A few weeks ago, Mark Lowe, professional genealogist and well-known genealogy speaker, joined me on The Forget-Me-Not Hour to talk about whiskey and Southern migration in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Mark explained how whiskey production was a major draw and livelihood for many settlers in Kentucky and Tennessee after the Wilderness Road was blazed by Daniel Boone in 1775. Small home-run distilleries sprang up as a result of fresh, sweet (non-mineral) water, good soil for growing whiskey-producing crops, and eventually easy transport on the rivers with the advent of the steamboat in the early 1800s.
Evidence of the production of spirits can be found in many documents, including the agricultural schedule of the U.S. census, estate inventories, land records such as deeds, and occupations listed in population schedules of the U.S. census and city directories. Did you know a confectionery store sold alcohol? These are great resources for genealogists to find their whiskey-producing ancestors in Kentucky and Tennessee and elsewhere in the United States.
Different liquors were produced in different parts of the country as well, due to climate and soil. Hard cider from apples was a favorite New York state beverage until Prohibition.
Find out more about whiskey, Southern migration, and our ancestors from Mark right here.J. Mark Lowe, professional genealogist and well-known genealogy speaker.