100 Years Ago: Destruction of 72 Quarts of Illegal Whiskey and Gin Draws a Crowd

In early summer 1922, W. Horton was riding on the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific train (the railroad that parallels Interstate 20).  While on the train, he befriended a man named J.N. Hudson.  As they reached Gibsland, both men were in the process of changing trains to head north to Haynesville.  Hudson asked for Horton’s assistance in moving one of his two suitcases from one train to the other.  Horton immediately realized that the suitcase he was carrying was heavier than he thought it should have been, but he asked no questions.  

Just then, Bienville Parish deputies confronted the two men.  They searched the two suitcases and found that they contained 36 quarts of Gordon dry gin and 36 quarts of Canadian Club whiskey.  As this was during national prohibition, the alcohol was illegal.  The deputies arrested both men.  

Horton proclaimed his innocence from the very beginning.  Hudson also told officers that Horton knew nothing of the liquor and that the illegal hooch belonged to him (Hudson). 

During court on the last week of July, 1922, Hudson plead guilty to being the sole owner of the booze.  Judge Reynolds sentenced him to serve 60 days from the date of his arrest and a fine of $500.00.  Judge Reynolds sentenced Horton, who still proclaimed his innocence and ignorance as to what the suitcase contained, 60 days in jail from the date of his arrest and to pay a fine to the town of Gibsland.  The amount of the fine was not reported.  

Following sentencing, Judge Reynolds ordered that the whiskey and gin “be destroyed in the presence of the Court and W.U. Richardson and Foster R. Taylor, officers of the Court, and C.C. Travis, Glover Pullig and Jack Sutton, witnesses, with the exception of two bottles of gin and two bottles of whiskey which is to be delivered to the Federal authorities.”

News of the planned destruction of the whiskey and gin quickly spread throughout the region.  A large crowd gathered to watch the destruction in a scene which resembled public hangings of an earlier era.  Several people in the crowd likely licked their lips and cringed as each drop of illegal hooch fell to the earth.  The liquor was in such quantity as to “perfume the atmosphere of the entire neighborhood surrounding the courthouse.”  Eleven years later, prohibition ended in the United States.

Source: The Bienville Democrat, July 27, 1922, p.1.

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