Fawn Weaver has created the Nearest Green Foundation, an organization that will honor the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. The New York Times best-selling author explained her inspiration for the foundation in a press release. It came after learning about Green from a story written by the New York Times in 2016. The story outlined Green's relationship with Dan Call. Call was the owner of a whiskey distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee in the mid-1800s.
Green, a slave, served as the master distiller for Call’s whiskey operations. Through his role, he ultimately taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. When Daniel did chores for his neighbor, Call, and he took an interest in distilling. Call instructed Green to teach Daniel everything he knew, and in the 1967 official biography of Daniel, titled "Jack Daniel's Legacy," Call described Green as "the best whiskey maker that I know." Call eventually passed the distillery to Daniel, however, his and Green's families continued to work hand in hand for years.
“The idea that there were positive stories out there of whites and blacks working side by side, through and beyond the Civil War, resonated with me,” Weaver explained. “I liked the story of Jack Daniel, but Nearest Green’s story and the community at large really stayed with me.”
Now, the 313-acre farm once owned by Call and where the distillery was located, is now owned by Weaver and her husband.
Weaver has several projects in the works for the Nearest Green Foundation including a memorial park, a museum in Lynchburg dedicated to the history of Tennessee whiskey, renaming a local street to Nearest Green Way, a book chronicling Green’s life, and a scholarship fund for his direct descendants.
"Nearest and his wife, Harriet, could not read or write," Weaver said. "Neither could their children. Most of their grandchildren were pulled out of school as early as the sixth grade to work. With a heritage like that, we thought one of the best ways to honor Nearest Green would be to ensure each of his descendants who gets accepted into college need not worry about how it will be paid for and can just think about succeeding and then paying it forward."
A group Weaver helped pull together will also be releasing a handmade, Tennessee-crafted whiskey called "Uncle Nearest 1856" this month. The whiskey will help in supporting all the various foundation efforts. The request for his name on a bottle came from one of the descendants of Green who said "Putting his name on a bottle, letting people know what he did, would be great.'"