Scott Partin

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Scott Partin - Moonshining Still Problem 2Q Years Following...
Moonshining Still Problem 2Q Years Following Repeal Editor's? Note--Rank int~ tt.. *"·"^ - «·· . . Editor's Note--Back Into the KentuckyV.hills, not far from what was once his home,"a two- time Pulitzer -Prize winner went to see what has happened in the 20 years -since repeal. Here is his story--not -only of the old days but of the'changes a mountain, preacher has brought--capturing the flavor of the hiU'.people who saw it happen. ;. By DON WHITEHEAD PINE BRANCH, Ky., Dec. 5 UB-- Hawk-faced old-Uncle Scott Partin Jeaned on. his cane and chuckled as he looked 'down the valley, blue with the haze 1 , of smoke from fires in the drought-dry forests around his cabin. - - '/ He said: V'Have I made moonshine? moonshine? Why, ?I, reckon, son, that in my lifetime" I've made enough moonshine, whisky to float you right out of this holler." Aunt Lena Partin, his · wife, wrinkling her nose in disapproval, nodded agreement. agreement. ' . ! . - . . Dodged Law:. U n c l e ' S c o t t made moonshine whisky and ; dodged the law for more than 40 of his 86 years before before he tore up his still, gave his (arm to a settlement school and joined the ranks of law-abiding citizens in this mountain-locked valley in southeastern Kentucky. Only 25 years ago this valley had a still in every cove. Moonshine Moonshine was the cash crop. Sons picked up the rifles of slain fathers and carried on family feuds. Strangers died violent deaths in the laurel bushes. Schools and churches were burned. The law was the rifle in this area, known as "South America" because of its remoteness. It was the roughest, toughest, meanest country in all this region--until a blue-eyed, round-faced Methodist parson with as much courage as common sense stalked into the hills to fight the feuding and moonshin- irig. He was the Frakes. Xo Emotion Rev. Hiram mixture of sugar in corn nieal- and It's just too bad if a consumer is paralyzed, loses his sight, or dies in convulsions. Uncle Scott snorted \vith disgust. disgust. - ; · "They call it whisky," he said, "but it ain't. Back in our time we didn't use anything but pure grain. It's the heat of the corn that makes good whisky. I don't know why, but it's a fact that when the sap's rising in March and April, corn will, make a quart to a half- gallon more whisky per bushel than in any other month. "And do you know yellow corn makes a quart more to the bushel than white corn? That's a. fact too. "Another thing. The water out of Pine Mountain --· that mountain right over yonder--is the best in the world for making whisky. It's pure and cold." 'Hard Water' I mentioned that some people thought the best whisky was made from limestone water -- the kind found in Kentucky's famous hour- One day in 1925, Frakes walked into the County Courthouse at Pineville, Pineville, Ky., where he was pastor of a smali Methodist church. He entered entered the courtroom just as an angry judge pointed his finger at a group of mountain men from ".South America." They stared at His judge coldly without a trace of emotion, "All right," the judge shouted. "You won't talk! You won't name thn criminals. You won't help the Jaw give your children a decent life. Go on back home! Go back and shoot and maim and murder until you're all killed off. Then rve'll come in and establish a civil government!" Right there Parson Frakes derided derided it was his duty to go into "South America" and at least give JK the children a chance. In 28 years £r the parson has fashioned a miracle £ from.. his conviction that feuding j^ and moonBhining were the result-^ result-^ not the cause--of the hill 'people's ignorance and economic illness. He was convinced that if they were shown how'to make a living at something better, they would quit their bootleg business. And that's what happened. / / Little Smoke There is little if any smoke rls- £ ing from still fires in thia valley \ today. "South America" has be| be| fome one of the most law-abiding T areas In all of broad Kentucky. But Parson Frakes' influence is sharply bounded by Pine Mountain Mountain on one aide and little Log Mountain on the other. In the Appalachian R a n g e stretching 1 beyond here through Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virgin- i.i, Virginias North Carolina nnd Oorgla, the still fires are burning I perhaps aa briskly as they did 20 years ngo when prohibition came to an end. Hidden in the hills there IB an s i m y of moonshiners who--as XJn- ! rift ' Scott Partin once did--are dodging federal agents and tending tending their stiUs. Most of the nation's nation's moonshiners are located in HID southeastern mountain country, country, but the cities have a. good sliare of the production too. Morn Than 