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Jett, James F.

Posted by ceddleman 
Jett, James F.
March 16, 2007 02:50PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY AND KENTUCKIANS, E. Polk Johnson, three volumes,
Lewis Publishing Co., New York & Chicago, 1912. Common version, Vol. III,
pp. 1193-95. [Full page photograph of Mr. Jett included with bio.]
[Carroll County]

JAMES F. JETT--One of the prominent and influential representatives of the
great distilling industry in Kentucky is this well known and highly
esteemed citizens of Carrollton, where his capitalistic interests are of
broad scope and importance. He has achieved large and definite success
through his own efforts and "by very intelligible merits," as Emerson wrote
concerning the great Napoleon. Dependent entirely upon his own resources
from his youth, Mr. Jett has had the power to marshal the forces at his
command in an impregnable phalanx and has made of success not an accident
but a logical result, the while his course has been guided by those
principles of integrity and honor that ever beget objective confidence and
esteem. As one of the representative "captains of industry" in his native
county and state Mr. Jett is well entitled to recognition in this history
of Kentucky and Kentuckians.
James F. Jeff was born at Carrollton, Carroll county, this state, on
the 20th of June, 1847, and is a son of Richard V. and Elizabeth (Bradley)
Jett, the former of whom was born in Virginia and the latter in Maryland.
The lineage of the Jett family is traced back to staunch French origin,
and the name became identified with the annals of American history prior
to the war of the Revolution. The original representatives of the name
in the new world established their home in Virginia, and in that historic
old commonwealth Richard V. Jett was reared to maturity under the sturdy
discipline of the farm. As a young man he came to Kentucky and settled
on a tract of land near Carrollton, where he engaged in agricultural
pursuits, in connection with which he also found definite requisition for
his services at the work of his trade, that of shoemaker. He was here
employed at his trade for a number of years, in the itinerant way common
to the early days. He went about to the homes of the settlers and
manufactured shoes from leather that had been tanned by them. Finally he
removed from his farm to Carrollton, which was then a small village, and
here he continued to reside until his death, at the age of sixty-five
years. His wife, who was born in the year 1810, survived him by a score
of years and attained to the venerable age of eighty-four years. She was
a child at the time of the family removal from Maryland to Carroll county,
and her parents established their home at Ghent, where they became pioneer
settlers. Richard V. and Elizabeth (Bradley) Jett became the parents of
ten children, of whom the subject of this review was the ninth in order of
birth, and of the number six are now living.
James F. Jett was afforded but limited educational advantages in his
boyhood and youth, as he was enabled to attend the common schools in only
an irregular and desultory way, and he early initiated his career as one
of the world's workers. His mind was receptive, however, and his ambition
led him to read and study in an effective way, and this afforded him a firm
foundation for the broad fund of information which he has since gained in
connection with the practical associations of a significantly earnest and
successful career. At the age of twenty years Mr. Jett secured employment
in the old Darlington distillery, near Carrollton, and with the same he
continued to be identified for a period of three years, during which he
applied himself zealously and gained an excellent knowledge of the various
details of the business. After leaving this distillery he passed several
years in the city of Lexington and he was employed in various positions at
other points in the state. He was energetic and enterprising, carefully
conserved his resources and eventually formulated definite plans for
independent business operations. In 1881 he formed a partnership with his
brothers, Joseph S., George W. and Albert N., and they established a small
distillery in Carrollton. From this modest nucleus has been evolved the
large and modern institution with which Mr. Jett continues to be actively
identified, and the distillery is recognized as one of the most important
in the state. In 1889 the business was incorporated under the title of
the Jett Brothers Distilling Company, and its operations are based on a
capital stock of seventy-five thousand dollars. The stock in the
corporation is now held almost entirely by Joseph S. and James F. Jett
and they are numbered among the most progressive and substantial business
men of their native county. James F. Jett has been the general manager of
the business from the time of its foundation and has been president of
the company from the time of its incorporation. The distillery is
essentially modern in equipment and facilities, has a capacity for the
utilization of five hundred bushels of grain daily, and its trade, based
upon the high standard of products, extends throughout the most diverse
sections of the Union. The "Richland" brand of whiskey is a product of
this distillery and has long enjoyed marked popularity throughout the
country. In connection with the distillery the by-products are effectively
utilized in the feeding of cattle, and the large barns of the company have
a capacity for the accommodation of five hundred of cattle.
James F. Jett has been a hard worker during his entire career, and
his capacity seems to have no bounds. He has not been self-centered or
looked merely to individual aggrandizement, but as a citizen has manifested
the utmost loyalty and public spirit. He has given his aid and influence
in the promotion of innumerable measures and enterprises that have
conserved the advancement and welfare of his home city and county, and it
is worthy of special note that he was one of the foremost in promoting and
carrying to successful completion the building of the fine bridge across
the Kentucky river between Carrollton and Prestonville--a work that
required eight years to compass. This enterprise met with much opposition
but the great value of the bridge is now uniformly recognized, as it has
afforded facilities of inestimable benefit to the city of Carrollton and to
the inhabitants on the west side of the river. The undertaking was carried
through by a private company, organized and incorporated for the purpose,
and the city and its citizens also contributed to the funds required for
the completion of the bridge. Mr. Jett became treasurer of the company at
the time of its organization and still continues incumbent of this office.
In 1909 he effected the organization of the Carrollton Leaf Tobacco
Warehouse Company, which was incorporated with a capital stock of forty
thousand dollars and of which he has been president from the start. The
warehouse of this company is a substantial structure of brick, steel and
concrete construction, and covers an entire acre of ground, as it is two
hundred and four feet square in general lateral dimensions. It is one of
the most modern buildings of its kind, as well as one of the largest, in
the entire state, and affords facilities that are of great value in
connection with the tobacco industry in this section of the state. Mr.
Jett's public spirit has been further evidenced by his erection of the
Carrollton opera house block, one of the best buildings in the city and one
that affords the best of facilities for the better class of dramatic and
musical entertainments which it is now possible to secure to the city. The
fine auditorium has a seating capacity for the accommodation of six hundred
persons, and is a credit and a source of pride to the city.
Though never imbued with any desire for public office, Mr. Jett
accords a staunch allegiance to the Democratic party and he has contributed
his quota to the success of its cause through his activity in its local
contingent. He is affiliated with the Carrollton lodge of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has passed the various official chairs,
and this organization has but one member that has longer identified
therewith than he. Mr. Jett has also the distinction of being at the
present time the oldest native-born citizen residing in Carrollton, where
his circle of friends are coincident with that of his acquaintances.
In 1879 Mr. Jett was united in marriage to Miss Albertine Anders, who
was born in the state of Arkansas, though a representative of an old
Kentucky family. Though they have no children of their own Mr. and Mrs.
Jett have shown a deep interest in aiding the children of others less
fortunately placed, and they have contributed most generously to the
education of a number of children, while they are ever ready to give their
aid in support of worthy charities and benevolences.
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