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U.S. Homedistillation in the 1920's

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  • waljaco
    From Five Generations of an Ozarks Family: The Browns of Douglas County, Missouri (OzarksWatch Vol 5, No 4, 1992): During the twenties and early thirties
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5 5:49 AM
      From 'Five Generations of an Ozarks Family: The Browns of Douglas
      County, Missouri' (OzarksWatch Vol 5, No 4, 1992):

      "During the twenties and early thirties was prohibition. No legal
      alcohol could be bought in Missouri; so much illegal alcohol was made.
      Dad made quite a bit of home brew or beer. One time I remember he had
      several cases made up. He would keep it in the cellar where it was
      cool. Friends would come by and drink a few, especially on weekends.
      He had been notified by a friend that law officials were coming to
      search the house, so we carried all of the beer to a cornfield near
      the house. This was in late summer when corn was higher than a man's
      head, so it made a good hiding place. The officials did come by, and
      looked a little. One deputy was a friend of Dad's so he didn't look
      too hard.
      Dad and a partner made a whiskey still from a copper wash boiler,
      which was easy to come by in those days since many women used these to
      boil laundry in. It had a lid made of sheets of copper soldered to the
      boiler with a sort of funnel in the center which tapered down to about
      a three-eights inch copper tubing. This funnel affair was removable so
      the boiler could be filled with beer, from which whiskey was
      distilled. This beer was made in an oak fifty-five gallon barrel. The
      ingredients were water, sugar, ground corn, and yeast, which were
      allowed to work for about three weeks. Then it was strained and put in
      the boiler on a low fire - usually on the wood range in the kitchen.
      The vapor condensed to raw whiskey, which went into a container of
      charcoal which acted as a filter. Finally it was put in quart and
      half-gallon fruit jars. As I remember a half-gallon would bring about
      $4.50, which was good money in those days. Mom never approved of Dad's
      bootlegging. In fact she nearly worried herself to death over it. She
      was sure he'd wind up in the pen (penitentiary) over it, but Dad felt
      it was a way he could feed and clothe his family. As I said, times
      were hard. We lived on a farm and had our own chickens, eggs, pork,
      vegetables, etc. but very little cash. The whiskey was a cash sale.
      After all, the Ozarks hills he'd grown up on had a still in every
      hollow - many of them belonging to Browns. One of Dad's best customers
      for his whiskey was our mail carrier. He would take three or four
      gallons at a time. He and Dad had a system worked out. On days that
      Dad had some for sale he notified the carrier by raising the flag on
      the mailbox. The carrier would check to see that everything was clear
      before the transaction was made. This was a rural area so there was
      hardly any traffic on the road except the mailman."

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