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Highview Cemetery Rededication Set for Saturday

Posted on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 3:24 pm

The Nearest Green Foundation will host a rededication ceremony at the historic Highview Cemetery in Lynchburg at 3 p.m. on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Sarah Hunt Blackwell. As part of the rededication, new roads and monuments have been added throughout the cemetery, a new entrance and sign have been created. At the rededication, a permanent memorial for Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, will be unveiled. Members of prominent African-American families are buried in Highview Cemetery. Nathan “Nearest” Green, his children and grandchildren are also believed to be buried in the cemetery. Blackwell said Green’s story is well known in the town of Lynchburg as he is credited with helping perfect the Lincoln County Process, the unique filtration method that is signature to Tennessee whiskey. “Nearest Green’s triumph over his original circumstances was remarkable,” Blackwell said, “and his journey from slavery to one of the wealthiest African-Americans in the area was as much about his spirit of forgiveness and grace as it was about his legacy of excellence.” “The Nearest Green Foundation was created to ensure that his legacy is never forgotten,” Blackwell concluded. The Foundation’s Origin The Nearest Green Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded by husband and wife team, Keith and Fawn Weaver. In June 2016, while in Singapore, the Weavers read the cover story of the New York Times international edition about a slave who was said to have been responsible for teaching a young Jack Daniel the art of making fine whiskey. In a second article, they were particularly struck by the words of a man identified as a descendant of “Nearest” (misspelled “Nearis” in the articles), “He never received the credit he deserved.” The stories motivated Fawn Weaver to interview Green’s descendent featured in the stories. Additional time spent with dozens of Nearest Green’s descendants across the country cemented the Weavers desire to learn more about this legend who had somehow been forgotten over time. Listening to their hearts and desires fueled their passion and spurred the Weavers to action. Their desire to see Nearest properly honored around the world is what led to the Nearest Green Foundation. While researching, Green, Fawn Weaver interviewed more than 100 people and began spending countless hours with the family of Nearest Green. Green’s descendants longed for their ancestor to receive the recognition he’d long been denied. Most of the family knew minimal information about him. Only that their parents and grandparents shared stories about how Nearest and his sons made the whiskey for Jack Daniel’s Distillery in its early days. “Here was this incredible story of a slave who was the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, who taught one of the world’s most recognizable men and then following slavery became the first master distiller for what is now one of the top whiskey brands in the world,” said Fawn while discussing her findings. “So little of the details had been passed down beyond the first few generations that the story of Nearest Green had turned into a bit of folklore.” Bringing together more than 20 historians, archeologists, archivists, genealogists, researchers and conservators from 5 different states, Weaver begin piecing together the story of Nathan “Nearest” Green. The entire community of Lynchburg, Tennessee chipped in on the research by offering original documents and artifacts that had been passed down from home to home throughout the generations. By the time everything was gathered, more than 10,000 original documents and artifacts had been reviewed and Weaver could finally share with the family of Nearest Green more about who he was and what he did.

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