200,000 \ Agents of the U. S. Alcohol Tax I Unit--the "revcnooers"--hava de I strayed more than 200,000 moon shine stills in the last 29 years. They average about 30,000 a year \ even though the unit has only 800 ( \ agents now to the 1,200 it had a dozon yefttrs ago. sf . The agents use helicopters To spot stills and walkie-talkie radios to direct ground searches. Bu when one still is destroyed, an other is likely to.start up in an other cover across the ridge. The game of wits never ends between the agents and the 'shiners. There was a raid just the olne day that illustrates the never-end inpr struggle. · Raiders Chad Howard, chief in vestigalor in the Pinevllle. Ky office of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, U. S. Treasury De pRrtment., Sheriff Elvin Patrick. o Whilley County. Milton KafORlis .lames Scanlrin and William Rober pin, agents In Howard's office movsd in on one still .operating near here.- ; Xftvt to Cml . At dawn they hid themselves in hushes beside the sttll, set up nex to a cliff. ! Along came four men, carryinj fruit jars and wood (to stoke tlv still fire) accompanied by thre hounds. They passed within three feet o the raiders; hidden beside tho path The dogs, failed to detect th agents, i ' · ' Howard was ready to give the signal to close in. Aa ha moved forward, he stepped on ons of the hounds sleeping In the bushes. The hound lyelped, scaring the daylights out of Howard, hia team of raiders nnd the moonshiners. The. raid- era, without waiting for Howard's signal, fuelled forward. Headed 1 , for Woods Three of the moonshiners headed for the Vfoods. One of them, Walter CAPTURE SCENE -- An alert photographer snapped this dramatic picture in the rugged, remote hills of southeastern Kentucky -- the capture of an accused moonshiner. Agent Chad Howard guards one of the captured men, his face blocked out to avoid identification. identification. Three others fled to the woods but two were captured captured by other "revenooers." (AP Newsfeatures Photo) Ridener, thought the hound was a scale never known before; of having a fit'. He started to climb wild" parties, and winkipj at the the sheer cliff. It was there that Howard grabbed him. . Sheriff Patrick caught Crawford Earls in trie woods, 150 feet away. Vgent Kafoglis collared Jack lidener, Walter's brother, on a lippery creek bank, 50 feet away. glis 1 feet went out from, un- er him. He struck a. tree and ut a gash in his chin that' re- ulred 11 stitches to close. But he eld onto his man. A fourth man escaped. The three prisoners were hauled efore a U, S. commissioner,' harged with possessing an illegal moonshine still, IIB Pleaded Innocent Walter Ridener and Crawford ar!e pJeaded guilty. But Jack lldener pleaded innocent. He ex- Mained there was a strike at the Cincinnati plant where he works. o he had come south to visit his rothev and do some rabbit hunt- ng. On the morning of the raid, e meant to go hunting, but hla rother Walter persuaded him to ome along td the still for a irink. Authorities were disposed to be- leve his story, but he was held on 500 ball like the others for the rand. jury. How big is this hidden industry? Nobody knows for sure. No one an say how mnny stills remain lidden in the hills--and the.cities --after 10,000 are destroyed an nually. Big Business iut this much is certain: After 0 years ot repal, moonshinlng remains remains a sprawling big business, rofits for the 'shiner grow more cmptlng. In 20 years the taxes on a gallon of legal whisky have umped from $2.20 to $10. Moonshining Rot its first boost vhen the country went dry In 1918 Uncle Staott Purlin says, "I wn? scllin' whisky for J2 » gallon unti' 1918. Then the price went to $20 nnd $22 a gallon.." The country went on a liootlcg binge in the"20's. That was the era of the speRkeasy and syndicated syndicated smuggling and bootlegging; of murder, graft and payoffs on comes to the top ami culs off the air and holds in the scent. That's a cap. On lOtti Day "You let that work another three days and on the IDth day from when you started, you put the mash in th« still and bil« (boil) it off. The steam goes out through the worm and condenses and that's called slnglin's. - . "But I always made dcublin's. That means you run the singlln's back through the stil! a second time. You clean the still good but before you do anything, take a gallon of slop from the mash barrel and pour it in the still. That takes the fire out of tha whisky and the doublings come out nice and ropey and mellow--not like that stuff that makes you stick your head in a briar patch. CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES, Sun.. Dec. 6, 1953 13D had 13 indictments against him. But within him was deep yearning yearning that his children should have a better life than his. Contributed Land Henderson listened to -Prakes