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home : blogsold : verde heritage May 24, 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, May 3, 2014

1919: BOOTLEGGERS & MOONSHINERS; May.

Verde Heritage

"WILY BOOTLEGGER HAS BIG BAG OF TRICKS."

"Phoenix, May 6. --- 'For ways that are dark and tricks that are vain the "bootlegging" man is peculiar' would be an apt paraphrase of a well known poem on the history of the illicit liquor trade of Arizona since the state went dry December 14, 1914."

"The original 'bootlegger,' say those who profess to know, carried the whiskey with which he did unlawful trading concealed in flat flasks in the legs of his boots, hence the name. One of these gentlemen, the first to come under the eyes of the officers for many months, was captured in Phoenix recently, but the up-to-date purveyor of liquor in Arizona resorted to much more elaborate tricks to import or manufacture and sell his wares."

"The copper lined trunk with four compartments shipped in from a non-prohibition state by express was a favorite up to a short while back, when federal officers arrested one man in San Jose, California, and another in Phoenix, who were making a business of shipping these trunks back and forth."

"In Jerome, recently a large suspicious-looking barrel arrived by express, according to the story told by the federal officials. It was heavy and the deduction was that it was full of something. It was deposited on the station platform, but nobody came to claim it. Officers investigated and found it filled with whiskey, so a close watch was set on the barrel, day and night. There it stood for several days till the arms of the law became weary of the vigil and decided to remove it to headquarters for safe keeping."

"Then came the surprise. The barrel that arrived full was empty and when it was moved the mystery was explained by a large auger hole in the station platform immediately under it. Its owner knew it had been watched, so, without attracting any undue attention, he went underneath the platform and drilled through the platform and into the barrel and had drawn off through the holes the desired liquor. At $10 a pint, the prevailing price, he made a good haul."

"An automobile tire traveling by express has been known to bring whiskey into the state, and recently a large consignment of 'condensed milk' was found to have nothing milk about it but the label, while the interior of the cans were decorated with 'old rye.'"

"Suit cases carried along as personal baggage also have furnished means to introduce the forbidden drinks into Arizona, but alert officers have developed the habit --- unpleasant for the guilty --- of carelessly bumping into or gently kicking suitcases and any telltale 'tinkle' almost always is fatal."

"While the ingenuity of the importer of whiskey into a dry Arizona has devised many elaborate and some exceedingly clever methods of trying to outwit the law, his brother, the 'moonshiner' has been just as original."

"Illicit stills, grading all the way from a small gas stove, with a can and a copper pipe to the modern and fully equipped article have been raided and confiscated, but the most elaborate discovered for years was unearthed in a raid in the Verde district."

"The still room was excavated at a distance of twenty feet from a well, its roof being about four feet below the surface of the ground. The room was ten feet square with walls six feet high and could be reached only by a tunnel runing from the well with the opening twelve feet below the well curb."

"Ventilation and the escape of fumes from the still were assured by a stack running from the roof of the little subterranean chamber, and to afford a plausible excuse for the appearance of this above ground, the stack was run through a forge standing immediately above the still-room."

(Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; May 14, 1919; page 2.)




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