Always the entrepreneur, Elias Staley first settled on the Mad River
near Dayton, Ohio, where he constructed both a mill and a distillery. That venture was short lived and he sold the
property to move to a farm in the northwestern part of Bethel Township, Miami County along Indian Creek.
After construction of the grist mill with his two brothers and the purchase of the 160 acre farm,
he built a brick distillery and handmade double copper distilled rye whiskey was produced - one of two
such distilleries in Ohio at the time.
Thirty to thirty-five gallons a day were distilled and at times 100 barrels were
aging in the bondhouse. Staley Rye Whiskey became
famous for quality and customers came from miles around to get their jugs filled
as farmers brought their excess grain for distilling. Our family has letters from Civil War soldiers requesting that
Staley Rye be shipped to them during the war.
After Elias' death in 1866, sons Andrew, Simon and John continued the distilling operation and complied with the
newly enacted excise tax on whiskey. During the 1880's the "Staley boys" built a 1500 gallon wooden mash tub
and erected a two story warehouse to accommodate the growing taste for their frontier whiskey. Our whiskey was
always sold in barrels, or jugs were filled for customers. We have many notes from doctors requesting "whiskey for
his patient" in the late 1880's and early 1900's. Of course, a full bottle was sent home presumably for "medicinal"
Simon's son, George Washington Staley continued to operate the distillery after the death of his father and two uncles.
It was his sad duty to close the doors of our family's profitable whiskey distillery when Prohibition was made the
law in 1920. Fortunately, he had the foresight and the sentiment to hide the copper stills from the Prohibition agents
in the second floor of the Warehouse. The worms (condenser coils), troughs, mash tubs, ferment tubs and associated misc.
distilling equipment were also hidden away from the government men; only one barrel of whiskey remained. George also
recorded the original mash bill in his own handwriting.
Hard times came to the Farm and the distillery fell into ruins... After George passed away, two generations came and
went with only memories of the whiskey makin' times at The Staley Mill Farm. But, the Past met the Present when the
next generation resurrected history.
And now, for the rest of the story....