Beer Busts Abound in Recently-Added Prohibition Era Newspaper

Masthead of The Clay County News

The Clay County News of Hayesville, N.C., is one of our latest newspaper titles available in our Newspapers of North Carolina collection thanks to our partner, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This first batch of 132 issues ranges from 1926-1938⁠—encompassing some of our state’s Prohibition years.

A newspaper clipping describing a beer bustSprinkled in among the cartoons of A.B. Chapin, celebrity gossip, and local society news are several articles about the alcohol stills destroyed by law enforcement. Most often, the reports list the number of gallons of beer destroyed (though exactly how they were destroyed is left to the reader’s imagination). The threshold for newsworthiness didn’t seem to depend on the number of gallons; reports range from 19 gallons destroyed (a little over the size of a modern-day keg, which holds 15.5 gallons) to 1,200 gallons destroyed

The hero of these beer busts tends to be Sherriff Kitchens, a figure as mysterious in these papers as he is dedicated to dry laws. Kitchens once went as far as the Georgia state line to track down illegal stills. All together, Kitchens and his deputies disposed of thousands of gallons of illegal alcohol and were celebrated often in the paper for it.

You can see all available issues of The Clay County News here or explore all of our digitized newspapers by type. location, and date in our Newspapers of North Carolina collection. More information about UNC Chapel Hill and their newspaper collection can be found on the UNC Libraries website and their partner page.

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