I'm sure it's not just our county, but all county's must have had the same problems back in the early days with the making and sale of illegal liquor. But we certainly seemed to have had our fair share of stills and bootleggers located around the county.
The last time Crittenden County was voted to be a wet county, was from 1894 until 1906. In 1906, local citizens were given the choice of dry or wet and the people voted dry.
From the archives of the Crittenden Press I found that boot-legging was running rampant in the period after 1906 and continued for many years until 1933 when prohibition was abandoned. Even then the bootlegger did not become extinct, and continued to thrive as an illegal business in many places throughout the county.
I found it interesting to learn where the word 'bootlegger' originated and found that it apparently came into general use in the Midwest in the 1880s to denote the practice of concealing flasks of illicit liquor in boot tops when going to trade with the Indians. The term bootlegging soon became part of the American vocabulary.
A typical home-made still that was used to make moonshine whiskey
Some of the interesting articles that appeared in the Crittenden Press during this time.
Moonshine Still Reported In Crittenden! Crittenden County has acquired the distinction of having a “real” moonshine still. Some of the boys of Tolu were hunting a few days ago and found a fully equipped still in the woods on the farm of Mr. John L. Franklin.
Some one had taken without Mr. Franklin's knowledge or consent, a tank belonging to him and used it in building the still, which has a sixteen gallon capacity. Mr. Franklin immediately notified the United States revenue authorities of his find, and to preserve the still moved it into his cellar, where it will be safely kept until an investigation has been made. The tank was about one-half full of meal which evidenced the fact that it had been tested and used.
Still Captured! Moonshine Still Found on Premises Of A Man Near Piney Fork.
On suspicion derived from previous information, Sheriff P. R. Taylor went to the man's home, who resides two miles from Piney Fork church, with a warrant to search the premises. Upon their arriving there the man readily gave his permission to have his house searched.
In a barn near the house the officer discovered a still covered with sorghum fodder, which they took possession of and brought to the court house in Marion.
The owner denied all knowledge of the still being on his premises, and said it must have been brought there by some one unknown to him during the night.
The still is of about 15 gallon capacity, is in good condition and seems to have been recently used. It is of copper throughout.
Captures Illicit Moonshine Still. J. U. G. Claghorn, while out squirrel hunting, stopped at a supposedly unoccupied cabin on the John Nation farm, near Fords Ferry, looking through a window discovered a family in the cabin and a man working around a still.
Returning to town he reported to the authorities here and with a warrant Deputy Sheriff Taylor in company with Claghorn went to the cabin, took charge of the still and arrested the man under a warrant charging him with having in his possession an illicit still.
The man gave his name as George Simmons and stated he came through from Illinois. The still and the prisoner were brought here and Simmons, failing to execute bond was placed in jail to await the action of the grand jury.
The captured still was of copper and of about ten gallons capacity.