Slobot About Town LIII:

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Prohibition Era Spartanburg.

The 18th Amendment of the US Constitution went into effect at midnight on January 16, 1920. For the next 13 years it would be illegal to manufacture, sell or give away liquors or beverages containing more than one-half of 1 percent alcohol.

Remnants of this age still dot the woods and valleys of Spartanburg.

Slobot went to a known site of a former still and was able to find various metal pieces of this era.

While prohibition succeeded in criminalizing alcohol, it did not stop the production, sale or consumption of alcohol.

Bootleggers ran stills throughout the region and, indeed, the country. They protected their stills from revenuers with armed force.

Bootleggers needed a way to package their wares and so a cottage industry of jug factories began. The border of Spartanburg and Greenville counties, an area known as Little Chicago, became a particularly popular place for jug factories. So common were such operations in this region that a road there still bears the name, "Jug Factory Road."

These jugs, usually white in color, contained moonshine.

Moonshine is not aged and may contain any number of impurities. Clear in appearance and generally containing a high quantity of alcohol, Moonshine has been dubbed, "White Lightening."

Moonshine is still a popular product in the Upstate...

though today it is more likely to be packaged in a Mason jar than a clay jug.

Not everyone drank Moonshine during Prohibition. Indeed, another popular product of the era was Bay Rum.

Bay Rum is an aftershave containing alcohol and fragrances. Consumption of Bay Rum was common in Spartanburg during Prohibition.

One Bay Rum related incident occurred on February 11, 1928 when J. E. Mahaffey, H. D. Mahaffey and H. B. Bishop were arrested on Forest street for having a large quantity of Bay Rum. J. E. Mahaffey was also charged with driving while under the influence of liquor.

A more notorious Bay Rum incident occurred on February 13, 1928 when Harry Clark and Dan Clippard, both under the influence of Bay Rum, attempted a robbery of Sigman's confectionary shop on Magnolia Street. Joe Sigman, proprietor, resisted the robbery and was shot and mortally wounded. Clark and Clippard would subsequently be sentenced to life in prison for his murder.

The murder of Joe Sigman was not the only alcohol-related killing of the decade. On Thursday June 04, 1925 James Richard Snoddy, rural policeman, was on patrol in Cross Anchor. At about 1:00 in the afternoon he and his partner, Rural Policeman G. C. Hayes, attempted to serve a search warrant on Oliver Harrison who was suspected of distilling and of hiding in the attic of Minnie Sutton on the Union Road. The officers found and destroyed a quantity of mash, beer and whiskey and soon secured a warrant for Harrison's arrest. Snoddy then climbed a ladder to an attic in which Harrison was believed to be hiding.

At that time Harrison gave fire and fatally wounded J. R. Snoddy. Snoddy was reported to have called out, "Here's Oliver" before a staccato report of a revolver rang out. Originally Snoddy was not believed to have been seriously injured as the shot hit him in the shoulder. Later, however, it was determined that the bullet had passed through Snoddy's jugular vein and was lodged near his heart. Hayes stopped to attend to Snoddy. In doing so he affording Harrison, who was clad only in a shirt, the opportunity to flee the scene on foot. Snoddy soon bled to death.

Posses were quickly formed to apprehend Harrison. They scoured fields and a large wooded area at the edge of Union County. A bloodhound was secured by Sheriff Miller and his posse but the hound was unable to track Harrison. It is believed that Minnie Sutton, in whose house the tragedy occurred, had her daughter take clothes to Harrison. J. R. Snoddy would leave behind a wife, Pearl, and 7 children. He was interred at the old New Hope Baptist Church cemetery in Cross Anchor.

Harrison, a slender man of about 5 feet 10 inches and with red hair and a florid complexion, remained at large. A bounty of $400 was issued for him, dead or alive. As the manhunt continued, tracks were discovered that appeared to be made by a man with bandaged feet. A disinfectant bottle was also found. On June 10, 1925 Oliver Harrison, his face covered with stubble, was finally apprehended near Gastonia, North Carolina. At the time of his arrest Harrison was unarmed and reported that he had been hiding in the swamps and woods of the Tyger River.

On October 1st of that same year Rural Policeman Ellis A. Shields was killed in a pistol duel on a highway near Chesnee. Officer Shields had been parked in his car in front of the home of Willis Greene at a crossroads about a mile north of Chesnee. At that time a car occupied by Jim Stacy, his cousin Solon Stacy, his sister Alice Stacy and his wife Mollie Stacy traveled past Shields and then turned around to come back towards Chesnee. Shields, suspecting that the car and its occupants harbored whiskey, gave chase.

Shields followed the car to the home of Jim Stacy. According to Alice Shields, Jim Stacy fired his .35 caliber pistol and hit Officer Shields. A subsequent search revealed several gallon cans which had previously held whiskey. One empty gallon can was discovered besmirched with blood. A flask with about a pint of whiskey still in it was found in a barn loft along with another empty gallon can of whiskey that was hidden beneath a pile of cotton. According to Sam K. Miller, Officer Shields never left his car.

Dr. J. B. Cash would later report that Shields had been killed by a bullet shot directly between his eyes. Officer Shields would leave behind a wife and 6 children. Funeral services for Shields were conducted at the Arrowood Baptist Church in Chesnee. Jim Stacey - who had been struck at about an inch to the left of the second lumbar vertebra and above the highest point of the left hip bone - fell near his car and was rushed to the General Hospital in Spartanburg by Bobo Undertaking Company.

In 1782, Scottish poet Robert Burns published his version of the the English folk song, "John Barleycorn." John Barleycorn personified barley, the cereal and main component of whiskey and beer. Burns wrote of Barleycorn:

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

Prohibition had intended on killing John Barleycorn. But, in 1933, the Prohibition on alcohol would come to an end with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment.

The repeal of Prohibition brings to mind the final stanza of Robert Burns' "John Barleycorn":

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on'
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

Indeed, John Barleycorn was reborn and today is alive and well in Spartanburg County.

Slobot, himself, does not drink alcohol. His anti-drug? Dogs!