Brown-Forman Established and George Garvin Brown

Historical Marker #2105 notes the creation of the Brown-Forman Company in Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the company's founders, George Garvin Brown.

Brown was born in Munfordville, Kentucky, on September 2, 1846. He moved to Louisville in 1862, and attended Male High School. Brown first worked as a wholesale drug salesman. In 1870, George teamed up with his half brother, J. T. S. Brown Jr., to launch J. T. S. Brown and Brothers Co. They started by producing bourbon whiskey for doctors and pharmacies in the area. Their company quickly expanded production for the general public.

The company changed its name to Brown-Chambers in 1884, and then Brown-Thompson in 1881. The company adopted its current name, Brown-Forman, in 1890. George Forman was George Brown's partner and bookkeeper. Forman died in 1901, but his name continued to live on in the company’s name.

George Brown became known for his innovations in the whiskey industry and his product's excellent reputation. He prided himself on the company's premier bourbon, Old Forester, and placed his signature on every bottle. He wanted the whiskey bottles to have a uniform quality and taste. The company made these assurances by bottling and sealing the whiskey on site. This process prevented retailers from mixing or diluting the liquor.

Brown also became the first president of the National Liquor Dealers’ Association in 1894. He opposed prohibition and even wrote a book against prohibition in 1910, The Holy Bible Repudiates Prohibition. In his personal life, Brown married Amelia Bryant Owsley in 1876. They had two children, Owsley and Robinson Brown. George died in 1917 and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.

The Brown-Forman Company continued to thrive even after George Brown's death. His son, Owsley Brown, took over for his father. The company steadily grew to become one of the largest wine and spirits companies in the world, which it remains today.