Thursday, December 1, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Ebbie Loveless Married Again

My great-great-grandfather, Ebenezer Loveless married first Eliza A. Rodgers on 19 Mar 1871 in Chattooga County, Georgia.[1] They moved to Faulkner County, Arkansas where their eleven children were born. After Eliza’s death from dropsy on 27 Aug 1907[2], Ebbie moved to Erath County, Texas where his son, James Arthur, was living.

On 11 Sep 1908, Ebbie took out a marriage license to marry Mrs. M. M. Blunt. A list of marriage licenses were in the newspaper.[3]  Here is the image of the newspaper account.
The Dublin Progress, 11 Sep 1908, p1

They were married by the minister, J.F. Adams, on 12 Sep 1908.[4] Here is the image of the marriage record.
1908 Marriage between E Loveless & Mrs MM Blount

Who was Mrs. M. M. Blount? 
She was married previously. Looking at the 1910 census with Ebbie and his wife, more clues are given as to her identity and these will be helpful in finding records previous to her marriage to Ebbie. Here is the household of Ebby:

Loveless, Ebby, head, m, w, 59, married 2nd, 1 yr, b. GA, parents SC, farmer, general farm
               Melissa, wife, f, w, 42, 22, 1, Missouri, MO/KY
               Wm H, son, m, w, 16, sing, Arkansas, GA/GA, laborer, home farm, school
               Lela, dau, f, w, 14, sing, Arkansas, GA/GA, laborer, home farm, school
Blount, Mary, step dau, f, w, 16, sing, Texas, AL/MO, laborer, home farm, school
            Vernon, step dau, f, w, 14, sing, Texas, AL/MO, laborer, home farm, school
Settle, Aunie Mrs, mother-in-law, f, w, 73, wd, Kentucky, OH/VA

This household had two of Ebby’s children from his first marriage with Eliza: William H and Lela; two of Melissa’s children from her first marriage: Mary and Vernon Blount; and Melissa’s mother, Annie Settle. Melissa’s maiden could have been “Settle” unless her mother had remarried.

Checking marriage records in Erath County brought up a marriage between M.P. Blount and Miss MM Settle on 21 Jan 1886.[5] Melissa M. Settle was her maiden name.

Ebbie and Melissa moved to Rotan, Fisher County, Texas and Ebbie died there in 1929.[6] Malissa lived until 1950, when she died at age 83.[7]

[1] Chattooga County, Georgia, Marriages, Bk 1a, 1861-1880, p 156, Ebby Loveless & E.A. Rodgers, 1871, digital images, Georgia's Virtual Vault (, citing Georgia State Archives.
[2] Desmond Walls Allen, Pence Funeral Home Conway, Arkansas 1904-1926 Vol II (Rapid Rabbit Copy Co, Conway, AR), p 51, Eliza Loveless.
[3] “Erath County Marriage Licenses,” The Dublin Progress, 11 Sep 1908, E. Loveless-Mrs MM Blount, digital image, The Portal to Texas History ( : 26 Nov 2016).
[4] Texas, Erath County, Marriages, Book L, p 42, 1908, E. Loveless to Mrs. MM Blount; FHL 1,026,028.
[5] Texas, Erath County, Marriages, Book D, p 79, 1886, MP Blount to Miss MM Settle, digital image, FamilySearch ( : 1 Dec 2016); citing FHL film 1026025.
[6] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate no. 2972 (1929), E. Loveless, digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Jul 2008).
[7] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate no. 8502 (1950), Malissa Million Loveless, digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 Dec 2016).

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sorting out the husbands of Faye E. Loveless

It all started with scanning photographs and papers from the files of my grandmother, Pansy L. Johnston, who died in 2013. I’m trying to clean up the office and put away some of the records I have stored in boxes.

