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.