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.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
1925: COTTONWOOD LIQUOR RAIDS; Sheriff Weil; March 10.
"Lining up between 30 and 40 customers in the pool hall of Leo Regina at Cottonwood last night, Sheriff Weil and a force including federal and local authorities, conducted a search that revealed a considerable amount of liquor, according to accounts telephoned to Prescott."
"Regina, who has conducted a pool room at Cotonwood for a number of years, was arrested and taken before Justice of the Peace Robertson, who released him on $250 cash bond. This was the first raid on record against this pool hall, so far as is known here."
"The confiscated liquor is said to have amounted to 10 small and eight large bottles of moonshine."
(Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; March 11, 1925.)
Ed Weil was the Sheriff of Yavapai County from January 1, 1925 until December 31, 1926. He was called "the two gun sheriff." He ran for sheriff on the Republican ticket. "Before the election he promised that if he got the job he would clean up the wide open places around the mining camps." Everyone knew that a wide open dive near a mining camp was a pretty rough place. "He was told that if he tried it, he would be ridden out of town on a rail."
Sheriff Weil blew into the Tia Juana dance hall in Cottonwood at night, with his six shooters and two deputies. "He lined 45 men and 22 women in the place up against the wall," and sent his deputies through the place to gather up the evidence. While waiting for his deputies to collect the 2 truckloads of evidence, "Sheriff Weil sat on a pool table, legs dangling over, and two pistols displayed careless-like. The men with hands up grew restless." Sheriff Weil "began joking with them and finally told them to go sit down and be good little boys. The whole 45 obeyed as though they were in Sunday school."
"Among the 45 men were some bad hombres, a number with several notches in their pistols." Sheriff Weil "did not even take the trouble to relieve them of their guns, telling them he supposed none of them wanted to commit suicide." Sheriff Weil and his deputies "drove the whole crowd out into the steet, nailed up the dive," loaded their 2 trucks with evidence, and went back home.
"The tough, wide open, vicious Cottonwood dives are wide open no more. A little white mule corn liquor is smuggled in there, of course, as everywhere, but just try to buy a drink after the word has come that Ed Weil's big Studebaker car is on that side of the mountains!" Sheriff Weil is still waiting to be ridden out of town on a rail.
Ed Weil "told the folks of his county that if he were elected sheriff, he'd clean the mining country up so's it would be fit to raise a family in. All around in the mountains, up canyons and gullies and in deep holes in the rocks or out on deserted ranches, were moonshine stills, bringing into being out of corn mash, wheat, rye or even fruit --- vile, powerful liquor that would run an automobile engine except that it might blow the cylinder heads off. Yavapai County has an area of 8,130 square miles, with an average of 3 persons to the mile."
"The sheriff asked --- and got --- a Big Six Studebaker automobile. Then you ought to have seen him clean up! He has had stills piled up all over the big car, and for awhile, the copper production of his office, in the shape of stills, almost equaled the production of the big mines in Jerome."
"He didn't 'monkey around' either. Where there was a still, he just simply went and got it. ... Grumbles Sheriff Weil: 'Here I've got a dozen more places to raid and I need room to store the copper in. I'm running a sheriff's office, not a copper storage warehouse.'"
(THE ARIZONA SHERIFF; by Major Grover F. Sexton; "The Deputy from Yavapai;" published by The Studebaker Corporation of America; 1925/1928; pages 8-10, 24-25.)