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.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
1925: BOOZE RAIDS IN THE VERDE DISTRICT; March 17, 18, 19.
"WHOLESALE RAIDS IN VERDE DISTRICT NET MORE THAN 100 GALLONS OF BOOTLEG, THREE PRISONERS AND FIVE STILLS FOR THE SHERIFF."
"Wholesale moonshine raids, the most productive as well as the largest ever pulled in Yavapai county, which netted five alleged violators, five complete copper stills, one of them the size of a bathtub, approximately 100 gallons of finished liquor, an underground storage vat four-by-eight feet in dimensions partly filled with a score or more barrels of mash, were conducted Tuesday and Wednesday by Sheriff E. G. Weil and his deputies in different parts of the county."
"Sheriff Weil and the local deputies taking part in the series of raids returned to Prescott this afternoon with the prisoners, stills and liquor which were taken in the two-day drive. Those arrested were: Homer Barnes of Red Rock on Rye Creek, Dave DeMour of Oak Creek, Jesus Romero also of Oak Creek, Anastacias Rodrequez of Clemenceau and Francisco Valacia, who was taken at Romero's place."
"At Homer Barnes' place at Red Rock, the officers found one of the largest and most complete distilling liquor outfits that has been brought to Prescott. In addition to the still, which rivaled a bathtub in point of size, the sheriff found an underground vat, something new in the bootleg manufacturing circles of Yavapai county. This is the first vat that the officers have taken and was unusually well protected, but Sheriff Weil and his deputies succeeded in finding it. The big tank was partly filled with a weak grade of moonshine. Mr. Weil stated that the fluid was evidently being stored in the tank preparatory to running it through the still again."
"Besides the huge plant and the vat, the officers also confiscated approximately 100 gallons of high percentage alcoholic bootleg liquor and destroyed a large quantity of mash. Part of the finished liquor was brought to Prescott to be used as court evidence, but the most of it together with the raw product stored in the tank was dumped out as transportation facilities were lacking to bring all of it here. The vat was also destroyed."
"The plant which Barnes was running was complete in every detail and was the best outfit that the officers have seized during the present administration. Sheriff Weil said that one of his men had been watching Barnes for some time and it is estimated that his plant had been turning out approximately 300 gallons of high percentage alcoholic liquor a month."
"Another highly productive raid was conducted on Oak Creek in which Jesus Romero was arrested and a big still confiscated. Five gallons of the finished product which was secreted in an underground cache were seized by the officers. Six barrels of mash were destroyed at his place."
"When Sheriff Weil and his deputies raided the property of Dave DeMour on Oak Creek, they were unable to find a still but saw evidence that one had been going strong in the not far distant past. Several bottles of bootleg were found as well as 10 or 12 barrels of mash which was destroyed. The mash was hidden in an underground dugout, but no still could be located."
"Deputy Sheriff John Munds seized a still in Clemenceau at the place of Anastacias Rodrequez, who was manufacturing his liquor within a hundred yards of a church there. In the visit to his plant, the officers found a barrel of mash and three bottles of liquor. The raid was conducted this morning."
"Barnes and DeMour were able to give bond and were released following their arrest. The former was let out on $750 bail and the latter $500. The other three men were lodged in the county jail. Valencia, who was arrested with Romero at Oak Creek denied that he had anything to do with making the beverage. Romero also affirmed his statement and added that Valencia was only working for him. The prisoner was not released, however, and was lodged in the county jail."
(Prescott Evening Courier; Thursday, March 19, 1925; pages 1 and 6.)
"RED ROCKS RUM RAID YIELDS HUGE STILLS AND MUCH BAD, BAD HOOCH; Weil Makes Record; Burning of Illicit Dugout Calls Down Threat of Arson Charge on Sheriff."
"No mere pecking attacks, but sledge hammer blows against violators of the liquor laws are the program of Sheriff Ed. Weil, and yesterday morning when his big car pulled into town from the Verde country, there were five of the biggest stills yet captured in it and a record of swift raiding that transcends anything yet accomplished."
"In two months the sheriff's force has done more against bootlegging than had been accomplished in the two years preceeding his assumption of office."
"The cleaning up process hit the territory between the Verde river and the Red Rocks like the tornado. ... At the ranch of Homer Barnes, 36 miles out of Jerome, a record haul of finished product --- 100 gallons --- was taken."
"At this place the largest still the sheriff has yet captured, was found and confiscated. It is as big as a bath tub with a large copper dome and a capacity of 60 gallons."
"This raid was designed to give a meaning to the name of Dry Creek on which Barnes lives. It is dryer now by some gallons of booze. ... It being impossible to transport all the 'evidence' Sheriff Weil took bottles of the various sorts of liquid and dumped the rest out. He completed the charring of the inside of the big wooden vat."
"The second largest still captured on the raid was taken at the Oak Creek ranch of Jesus Romero, who is believed to have been in the hoosegow before on a liquor charge. His 20-gallon still, six jugs of alleged whiskey and three or four barrels of mash were found."
"Dave De Mour was quite exercised when the sheriff, having executed his warrant and having found what he was satisfied was plenty of evidence, took a swift and certain means of putting the distillery hors du combat. He spread coal oil throughout a concealed underground dugout and put the torch to it and in a few minutes had a roaring blaze."
"De Mour loudly charged the sheriff with committing arson and spoke feelingly about this wanton destruction of property."
"The big Studebaker, arriving at the sheriff's office yesterday was loaded to the roof with stills and pasteboard boxes containing the bottled goods. Arrayed in the sheriff's office, the stills afforded a truly amazing spectacle of some of the uses to which the slogan 'Buy Something Made of Copper' can be put."
(Prescott Journal-Miner; March 20, 1925; pages 1, 3.)