and then said:" "I'm. with yovft parson." Henderson gave Frakes 65 acres of hi* farm and Uncle Scott chipped in another 16 acres as a starter (he made It 100 acres later), Frakes cleaned cut a one- room log cabin to start the Henderson Henderson Settlement School. He told the people: "I'm not going to bother your stills. That's y_our business. You're going to hell U you don't stop moonshining but I'm not going to bother you. "I always^ figured to ^get 21 t o j Frakes concentrated' on h i s school. He figured if he could give bon country. Again Uncle Scott snorted. "It Leveled Oft Then--20 years ago todaj'--re- peal came. Utah ratified the 21st Amendment that afternoon and 17 minutes later the death of the 18th Amendment w;is officially proclaimed proclaimed in Washington. President Roosevelt, in a statement, said in part: "I ask especially that no state shall, by law or otherwise, authorize authorize the return of the saloon, either in its old form, or in some modern guise." All over the country, headlines told of. crowds lining up to buy legal liquor, of drinkers thronging hotels and restaurants, of supplies running out. It was quite a fling for a few days, but it soon leveled off. There were those who saw an end to bootlegging, and stills in the hills. The rotgut liquor that comes out of modem moonshine still (no) even a poor relation of the pure corn whisky made by Uncle Scott Partin and his neighbors) coats perhaps a little more than a dollar a gallon to make. It bootlegs ,at the still for as much as $6 a gallon or 76 cents a pint. The price varies with local conditions. Big Difference In some "dry" areas where the sale of all whisky is prohibited by law, this cost of bootleg bonded whisky--produced legally -- runs from S-t to. $6 a pint. The moonshine moonshine bargain price is $1.80 to $2 a pint. Some people buy moonshine because because they can't afford better whiskies. Others just naUirally prc- for the taste of moonshine. But whatever the reason, there is still a widespread demand for it. There is a vast difference between between modern moonshine and that made in the days of Undo Scott Partin, nnd his cousin, Bill Henderson, Henderson, known as "the King of Moon- shiners" before e, rifle cut him down in 1932. Too Bad Modern moonshiners have little If any pride In their product. They make "sugar whisky"--a liberal ain't so. That limestone water ain't fit for a hog to drink." Mrs. Partin said: "It's hard water, water, that's why." . Uncle Scott said, "The. only whisky fit to drink is 10-day whisky. Don't take these fellers today more than four days to make a run. It took me 10. Here's how I did it: "First you set up a still and heal some water in it. Then you fill a barrel half full of the water and put in a bushel of corn meal. Rough-ground corn meal from yellow yellow corn. Fine-ground meal won't do. It gets too clammy. You stir it good and leave it set for three days. Recipe Given "After three days, you go back for the breakin* up. You pour in some more hot water to thin out the mash. When it's broke up (thinned out), put a gallon of corn malt in. The waly to make the malt is bury a sack of corn in a manure pile -and let the heat of the manure sprout the grain. It'll sprout in three, four days. You grind up the sprouts in a sausage grinder and you've got your matt. "You let the malt work for three days but don't breathe the scent n that barrel. It gets so strong t'll knock your head off. "After the malt's worked three days, you put a tap on it. Take a gallon of rye meal, pour in some lot water, stir it up good, and pour it in the barrel. The rye meal 25 gallons of whisky out of seven bushels of meal. But people don't make whisky like" that any more. It's too slow. The rex'enuers would catch 'em before they got it run off." Aunt Lena murmured: "And a good thing too." Modern Ways (By contrast, the Nashville Ten- nessean reports the modern moon- shining way in the Cosby section of east Tennessee: (You take a 500-gallon pot, put in 500 pounds of sugar, 50 pounds of hog feed, 50 pounds of corn, meal, 5 pounds of yeast and enough water to fill it up. "It sits in the pot. untended. until it stinks like rotten bananas. Then it's ready to run." (During bottling, a pint of 140- proof isopropyl alcohol--from a bottle labeled "external use only" --is added to every gallon. -'y" " (" 'It's a real hair-puller,' one mountaineer said. No moonshiner will drink the stuff unless 7 he wants to 'go on a real knee-walker.' knee-walker.' That's a sort of binge when a man goes wild, terrorising whole communities at a time.") Back to Uncle Scott: "Moonshining was the only way we had to get hold of any cash money in the old days. Nobody thought there was anything wrong. We owned our land and paid cur taxes. We made our own corn. We owned our own stills. And it was