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Jack Daniel at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair


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#1 MikeandJack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:02 PM

I have always read, and been led to believe, that Jack Daniel went to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair alone. It was here that he won the Gold Medal as the "World's Finest Whiskey". I always thought it was a shame that all his friends and family could not have been there to enjoy the moment with him.

The St. Louis World's Fair, or as it was familiarly known, The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, opened on April 30, 1904 and closed December 1, 1904.

The book "A Tennessee Legend with a Pictorial of old Bottles & Jugs" states:
"In 1904 the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more familiarly known as the St. Louis World's Fair, was held. Large expositions such as this introduced many new products and there was to be a judging of the world's finest whiskies. Naturally, Mr. Jack decided to put his whiskey to the test."

There is no mention of Mr. Jack's trip to St. Louis or anyone traveling with him.

The book "Blood and Whiskey, The Life and Times of Jack Daniel" states:
"As the Exposition approached, a number of people, from state politicians, to still hands, to Lem, encouraged Jack to enter his whiskey into the competition. But Jack demurred, simply shrugging off the suggestion, apparently uninterested in garnering glory for himself.
Unbeknownst to everyone, Jack was in fact laying plans to enter the competition and travel to St. Louis-he simply didn't publicize it because if he failed, he preferred to keep the whole incident under wraps. Finally, one June morning in the summer of 1904, Jack broke the news to Lem: he was going to the World's Fair. Lem's first question was whether Jack had entered their whiskey in the competition. With a grin, Jack glibly replied that he'd already sent in their entry, which included two cases of whiskey.
After Jack won the Gold Medal, his return from the World's Fair was not exactly triumphant. While he set everyone up at the Lynchburg saloons with the best whiskey in the world and ordered a special decanter to commemorate the event, the once most-admired man in this part of the country received but scant notice in the newspapers. "Jack Daniel's No. 7 was awarded the gold medal at the St. Louis World's Fair" was all the December 8 edition of the Fayetteville Observer had to report on such a glorious moment.

The book gives details of Jack's trip to St. Louis on the train alone and his time at the World's Fair alone.

The book "Jack Daniel's Legacy" gives a few more details about the St. Louis trip. It states:

"The name of Jack Daniel had been heard in many sections of the United States although Jack had done no advertising whatever. For a long time Uncle Jack seemed to shrug off these World's Fair suggestions - but Lem Motlow didn't let him forget it even for a day.
As date for the whiskey competition at St. Louis approached, Lem decided it would be best not to keep pushing - but to slacken up on the pressure and just wait to see what Uncle Jack would do.
"Lemmie, I'm going to St. Louis, Mo., and I don't want you to tell a soul about it until I get back," Jack Daniel confided to Manager Lem Motlow at the office one morning in June, 1904.
"Glad to hear you say you are going Uncle Jack. But aren't we supposed to send some whiskey if you plan to enter the World's Fair competition?" Lem replied.
"Already sent it, without letting you know," Jack crisply answered. "Didn't see any use of worrying somebody else with it."
A moment of silence passed, the Jack continued: "And look here Lemmie. I don't want anybody to know if I go all the way to St. Louis and fail to do any good. So you just keep it quiet for now."
Uncle Jack climbed swiftly into a buggy and headed for Tullahoma. He planned to leave the horse and buggy at the livery stable while he was making the train round trip to St. Louis.
Four days passed, then he came back into town with his horse and buggy, plus his two valises and a smile on his face.
"Lemmie, Here it is!" he exclaimed. "The World's Fair Gold Medal for the Best Whiskey in the World! That's what the judges said."
The local effect of Jack's World's Fair triumph was largely confined to a relatively few letters or other messages of congratulations.

Again, no mention of anyone traveling with Jack or being with him at the Fair. Even his younger brother Tom tells the story of Jack being in St. Louis alone. The book does mention that a young, 4 year old Reagor Motlow and his grandmother attended the Fair.

All this leads me to a letter I have dated May 23, 1904. It is from Lem Motlow's sister Mamie to their brother Felix. At the time, Felix was at the military academy at West Point, New York. As you can see the letter says:
"I guess you know that Lem and Ophelia are in St. Louis now. They left last Tuesday and haven't returned I don't suppose.........I am not going to feel at all disappointed if we don't get to come. I'm glad that you are going and hope you will have a nice trip. We will go home the day you leave for the Fair."

