Journal Pages.

Below I’ve scanned in several pages I thought were quite interesting from Buck O’Hairen’s journal that I got at the Civil War Show in Chicago in 2008. Some of the sheets in the folio were pretty badly damaged by water and time, while others were in decent shape.

June 7, 1861

The dream of B.B. happened again. In an emerald landscape (twixt) mountains and pine, there he was standing knee high in a babbling (crick), a flat pan in his hands dripping with mud and topped with (hundreds) of tiny gold rocks. Indeed, I must pray today that wealth has found its way through the winding waters of California to McGee, for it is he who led me to the richness of the trade. Ten years have passed quickly without any word from him. Yet the memory of my first taste of his father’s apple brandy as fresh on my tongue as that perfect, golden October noon, 1850.

Nov. 30, 1864

Every day there is more talk that these Confederate States are certain to fall to Lincoln’s Union. Chance the reports from down mountain are wrong. However, should that Fate come so too shall the revenuers come to seize us. They will claim my whisky as theirs for tax, my land theirs for lumber. Those with cowardice of character are already fleeing rather than be imprisoned. Should I too? Will the fire of my stills be how the yankees see me in the dark of (the night)? How will the farmer who feeds his children with moonshine profits (stand) tall at supper?.

Sept. 23, 1874

Thank Heaven, I am free. The Sheriff and his men swept through here like a stampede of steer yesterday morning and rounded up about a dozen of us after the fire succumbed to the thunderstorm. Inside a small jail cell down in the city they packed us together, one by one questioning each man on his whereabouts the 19th. [Through…] Grace of God saved my life from the embers. It is true everything else met a different fate. Still Number 3 exploded and burnt to nothing. My Inventory, evaporated. The Trees, charred like matchsticks.

After moonshine and rain, what follows?


January 15, 1875

The Morning Fix & Fizz

½ bushel sliced apples
21 peck peeled oranges
½ peck sweet yellow corn
3 lbs. smashed berries (e.g. elderberry or raspberry)
12 inches chopped ginger root
3 handfuls dried dandelion root
1 lb. sugar
1/4 lb. salt
20 gallons fresh water

In moonshine still, combine water, apples, oranges, corn, berries, ginger, and dandelion. Bring to boil. Reduce the flame and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Extinguish flame, add sugar and salt, stir and let still cool. Use strainer to scoop off solids. Drain through cheesecloth into gallon jugs.

*Delight the patrons by filling their mason jars with juice first, then adding fizz with a soda-water apparatus.

TEST 1: too much sugar
TEST 2: needs more fizz
TEST 3: tastes grassy…clean dandelion better
TEST 4: bullseye

July 29, 1892

Peak to valley she flows
‘Round the river she goes
The black hawks fly
The wide white sky

Only I know why

Been a wanderer
A wonderer
A moonshiner

Raccoon tails
And corn huskin nails
These blue mountains
Never (frown)
The horizon breaks
For ships that sail
With spirits pouring out

Only I know why

Been a wanderer
A wonderer
A moonshiner

You ain't never gonna catch me
Never gonna run me down
Ain't noone gonna find me underground