Three photos were taken on 5 March 1994, I think in honor of William Hutson “Hutts” Loveless’ birthday, which was on March 1. He would have been 100 years old. I don’t know who sent the photos to my grandmother, but likely it was Dorothy Lamm, her double cousin. Dorothy was Hutts’ daughter. Her mother, Josephine Hazel Lancaster was the sister of my grandmother’s father. And Hutts was the brother of my grandmother’s mother. That made Dorothy and Pansy double cousins.

Faye Moon (sitting) with Dorothy Lamm (standing)
Another person in the photos was Faye Moon. She was another cousin, the daughter of Hutt’s brother, James Arthur Loveless.  My question: “Who was Faye Loveless Moon and what happened to her?”

I have spent the past 12 hours researching Faye, her sister, LaVerne, and brother, Bishop Glenn “B.G.” Loveless. I had their birthdates but nothing about marriages or deaths. Seeing as they were all born before 1920, I figured they were probably deceased by now. This is a write up of what I know now and I’ll make notes within of future research needed.

What I know
Let’s start with their parents. James Arthur Loveless was born 1 March 1879 in Faulkner County, Arkansas to Ebenezer Loveless and Eliza A. Rodgers.[1] Sometime in 1900 or 1901, he moved to Erath County, Texas, where he married Lula Kate Ferguson on 18 August 1901.[2] They had five known children:
  • Dewell Ebby, born 1 Jul 1902
  • Loyce, b. 1905[3]
  • Faye, b. 15 Mar 1908
  • LaVerne Louise, b. 26 Feb 1912
  • Bishop Glenn “B.G.”, b. 26 Oct 1914

James Arthur worked as a farmer until his death, 10 Dec 1933, of a ruptured appendix.[4] His wife also had a chicken farm, probably raising eggs and chickens.[5] She died of influenza a year before James on 31 Jan 1932.[6]

In October 1995, I made a trip to Stephenville, Texas with my grandmother. I wanted to see where she and my mother had lived. We stayed with her brother, R.D. Lancaster, and toured around town one day and visited some family on the other. One of the people I met was Faye Moon and her daughter, Susan. At the time of meeting her, I didn’t quite know how she fitted into the family. She told me that she was the daughter of Arthur Loveless (James Arthur). She also told me that I looked just like Josephine Lancaster, William Hutson (Hutts)’ wife.  She told me her brothers and sister’s names, and their spouses. It’s funny that she never talked about her own spouses.

Faye Moon died 18 Mar 1999. Her obituary from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, listed her survivors as:
  • Daughter and son-in-law, Lou Ann and Duane Gilly
  • Daughter, Mary “Sue” Greenway
  • Brother, B.G. Loveless
  • Sister, LaVerne Holsomback
  • Four great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.[7]

Faye’s name on the obituary was “Faye Greenway Moon.”  The two names Greenway and Moon are clues to possible past husbands. A daughter had one of the same names.

A marriage was found between Boyd Greenway and Fay Loveless on 2 Feb 1933 in Erath County, Texas.[8] They were married by C.L. Savage, the same minister who married her sister, LaVerne Loveless to James Thomas Punches on 24 Aug 1935.[9]

So what about the marriage to Emmet Moon? My grandmother told me he was married to Faye Loveless. He’d been a pall bearer at Martha Jane (Coor) Lancaster’s funeral in 1942.[10] Martha Jane was the mother-in-law to Lela Ann (Loveless) Lancaster, sister to Arthur and Hutts Loveless. However, the only marriage I found was a marriage between Emmett Moon and Elza F. Loveless, which occurred on 26 Mar 1970 in Somervell County, Texas.[11] This was a late marriage. Had he been married before? He died 31 Jan 1980, and the Find-a-Grave memorial shows his tombstone shared with Stella W. Moon, who died in 1968.[12]  With his wife’s death in 1968, it is possible this is the correct marriage between Faye and Emmett in 1970. Now the name of the bride in the marriage was Elza F. Loveless.

