Click to enlargeLore for the Store
Come sit with me
and you shall see
the Newsom's Legacy
People make history
But history definitely
makes people
who we are today

In 1449, instead of our family name of "Newsom," we were the "Newsham" family living in Newsham Hall in England. By 1642, the first Newsom had landed on the coast of Jamestown -- his name being William Newsom. It's very striking that my father's name (second generation owner of Newsom's and extensive developer of the commercial Newsom's ham business) was also named William Newsom. The Newsoms spread the coast between Virginia and North Carolina, some moving somewhat inward. By the late 1700s, they migrated to Kentucky to the county we now live in, having been given a Revolutionary Land Grant for military service performed. Our family historian called the Newsoms "fearless pioneers!" by the 1700s.

NOW!! Let's lay the ground work for visiting our existing Newsom's Old Mill Store.

...Our original retail store was the "H.C. Newsom Store." See Hosea Newsom at his store below.

...By age 18, my father had taken on the store. See below for Col. Bill's Store for over 50 years.

Oct. 4, 1987, became the date that I took over running the business. Dad, Bill, was 73 — nearly 74, and he was tired. He had served the public — as a public servant since age 8, as times were hard back then. When you were old enough to help — you worked.

Each generation has its own concepts about business — even family businesses. We take what foundation was laid for us — our legacy we inherited and move on. We take our history — what made us who we are today, the bits and pieces of abilities, personalities, determinations, etc. we inherited from those before us and reinvent the wheel. . .all but slowly though for as it is quoted, “There is a time and a place for everything.”

I Colonel Nancy Newsom Mahaffey had begun to realize that the curing methods of Newsom’s Hams were a method of the past — that they could become, in the midst of the factory cured ham shuffle, a “most wanted” item. What better way to allow a retail store to evolve but to have the days of old and simplicity that were there — old ways of doing business — merge into today’s world of “Let’s hurry you up and out” of the store. Which does the customer prefer today? I say — attention and service! Quality in my hams — not how much better by “bigger” we are.

That led to my introduction of quote “gourmet and country” products, jams, jellies, etc., with my legacy of ham curing and retail sales of Colonel Bill Newsom's Hams. Together they make a good fit and they are not made for sale in a hurry either!

I hope you are more than ready to enter my humble Newsom's Old Mill Store which I began to develop in 1987. I felt it necessary to give a bit of my blessings I received of a rich history of family, public service. . .to lay the foundation of our business. As I said before, “People make history, but history makes us who we are today.” I guess that's why I am now called “The Ham Lady.”

Welcome to Newsom's Old Mill Store, the home for retail sales, locally and nationally, of Colonel Bill Newsom's Aged Ham. It's the only store you can purchase our hams from as we intend to remain the only “hands on” sales rep that you will talk to in this matter.

Our personal service can extend nationally as well as locally, we're handling our own product and legacy of good service to you.

. . .This section of our website is a work in progress as so are we all.

The H.C. Newsom Store
The H.C. Newsom Store

This was our original retail store, "H.C. Newsom Store," separated by only a firewall adjacent to my other buildings and the existing retail store Newsom's Old Mill Store.

This was where "the store" all began. H.C. Newsom, my grandfather, occupied the building in 1917. According to advertisements in the local newspaper, he opened the grocery store on January 1. Prior to that he had operated an enterprise call the Mill Store Stand, down by the "old mill."

The location that my grandfather occupied in 1917 had exclusively been a grocery, general store business since its construction in 1865.

It was the only store of its nature, selling general store merchandise, pickles in barrels, flour, sugar, etc. -- all out of barrels.

Dishes were, even at that time, used as incentive for retail sales, customers obtained them for purchase of "X" amount of merchandise. Imagine that? a marketing device like that in 1917?

Everyone in that day cured their own aged meat, so fewer hams were sold out of the H.C. Newsom Retail Store than today.

There was a large market in bulk garden seeds. Bundled vegetable plants were grown by my grandfather in his backyard greenhouse for use in sales at his store. In fact, he was known as “the garden seed and plant man.”

Col. Bill's Store for Over 50 Years
Col. Bill's Store for Over 50 Years

By age 18, my father had taken on the store because of his father’s death in 1933. Bill proceeded to turn the store eventually into a more modern day appearance (for that day) moving more into canned, box grocery items as they became more readily available.

Bill was also known as the Garden Seed and Plant Man, Down by the Mill (which is now my retail store).