nobody's business what we did with our own. Leastwise, that's how we figured. "But I knowed no man could come to a good end moonshining. It's a fact that everybody who stays with it dies a pauper. I've seen it happe'n time and time again." Perhaps the reason Uncle Scott didn't end up a pauper--or with a bullet in his back--was that Parson Parson Frakes came riding up the mountain trail on horseback into "South America" 23 years ago. The people were suspicious at first. But the parson sought out Bill Henderson, whom he knew to be the leader in the valley. Bill Henderson was a hard man the children an education, teach them manual training, home economics, economics, good health practices and better farming methods they would turn their backs on moonshining. He arranged for-county agents to teach the elders homemaking and better farming. The parson recalls: "It was hard going and sometimes I don't see how I did it. But I had faith in these people. They were moon- shiners only because they hadn't been taught a better way to survive." survive." In those first years, Frakes hart a teacher who left school at recess recess time to keep the fire burning under a still nearby. But the parson parson didn't meddle in the hidden- business going on around him. Slowly the mountaineers came to trust him. One Sunday service at the tabernacle tabernacle Frakes saw 65 men In the congregation who once had been moonshiners. He told them: "When I came here, all of you were making moonshine. moonshine. Now it's wonderful to know that not one of you is a moon- shiner." Frakes pointed to Uncle Scotl, sitting beside him on the platform. "When Uncle Scott gave me 16 acres to help start the school, I even found a 60-gallon still on the land." Uncle Scott tugged at the parson's parson's coat. In a stage whisper that carried to the back of the room he said: "It wasn't no 60-gallon still, parson. It was a SO-gnUon still." Tremendous Growth Today the little one-room log cabin and the original 8i acres have grown into 22 buildings and 700 acres. Almost 500 boys and girls swarm out of the hills by foot and by bus daily to attend classes. I d)-ove with Frakes deep Into Pine Branch to see one of his mountain friends. We walked onto a ridge to a little two-roam cabin. In a rocking chair sat a feeble old roan, Uncle Harve Sparks. fhey say he is 109 yeans old. He ooka U. Uncle Harve talked of hla youth hen Union and Confederate troops assed through the country and of low he visited in their campa. Then the old man said: "You've changed things around here, par son. Maybe tho man that comes after you will make St even, bet ter." Found Formula Parson Frakes found the formul for. wiping out moonnhining in thi valley,, something tha.t: neither pro htbitfon or repeal 'accomplished His'formula: Help the people earn an honest living at something bet ter. Maybe that's the formula tha r inally will wipe out most of the moonshining through the hlils stretching out across the Southeastern Southeastern states. 'ANGEL' AND PATRIARCH -- Just about every man who gets well on in years becomes known as 'Uncle* back in the hills of Kentucky. At left is Uncle Harve Sparks who is the patriarch of all the 'Uncles' in those parts. They say he is 109 years old. -He remembers clearly the events of the Civil War as it happened there in southeastern 'Kentucky. At right is the man who helped bring enlightenment, education and religion to the people there. He is the Rev. Hiram Frakes, a Methodist Methodist minister, who settled there 28 years ago, founded the Henderson Settlement School which has grown from a one-room log cabin and 81 acres into 22 buildings and 700 acres. Italian Dog Digs Up Record Sized Truffle MASSALOMBARDA, Italy, Dec. ( A P ) -- A 50-year record for hese parti was smashed today when Grletta, Francesco Man- 'a little dog, pswed up a truffle hat weighed nearly syi pounds. It won for Monti the local title f "Prince of Truffles," held for years by Giovanni Tozzolo. His log dug up a 8-pound truffl* ears ago. A truffle is nn edible' mderground fungi considered by TRANSFORMATION IN KENTUCKY HILLS -- Twenty-eight Twenty-eight years ago, the Rev. Hiram Frakes, a Methodist Methodist minister, decided that the children in the hills of: southeastern Kentucky where fouding and moonshining: flourished needed an education to help them become'' better law-abiding citizens, He sought out Bill Henderson, Henderson, a leader in the area, who had nine notches in his rifle and the sheriff had 13 indictments against him.: Henderson gave Frakes (i5 acres of his farm. Uncle Scott Partin, an admitted moonshiner, chipped in with;" 16 acres more. Frakes cleaned out a one-room log cabin ; (shown below) to start the Henderson Settlement- School, At top, the main building of the Henderson Settlement Settlement Schoo!, as it looks