The only reference to an E for a middle name was with the 1920 census, where Faye E. was listed as an eleven-year-old daughter of James A & Lula K Lovelace.[13] The names could be reversed. There can also be a reason that Faye was using her maiden name again. Had there been a divorce from Greenway?

A check of the Find-a-Grave website, Boyd Greenway memorial was found. He was born 2 Feb 1908 and died 18 Jul 1963.[14] His spouse was listed as Faye Greenway, who was born 15 March 1908 and died 18 March 1999.[15] Their two grave markers have the same style. In the Texas Death Index, Elza Faye Moon was listed as dying on 18 March 1999 in Taylor Co, Texas. The obituary gave her death location as Alzheimer's care center in Abilene, which is located in Taylor County.[16]

There are lots of conflicts but it’s time to figure out what I really have.
  • Her birth certificate listed her name as Faye Loveless with no middle name.[17] However, this is a delayed birth record, created in 1960.  
  • The birth of her daughter, Mary Sue Greenway on 19 Feb 1944, listed the mother as Faye Elsie Loveless.[18]
  • She was listed as Fay Loveless on the 1910 census and Fay Lovelace on the 1930 census, in the household of her parents and as Faye E Lovelace in the 1920 census.[19]
  • She was Fay Loveless in her marriage to Boyd Greenway.
  • She was Faye Greenway with her husband, Boyd S. Greenway in the 1940 census.[20]
  • Boyd Greenway died 18 July 1963 and was buried in West End Cemetery in Stephenville, Texas. His wife was Mrs. Faye Greenway.[21]
  • Elza F. Loveless married Emmett R. Moon in Somervell County on 26 March 1970.[22] [Need to order marriage record]
  • Emmett R. Moon died 31 Jan 1980 in Stephenville. His wife was listed as Faye Loveless Moon.[23] [Need to find his obituary]
  • Faye Moon died 18 Mar 1999. Her obituary stated her name as “Faye Greenway Moon.” The cemetery record listed her name as “Faye Greenway.” Her tombstone was designed identical to  Boyd Greenway’s and the birthdate looks more worn than the death date. It is possible that her stone was made at the time of Boyd’s death and after her burial, her death date carved in.  [Need to order her death cert].
  • Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Greenway of Duffau visited Mrs. Greenway’s brother, Mr. B.G. Loveless on August 25, 1940.[24] This news article clearly points that the Faye Loveless who married Boyd Greenway, was the sister of B.G. Loveless.

My current thinking without having a few records (obituaries and death certificates), is Faye E. Loveless married first, Boyd S. Greenway. They had two daughters. After his death, she married Emmett Moon. Emmett was buried with his first wife and Faye with her first husband.