The days of folks curing their own hams had become less as time grew on, so Bill, my father, cured more and more hams for sale to townsfolk at the store.

By 1975, years later and several “hams cured” later, our father of gourmet cooking, James Beard had laid the ground work for national sales of Bill’s hams through his writings of the extraordinary Colonel Bill Newsom’s Hams.

Dad designed his first brochure in 1975; and I, a young mother -- from home –- stuffed, stamped and mailed it out!

What seemed to be disaster struck our family to the core -- I sat at 4:30 a.m. and watched H.C. Newsom Store burn to its ruin! It was fall, Oct. 4, 1987.

How could I forget? That was the year that the legacy of full service mom and pop stores crashed -- seemed like they all went out of business in the area after that! Yes -- it was the end of an era!

Saved from the disaster of that fire were the Ham Files (addresses of national customers), my grandfather’s chopping block, a picture of a pig playing a flute in the garden, a very few meat production utensils and the most important component … the AGED CURED BILL NEWSOM'S HAMS, still intact in another location -- nestled near the woods in a quiet, safe area.

How Preacher Ham Got Its Name
How Preacher Ham Got Its Name

As it happened, we had begun to look for ways to differentiate the description of our hams for people who were not facing us across the counter for a tasting.

The Aged Ham (our country ham and our prosciutto version) is quite distinctive and has a rich, exquisite flavor, all its own. It is cured É salted, smoked and weather aged in the old family smokehouse.

The Barbecue Ham, which you know now as the Preacher Ham, is a ham that we have specially prepared and placed on a hickory pit (a barbecue pit, thus the original name) for a long-slow smoke.

While our aged ham comes from a family recipe dating to a will of the 1700s, the Barbecue Ham has been a Newsom family project for 60 years, sold many years in the H.C. Newsom grocery operated by HoseaÕs son Bill until the store burned in 1987 and now offered in NancyÕs Old Mill Store and through our online store.

So, there we had two hams that you would describe as smoked. Yet, they were two very different hams indeed.

What would you send to a customer who called from a thousand miles away and asked for that smoked ham that you make? And, what of the customers who responded with the order form included in the annual mailing. Nancy was pondering the right way to make sure that the customer would get the ham that they wanted.

Each of these hams has developed a following; and while many of our family of customers say they like both, some have developed a very distinct preference for one or the other of the smoked hams.

The aged hams have their seniority and are most commonly what people mean when they say a Newsom's Ham. So, what to call that succulent alternative?

The answer came from a very dear customer of long-standing É a gorgeous treasure of a lady with the ringing of angels and a lilt of mischief in her laughter, a lady never bored by life, a soul of great perseverance and determination, with just a touch of mystic É quite a delightful character named Betsy.

Betsy Hooks is the woman who came up with the name "Preacher Ham" for that barbecue ham which her family had grown love on their own dinner table.

Betsy had actually been introduced to the ham as a girl when her mother, married to a minister, would come to buy or send the young Betsy to grocery store on Main Street to buy that Barbecue ham, succulent and smokey to add to the Sunday table for the visiting preachers.

Once grown and with her own family, Betsy worked as a rural mail carrier. She and husband, Ronnie, were the parents of a daughter and two sons. And, along the way, as Betsy and Ronnie grew in their life and their marriage and their family, he had become a minister, as had been her father. And in that ministry, they came to entertain many evangelists in their home and served up many pounds of Newsom's barbecue ham.

Betsy is quite a woman of faith. She has battled medical science for her life and come out on the uphill side, being able after many years of deepening struggle to one day come smiling grandly through the door of this old store, bubbling over with it, then (just before the punch line) striking a conspiratorial pose to declare, "I'm cured! Praise God!"

A disorder of her blood tried its best to claim Betsy's life, but it could not. She is the true witness that an informed, persistent patient will not be one to lay down and die. Betsy had at one point been a patient of the late Dr. Frank Giannini (a local physician who pulled out all stops mixing tried and true with new), but was now being seen by specialists in hematology, physicians and scientists who failingly prescribed all the best known treatments. It was one of those "just a matter of time" moments for a patient, but Betsy felt there was an answer to be found. She had children, a husband, family and friends and a great will to live.

