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The Woodland Distillery
RD #54, 7 th District
Fayette County, KY

(Est. 1872)


Ambrose (2002) has extensively research this distillery and provides the history that follows.

1872 :The distillery was built by John A Headley and his brother-in-law, Charles Y Peck. It was built at a cost of $30,000 on 100 acres of farmland leased from Robert L Crigler of Cincinnati, located at the first tollgate of Harrodsburg Pike (now S Broadway) a mile south of the Lexington limit.

The distillery had a capacity of 300 bu or 30 barrels per day and employed 25 workers at $1.75 per day. They distilled for 10 months of the year, producing the "Woodland" brand for bottling and wholesaling by Crigler & Crigler of Covington, KY.

late 1880s:Headley died his son Will H Headley continued as successor in the firm.

1891 :The Headley & Peck Distilling Co. was incorporated with T Logan Hocker as President, Garland R Bullock as Secretary, Will H Headley as Treasurer and William Webber, Distiller. Hocker was the son of a banking partner of John Headley. The distillery also employed Charles Bates as yeastman and Armstead Mitchell as engineer. Charles Peck died later the same year.

1892 :Insurance records indicate that the distillery was built of brick with a metal or slate roof. The property included four bonded warehouses, as follows
Warehouse "A" -- iron clad with metal or slate roof, 60 ft west of the still
Warehouse "B" -- brick with a metal or slate roof, located 116 ft NE of the still
Warehouse "C" -- iron clad with metal or slate roof, 162 ft south of the still
Warehouse "D" -- iron clad with metal or slate roof, 175 ft NE of the still house.
The premises also included cattle and hog pens and their inhabitants.

The distillery enclosed 9,000 sq ft and included 12 fermentation tubs of 6,000 gallons, 300 mash tubs of 80 gal loins each. The four warehouses had a storage capacity of 14,700 barrels. (Ambrose, 2002).

1894 :Hocker resigned on the first of the year for lack of funds to pay his salary, due largely to nationally depressed whiskey sales during the Panic of 1893. Bullock replaced him. At that time, the company had 5,319 barrels of whiskey in their warehouses and 1,908 from the Headley & Peck partnership. Warehouse receipts had been issued on all of these barrels. Roughly half of these receipts had been issued to Crigler & Crigler. Others were issued to L. Welschoff & Company, Henry W. Smith & Co. and Jos. Silverman, whiskey brokers from Cincinnati. In addition, a number of receipts were issued locally to saloon and bar owners.

On February 14 a storm took the roofs of the company’s bonded warehouses. The next week, Headley left town with his three-year old daughter on a business trip. He left behind four other children, ages ranging from fourteen months to eighteen years. Before leaving, he had gone to the D. A. Sayre & Company, a private bank, and withdrawn $900 in company funds.

Several days later, his eldest daughter received a letter from him indicating that he had fled to Mexico and admitted to issuing fraudulent warehouse receipts for $50,000 over the past few years. The distillery had been in financial difficulties for several years due to the depression in the whiskey market. He was not known to be a gambler or heavy drinker. However, Mr. Headley had lost his wife the prior year. His admission shocked most of the people who knew him. Ephraim D. Sayre, his banker, indicated that he had “done business with Will Headley for twenty-five years and that he was always straight in his dealings”.

Major Bullock, the President of the company, immediately summoned Robert L. Crigler, owner of the property and large holder of warehouse receipts, to Lexington. Mr. Crigler assumed control and ordered that no whiskey be removed from the warehouses until an inventory was taken and more information was discovered. A locksmith had to drill the lock to open the safe and gain access to the company records. The Warehouse Receipt Book, with the stubs indicating whom the receipts were issued to, was located inside.

The inventory of the warehouses showed seven thousand seventy nine barrels (five thousand two hundred sixty five belonging to the company and eighteen hundred fourteen belonging to the partnership). There appeared to be no missing barrels of bonded whiskey. Had there been missing barrels, the Internal Revenue Service would have demanded payment for the excise taxes due on the missing barrels. Mr. Crigler had signed the bond for the distillery for the excise taxes.

Headley was the only one to issued warehouse receipts. Major Bullock was completely cleared and was left to manage the company’s affairs. Fred Peck, son of Charles Peck, was also left in charge of the distillery’s office.

Mr. Headley was eventually discovered to have issued receipts for at total of eighteen hundred barrels of bourbon, allegedly produced in 1892 and stored in its warehouses. However, the company had only produced six hundred barrels during 1892. The losses to these fraudulent receipts total over $30,000. The firm of Crigler & Crigler accounted for half of the loss.

1899 :In March, the distillery, the land upon which it sat, and the Woodland brand was sold at auction for $31,000 to Major Bullock, bidding on behalf of Robert Crigler.

1901 :The distillery and land was again sold at auction, this time for $21,900. It sold to Mrs J Will Sayre, who demolished the distillery and returned the land to farm use. The brick warehouse was converted to use as a tobacco barn.

The Criglers retained use of the Woodland brand name and continued bottling residual inventory well into the second decade of the twentieth century.

Aliases that this distillery's product was sold under
Review bonded warehouse transactions for this distillery

The Woodland Distillery provided product that was sold under the following aliases:

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Woodland Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

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