Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Found Great Grandfather’s Whiskey Stash in the Estate Inventory

Last December I introduced 4th Great Grandfather Martin Snyder in a post titled ‘I, Martin Snyder, of the County of Augusta and State of Virginia Make my Last Will and Testament’. Martin was born 1765 in Maryland and died at Augusta Co., Virginia October 16, 1822. He left a wife, Catherine Thomas, and ten children.

Readers of this blog know how much I enjoy inventories. Grandfather’s personal estate contained a few genealogical goodies I’ll be sharing with you. Remember, it doesn’t include his real estate. You’ll find images from the Augusta County Court records at the end of this post.

Executor Joseph Brown needed to inventory Grandfather’s belongings and had an appraisement prepared by George Baylor, Thomas Thompson and Christian Shuey. Their appraisal was dated March 26, 1823 five months after Martin died.

One Brass Clock … Three large wheels …. One shot gun …. One chest…. 145 Gallons of whiskey What? That’s a lot of whiskey. I noticed Grandfather owned 2 stills, tubs and kegs worth $150. Did Grandfather have a powerful thirst or a thriving business?

I soon learned many Virginia farmers distilled their own whiskey from surplus grain. Gentleman Farmer and President George Washington operated a profitable distillery at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. As you'll see from the inventory, Great Grandmother Catherine didn’t mind selling whiskey either.

A side saddle belonged to Snyder daughter Betsey. I recall Martin Snyder bequeathed horses and colts to his children. I wonder who inherited ‘Dick the old horse’, ‘Ned, the dark bay’ and the mares ‘Nel’ and ‘Nance’.

A 2nd appraisement occurred Jan. 21, 1824. William E. Hogsett, Christian Acord, James McKenny and Joseph Fauser inventoried more items. They weren’t included in the March 26, 1823 tally; perhaps they were overlooked or new acquisitions. The calves listed might have been newborns.

Money owed to Great Grandfather was accounted for too. Notes amounting to $336.69 would add to the estate coffers. Five notes belonged to John Thomas. I believe this was Great Grandmother Catherine’s brother.

It’s uncommon but I found Martin’s father identified in the inventory. Martin would receive a $200 legacy from his father, 5th Great Grandfather Michael Snyder:

           “Also a legacy of $200 Maryland Currency to said Martin
            Snyder dec’d by the Will of his Father Michael Snyder of
            Washington County Maryland but not due until the death
            the wife of the said Michael”

Great Grandfather Martin’s estate wouldn’t get the legacy until Michael’s wife died. I can’t say whether Michael’s wife was Martin’s mother; she might be a step-mother. I’ll see what I can find out!

Joseph Brown presented the inventory at the February 1825 Augusta County Court term.

Augusta Co. VA Will Book 15, page 101 Martin Snyder's Inventory

Augusta Co., Virginia Will Book 15, page 101

Augusta Co. VA Will Book 15, page 102, Martin Snyder's Inventory & Sale

Augusta Co., Virginia Will Book 15, page 102

My Ancestry
4th Great Grandfather Martin Snyder and wife Catherine Thomas
3rd Great Grandfather Adam Snyder and wife Hannah Hull
2nd Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Snyder and husband Joseph H. Clemmer
Great Grandfather James Clyde Clemmer and Ella Virginia White
Grandmother Lucy Leora Clemmer and James McFall Joseph
My Father

Source: Probate Court, Augusta Co., Virginia Will Book 15, pages 100-102, Family History Library Microfilm #30320, Item 3


  1. That is a lot of whiskey making. I've heard stories from my grandfather and how he would make bathtub gin during prohibition. I love finding inventories. I can spend a lot of time pouring over them.

  2. I share your love of inventories. Whenever I find an inventory, I feel like I'm looking in the window of my ancestor's home. Thanks for visiting and sharing your Grandfather's story.