No. 584
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
December 7, 2022

Illicit Distilleries.

North Carolina - An Illicit Whiskey Still in the Mountains Surprised by Revenue Officers.
February 25, 2014
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Not George Talkington, but there must have been a strong resemblance.Many people could be called “accident prone,” but, fortunately, few take it to the level of the subject of today’s post.  From the “Bath Chronicle,” November 21, 1833 (via Newspapers.com):George Talkington, once a celebrated horse-dealer at Uttoxeter, who died on the 8th of April, 1826, at Cheadle, Cheshire, in his eighty-third
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Strange Company - 12/7/2022
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Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
CAME NEAR LOSING HIS MONEYSan Francisco ChronicleMay 6, 1893(Click image to enlarge)  San Francisco Man Taken in by Denver Card Sharks "First time I ever got caught" (Soapy Smith) This post was originally supposed to be about a new "victim" (Charles Anderson) swindled by the soap gang that I recently uncovered during a search through newspaper archives, but in looking through my files I found
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 12/6/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
 When tried for the 1840 murder of Catherine Merry, Charles Cook pled innocent by reason of insanity. Despite a history of medical treatment for extreme melancholy, and strange behavior such as running through the streets of Schenectady, wearing nothing but a blanket, proclaiming himself to be the Savior of the world, the jury rejected his plea and found him guilty.Before his execution, Cook
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Murder By Gaslight - 12/3/2022
For years I’ve walked by the delightfully shabby Joe’s Tavern sign at the corner of Tenth Avenue and 25th Street. I’ve never seen the vintage vertical beauty lit up, unfortunately. Even stranger, I’ve never seen any sign of life inside 258 Tenth Avenue, which once housed what I imagine to have been an old-school neighborhood […]
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Ephemeral New York - 12/5/2022
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
Mixed Drinks for Six. | Nature versus Art.

Illicit Distilleries.

Illicit Distilleries

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

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 year 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 for 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.