Jack Daniel

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For other people named Jack Daniel, see Jack Daniel (disambiguation).
Jack Daniel
Born Jasper Newton Daniel
c. January 1849
Lynchburg, Tennessee,
United States
Died October 10, 1911(1911-10-10) (aged 61)
Lynchburg, Tennessee,
United States
Occupation Distiller/Businessman
Years active 1862–1911
Known for Jack Daniel's
Website Official Jack Daniel's website

Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel (c. January 1849 – October 10, 1911) was an American distiller and the founder of the Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey distillery.


Jack was the youngest of ten children born to Calaway and Lucinda (née Cook) Daniel.[1] Jack Daniel's paternal grandparents immigrated to America in the late 18th century. His grandfather Joseph "Job" Daniel was born in Wales, while his grandmother, Elizabeth Calaway, was born in Scotland. He was of Welsh, Scots-Irish and Scottish descent.[1]

According to one source, he was born in January 1849, in or around Lynchburg, Tennessee.[1] A town fire had destroyed the courthouse records, and conflicting dates on his and his mother's headstones have left his date of birth in question.[2][not in citation given] His mother died shortly after his birth, most likely due to complications from the childbirth.[1] On June 26, 1851, his father remarried and then had another three children with his stepmother Matilda Vanzant.[1]

Jack was raised in the Primitive Baptist church.[3]

The company that now owns the distillery claims that it was first licensed in 1866.[2] However, in the 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel author Peter Krass maintains that land and deed records show that the distillery was actually not founded until 1875.[1]

Jack Daniel's safe

Jack Daniel never married and did not have any children. However, he took his nephews under his wing – one of whom was Lemuel "Lem" Motlow (1869–1947).[4][1] Lem, a son of Jack's sister, Finetta,[5] was skilled with numbers, and was soon doing all of the distillery's bookkeeping. In 1907, due to failing health, Jack Daniel gave the distillery to two of his nephews.[1][4] Motlow soon bought out the other nephew and went on to operate the distillery for about forty years (interrupted between 1942 and 1946 when the U.S. government banned the manufacture of whiskey due to World War II).[6] He died in 1947.[7]

Daniel died from blood poisoning at Lynchburg in 1911. An oft-told tall tale is that the infection began in one of his toes, which Daniel injured one early morning at work by kicking his safe in anger when he could not get it open (he was said to always have had trouble remembering the combination).[8] However, Daniel's modern biographer has asserted that the story is not true.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Krass, P., Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, Wiley, April 29, 2004 (page 7 saying "after he was born in 1849", and page 19 saying "By the time Jack was born in January 1849").
  2. ^ a b Jack Daniel's official website, Brown-Forman Corporation.
  3. ^ http://www.c-span.org/video/?182362-1/book-discussion-blood-whiskey-jack-daniel
  4. ^ a b c >Book Discussion: Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, C-SPAN.
  5. ^ Jeanne Ridgway Bigger, "Jack Daniel's Distillery and Lynchburg: A Visit to Moore County, Tennessee," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring 1972), pp. 3-21.
  6. ^ "Jack Daniel Distillery". The Whisky Guide. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  7. ^ Lem Motlow, Jack Daniel's website. Retrieved: 20 March 2014.
  8. ^ Freeth, N. (2005). Made in America: from Levis to Barbie to Google. St. Paul, MN: MBI.

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