[1] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, 54770, 1933, James Arthur Loveless,23 Mar 2011, digital image, FamilySearch ( :  14 Jul 2008). His parents were listed as E Loveless and Elza Rogers.
[2] Erath County, Texas, Marriages, Bk I, p. 201, JA Loveless to Lula Ferguson, 18 Aug 1901; citing FHL 1026024. He was listed in the household of his father, Ebenezer Loveless in East Fork Township, Faulkner County, Arkansas in the 1900 census.
[3] I need to work on Loyce, as I have no full birthdate. He last appeared with the family in the 1920 census, so he did not die in the influenza after WWI.
[4] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, 54770, 1933, James Arthur Loveless,23 Mar 2011, digital image, FamilySearch ( :  14 Jul 2008).
[5] 1930 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, pop sched, Just Prec 1, ED 72-6, sht 8a, p. 94 (stamped), `dwelling 157, family 161, James A. Lovelace, digital image, ( 23 Nov 2016). Lula had a chicken farm.
[6] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, 51657 (1932), Mrs. J. A. Loveless, digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Mar 2011).
[7] “Faye Greenway Moon,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 19 Mar 1999, typed transcript, ( : accessed 23 Nov 2016).
[8] "Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1977," digital Images of Marriage Records, Erath Co, p. 247, Greenway-Loveless, 1933, FamilySearch ( : 23 Nov 2016); FHL microfilm 1,428,412.
[9] "Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1977," digital Images of Marriage Records, Erath County, Bk R, p. 501, JT. Punches to Laverne Louise Loveless, 1935, FamilySearch ( : 23 Nov 2016); citing FHL film 1,428,412.
[10] "Mrs. Lancaster Dies at Home after Short Illness," Stephenville Tribune, 18 Sep 1942.
[11] "Texas Marriages, 1966-2010," database, FamilySearch ( : 23 Nov 2016), Emmett R Moon and Elza F Loveless, 26 Mar 1970; citing Somervell, Texas, United States, certificate number 035816, Vital Statistics Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin. There was no image, so this would need to be ordered.
[12] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 23 Nov 2016), memorial# 13207786, West End Cemetery, Stephenville TX, 1980, Emmett Robert Moon.
[13] 1920 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, pop. sched., Just Prec 1, ED 4, sht 3a, p 41 (stamped), dwelling 43, family 42, James A Lovelace, digital image, ( : 23 Nov 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration, T625.
[14] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 23 Nov 2016), memorial# 13581578, West End Cemetery, Stephenville TX, 1963, Boyd Greenway.
[15] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 23 Nov 2016), memorial# 13581567, West End Cemetery, Stephenville TX, 1999, Faye Greenway.
[16] “Faye Greenway Moon,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 19 Mar 1999.
[17] "Texas Birth Certificates, 1903-1935," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 23 Nov 2016), Faye Loveless, 15 Mar 1908; citing Stephenville, Erath, Texas, United States, certificate 52559, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,373,111.
[18] "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997," database, FamilySearch ( : 23 Nov 2016), Faye Elsie Loveless in entry for Mary Sue Greenway, 19 Feb 1944; from "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2005); citing Texas Department of State Health Services.
[19] 1910 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, pop. sched, Stephenville, ED 19, sht 1a, p 45 (stamped), dwelling 9, family 9, James A Loveless, digital image, ( Nov 2016). 1920 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, pop. sched., Just Prec 1, ED 4, sht 3a, p 41 (stamped), dwelling 43, family 42, James A Lovelace, digital image, ( : 23 Nov 2016). 1930 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, pop sched, Just Prec 1, ED 72-6, sht 8a, p. 94 (stamped), dwelling 157, family 161, James A. Lovelace, digital image, ( : 23 Nov 2016).
[20] 1940 U.S. census, Erath Co, Texas, population sched., Prec 5, enumeration district (ED) ED 72-15, sht 9b, dwelling 196, Boyd S. Greenway; digital images, ( : accessed 24 November 2016).
[21] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, 43632 (1963), Boyd S. Greenway, digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Nov 2016).
[22] "Texas Marriages, 1966-2010," database, FamilySearch( : 6 December 2014), Emmett R Moon and Elza F Loveless, 26 Mar 1970; citing Somervell, Texas, United States, certificate number 035816, Vital Statistics Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin.
[23] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, digital image, FamilySearch ( : ), Erath Co, no. 25782, Emmett Robert Moon, 1980.
[24] “Alexander,” The Dublin Progress, 30 Aug 1940, Mr. & Mrs. Boyd Greenway; digital image, The Portal to Texas History ( : 26 Nov 2016).

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Report Card for Beryl Johnston 1917

I have a collection of papers that belonged to my great-aunt, Beryl Johnston. She was the sister of my grandfather, Tom J. Johnston. My grandfather didn't save his report cards, but my aunt saved hers. Below you'll see the card for 1917 when she was in Mrs. Odell's primary grade at Gustine School.

1917 Report Card (front)
I found a Mary Odell as a nineteen-year-old teacher living as a boarder in the James A. Hubbard household in Comanche County, Texas.[1]

Beryl was promoted to low second grade for the next term.

