No. 526
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 21, 2021

Illicit Distilleries.

February 25, 2014
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"Louisville Courier-Journal," May 8, 1881, via Newspapers.comWhen I started this blog, I hoped to focus on the smaller, obscure stories from the past--the long-forgotten bits of random oddities that, when taken together, show just what a strange world we live in.  In short, the "uncommon" is really quite commonplace.One such story is the death of one otherwise completely unmemorable young man. 
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Strange Company - 6/21/2021

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An Ordnance to Cover the Defective Points.Denver Tribune-RepublicanMay 14, 1885(Click image to enlarge)   n order to cover such cases as "Soapy" Smith, the arrest of whom for violating the lottery ordinance"  Note how bad the Xerox copy at the top is. This was shared to my father, by his brother (my uncle) Joseph Jefferson Smith​ (1909-1977). Obviously, the copiers at the time did not do
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/13/2021

When railroad baron H.H. Cook decided to build himself a New York City mansion, he didn’t try to squeeze into a plot of land on Fifth Avenue in the 50s—an area that had been colonized by several Vanderbilt heirs and other Gilded Age moneymakers. Instead, he went to the then-hinterlands of Manhattan, purchasing the entire […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                             Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/19/2021

Producer-director Ric Rebelo has today, in memory of LeeAnn Wilber, former co-owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, released this award-winning film for public view on Youtube. This was filmed in 2010, some of the participants in the production are no longer with us today. What was recorded in 2010 has not changed much today in 2021, only intensified in fascination.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/16/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Mixed Drinks for Six. | Nature versus Art.

Illicit Distilleries.

Illicit Distilleries

North Carolina—An Illicit Whiskey Still in the Mountains Surprised by Revenue Officers.[more]

The most serious opposition to the enforcement of the internal revenue laws has always come from the illicit distillers in the mountain region of the South. These hardy people live so far from any market, that it would not pay to attempt to sell their surplus corn, and they have always been accustomed, like their fathers and grandfathers before them, to distill their little store of home-made liquor every hear in the rudest sort of stills. Generations of uninterrupted enjoyment of this privilege had led them to consider it as an inalienable right, and they were thunderstruck when they learned the Federal Government had outlawed their homely industry. They could not be made to believe that the Government possessed any such right to interfere with them, and they regarded the officers who attempted to enforce the law as tyrants, whom it was right to kill, if necessary, to stop their operations. Rude and ignorant people, it was difficult to reason with them, and or years a bitter warfare raged between the mountaineers and the revenue officers. Ambuscades were laid, pitched battles were fought, and the list of killed and wounded grew shockingly long. By degrees the Government gained some advantage, and of late there has been great improvement. A large proportion of the illicit distilling has been suppressed, but the blockaded whiskey-still is yet to be found in many a retired spot of the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee. The illustration…gives an excellent idea of one of these improvised distilleries in active operation, with the revenue officers executing a surprise.


Reprinted from "Illicit Distilleries." Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 1 Sep 1883: 21.