Nick Williams, Distiller Extraordinaire


Few families have a road named after them. Even fewer have a town in their honor. Nicholas Glenn Williams had both.

A descendant of Revolutionary war soldier Joseph Williams, Lieutenant Colonel of the Provincial Congress, Nicholas Glenn Williams diversified the farming and cattle operations of the Shallow Ford region of North Carolina by using excess farm corn to produce unaged whiskey. And excess corn the Williams family had — when the Colonel originally settled in the area, he acquired around 8,000 acres of land near the Yadkin river. Access to so much corn enabled Nick to build a remarkable moonshine business. At the height of its operation, Nick’s distillery employed several hundred workers and manufactured a well-known brand of moonshine called “Old Nick” that was shipped all over the world.

The Williams distillery was the largest pre-prohibition era, federally licensed distillery in the state of North Carolina. In order to bypass a state law that banned distilleries from unincorporated areas, the town of Williams was incorporated in 1903 — with a population of 52 — thanks to the political genius of Nick Williams. That’s right, 52 citizens. Talk about having some brass during the temperance movement! Eventually, though, the Williams distillery was closed and the “Old Nick” label became another log in the annals of North Carolina moonshine history.

Williams Road in Lewisville, North Carolina still remains as an homage to Nick Williams and his ancestors.