Foreword: On May 9, 2022, this website featured a post that celebrated the successful whiskey making partnership of brothers-in-law William F. Bond and Christopher C. Lillard in Anderson County, Kentucky. At that time, it was evident that some Internet sources about the Bond family as distillers contained misinformation. Subsequently a descendant, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been in touch with me about those errors. The informant, whom I shall call “BD” for Bond Descendant, also has added interesting new information about this prominent distilling clan. As a result I am devoting this post to BD’s commentary and suggest it be read along with the original article.
BD at the outset straightens out Bond family early relationships, beginning with William, who may or may not have operated a still, through the life of his son, John, a known distiller:
Original pioneer William Bond was the Revolutionary War veteran so often referred to who travelled to Kentucky (circa 1785) from Hanover County, Virginia to claim his land grant awarded for his war service on Bailey’s Run in what is now Anderson County (Lawrenceburg), Kentucky. After his first wife, Sarah Ballou, died in Virginia, he later married Sarah Cranson Bond of neighboring Woodford County, KY in December of 1790.
William and Sarah Bond’s son, John, was operating his first distillery near Bailey’s Run by 1810. This distillery was sold by John’s sons around 1850 to Jeff Mountjoy. (John had died in 1842. He was only 51 years old). This distillery was sold again and became the Waterfill and Frazier Distillery, which was eventually sold to the Dowlings, who moved it to Juarez, Mexico during Prohibition.
John Bond’s first wife was Mary “Polly” Johnson. John married his second wife Sarah (Sallie) Utterback after Mary died at only 29-30 years of age in 1825. There were four children born to that first marriage of John and Polly Bond: David, who was born in 1814; Melinda in 1816; John Wilkerson “Wix” in 1820 (my great-great grandfather); and Medley Shelton in 1822.
After John’s second marriage to Sarah (Sallie) Utterback that took place in September of 1825, William Franklin Bond (namesake of his pioneer grandfather) was born in 1826. Ben Jordan followed in 1829; then Lewis in 1833. Four more daughters completed the Bond family: Eliza Jane in 1835; Frances in 1837; Susan Margaret in 1840, and Sarah Elizabeth in 1842.
John Bond's second distillery was operating in the vicinity of Bailey’s Run by 1820. In 1836 John moved it close to his home (called Forest Hill) on the banks of Cedar Brook.
BD now takes the story to a third generation of Bonds as they continued the family distilling tradition:
John Bond died intestate in October of 1842. Court appointed overseers divided the estate among John’s 11 children, with the two eldest males, David and John Wilkerson, inheriting the house, surrounding acreage and the still. The remaining 9 children received parcels of land. David and John W. made improvements to both the still and the house and eventually clad the existing log structure in white clapboard and added the two story Greek Revival portico that still to this day adorns the front of the home. They also added at least one cabin to the grounds; most likely to house the enslaved.
John W. Bond sold his interest in Forest Hill (house, land and still) to brother David on May 30th, 1845 for $335. John “Wix” and his wife, Margaret Penney Bond, then headed to what is now known as the Bond’s Mill/Fox Creek Road area and built a two story clapboard home on their newly purchased farm.
BD records the ascendancy of William F. Bond as the ultimate successor of his father to the Bond distillery:
David continued making improvements to the Bond Forest Hill property and then in February of 1852, David sold the still, house and grounds to his young half brother, William F. Bond, for $1,650. William F. would have been 25 years old at that time and had married Susan (not Sarah) Mary Hanks, daughter of Turner and Nancy Holman Hanks. (Incidentally, William F.’s older half brother, Medley Shelton Bond, married Mary Jane Hanks, the sister of William F’s wife, Susan). So sisters married brothers.
William F. later added the east wing to the existing structure of the house. This addition completed the home to the structure that exists today (a picture of this home is posted in your blog). After David and his wife, Lucy, sold Forest Hill to William F, they also headed to the area that is now known as Bonds Mill Road. David purchased and operated the mill located at Salt River, and also built a large brick home up on the hill just past the west bank of the river. David and his family ran the mill for several generations—thus the area became known as Bond’s Mill Road.
There are numerous indications that David and John Wilkerson were still involved in the operation of the Bond distillery even after David sold to his younger brother. Family documents exist that show contracts for future delivery of Bond brand bourbon written by John Wilkerson Bond (“Wix”) in 1856, and grain for the local distilleries was also ground at David’s mill.
BD introduces William’s brother-in-law, Christopher C. Lillard, who has joined the Bond distilling operation as a full partner:
William F. Bond brought his brother in law, C. C. Lillard, into the distillery as partner in 1869. This was the birth of the Bond & Lillard brand. Incidentally (or not), 1869 is also the year that David Bond died. 1869 was a horrific year for the extended Bond family. Mother/step mother Sallie Utterback Bond, brothers Ben Jordan and David Bond, John Wix’s daughter, Malinda Bond Hackley, and her infant daughter, all died within just months of each other.
Contrary to popular but misguided assumptions, the Bond and Lillard Distillery has NEVER been located on Bonds Mill Road. There have been other Bond family distilleries located there, such as the M.S. Bond Distillery that is now Four Roses, as well as the post Prohibition Bonds Mill Distillery, later known as the Bond & Johnson Distillery (owned by Robert E. Johnson—great grandson of John Bond) and his father Jesse M. Johnson, but the Bond and Lillard Distillery was never located there. From the time it was moved from Baileys Run in 1836 until local operations ceased, the Bond and Lillard Distillery was always located at the end of Bond Lillard Road, just past the Forest Hill estate (now privately owned property).
BD concludes by clarifying the background of an ad for the Nancy Hanks whiskey brand that appeared in my original article, the image repeated below:
Now, in reference to the John Bond & Co. Distillery advertisement you posted in reference to the Nancy Hanks brand—yes, this is the same extended Hanks family that produced the mother of Abraham Lincoln. Lots of families in Lawrenceburg have blood connections to Abraham Lincoln, including Yours Truly through Lincoln’s Abbott/White great grandparents. The Hanks and Sparrow surnames are numerous and common in Lawrenceburg, both dating back to pioneer days. In this case, however, I believe (if I’m not mistaken and I just cannot find my records where I came across this), I do believe that this particular distillery with the Bond name but based in Lexington was born from a descendant of William F.’s half brother, Medley Shelton Bond. I just can’t remember which one it was.
This bourbon was most likely a triple play on the Nancy Hanks name. Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln, had a champion harness trotter horse named after her as pictured on the label. Nancy Hanks was also the name of a Bond maternal grandmother (Nancy Holman Hanks, to be specific).
Note: My gratitude goes to the Bond Descendant who has added so much rich detail to the Bond and Lilliard story and helped straighten out details of the Bond family that have too often been garbled on the Internet.