Are the history books wrong? Lem, his wife Ophelia, and brother Felix were all at the St. Louis World's Fair when Jack won the Gold Medal. This just shows that you cannot believe everything you read.

I would like to hear everyone's comments.
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#2 MikeandJack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:05 PM

Here is the letter.

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#3 MikeandJack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:12 PM

.

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#4 fluffyskulls

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:17 PM

Interesting, like you say Mike you can't believe everything you read, the quality of the writing on historical info is as good as the researcher and the quality of the records.
Say no more - looks like Jack wasn't alone!

#5 Dutch Jack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:19 PM

Do you guys tell your whole family where you go all the time? Bet Jack didn't even know who was where when he travelled alone to the fair

#6 Max

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:20 PM

Are the history books wrong? Lem, his wife Ophelia, and brother Felix were all at the St. Louis World's Fair when Jack won the Gold Medal. This just shows that you cannot believe everything you read.

I would like to hear everyone's comments.


very interesting stuff Mike ;)/>

yes you can't believe everything you read, these books are made up of many facts but then pieced together and the blanks filled in with the authors own opinions :-//>

Is it possible that it was actually Lem who attended the fair instead of Jack ? Maybe it was Lem who send in the cases for the entry and not Mr Jack :-//> It's possible because we know that Lem was always a huge drive behind the success of the brand.

#7 OlliP

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:23 PM

This is a very interesting read, Mike! Thanks for that! The coolest thing would be some old photo´s of Jack himself getting the price at St. Louis. Weren´t any pictures taken?

#8 Dutch Jack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:26 PM

This is a very interesting read, Mike! Thanks for that! The coolest thing would be some old photo´s of Jack himself getting the price at St. Louis. Weren´t any pictures taken?

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#9 MikeandJack

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:29 PM

Lots of interesting comments so far! I have to leave now. Will answer all the questions when I get back.

#10 Ade

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:14 PM

Perhaps in the book extracts the writers never had the proof as in your letter Mike that Jack went with others.

Perhaps the letter was discovered after all those books had been written and the books not reproduced with mention of the letter.

Perhaps they all attended the fair without Jack knowing and to surprise him when he won.

#11 mulejd

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 09:37 PM

good read mike but the on ething i question is 4 days gone , seems very quick

#12 JD No7

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:02 AM

The 1904 worlds fair was the event of the century.. Would imagine anybody that could have made, would have?

#13 Ang07

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:34 AM

As we all know... the stories that have been told are what the company now stands by.

This appears to be yet another possible story that has not been told quite the way it happened.

Very interesting Mike... very interesting.

#14 JD No7

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:52 AM

As we all know... the stories that have been told are what the company now stands by.

This appears to be yet another possible story that has not been told quite the way it happened.

Very interesting Mike... very interesting.



yep ~ and did you know???


the Gold Medals where not even the top prize....?

#15 Ang07

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:59 AM

yep ~ and did you know???


the Gold Medals where not even the top prize....?


No I did not.. so what was the top prize...??

#16 JD No7

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 03:42 AM

No I did not.. so what was the top prize...??


There was a,
GRAND PRIZE Medal
Gold Medal
Silver Medal
Bronze Medal

At least 3 Gold Medals were awarded to whiskey's >>>??

Sunny Brook won the Grand Prize and Gold

Jack, IW Harper and Pfiffer Bors. all won a gold...

#17 squireno7

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:50 PM

the letter says
Aunt Beth and J. D. are going
Mrs Auston- a widow that visited uncle Jack once so the trip will cost them very little...

sounds like Mr Jack had a few Belles with him on the trip. very cool letter Mike. Thanks

#18 Ang07

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:28 PM

There was a,
GRAND PRIZE Medal
Gold Medal
Silver Medal
Bronze Medal

At least 3 Gold Medals were awarded to whiskey's >>>??

Sunny Brook won the Grand Prize and Gold

Jack, IW Harper and Pfiffer Bors. all won a gold...




Wow interesting...

#19 JD No7

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:21 AM

like the accounts of the Fair, just such limited info.. love the old letters.. pretty cool..

#20 James Henry

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 03:25 PM

Mike is this one of the letters you found in that old trunk you'd told me about.

Great find and does tend to imply just what your inferring.

Would like to see more if you have any..




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