News - from the past & the present

TBT: Moonshine stories, some interesting and one tragic

Moonshine was a popular way to make a living during the days of prohibition in Alabama.  Here are some interesting stories, concerning moonshine in Alabama found in newspapers from the past.


Below ground vats of liquor stills in Chambers County, Alabama (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Below ground vats of liquor stills in Chambers County, Alabama ca. 1950s (by photographer Roy Green, Jr.Alabama Department of Archives and History)

From Ocala Star-Banner March 5, 1964 –

MOONSHINE USED BY ALABAMA HOG THIEVES

Montgomery, Ala. (AP) – Alabama farmers have been advised to be suspicious if their hogs stagger around in a peculiar manner.

State Agriculture Commissioner A. W. Todd issued the warning Wednesday, saying a theft ring broken up recently had been feeding hogs loaves of bread soaked in bootleg whiskey.

When the hogs got too drunk to stand, Todd said, “they were loaded into the back of cars and trucks without squealing or commotion.”

Liquor stills in Alabama ca. 1950s (by Photographer Roy Green, Jr. Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Liquor stills in Alabama ca. 1950s (by Photographer Roy Green, Jr. Alabama Department of Archives and History)

From The Southeast Missourian March 5, 1921

MOONSHINE GOES UP; OFFICIALS HIKE COST

Boost in Price Is Seen In Alabama

By Newspaper Enterprise

Birmingham, Ala., Mar 5 – The price of moonshine has advanced from $16 a gallon to $22.50. That’s because of the the activities of the prohibition officers.

Another result! Will Holmes and Hamp Kirby are doing life in the pen. Jake Smith received 40 years and Sid Kirby 20.

Hamp Kirby shot and killed Don Stephenson, prohibition officer. Arrest and conviction of the men followed within a month.

Then a relentless drive on the moonshiners. In one raid 18 stills and 25,000 gallons of liquor were destroyed in Shelby county.

Moonshiners in Cherokee county have set more than 30 bear traps in an effort to catch prohibition agents. Agents have reported narrow escapes from the traps.

The traps are strong enough to break a man’s leg were they to catch one.

Alabama is far from dry, but N. L. Pierce, chief enforcement officer, is relentlessly campaigning to make it so.

Below ground vats of liquor stills in Chambers County, Alabama ca. 1950s (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Below ground vats of liquor stills in Chambers County, Alabama ca. 1950s (by photographer Roy Green, Jr.Alabama Department of Archives and History)

From The Pittsburgh Press October 14, 1945

MOONSHINE KILLS ALABAMA BOY, 6

Haleyville, Ala. October 13 – (UP) – An elderly farmer was held without bound tonight for the ‘Tobacco Road’ murder of a six-year-old hired boy who died in a cotton field from drinking too much corn whisky.

The boy, Fletcher Lee Sellers, Jr., was one of several children hired to pick cotton by the farmer, Charles W. Taylor, 60. His sister, Roberta, 11, was another member of the group.

According to Winston County Solicitor J. A. Posey, Taylor passed a half gallon jug of whisky among the children while they were at work. Later, Solicitor Posey said the children took the moonshine into the field.

The Sellers boy was found by his older brother, Samuel, 18, on a pile of cotton. He was in a drunken stupor. He died without regaining consciousness.

The Sellers boy’s father is in the Federal penitentiary for illicit whisky making.

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RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
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10 comments

  1. Ron Bailey

    Melissa Weldon Bailey

  2. Steve Bryant

    We, here in Dozier are, can relate many of these stories as this was a moon-shine haven during my childhood & youth.

  3. Jimmie McAnnally

    Do you remember the dye and the brasher brother s went missing and have never been found this happen in March 195455

  4. Gloria Langley Vaughan

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the still in Chambers County didn’t belong to my Daddy and uncle Phillip .. I have sat on many of gallon ridding with my daddy when he went on deliveries.

  5. Mary Newton

    Love these stories. My people participated in moon shining in lawrence co, al

  6. Matt Heath

    Dan Brasher was my cousin. That happened long before I was born. There are so many theories about where their bodies are located. I’m a private investigator and I’ve spent a lot of time looking into it on my own but the mystery deepens. My grandparents believed they were taken to an abandoned mine near Trafford. In recent years police actually have had some leads but still they seem to go nowhere. All we know for sure is they were murdered. We know where they were killed and why. But that’s it. I hope the case is solved during my lifetime.

    1. Mary Newton

      Were they called the Dye boys? My husband remembers the story and grew up there.

  7. James Davis Sr.

    During the Great Depression, many good men were forced by lack of jobs to make whiskey and sell it in order to feed their families. Can’t blame them for that. One of my ancestors did it and the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham bought his entire product because they knew it was good (not poison).

  8. The Winston County boy story was 1947.

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