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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage September 26, 2016

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Saturday, December 29, 2012


Verde Heritage

"The biggest still of them all, a veritable "Big Bertha" or, as the county officers put it, the mother of the "Big Bertha" captured some time ago, a copper monster with an estimated capacity of 700 gallons, was taken in the Black Canyon district near Clemenceau Saturday night by officers of the valley towns and was brought to Prescott yesterday by Sheriff Ruffner and his force."

"The still, held to be the largest ever found in Arizona, was found cleverly hidden in an oak thicket in the canyon, which lies about half way between the smelter town and Cherry Creek, and was in full operation at the time the officers arrived, making the arrest of the two distillers, Jack Miller and Roy Hogan, only a matter of form."

"The large still was turning out rye whiskey, said to be high proof and what the officials declared was 'good stuff,' while a secondary still of about 150 gallons capacity, was handling the run of the first one in a re-run."

"This equipment in addition to these big copper boilers included three redwood tanks of 500 gallons capacity, one of 1500 gallons, 52 gallon barrels of rye mash and a ten-gallon one, and a quantity of sugar and rye, as well as five pressure tanks of a very costly make and several gasoline burners, one of which was valued at $148. The whole outfit, it is estimated, would cost at least $2500 to set up for operation."

"An idea of the capacity of the still, as given by one of the officials, may be obtained from these figures: for one 'set-up' the big still would use two tons of sugar, six sacks of rye and a dozen pounds of yeast."

"The raid was made Saturday by Deputy Sheriffs Bill Dickerson, John Munds, and John Edwards, it was said, and these were joined yesterday by Sheriff Ruffner and Deputies Roland Mosher and Underhill. Part of the catch was moved to Clarkdale Saturday night, where the two men were held in jail, and the deputies remained at the site of the still during the night to protect the rest of the paraphernalia until the arrival of their superior officer."

"Yesterday the entire layout was loaded on a huge truck and brought to Prescott. Both Miller and Hogan were held in the county jail today, pending their hearing."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Monday, December 31, 1928; page 1, column 2.)

"VERDE OFFICERS GET THE LARGEST STILL ON RECORD: Raid on Goat Ranch Nets Deputies Two Prisoners and Equipment."

"The largest still ever confiscated by Yavapai county enforcement officers was taken at the 'Goat Ranch' southeast of Jerome by Verde district officers, according to reports from the Sheriff's office. The equipment was designed to run a capacity of between 600 and 700 gallons, officers estimated."

"Two men, Jack Miller and Ray Hogan, were arrested, according to Sheriff Ruffner. In three big redwood vats, of 1000 and 500 gallons capacity reposed 2,500 gallons of mash just ready to be put through the final process to convert it into liquor. Between 35 and 40 gallons of liquor were found at the place. The still was operated by two of the largest gas burners the deputies had ever picked up. There were half a dozen pressure tanks with indicators and everything on them. A secondary 80-gallon still, itself no inconsiderable catch for dry law enforcers, was found in the system, and officers said it was hooked up to make the second run of the once-distilled booze."

"In official circles it is believed that the two men captured with the still are merely the agents of a big operator who probably can remain concealed during all the transactions attending the trial and possible sentencing of the accused."

"The huge still, brought to town on a truck with all its accessories, is probably from 25 to 50 percent bigger than any heretofore captured by Yavapai officers. The estimated cost of such an outfit is greater than $3000."

(Verde Copper News; Tuesday, January 1, 1929; page 1.)


"An information charging Jack Miller and Ray Hogan with the manufacture of 25 gallons of intoxicating liquor, contrary to the provisions of the Volstead Act, was filed in the Superior Court this afternoon by County Attorney W. E. Patterson."

"Miller and Hogan, who were released from custody on bond following their preliminary hearing in the Justice Court, are the two men arrested near Clemenceau early in the week when Sheriff Ruffner and his officers took a 700 gallon still and its additional equipment, said to have been the largest bootleg outfit ever captured in Arizona."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Thursday, January 3, 1929; page 5, column 3.)

Photograph of the still and equipment when it was outside the Court House is available at Sharlot Hall Museum Archives; Call Number misc. 108p "Stills taken in raid from Hogan-Miller Outfit, Prescott, Arizona." (see internet information)

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