1917 Report Card (back)

The other side shows her grades for reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic. She earned grades of A or A-. One month she was absent eight days but basically she attended school regularly. Her father, Thomas N. Johnston, signed the card the six times.

1923 photo of Gustine School
The Gustine School was built in 1907.[2]

[1] 1910 U.S. census, Comanche Co, Texas, pop. sched., ED 10, sht 2b, dwelling 33, family 33, James A. Hubbard household, digital image, ( : accessed 15 Nov 2016); citing NARA T624, roll 1541.
[2] Comanche County Genealogy Society, ”Gustine,” : accessed 15 Nov 2016.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Monday, October 31, 2016

Robert Lancaster’s Estate: Wheat farming

I have been working on probated estates of farmers who died in mid-century 1800. One of the items that was in the estate inventories was a “wheat fan.”[1]

In Robert Lancaster’s estate in 1840, there was a wheat fan that was valued at $5.00 and sold for $6.87 in the estate sale. I imagined a wheat fan as something made from wheat stalks shaped in a fan to be used when the weather was a bit warm to help cool you down.

A search for a definition of a wheat fan brought up photos of winnowing baskets. These large baskets were used to separate the wheat grain from its chaff by tossing the wheat into the air and allowing the chaff to blow away in the wind. 

Later, winnowing machines were invented and were in use by the time of Robert’s death. It is quite possible that he owned a machine that had either been purchased or hand-made. He must have grown some wheat as he had 40 bushels worth $20 at the time of his death.

Although we cannot know for sure how Robert raised and harvested his wheat crop, I have found written accounts of growing and harvesting wheat. From the History of Pocahontas County, which is in West Virginia, an account told of what was needed to plant the wheat.[2]  
“Ploughed in with the bull tongue or shovel plow, brushed over by a crab brush or thorn sapling, and in many instances simply laboriously dug in with a hoe, it was a precarious crop, owing to freezing out, blight or rust.”
Robert Lancaster had 14 Plows and 2 large harrows listed in his inventory that were valued at $34 and in the sale, these were identified individually. Bull tongue, shovel, and Cary plows were sold during the sale.  
Carey Plow
Another account of wheat planting was written by  John Jay Janney, who wrote about his early life farming in Virginia. 
“We plowed for next year's wheat crop, and when the ground was ready for sowing we hauled all the manure from the barn yard and the hog pen ...We would take a bag and tie the string to one corner so we could hang it about the neck...and carry...about a bushel of wheat in it. We would catch up handfuls and sow them broadcast having first marked out the field into ‘lands’ of a proper width. A little practice enabled one to sow very evenly. We then dragged a heavy harrow over it.”[3]
Because of the number of plows Robert owned, it was likely he used them in the planting of the wheat.

Harvesting was done with scythes. Five scythes were sold in the sale. The wheat was held by one hand and cut with the other. The handful of wheat would be tied together into sheaves and then stacked to dry. Once dried they were placed on the ground and trod by horses.  
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany
Janney continued his tale.
“We would take the sheaves into the barn, take off or loosed the bands, and lay a ring of sheaves four feet or four sheaves wide all around the floor. We laid the first one flat on the floor, the next one with the heads upon the butts of the first and so on all around the floor. We thus had a ring of sheaves about four feet wide, with the heads of the wheat only showing, and a vacant space in the middle of the floor, of about twenty feet in diameter. 
“We then put four horses, two abreast, walking around on the wheat, against the way the wheat pointed. After the horses had walked around sufficiently, two of us would each take a pitchfork, one on each side of the wheat, and turn it over. This we would repeat until the grain was all out of the straw, which was then raked off and stored as feed for the cows and steers during the winter.”[4]
Now the wheat needed to be separated from the chaff. It would be tossed into the air and clean in a coarse sieve. Then the wheat would be placed into the wheat fan. It would be run through twice. Here is an image of a machine made in the 1850's. It was run by a hand crank that created the fan to separate the wheat from the chaff.

