171) Nathan “Nearest” Green

171) Nathan “Nearest” Green

The Former Slave Turned Master Distiller

Born: c.1820, Maryland, United States of America (I’m trusting the Nearest Green Foundation when they say Maryland, other sources claim Tennessee with no documentation to back it up)

Died: 1890

He was the first African American master distiller in United States History.

According to his foundation, it isn’t known if he was born into slavery or became one in later life. In any case, he became a master distiller while working on a farm.

While working the farm, one day a young poor white boy showed up looking for work. That boy was Jasper Newton—otherwise known as Jack Daniel.

After a couple years of learning from Nearest, Jack began selling the whiskey around the community. He even sold it to soldiers during the War Between the States.

During the war, Jack’s father was killed, and he became an orphan at the age of fifteen. It was then that Jack decided to make the whiskey business his career.

Jack and Nearest went into the business together as partners. After a while, Jack bought Nearest out and ran the company on his own. When he started the business, Jack asked Nearest to be his master distiller.

Once Nearest retired, his sons and grandsons would continue working with Jack as the business grew. The picture often passed off as Nearest today is actually most likely one of his sons or grandsons, but who in particular is not known.

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