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Front Page » March 24, 2009 » Emery County News » A look at Emery County during the prohibition years
Published 2,071 days ago

A look at Emery County during the prohibition years


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By PHIL FAUVER
Guest Writer

The Emery County Historical Society presented: "Emery County In High Spirits". Sam Singleton who recently received a book of songs from a friend, "The Gay Nineties" was coaxed into playing a few of those songs, such as, "The Little Brown Jug", "Roll Out The Barrel" and "The Beer Barrel Polka".

Jim Majors of Huntington related the following stories and gave a brief history of where bootlegging stills had been located around Emery County and some other interesting stories. He told of Arthur Shepherd who had a large family. "If you go out of Cleveland towards Elmo right across from the cemetery there is an old house where Arthur Shepherd lived. Around the corner there is a kind of a dip in the road about half a mile, where there is a great big salt grass flat, there is a house sitting on a knoll in the middle of that flat where his still was located. Shepherd also had a still on Huntington Creek," said Majors.

There was a still in Lawrence, and two located below Castle Dale one of those was operated by Theo Ungerman, the other by Joe Pelican, their biggest commodity wasn't moonshine but was beer. They supplied the Wilberg park Fourth of July and dance parties with beer. They would trade bottles back and forth. These two individuals produced 200 gallons of beer a week according to Majors.

Majors said there was a still near where the sewer pond for Huntington is today, operated by James Brinkerhoff. One of the Lemons had a still up the canyon for a while, Neal Howard had a The Emery County Historical Society presented: "Emery County In High Spirits". Sam Singleton who recently received a book of songs from a friend, "The Gay Nineties" was coaxed into playing a few of those songs, such as, "The Little Brown Jug", "Roll Out The Barrel" and "The Beer Barrel Polka".

Jim Majors of Huntington related the following stories and gave a brief history of where bootlegging stills had been located around Emery County and some other interesting stories. He told of Arthur Shepherd who had a large family. "If you go out of Cleveland towards Elmo right across from the cemetery there is an old house where Arthur Shepherd lived. Around the corner there is a kind of a dip in the road about half a mile, where there is a great big salt grass flat, there is a house sitting on a knoll in the middle of that flat where his still was located. Shepherd also had a still on Huntington Creek," said Majors.

There was a still in Lawrence, and two located below Castle Dale one of those was operated by Theo Ungerman, the other by Joe Pelican, their biggest commodity wasn't moonshine but was beer. They supplied the Wilberg park Fourth of July and dance parties with beer. They would trade bottles back and forth. These two individuals produced 200 gallons of beer a week according to Majors.

Majors said there was a still near where the sewer pond for Huntington is today, operated by James Brinkerhoff. One of the Lemons had a still up the canyon for a while, Neal Howard had a still north of Huntington for awhile, there were three different stills at Mohrland. Up until the 1980s there were three stills operating in Emery County. Robert Emerson had one south of Cleveland. Emerson shot at the neighbors and they called the cops. Emerson fired a few shots at the cops and he spent two years in prison at the point of the mountain. He was invited not to come back to Emery County.

Arnold Winters had two stills going, this was in the 1980s, he took care of Huntington, Castle Dale and Orangeville. The church really helped him out, when the church at that time told everyone to get rid of their old commodities such as wheat and corn. The people that did not have livestock to feed the grain to hauled it to the dump. Winters would go to the dump and load up the grain for use in his still.

When Majors grew up in Huntington there were seven different bars that sold liquor. Shorty Larsen and Willie Green each owned a saloon. The bars in those days were more of a social club. People would go there to play cards and pool. There was one bar in Castle Dale, one bar in Ferron, one in Orangeville and four in Green River. The old Woodside bar was quite a wild place. In the old days there were a lot of wild cowboys that hung around the Woodside bar. They had one bar in Cleveland and one in Elmo. The one in Elmo was unique because it was the only place you could buy liquor on Sunday. The Reindeer Inn, a bar up Huntington Canyon also sold alcohol.

Back in the 1900s there was a reward of $1,000 dollars dead or alive for James Brinkerhoff and a guy by the name of Frenchy. There were several people in the area with the nickname of Frenchy.

Majors said he believed James Brinkerhoff and Frenchy had a still on the Price River and one in Price Canyon. They first transported the liquor by pack horse or wagon, but later, when taking moonshine to the Wilberg events, he had a truck built with a false bottom in the truck bed over which he carried a bear in a cage. The bear entertained the people while he delivered the moonshine.

One morning Frenchy stepped out of the cabin and while stretching and yawning he was shot and killed. There were two Swaseys, and George Palmer doing the shooting. They got nervous, got on their horses and rode toward Castle Dale. James Brinkerhoff saddled a horse and rode after them. Near Buckhorn flat where there is a well the horses gave out. They shot at each other until their ammunition was gone. They never collected their $1,000 reward.

A couple of years after that incident George Palmer was down in the Cedar Mountain area where that reservoir is and stayed overnight. The next morning he went to where the dam is and tied his team up and someone shot and killed him. He was found a couple of days later. The Palmer family and others blame James Brinkerhoff for the killing.

One night at the Wilberg Dance the "feds" (Federal Marshals) arrested James Brinkerhoff, Wilby and Walter Canfield. With the prisoners and three car loads of stuff they started for Salt Lake. But, in Price Canyon a group of armed men took the prisoners away from the feds. The feds were invited not to come back and they did not come back.

James Brinkerhoff had a unique way of delivering moonshine. He had two or three women in Lawrence that would bundle up the baby or something that looked like a baby, then go to Brinkerhoff's house and bundle up the moonshine to look like a baby and go about distributing it.

Majors told of how Brinkerhoff's house was raided a half dozen times, but they could never find any moonshine there. He hid the moonshine in the thunder jug under his bed. The last still was found in the old ZCMI mine up Coal Wash by Horace Petty. This still was run by Rod Joe Swasey.

Edward Geary told about smuggling alcohol from Canada where there was no prohibition laws to the United States using fast cars, especially the Cadillac. These cars were modified with built in compartments to hide the liquor being transported. One such smuggler being pursued by the police ended up stuck in the mud near Lawrence.

A few other people came forward to tell what they knew or remembered about the prohibition era and bootlegging of alcohol in Emery County.

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