From American Farmer, 1854, p 225
Janney wrote that the farmer rarely sold the wheat. They took it to the mill for credit for it “at the rate of sixty pounds to the bushel and when they wanted flour, they got for every sixty pounds of wheat, forty pounds of flour and about fifteen pounds of bran.”[5]

Robert’s wheat would also be used in the making of the whiskey he had on his premises. In all, I imagined it was hard work and most likely his slaves performed this work. Four men and two boys were listed in the inventory.

For a photo of an old wheat fan, check out this blog post with photos.

[1] Shelby County, Kentucky, Probate, Bk 14, p. 63-68, 1840, Robert Lancaster, digital images, FamilySearch ( : 22 Sep 2016); citing FHL film 259254, item 3.
[2] William T. Price, Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, Price Brothers, Publishers, Marlinton, WV, 1901.
[3] “Early 19th-Century Wheat Farming Near Waterford,” History of Loudoun County, Virginia ( : accessed 29 Oct 2016).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fannie Bertha Johnston - Born July 24, 1896

   Fannie Bertha Johnston was the sister of my great grandfather, Thomas Newton Johnston.  She was born one hundred and sixteen years ago today in Gustine, Comanche county, Texas to Ruben Mack Johnston and Olivia Jane Jones.  Fannie was the tenth child of thirteen and the fifth daughter.  Here you can see her listed in the 1900 census in Gustine:
Texas, Comanche Co, 1900 Federal Census, ED 30, Justice Precinct 3, Page: 1B, Ruben Johnson, 
digital image, ( : accessed 21 Jul 2012)

I don't have a photo of Fannie B. and would love to see one. She did not live past her 14th birthday, dying February 22, 1912 of pneumonia.

Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Digital Images of Death Certificates, 
FamilySearch ( :n.d.), 3491, Comanche Co, Bertie Johnston, 1912.
Tragedy had happened to the family earlier in 1903 when her younger brother, Loyce Smith died on July 6, 1903. He had only been 18 months old. They are both buried in the Hazeldell Cemetery in Gustine.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Monday, October 17, 2016

Robert Lancaster Estate: Intermission About Whiskey Making

I have been discussing in the last four blogs about the estate inventory of my 5 times Great-grandfather, Robert Lancaster, who died in 1840 in Shelby County, Kentucky.

When I discovered that he had two copper stills and seventy-two barrels of whiskey, I became very curious about whiskey-making. I began my research on the making of whiskey in the 19th century via the Internet. I learned some basics from the “Bourbon Whiskey” article on Wikipedia. But I wanted to learn more.

Two books that I received through inter-library loan were very helpful:
  • The Social History of Bourbon,  by Gerald Carson and published by The University Press of Kentucky in 1963, and
  • Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, an American Heritage by Michael R. Veach, and also published by The University Press of Kentucky in 2013.

Because these two books were published by an academic press, they were well documented.

I was never a drinker of hard spirits, so I didn’t know much about whiskey. Since reading that an ancestor made whiskey, I wanted to know more about it. Now after learning about how whiskey was made in his time period, particularly bourbon whiskey in Kentucky, I want to try some. I have tasted Scotch whiskey in Scotland. I found that to be very strong and I didn’t care for it. Perhaps I might like bourbon whiskey better.

What I Learned About Making Whiskey
This will be the story of small-time whiskey-making.  The type made by a farmer, not a distillery.

