Thomas Gaff (Thomas Gaff)

Thomas Gaff

Industrialist, Financier. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, he came to America with his parents in 1811 and settled in Springfield, New Jersey. Educated in private schools, he learned papermaking from his father and the distillery business from his uncle, Charles Wilson. With his brothers, John and James, he opened a distillery in Philadelphia in the 1830’s. The Gaffs moved their business to Aurora, Indiana in 1843 and re-established the distillery as the T & J.W. Gaff & Company Distillery. They produced bourbon, rye, and Thistle Dew Scotch whiskey. Their business accumulated substantial wealth while they also operated the Crescent Brewing Company. Gaff and his brothers expanded to own and operate several other businesses including farming, silver mining in Nevada, a jewelry store in Cincinnati, Ohio, a foundry, turnpike and canal construction businesses, and two Louisiana plantations. While their success depended on transportation on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, they owned a fleet of steamboats to move their goods. Gaff also owned a mill in Columbus, Indiana and set up several civic utilities at Aurora, Indiana where he lived with his family at Hillforest, a mansion that is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Gaff died in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1884 when he was 75 years old. (bio by: K Guy)  Family links:  Parents:  Margaret Wilson Gaff (1782 – 1859)  Spouse:  Sarah T Darling Gaff (1804 – 1891)  Children:  Vienna Howe (____ – 1869)*  Caroline Margaret Gaff (1837 – 1853)*  James Gaff (1841 – 1843)*  Agnes Gaff Howe (1842 – 1926)*  Emma Gaff (1847 – 1848)*  Siblings:  Thomas Gaff (1808 – 1884)  James W Gaff (1817 – 1879)*  John H Gaff (1820 – 1879)* *Calculated relationship

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  • July, 08, 1808
  • Scotland


  • April, 04, 1884
  • USA


  • Spring Grove Cemetery
  • Ohio
  • USA

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