John  Beggs

The  Shelby  Democrat
February 20, 1879
VOL. 1; No. 37
from the article, SMILING  SHELBYVILLE!
The  Shelbyville  Distillery.
Was built in the year 1857.  It has been owned and run by a number of persons since its erection, and in October, 1872, passed into the hands of  John Beggs, the present proprietor.  This institution, under his management, has been very successful.  A great many improvements have been made since his ownership.  He has had built a new brick malt house, warehouse, corn dump and elevator, fermenting room with the necessary fermenting tubs, entirely new cattle pens, stables, out-houses, etc.  Few people in this county have any idea of the magnitude of the business done by this establishment.  It is immense, as the facts given below will abundantly prove.  It consumes from three thousand to three thousand six hundred bushels of corn per week, making for the year, about one hundred and fifty-six thousand bushels.  It turns out from twelve to fourteen thousand gallons of high-wines every week making near seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand gallons for the year.  It pays from $10,000 to $13,000 revenue tax per week.  It has paid  $1,531,436.25 tax on 26,820 barrels of high-wines from October 15, 1874 to January 1, 1879, with an interval  of six  months when work was stopped for repairs, etc.  It has paid, for grain, coopers, salaries of employes[sic], etc from  October 15, 1874, to January 1, 1879, the large sum of $335,000 over $250,000 which was paid for grain alone.  The business of the distillery is conducted on a large scale, and that it is a great benefit to the people of Shelby county a thinking man will doubt.  The importance to the people of keeping, in active operation an institution of this kind is very great.  To the farmer is affords a convenient advantage in the disposition of his corn.  Mr. Beggs pays from one to two cents more on the bushel than any other buyer in this county,  and all wagons passing through the city of Shelbyville are charged no toll from that place.  
          Next biography in the "Smiling Shelbyville" newspaper article, Julius Joseph.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming

            Hon. John Beggs, President of the Shelby Distilling Company, is a native of Ireland, and son of  Edward and  Elizabeth (Gibson) Beggs; parents both born in the same country, about the year 1798.  Edward Beggs was for many years a merchant in the town of Ballinamallord, Ireland, where his death occurred in the year 1872.  John Beggs is the second of a family of seven children and dates his birth from the 6th day of April, 1830, having first seen the light in the town where his father carried on the mercantile business.  He received his primary education in his native country, and at the age of ten years, came to America, locating at Cincinnati, where for some time he pursued his studies under competent instructors in a select school.  Having completed his preparatory course he subsequently became a student of Woodward College, which institution he attended for a period of three years, making substantial progress during that time.  In the spring of 1845, he began to learn the distillery business, at New Richmond, Ohio, under  David Gibson, and after becoming proficient in the same, put his knowledge into practice by taking charge of a distillery in the city of Troy, thence to Ashville, Ohio, where he was similarly engaged for more than four years.  In 1852, he engaged in distillery business at Metamora, Franklin County, Ind., and after remaining there for a period of twenty years sold out in 1872, and removed to Shelbyville, in which city he operated a distillery, until 1883.  In that year he suffered severely by fire, his loss aggregating about $25,000.  Immediately after this disaster, Mr. Beggs founded the Shelby Distilling Company, of which he has since served as President.  This company under the efficient management of Mr. Beggs, has succeeded in building up a very prosperous business, and is one of the largest and most successful corporations of the kind in southern Indiana.  In addition to his business enterprises, Mr. Beggs has given a great deal of attention to public and political affairs, having been elected to the State Senate in 1876.  In his political affiliations he is a Democrat, and as such has rendered valuable service to his party in this county.  He married in 1853,  Miss Rebecca Lewis,  who was born in Franklin County, Indiana, in the year 1831.  To this marriage were born eight children, seven of whom are living, viz.:  Elizabeth C.,  Belle,  Clara,  John E.,  Kate,  Harry  and  Thomas.  
            John E. Beggs, Superintendent of the works of the Shelby Distilling Company, and also one of the stockholders, was born at Metamora, Franklin County, Indiana, July 28, 1861, and is the son of  John and Rebecca (Lewis) Beggs.  He is the eldest son of seven children.  The greatest part of his education was obtained in the public schools of Laurel, Ind., but his father moved to Shelbyville in 1879, and John E. had the benefit of attending the Shelbyville High School a year or so.  After having learned the trade of yeast maker at Cincinnati, he entered his father's distillery at Shelbyville in 1881, and having applied himself with great care, was made superintendent of that institution during the year following.  It was while holding this position, that Mr. Beggs made some rare and valuable discoveries in the art of yeast making, which greatly increased the amount of alcohol a given quantity of grain will produce.  Not long after he became superintendent of his father's distillery, a serious fire broke out which entirely destroyed that establishment.  A fine new building was immediately erected in its stead, by the Shelby Distilling Company, in which company, the subject of this sketch is now a stockholder, and is also superintendent of the distilling department.  In politics, Mr. Beggs is an uncompromising Democrat, and cast his first vote for Cleveland for President.  He is a member of one secret order, the Knights of Pythias, which he joined in 1886.  He was married February 13, 1887, to  Miss Kate C. Webb, of this city.  Mrs. Beggs is the daughter of  Robert and  Clara (Mason) Webb, who are natives of Virginia.
The History of Shelby County, Indiana, "Shelbyville Sketches", Chicago: Brant & Fuller, 1887, page 471-472. 
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming

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