Whiskey was made from corn, rye, barley malt, yeast, and limestone water.  The farmer grew the corn and rye. He made the barley malt. The yeast was purchased. The limestone water came from nearby creek, stream, or spring. Gerald Carlson said in his book,
“Why limestone water? In distilling, water loaded with calcium, the kind that makes the bluegrass blue, the horses frisky, and perhaps its virtues may even be stretched to explain the beauty of Kentucky women—limestone water teams up perfectly with yeast.”[1]
What they had to purchase or make themselves was the still. The stills in this time period were made either of wood or copper. Since Robert Lancaster’s inventory said he had a copper still, I’ll describe what that might look like. Below you can see a drawing I made to simulate the still. 
Still, drawn by Lisa S. Gorrell (c) 2016

The copper still was shaped like a tea kettle with a rounded bottom and topped with a smaller dome. From this dome was a copper tube that fit into a second part called the condenser. Inside this condenser the copper tubing, called the worm, was shaped in a spiral. Cold water entered the condenser to cool down the vapor. The cooled down vapor was collected as distillate in a tub. The alcohol from this first distillation still have impurities and was cloudy. The distillate was run through the still a second time.

Sometimes the still was set up in pairs, so the first distillate can then go through the process without having to clean out the pot first. The mash residue in the pot is removed and cooled and used as feed for livestock. Since Robert had two stills, perhaps his setup was in this “double” fashion. He also had nearly 200 head of hogs, so the spent mash was likely fed to them.

Gerald Carson also described what a stillhouse might look like:
“The stillhouse was often no more than a low-roofed shack, with a mud floor and one face open to the weather. The location was usually in a hollow under a hill where clear, cold, limestone water flowed to the worm in a wooden trough...[It] might be located on a creek or branch. A flowing spring was even better because it was necessary to have the water as cold as possible to condense the steam. If the water was warmer than in the range of fifty-six to sixty degrees, the distiller had to suspend operations or move to another location.”[2]
The mash was made first by grinding the corn. They likely worked with a bushel at a time. A bushel of shelled corn weighed 56 pounds.[3] A helper, most likely one of Robert’s slaves, mashed the corn with water and a portion rye in large mash tubs. Some of the hot mash from a previous distillation was added to the mash to scald it, making it into a consistency of mush. Then it was let to cool overnight to “sour” it. To that mash, barley malt was stirred into it. This helped the grain turn into sugar. After more stirring, yeast was added, now creating carbon dioxide as the yeast eats the sugar. This liquid now stays in the fermenter tub for up to seventy-two hours. When the temperature was about 75 degrees (tested by the distiller’s hand), it was ready to distill. Today, distillers use thermometers and stills have gauges.

A day’s work might create ten gallons; a week’s worth two barrels. If Robert Lancaster had 72 barrels of whiskey, that equated into about 36 weeks of work if the barrels were of fresh whiskey, and of any that was aging. It would be impossible to determine if any were aging.

Aging was what made good Kentucky whiskey what is well-known today as bourbon. Kentucky whiskey is whiskey that is aged in newly charred barrels. Scotch whiskey casks are re-used and not charred. Canadian whiskey packages are charred but not new. The whiskey aged in charred barrels is what gives us bourbon. Gerald Carson described what happens in the barrels as it ages:
“When the temperature rises, the whiskey expands into the char. When it falls, the whiskey contracts. A ripening occurs. The liquid is gentled. An oily feeling and a strong ‘bead,’ visible around the edge of a glass, develop.”[4]
However, what Robert Lancaster made was just whiskey. There has not been found any reference to the name bourbon before 1855. He may not have even charred his barrels. We cannot tell from the inventory. But it is possible he know of the qualities charred barrels made for his whiskey. He may also have known that aging improved the whiskey.

[1] Gerald Carson, The Social History of Bourbon,  The University Press of Kentucky, 1963, p. 43.
[2] Gerald Carson, The Social History of Bourbon,  The University Press of Kentucky, 1963, p. 43.
[3] “Bushel,” : accessed 16 October 2016).
[4] Gerald Carson, The Social History of Bourbon,  The University Press of Kentucky, 1963, p. 41.

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Robert Lancaster Estate: A Very Large Inventory—Part IV: How About Some Whiskey?

Robert Lancaster of Shelby County, Kentucky, died in 1840, and his estate was probated by his youngest son, Josiah Lancaster, as administrator.[1] His estate was ordered to be inventoried and this is the fourth post about that inventory.