Her body was giving out, but Betsy's heart and soul were not. She said give me B-12, give me blood, keep me alive ... and, they did, until one day the mystery of Betsy's failing blood unraveled. A moment of childhood mischief had resulted in young Betsy wrecking her brother's bicycle -- a bicycle wreck when she was supposed to be at home and definitely not riding the bicycle. She was injured then, but the tomboy just felt badly bruised and thought better of complaining about the incident in which she had crossed so many forbidden lines. The wreck had actually injured a femur, had injured a source of bone marrow production in the growing child ... and thus, the woman later began to lose her health and life to a failure to renew her own blood. Ah, the mysteries of science unraveled. And so, the character of Betsy prevailed ... a true woman of great faith.

But, back to our ham É There is, sometimes, only so much reverence you can hold. So, in one day comes Betsy, a very fine cook that you would be quite gastronomically blessed to have an invitation from, and, she slaps her hand down on the counter. It appears that she and Ronnie were to feed Sunday dinner again to a visiting evangelist and, while she would spend much time at the stove in preparation, he had sent her in for the barbecue ham. With more than a hint of exasperation in her voice, the busy Betsy followed the hand slap onto the counter with a declaration ... Give me some of that "preacher ham!" É Nothing but the best, for the preacher you know!

And, so, it has been, thanks to our beloved Betsy, preacher ham ever since.

We are blessed by customers who say they love our products and our service...truly blessed!

Our Customer
Our Customer

The sentiments of a tome made popular by the decades old Fuller Brush Company sales principles are just as true as generation after generation passes for all those merchants who serve the public.

… Because the Customer has a need, we have a job to do. … Because the customer has influence, we have the hope of more customers. … Because of the customer, we exist. …

That is one of those old-fashioned notions that Nancy and her team work to fulfill each day at Newsom's.

Nancy Newsom Mahaffey is the third generation in her family of retail merchants. Newsom's is a business built on the traditions of highest quality products and service to the public. It was so with H.C. Newsom, it was so with Bill Newsom and it is an integral part today of the meats, retail store and mail order business that has evolved with Nancy Newsom Mahaffey.

This family of merchants serving the public started into business in their own right with the H.C. Newsom store in January 1917. Hosea had worked for others and in a partnership with another man before striking out on his own. Bill took on the store when his father died and Nancy accepted the mission to rebuild the business after a fire destroyed the family's full service grocery store.

A weathered, aging certificate presented to Bill by the local Rotary Club in 1956 echoes those family principles of service. It is has always held a prominent place in the business plan for Newsom's.

That document states, in part, … To value success in my vocation as a worthy ambition when achieved as a result of service to society; but to accept no profit nor distinction which arises from unfair advantage, abuse of privilege or betrayal of trust. … To recognize that any sound transaction must be governed by practices which bring satisfaction to all parties concerned and to esteem it a privilege, in my profession or business to serve beyond the strict measure of duty or obligation. ...

"It is our customers who confirm that we are giving that service which has long been our goal in business," says Nancy. "We are so grateful that they express their satisfaction to us in the many comments that they share."

Another Chapter
Another Chapter

Nancy's Notes
Nancy's Notes

October, 2018

Dearest Friends and Customers,

Our historic iron kettle is over 100 years old now — our Newsom’s legacy in business is the same age. The black kettle (as seen on the front cover) sits nestled in the floor among our Newsom’s Aging Hams. They hang high overhead and down. Very mystically, as you will, the smoke rises, creeps among the hams and curls around them, while they await the bath of mahogany color and ultimately, a smoky desirable flavor. Our aging, smoked country hams acquire “a deep finish,” having to do with the color — desirable to the human eye. Our “heritage ways” have what’s called “proof in the pudding.” The exquisite, intricate layering of flavor in our Newsom’s aged ham speaks for itself. Care, method, natural weather aging with Kentucky temperatures, and decades of curing knowledge all play a part in our beloved aged ham.

It is quite a long process and tedious to cure our hams. It all begins with our special salt/brown sugar mixture and the freshest ham for curing available. Correct and precisely, the mixture is rubbed with much care at great lengths to“ensure the cure.” Without the use of nitrates and nitrites, our hams are stored in the cure with many more processes repeated over and over. After the cold temperatures have allowed some penetration of the age old way and mixture, each ham is “Hand Washed” and hung in the aging house, smokehouse, to endure the many changes of season. It is somewhat of a miracle how nature takes its course and the Newsom’s aging hams expand, contract, sweat, become drier — sealing a unique flavor with layers of complexity as the months and seasons change.