today. The school now has 22 buildings and 700 acres. Almost 500 boys and girls attend classes daily. (Ap Newsfeatures Photo)'- 4uto Industry's Production apacity Known to Few Ry DAVID .7. WU.KIH Associated Press Auto Kdliur DETROIT, Dec. 5. (API--The atlon's aufo industry now has an 1 m o s t apacily. fantastic production It is a capacity that has been xpanded since the war by the onRtruction of additional plunt pace and development of more utomatic manufacturing pi-occsK- s. It is a capacity, ton, that in n emergency could be switched o war work with much greater celerity than hcrtotore. {flown To Few Exactly how many peacetime cars and trucks or wartime tanks, :annon, aircraft and oUier weapons the auto industry could produce under presure is known to relative ly few persons. But automotive circles generally generally believe the industry could build 10 million peacetime vehicles an! a sizable volume of military goods a year--if material and manpower industry has more capacity for peacetime production than "it is likely to need for many yeara to come. Nobody in the mitt, Industry's inner circles knows how many- cars and trucks will be built next yenr. But to emphasize the complete absence of pessimism nmong the company hnada they have been all the way trom five million new car as- niHion to semblies nnd around nne million .rucks as next year's output. Ciirryovpr Along with Lhi g volume they will o^'S a lavge ca «'yover--perhaps 600,000 units--from this year's output output to dispose of during the -year ahead. Some of the carry-over umls will be IBM models, 6t course, but there also will b» a. large number of 1853 cars. The effort to dispose of outgoing models has brought to the Industry some of the hardest selling It Jias In 1950 (he Industry turned out more than eight million cars and trucks--and some military goods. This year, despite Interruptions to assembly line operations it will )Ulld almost' that many cars nnd rucks and military goods coating hundreds of millions of dollars. It was the effort to catch up vith retail demand that Btartcd ho industry on its record-breaking 000 production of cars and trucks, hortafi-e.s growing out of tho Ko- ean outbreak slowed down output uring thn next year and then ovcmmcnlfU controls limited 1052 reduction, \lionil of Demand This year, with controls re- experienced in more than A Je- novcd, production has topped re- all d e m a n d. Some industry ourccs say factory output now is fx. weeks and more ahead of demand. demand. That's another aspect Involved n the tremendous postwar dn- elopmcnt of the auto industry's to bo a great delicacy. production capacity. Certainly the ado. Price cutting- and Ji/fi-Ji trade- in allowances have become 'qulta general. Bui there hav» been other v inducements, too. ' ' Offers of prepaid vacation trips, of cost free "extras", oh the car, of free h o u s e h o l d appliances, radios nnd television acts also have been reported. In aome instances ! dealers are said to have even of- " fered to take back six months ' l - ; hence a 1953 model purchased now -··'" nnd nllow 03 percent nnd more of price on a 1B51 car. : ''* Transactions of this kind may be somewhat unusual, hut great emphasis currently is being placer! upon the "deal" you can get if you ti\ko delivery now of an outgoing outgoing 1053, mode). Whether it all means the Indus-' try hns overproduced in 11)53 or that the merchandising division permitted Us sales effort to laff earlier In the year remains In dia- pute between manufacturer and relftilcr. . WE HAVE THEM NOW AND IN ALL SIZES . . . AND PAINTED ALL COLORS. FRANK SOVEY HAS THE LARGEST STOCK OF CHRISTMAS TREES IN TEXAS . . . AND THEY ARE THE BEST HE HAS EVER HAD! Come Early and Take Your Pick · ' . . *~ WE ALSO HAVE EXTRA LARGE TREES-SPECS A L DISCOUNTS TO SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES George P. Whitney D.D.S. \ \ DENTIST Announces the resumption of fhe practice of general dentistry. Immediate appointments appointments available. MORGAN «M 6th 2han« 4-7353 WE ME AGAIN SHIPPING^ EXTRA NICE BIO GRANDE VALLEY FRUIT NAVEL ORANGES RUBY. RED. GRAPEFRUIT MARSH SEEDLESS GRAPEFRUIT STANDARD HAMLIN SEEDLESS ORANGES BUSHEL BASKETS MEXICAN BASKETS EVERYBODY LIKES FRUIT -- GIVE FRUIT THIS CHRISTMAS! WE SHIP ANYWHERE ··· · in · ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI PAPER SHELL SUCCESS DAVIS PRESIDENT MONEY-MAKER STEWARTS MAYHANDS Sold here- OR SHIPPED ANYWHERE IN REGULAR PECAN SACKS W H O L E S A L E AND RETAIL REMEMBER, FRANK SOVEY HAS BEEN HERE 27 YEARS . . . AND HIS PRICES ARE ALWAYS RIGHT!-! ! .':£ .'.'S ~% WATERMELON (NO. 1) 3126 SOUTH PORT GARDENS (NO. 2) 1910 AYERS ST.

Clipped from
  1. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times,
  2. 06 Dec 1953, Sun,
  3. Page 69

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