From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Moonshine Still on the Hillside?

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... History and Old Stuff...



Kentucky is famous for its liquor. There's the legal stuff like Jack Daniels and there's the illegal stuff like the moonshine that came out of the Golden Pond area between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, particularly during prohibition days. You can read all about it and even see a moonshine still at the Golden Pond Visitors Center at Land Between the Lakes.

I have heard some stories about the homemade corn liquor that flowed in this part of Christian County, back when the old folks were young -- the 1930's, 40's, and 50's.

Before there were good roads to town, folks gathered on Saturday night at the little local store to dance to the music of the jukebox. One fellow told me that if you had a car you drove, and if you didn't have a car, you rode a mule, and if you didn't have a mule, you walked, but somehow you got to the store on Saturday night because you just had to! You couldn't miss the fun. And it is said that there were always jars of moonshine to pass around out behind the store.

Whiskey jug?I think I may have found a place in the woods near our house where some of that homemade liquor was produced. I can't imagine any other reason why several dozen gallon jugs would be scattered around a small area back in the woods on a hillside a quarter mile from the nearest road.

It's a secluded spot. It could be reached easily from the pasture above, but no one lived nearby and any firelight certainly would have been hidden from the road by the woods.

Most of the jugs are brown, like the one in the photo at left, but a few are made of clear glass. Some have sunk partway into the ground, and others are still lying on top of the forest floor -- perhaps because they've been picked up many times through the years by curious people like me?

A number of the jugs have broken, probably because of water freezing in them, and their jagged tops could inflict terrible wounds to any living thing that stepped on them. I turned over all the broken ones that I saw so that their sharp edges face down to the earth.

If there was a still there in the woods where the jugs are, I know who must have been running (or at least condoning) it, and it doesn't surprise me a bit. Do any of my readers know anything about bottles? Do these look like 1960's glass? (That's my estimate of the time period.)

For that matter, someone is probably still running a still around here. That wouldn't surprise me a bit either. After all, this is Kentucky.




2 comments:

the.chronicler said...

If not for moonshine, there would not be NASCAR.

Fact.

The ingenuity of Americans, even when we're naughty, never ceases to amaze and amuse me.

Genevieve said...

I didn't realize the connection, Chronicler, until I read your comment and did a search for "NASCAR moonshine."

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IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
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