Dearborn County Historical Markers - The Spirits of Lawrenceburg

Dearborn County Historical Markers - The Spirits of Lawrenceburg

A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
The Spirits of Lawrenceburg

By Duane Hall, May 21, 2013

Army Captain Samuel Colville Vance was a surveyor for the United States government living in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1802, he purchased all the land comprising the original town of "Lawrenceburg." At that time, the land was part of Hamilton County, Ohio. Soon, settlers made their homes near the Ohio River and surrounding creeks. Like many Ohio River towns, Lawrenceburg's economy centered on the Ohio River, and the shipping and related industries it enabled. However, some unusual industries thrived. In the 1800s, cigars were made here, and were considered some of the finest in the world. Lawrenceburg had buggy manufacturers as well. An early automobile, the James Model A Roadster was produced here in 1909.

Distilleries were found in the Lawrenceburg area as early as 1809. By the end of 1855, Lawrenceburg was home to Hobbs Distillery, John H. Gaff & Son, N.J. Walsh Distillery, Nicholas Oester, Frederick Rodenburg & Co. and John B. Garnier Brewery. Purchased in 1933 from the Rossville Distillery Company, the Seagram's plant is a reminder of the distillery days of old Lawrenceburg.

Visitors can see Captain Vance's spectacular West High Street home which he built in 1818. Known as the Vance-Tousey House, it is considered one of Indiana's finest examples of Federal architecture, and is listed in the National Register of Historic
At the southwest corner of Lawrenceburg Newtown Park
Places. It is now the home of The Dearborn County Historical Society and open to the public.
By the Way: Captain Vance named the town Lawrenceburgh after his wife's maiden name, Lawrence.

Location. 39° 5.709' N, 84° 51.472' W.
Marker is in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in Dearborn County.
Marker is at the intersection of 2nd Street and Main Street, on the right when traveling west on 2nd Street.
Marker is located in Lawrenceburg Newtown Park fronting 2nd Street.
Marker is in this post office area: Lawrenceburg IN 47025, United States of America.

Brief History by the Author
Samuel Colville Vance
See Lawrenceburg history

James Model A Roadster
The J. & M. Motor Car Company operated in Lawrenceburg from 1909 until 1911. The company only produced a few of these automobiles during its short lifetime.

Hobbs Distillery
Established during the economic boom that followed the construction of the Whitewater Canal in 1837, a fire destroyed the distillery in 1839. Rebuilt by Hobbs and Craft, fire again ravaged the building in 1850. The distillery ceased operations after the second fire.

John H. Gaff & Son
Businessman John H. Gaff and his brother Thomas built their distillery, the T & J.W. Gaff & Company Distillery, in Lawrenceburg into a nationwide business. For more on the distillery, see Hillforest Mansion. The distillery began operation in 1843 as the T & J.W. Gaff & Company Distillery on the bank of Hogan Creek in Aurora. The distillery merged with the Fleischmann distilleries.
John H. Gaff (September 30, 1820 - February 26, 1879)
The son of James and Margaret Wilson Gaff, Thomas was native to Springfield, New Jersey. After completing his common school education, he apprenticed to a jeweler, Mr. Ackerson in New York City. Tiring of the jeweler’s trade, he migrated to Mexico, settling in Mexico City until 1845, when he came to Aurora to join his brother Thomas in the distillery business. During this time in Aurora, he served as mayor for two terms. Sometime in 1851, he moved to Newburgh, New York to marry Margaret G. Lendrum. The couple would have five children. Gaff returned to Aurora in 1864 to continue with the distillery, where he remained until his death in 1879.

Rossville Distillery
Founded in 1847, the Cincinnati based James Walsh & Company acquired it in 1875. The James Walsh & Company operated the distillery in Lawrenceburg until 1932, when a fire destroyed much of the plant. In 1902, the plant has a daily mashing capacity of 5,000 bushels of grain, storage space for 60,000 barrel in its warehouses.  Facilities included four steel grain elevators holding 200,000 bushels, and two slop dryers that held 5,000 bushels of feed. The Joseph E Seagram and Sons Company acquired the site in 1933. Pernod Ricard purchased the plant in 2001 and has continued operations.

 John B. Garnier Brewery
 Founded by John B. Garnier, the John B. Garnier Brewery operated from 1857 until 1866.
 John B. Garnier (August 15 1820 - March 7, 1897)
A native of France, Garnier migrated to the United States in 1845. He came to Lawrenceburg on June 17, 1847, where he opened a malt house. He married Mary E. Dafner, with whom he would have three children. The success of the malt house led to his opening a brewery in 1857. His beer became popular in the Dearborn County area. He would continue brewing beer after the brewery closed until his death in 1897.