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Prohibition, moonshine and bootlegging in West Virginia

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Joined: 24 Feb 2003
Posts: 1727
Location: Connecticut and Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 2:06 pm    Post subject: Prohibition, moonshine and bootlegging in West Virginia Reply with quote

My grandfather, Victor Martinez Artime, then living in Spelter (Ziezing) West Virginia, saw no reason to allow prohibition to interfere with his enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. His sons would play in the woods surrounding the town, and often came across illegal stills and caches of moonshine. Some of what they discovered ended up in my grandfather's personal supply, usually without the knowledge of the owner. He concealed the alcoholic beverages under a loose stair tread.

One one occasion, the owner of the still turned out to be someone he knew, who complained loudly that the missing whiskey would interfere with his income and therefore with his ability to feed his family. My grandfather returned the moonshine to him.

On another occasion, someone reported him to the police. It was obviously a friend who was miffed by not having been given a share of the stolen whiskey, because the police knew exactly where to look for it. They seized the whiskey while my grandafther was at work, and spent a week or so looking for him to make an arrest for illegal possession of alcohol. As a result, my grandfather spent a week or so on the run, but still showed up for work every day.

The punishment for illegal possession of alcohol t the time was to be forced to work on a road gang during the day, but to remain living at home. This meant that the authorities had no meal or housing expenses for the prisoners, and also that the prisoner lost wages by being unable to go to work. Once the police stopped coming to the house to look for him, my grandfather returned home.

I would very very interested in hearing other family stories about moonshining and prohibition in West Virginia or elsewhere.

Bob Martinez
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Joined: 04 Aug 2003
Posts: 18
Location: Virginia (born in Moundsville, W.Va.)

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember bottles of "cidra" stacked on shelves in the basement of Pop's (Jesus Gonzalez Posada) house in Langeloth, Pa. He also constructed an elaborate wine cellar a few feet from the house that was solid concrete with an oak door that must have been a foot thick, and a padlock bigger than any I've ever seen. I remember going to fill up the wine bottles and bringing them back to the kitchen for meals.
He also made "grapa" or moonshine as the Federals called it. This story is told by his children....whenever the revenuers would come....Abuela Dolores would hide the white liquid in a special "slop jar" solely used for this purpose and place it on the stairs leading to the bedrooms. On one occasion a revenuer asked Pop what was in the bucket...Pop replied..."HUELE"....smell it!
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