This being Kentucky, I should not be surprised to find whiskey making items in the inventory.
66 mash tubs, 2 copper stills &
                still house apparatus            80   00
45 acres of corn                                  300  00
40 bushels of wheat                             20   00
2 Bee stands                                        4    00
72 barrells of whiskey                        516   00
15 Gallons peach brandy                     15   00
1 lot of plank & gate staff (??)              2    00
3 barrells of Vinager                            20  00
So, Robert had two copper stills and still house apparatus. Many farmers in this time period and frontier location had stills. Producing whiskey from grain grown in their fields enabled the farmers to barter for the goods they couldn’t produce or make themselves.

I have no idea from the above description what the still looked like. Early stills were pot stills where the “copper tubing came off the head of the still that was coiled through a barrel of water to cool and condense the vapers coming off the still.”[2] There are many websites that show how to build a moonshine still and recipes for the moonshine. This one has a photo of an old still and a recipe to make the mash.

The mash is the grain meal and water that has been heated in the pot. This mash is left in the pot during the fermentation process. The grain could be corn, rye, or wheat. Robert could have used either corn or wheat to make his whiskey, as he had 40 bushels of wheat and 45 acres of corn growing at the time of the inventory. He also had 72 barrels of whiskey already made. These 72 barrels were worth $516.00 or about $7 per barrel.

After the alcohol was made, favoring was added to it to improve the taste: juniper oil to make gin, fruit to make cordials. They also could filter the alcohol through charcoal to help remove unpleasant tastes.[3]

When the estate items were sold, the still items were purchased by:
1 still & eap                         Meril Forbus                  10   68 ¾
1 still & apparatus            William Gathright            53   25
11 still tubs                          John Crawford               7     50
7 still tubs                            John L Jones                 3     50
10 still tubs                          James Neal                    5     00
12 still tubs                          Macajah Williams          6     00
13 still tubs                          C. White                          7     31 ¼
7 still tubs                            Wilson Maddox             3     50
7 still tubs                            James Calloway             2     18 ¾

The only familiar name on the above list is James Neal, a possible. Robert’s three eldest children married a Neal:
Ellis W. Lancaster married Elizabeth S Neel
John S. Lancaster married Mary “Polly” Neal
Lennis Sumaie Lancaster married Creath Neal

Elizabeth & Mary’s father was named James Neal. They also had a brother named James. Creath Neal’s father might be George Neal. There are many Neal families listed in census and tax records. Time is needed to analyze their relationships.

These are the purchasers of the crops and whiskey:
1 lot corn in field                                   Wm Chambers @ $8.06     308     29
1 WHEAT FAN                                        William Bohannen             6       87 ½
1 lot old wheat                                      Geo W Havener                       9       15
10 barrells whisky                                Jas Lawson                              135     16
6 barrells whisky                                   William C Bohannon            71       82 ½
10 barrells whisky                                Jas Sandusky                          117     04
10 barrells whisky                                L H Beauforde                       121     03 ½
10 barrells                                               W Allen                                  114     66
10 barrells whisky                                L H Beauford                          121     03 ½
10 barrells whisky more or less      W Coons for Barber                        118     22

The value of the whiskey at the time of the inventory was about $7 per barrel, but sold for more than $11 per barrel.

It is interesting that none of Robert’s sons nor his sons-in-law purchased the stills, tubs, crops, or whiskey. Either they already had their own stills or were not interested in making whiskey. Perhaps the whisky was more valuable as a cash commodity for the family and they just sold it for the cash.

I tried to find a photo or drawing of a mid-19th century still. There are many images of moonshine stills, some that are of an old style here.

[1] Shelby County, Kentucky, Probate, Bk 14, p. 63-68, 1840, Robert Lancaster, digital images, FamilySearch ( : 22 Sep 2016); citing FHL film 259254, item 3.
[2] Michael R. Veach, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An America Heritage, (Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 2013), p. 4.
[3] ibid, p. 10. 

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family