1844: The distillery was established by William Harrison McBrayer, better known as Judge W H McBrayer. McBrayer was a dry goods merchant before becoming a distiller and later served in the KY senate. According to a genealogy website, the land upon which the distillery sat was purchased by McBrayer from a former slave of the Ryan family. The Ryans had no heirs and had willed their farm and land to their former slave, Uncle Dave, whom they had liberated some time before their death.
Company literature dated 1916 (not shown) cites 1847 as the year in which “Andrew McBrayer” built his distillery in a “primitive little log hut”.
1888: McBrayer died on December 6 and the distillery passed to his three grandchildren: Mary, Wallace and William Moore. McBrayer’s son-in-law, D L Moore (married to Henrietta McBrayer) was named as executor and continued to run the distillery on behalf of his children.
The ninth clause of McBrayer’s will stated that his heirs could the run the distillery in his name for three years after his death, “after which time I desire that my name be entirely stricken from the business”. The heirs claimed in a suit (April 1894) that the “W H McBrayer Cedar Brook Distillery” brand was a valuable trade mark worth at least $200,000 and that it should continue beyond the three-year window permitted by the clause. The petition that was supported by the courts (The Kentucky Law Reporter, Vol XVI, 1895).
1892: Insurance underwriter records note that the distillery was built of stone with a metal or slate roof. The property included three bonded warehouses (Warehouses A, B and C), all of frame construction with metal or slate roofs, set 80 ft apart about one mile north of the distillery. A Free Warehouse of similar construction was located 305 ft east of the bonded warehouses.
The insurance records identify the owner as being the Cedar Brook Distillery Co., being operated by D L Moore.
1899: The distillery was sold to The Trust, who enlarged it and ran it until Prohibition.
Judge W. H. McBrayer