Lincoln Gusler, Ferrum, Virginia, circa 1970s.

Abraham Lincoln Gusler (1899-1978) was one of several makers of copper still parts in the southern Virginia Blue Ridge.  As a teenager, Gusler began turning out copper buckets for his own use.  During his life he also farmed and did carpentry work.  Lincoln Gusler liked doing things the old-time way.  Indeed, as a farmer, he never even bought a tractor.

Gusler’s coppersmithing shop adjoined his house near the small Franklin County community of Ferrum.  Shop equipment included various wooden patterns, hammers, metal shears, and soldering equipment–everything necessary to shape copper into still parts.  His core business was in fashioning still caps and worms, but Gusler’s son remembers his father making a turnip still pot.  Lincoln’s caps and worms were standardized in size and were stored behind a false wall in the attic of his home.  When customers dropped by, Gusler usually had a few suitable pieces already prepared.

After the death of his wife in 1968, Gusler began crafting a wider assortment of copper items, including cups, pots, a pair of shoes, a hat, and musical instruments.  He was quite the local character, riding around in his Model A coupe and wearing his copper derby.  Gusler participated in local festivals, and not surprisingly his most popular products were miniature replicas of moonshine stills.