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A Genealogist In The Archives: Where are the Moonshine Records?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where are the Moonshine Records?

Yes, you read that title correctly, "Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Working in an archive, in the South, one question I get A LOT is:

"Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Unfortunately, there may not be a set of records in an archive titled "Moonshine Records". But there are records that can be searched that can provide a genealogist with information about their ancestor and the part they played in the moonshine business.

Photo of police car full of moonshine, ca. 1962, Houston County, TN. Archives


Court Records:

Many times our moonshine ancestors got caught! When they were caught distilling moonshine, transporting moonshine or selling moonshine, they ended up in court. Searching local court records is a great place to find our moonshine ancestors. Moonshine was a criminal act and would have been heard in criminal court.

Local Police Records and Mug Shot Photographs:

Many of our local archives have been able to preserve old police records and mug shot records. Finding your moonshine ancestor on a police report detailing the incident would add to your ancestor's story. Finding a mug shot of that ancestor would be priceless! Unfortunately, these types of records are not a prevalent as court records but something to keep in mind when researching your moonshine relatives.

Photo of moonshine still, ca. 1959, Houston County, TN. Archives


Newspapers:

If your ancestor was caught in the act by the police, it could have been big news in a small town! Searching newspapers for stories about the police catching local moonshiners may just be what you need to find your ancestor. Seems the police like to have their pictures taken with that trunk full of gallons of moonshine or with that discovered moonshine still and then it was published in the paper.

Oral Histories:

Many of our local archives have collections of oral histories by local residents. These oral histories usually include the persons recollections of the people, places and events that happened locally. It is quite possible the person who was being interviewed could have mentioned the "local moonshiners" of the area. Oral histories can be found as a typed interview transcript or as an audio or video recording of the person.

Oral histories on DVD, Houston County, TN. Archives


So, the next time you are faced with trying to find "Moonshine Records" for your ancestor, check out the local court records, newspapers, police records and oral histories. These records just might help you document your ancestor's moonshine antics!



REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!



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6 comments:

  1. The Federal Government would also put a lien on your property for sales tax on the moonshine. You would have to pay it off before they would release that lien, so property records is also a good place to look.

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    1. Hello Unknown (wish I could call you by your name but all I see is unknown), your absolutely correct! Another great resource to find Moonshine records.

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    2. Ms. Barker my name is Karen. I thought it would show up as that, but it didn't. LOL I have my grandfathers papers on the property lien is the only reason that I know this.

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    3. Hello Karen, so very nice to meet you! What a treasure you have with those papers! Thank You for reading my blog!

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  2. Nice reading your blog. Thank you for helping people. Some people would not want to know things like this, but it's a treasure for me. Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen! Thank YOU for reading my blog!

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