Smoking of our hams occurs with the curator’s intuitive knowledge of time. The Newsoms are in tune with nature, simple folk, thus they connect well with the weather and progress of the country hams, prosciutto, our special free range ham, etc.

No machine smoke is pumped into our aging houses — only smoke from the simple, historic old kettle that’s as old as our business. And, as for our standards of quality, and flavor — it all takes patience, time and allowing nature’s beauty to take its course. My heartfelt, earnest thanks and gratitude for all of your support through the many years — and for our newcomers, “welcome to the Newsom’s world of quality, service and simplicity of old.” Some things are best left unchanged, and that, I do believe.

Most Gratefully, Nancy, The Ham Lady


As I updated all of the records in our mail order files this year, I could not help but notice just how many states are represented and how many multiple times you have ordered from us supporting our cause -- to keep alive a heritage product and service. It is only because of your patronage that the Newsom's Family Business celebrates the 100th Anniversary of same family, same service -- founded January 1st, 2017.

It is through your faithfulness to us that we are able to accomplish this milestone. To all of you, we are most grateful.

In celebration of this accomplishment together, I hope that you will enjoy our Colonel Newsom's Aged Ham, Smoky BBQ Preacher Ham, Prosciutto and other products -- knowing that you ARE a part of our success and family!

With personalized and service-oriented ways, it is our honor to serve you.

These characteristics are a feature that smaller businesses possess in order to survive. The customer is not lost in the shuffle of huge, corporate-commercialized operations. The Newsom family has always felt the direct importance of personalized, down home service -- you have a name -- not just a number. We pray that you always feel that we "care" about your orders, your service and your dining experience with our products. We understand that most folks like to put a face or voice with the business.


1. No Sodium Nitrates or Nitrites are used in our process.

2. All Natural Methods are used, including an Ambient Weather Aging Process. -- As our forefathers always knew -- and before fast production of mass curing was performed, the natural weather seasons and outdoor environment create a phenomenal flavor for aged hams.

3. More complex layers of aged flavor are enjoyed as the ham expands and contracts with our natural weather seasons. Our hams will finally shrink (more than most artificial processes) in weight, the holding the complex flavors inside the ham.

4. Early Primitive Smoking Methods are used to bathe our beautiful relics -- hams -- for succulent flavor and a mahogany finish. 1800s to early 1900s iron kettles are used to product the hickory smoke permeating the smokehouse with mystical primitive essence of that old tradition. There is no machine smoke nor pumping smoke into our aging house. The method is of old -- as if the early American pioneer stepped back from the past.

5. Mass Production is Not Our Forte. All Col. Bill Newsom's Aged Hams are limited in number. Aged Ham Production with Kentucky climates prohibits the curing of huge volumes of aged hams due to succession of the seasons. We strive at Newsom's Hams to give you only the best -- tried and true from generations past and yet today because we are dedicated to you and to our heritage.

So, in closing, many thanks to you -- our friends and loyal customers for our journey 100 years ago to the present.

Sincerely, Nancy, The Ham Lady -- "Preservationist"

December 2018

Dearest Customer:

Our business experienced an amazing and heart-warming response this holiday season.

It has been a joy as we spoke with each of you and as you reached out to us with notes, cards and letters. You came to us to renew family traditions and recapture treasured memories, that is an unmeasurable honor. Truly we have been blessed, not just with your business, but with your kindness and trust.

Traditions of service and good taste are the trademark of Newsom’s and I and my team humbly strive to uphold those age old tenets of good business.

Many of you have a long and treasured relationship with us, as across the decades you have been a part of the Newsom’s customer family. Many of you are new to us, introduced through the pages of Southern Living magazine this year, and we welcome you to our customer family.

We hope that many of you found that “old ham” that you were seeking and I look forward to a continuing relationship with you and your family.

For those who were unable to reach us in holiday season, we look forward to being of service soon… Perhaps in 2019 a Newsom’s ham or prosciutto may find its way into your Easter celebration, for other special occasions or just because you find our flavors appealing and want to treat yourself.

In addition to filling all those orders that you made through our online store, we work at our local store on Main Street in Princeton. — A 101-year-old commitment to that tried-and-true tradition of service. It has been a wonderful experience to meet each of you who made the trek to our small city and came through our door to see for yourselves this old store and feel the decades of history here.

Thank You and God Bless, Nancy, the Ham Lady