Just as with any law, those that disagree with the laws of the land find ways to circumvent them. With Prohibition came the nefarious business of bootlegging, where alcohol was manufactured illegally. Prohibition also gave rise to speakeasies, also known as blind pigs and blind tigers, which were illicit establishments that served alcohol illegally.
Bootlegging started in Bossier Parish after it became a dry parish in 1899 and continued until the 18th Amendment was repealed through the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933. Those caught engaging in the illegal manufacture of alcohol were arrested during the dry period before the Prohibition Era began. However, once it became a federal crime, federal agents were dispatched throughout the country to work with local law enforcement in a war against bootleggers. Local and federal agents worked together to locate and destroy such operations.
Bootlegging raids, arrests, and deaths became a part of the daily news throughout the nation, and Bossier Parish was no exception. The following article, which appeared in The Bossier Banner on Sept. 9, 1920, is a prime example of news reports during that period.
Moonshine still recently confiscated by the Internal Revenue Bureau photographed at the Treasury Department. [Between 1921 and 1932] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/89706121/>.
“Monday afternoon the officers here named destroyed about 150 gallons of mash some five miles southwest of Bellevue. The location of this still was in a field, but secluded on a timbered branch. No arrests were made, as the operators were not located. However, the two men are said to be known, and are thought to have been absent at another still they operate.
“Tuesday afternoon Mose Davis, a negro whose home is near Bodcau Station, on the V.S. and P. Railroad, was arrested for operating a still, and was also jailed in Shreveport. At his place about 30 gallons of corn mash was destroyed.
“Thus ends the story for the present, but we have learned that we may well expect material for like stories almost any day. Greed is a trait that is well cultivated in many—and so is the appetite for booze.”
To learn more about Bossier Parish during the Prohibition Era, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City.
By: Amy Robertson