’s Whiskey won another Gold Medal in a similar competition in Liege, Belgium– adding to the beverage’s international appeal.
Sometime around 1906, Jack Daniel arrived at the office one morning and tried to open the safe in his office. He either couldn’t remember the combination or wasn’t getting it right on the dial. In a fit of anger, he kicked the safe and broke his toe. Daniel never had it attended to by a doctor and an infection soon set up in the toe. The gangrene eventually spread throughout his system and resulted in Daniel losing his leg to the disease. With the illness starting to wear on him, he began turning more and more of the company’s operations over to his nephew Lem and eventually deeded the business over to him.
Jack Daniel survived until Oct. 9, 1911 when he died of complications due to the gangrene infection.
You can tour the Jack Daniel’s distillery every day. It’s located at 182 Lynchburg Highway in Lynchburg, Tenn.