Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Nineteenth-Century Distillery Unearthed in Kentucky

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VERSAILLES, KENTUCKY—Kim McBride of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey is investigating the home and distillery that belonged to Oscar Pepper, who worked with Scotsman James Crow to perfect the technique of making bourbon in the 1830s. She and her team are excavating a structure that once stood to the side of the house. “This was probably a combination kitchen and slave quarters. After 1865, we have the death of Oscar Pepper and the estate is in transition, and with emancipation the structure was probably no longer needed,” she said. A nearby trash pit has yielded animal bones, toy marbles, doll parts, pipes, coins, fasteners, buttons, an inkwell, a salt shaker, broken drinking glasses, pottery, bone-handled forks and knives, and what may have been a pool cue ball. The artifacts may eventually be displayed in the visitors’ center at the current distillery on the property.