Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Over Thirty Years of Bootlegging in Bossier Parish

The Prohibition Act went into effect on Jan. 16, 1920 making “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” However, Bossier Parish became a “dry” parish 21 years before the 18th Amendment took effect.

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Bootlegging started in Bossier Parish after it became a dry parish in 1899 and continued until the 18th Amendment was repealed through the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933.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, <>.
“Saturday afternoon of last week Deputy Sheriff Job Wilson, accompanied by Marshall George Huckabay, of Bossier City, and two government men engaged in the enforcement of the present prohibition regulations, made a raid that netted 22 quarts of moonshine whiskey, and the following day returned to the scene of operation and located and destroyed about 80 gallons of mash. The place raided was a brothel, or, perhaps, more of a road house for the dispensing of intoxicating liquors, conducted by a white woman by the name of Alice Mitchell. Its location is in Ward Six, to be seen to the left of the road soon after crossing the Red Chute bridge when driving east on the Bossier City and Haughton road. The woman is said to have been a resident of Shreveport, prior to the time of the wiping out of the restricted district in the city. She acquired a small acreage at the location mentioed [sic], and, in a secluded spot, had a house erected for the purposes above named. She was arrested and lodged in the Shreveport Jail and is being held as a federal prisoner. Also, there will likely be charges filed against her in Bossier Parish, and other arrests are expected to follow as a result of the operations in which she was perhaps the leader.

“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

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